Al Contrera on The Mystics and Growing Up In Bensonhurst

Al Contrera at the Bookmark Shoppe in September

BENSONHURST – Despite the rain, Bookmark Shoppe in Bay Ridge  was packed on Tuesday, September 25, for an evening of reminiscing about The Mystics and Brooklyn history, and to celebrate Al Contrera and his book – “Hushabye: The Mystics, the Music, and the Mob” which you can find at the store or at the Amazon link.

Al Contrera is one of the five boys from Bensonhurst, who formed The Overons that later became known as The Mystics, who briefly made it big with their hit Hushabye in 1959. The catchy song rose to No 20 on the charts – here’s a clip for those who are not that familiar with doo-wop:

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Contrera’s book transports the reader back in time, to Bensonhurst and Southern Brooklyn in the 1950s and 1960s, telling the story of five “juvenile delinquents”, as he affectionately refers to themselves – Phil Cracolici, Albee Cracolici, Bob Ferrante, George Galfo and the author, who got obsessed with singing. It changed their lives – bringing them from a street corner to the big stage, if briefly. And, yet, how not everything changed, and the story captures how difficult it was to navigate between the music, the mob, and the thirst for fame.

Contrera’s retelling of the trials and tribulations of starting a band, and keeping it together is rich in detail and language. Set in Bensonhurst, the mob is a constant, and the lives of seemingly everyone are affected. The Mystics were not the only band getting started, and Contrera recalls them all, offering a history of the local music industry at the time.  Those who grew up in Bensonhurst will enjoy the neighborhood history as well – recall events, many old spots and neighborhood characters – preserved for next generations.

“Having a hit song was amazing and a fantastic experience. I felt like I was on the top of the world,” Contrera recalls. “No one in our families was involved in music. They endured us rehearsing. We never realized that it would become something.” Or that it would lead to a book one day. We are glad it did.

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  1. Hi Liena,
    I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for the wonderful article. I loved it! Adding a link to HUSHABYE is a nice touch. One of my granddaughters commented that, “it was awesome” and will save it.
    All the best,
    Al Contrera

  2. Hello, I wanted to get in touch with AL for my aunt jeanine who is his 1st cousin. They grew up together and would like to touch base with him.

  3. Hi Al, I’m not an Avid Reader but when I got your book I finished it in two days. It took me back to the Old Brooklyn that I grew up in myself. I remember hearing Hushabye on many jukeboxes and having bought the record myself , it is still one of my favorites. I also remember when your cousin Carole and I asked you and Lucky to let Christine be the flower girl at our wedding. The book is great and I’m glad you’re still singing and wish you much success in the future


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