Singer Alfie Zappacosta was set to return to White Rock for a pair of concert dates this month, but a medical condition prevents him from flying here.
In November, the Italian-born singer was performing at a theatre in Aylmer, Ontario, when he began feeling weak and light-headed. "I got about three-quarters of the way through the show, and then stepped backstage to let my band do the rest," Zappacosta told the Now.
The Edmontonian was diagnosed with bleeding ulcers on his esophagus, forcing the postponement of all but a few shows on his calendar, including Jan. 25 and 26 at Blue Frog studio/concert hall.
"I feel really good," he said, "but my doctors just won't let me fly, because the bands they put around my ulcers (during an operation) could break due to the pressure inside an airplane. That's put a big wrench in things."
The year 2012 was difficult for Zappacosta, whose wife of more than 30 years, Sonny, died suddenly last July from an anemia-related illness. Months earlier, Zappacosta was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes; by summer, during the time his wife was in hospital, he had a pacemaker put in to fix a low pulse, which apparently runs in his family. Then, in the fall, along came the bleeding ulcers.
"I'm aging as gracefully as possible, but things happen," the singer said with a sigh.
"It's been a tough, strange year for me. I've been calling it a poop storm, even though I don't usually use the word poop. It's been difficult, for sure, with my wife dying and me having health issues. Her death was very sudden, and she was obviously very sick.... One day, she started having problems with her intestines and everything in her started failing. I was getting ready to go see her (in hospital) after a trip to Halifax, and I thought everything would be fine with her. And I passed out - cracked my skull open and got some stitches for that. So I was in the hospital while my wife passed away. There have been some sad times."
Meanwhile, Zappacosta spent parts of 2012 building on a career rebirth of sorts, thanks in part to a CD/DVD called Live From Blue Frog Studio, recorded at the White Rock facility in June 2011.
"We hit it pretty good there," Zappacosta recalled. "The results were really tremendous, and it sounds really good. Everybody did a wonderful job."
Kelly Breaks, proprietor at Blue Frog, said the DVD video shoot was a very cool project to produce.
"It shows why Alfie is one of the best singers not only in Canada, but in the world," Breaks told the Now. "I love how he has successfully made a transition from an '80s pop sound to sophisticated smooth jazz.... We approached the video project just like a regular recording session, mic'ing up instruments and taking care to get a studio-quality sound. Much credit should go to Pat Glover, who masterfully engineered and mixed the audio tracks."
In the 1980s, Zappacosta became a chart-topping artist, two-time Juno awardee and an American Music Award winner for his contribution of "Overload" to the platinum-selling Dirty Dancing film soundtrack. Other notable songs of his include "Nothing Can Stand In Our Way," "Passion," "When I Fall In Love Again" and "We Should Be Lovers."
By the early 1990s, the one-time Torontonian had moved to Edmonton and has remained there as a resident ever since.
After his latest operation, Zappacosta was forced to take the train home from Hogtown.
"I thought about doing the train for all the (concert) dates," he said, "because I hate to cancel shows like that, but those trains don't run every day and it sure takes a lot longer to get around the country like that - it's no holiday, you know.
"I'm looking to start back up in February, because by that time I should be good to fly. And even if they (doctors) say don't, I'll do it anyway because I'll be sick of sitting around doing nothing."