2018-06-07 / Music Scene

SPOTLIGHT on Music

House of Music, Life of Music
By Mark Gorman


David Manuel’s music roots run deep in Newport. (Photo by Ian Charlton) David Manuel’s music roots run deep in Newport. (Photo by Ian Charlton) When you come from a musical family, the real-life music education you get is priceless. Well-known local pianist David Manuel grew up in a house full of music and that made all the difference.

“Everybody sang or played an instrument,” said Manuel, who has six brothers and sisters. “My older brother was a big influence as he played keyboards, guitar and banjo, and is still learning new instruments like the bagpipes. My dad was always playing the stereo, from Bach to Beatles. And I just found out that my dad’s parents started a weekly musical broadcast on WADK radio. We even had a family band that occasionally played at Easton’s Beach and at the Officers’ Club.”

Manuel started formal piano lessons at age 12 and also tried his hand at the cello in middle school. “I faked cello for a few years in the school orchestra, but I was pretty horrendous,” he said.


Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. Mark Gorman is a retired high school guidance counselor and guitarist-vocalist who performs locally each week. He was introduced to the local music scene at an early age. He started playing steady gigs at The Pier Restaurant at 16, and after graduation, he played in a combo that included local drumming legend Mike Warner. “We got to play for a month at a time at a Sheraton on 7th Avenue in New York. Mike was such a jazz head and he knew all the great places to go after we finished playing our gig. Man, did I have fun,” he said.

Many Newporters will recall the talented local group, Sea Journey, whose alumni include Stu, Scott and Steve Krous, local guitarist Charlie Meehan and Bruce Springsteen’s trumpeter Curt Ramm. Manuel’s older brother was the Sea Journey keyboardist, and when he went off to college, Manuel slid into his spot on keyboards. He also married the Krous brothers’ sister, JoAnne. For many years, Manuel and company ruled the Newport music scene with their impressive musicality.

These days, Manuel plays music full time at selected local venues, including St. Paul’s Methodist Church, a number of assisted living facilities, and at his long-standing weekend gig at LaForge Casino Restaurant. I’ve witnessed many times the musical magic he performs there, and there is no pianist around who can command a room like he does at LaForge. He greets most of the patrons by name and within a few minutes he has them up at the piano singing a song or two. He knows what tunes they like and what key they like to sing in. He is a generous performer, offers tasteful vocal harmonies, spot-on accompaniment, and makes everyone feel welcome and comfortable. He has been a fixture there for as long as anyone can remember.

“I’m not exactly sure what the thing at LaForge is that makes it work,” he said. “It reminds me of hanging with my music geek friends at school where you could feel like you were in a safe place and needn’t be afraid to express your natural creativity.”

Manuel keeps people coming back again and again because he is just that much fun to spend time with. And a nicer guy you will not find. For more information, visit him on Facebook.

To Go

WHEN: Friday and Saturday, 7-11 p.m.

WHERE: LaForge Casino Restaurant, 186 Bellevue Ave.

ADMISSION: Free

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