Friday, June 19, 2009

More On Our "Local Heroes"

>>>A good writer and reporter publishes both sides of a story ... why haven't you interviewed or written about the other Chicago music originals ... like Jim Peterik, Nick Fortuna, Carl Giammarese ... Ronnie Rice is not an original New Colony Sixer ... he joined after the early releases (Democracy Fading)
Hi Kent -
I have enjoyed your E-mag and check it out every time it shows up on my screen. Seems Democracy Fading may have a point, even though he seems a bit overboard about how you report the Chicago Band Scene from the old days. I watch and see how well you cover all the great bands from the Sixties and you do a great job doing it.
Yes, Democracy Fading, you are correct ... Ronnie Rice was not an original member of the NC6 ... but I was.
It was a fantastic time of my life and an experience that anyone would love to have happen to them.
So, to give you some insight from the lost and gone Craig Kemp of The New Colony Six, just know this ... the early days of this band were very exciting and an experience I will never forget. These days I reminisce about all the good things that I enjoyed about those days ... concerts at the Arie Crown ... traveling on the road around the midwest ... and I still have 8mm film of the band when we went to California in 1965. Yes, Ronnie was a replacement ... a replacement for me ... but you know Ronnie and I are friends and what it is, is what it is.
Ronnie made a fantastic addition to the band and made them what they are today.
So, Democracy Fading, it would be good if you get ALL the facts together before you criticize Kent about his reporting. He is the best at this and YOU, sir, need to read more often.
Craig Kemp - The New Colony Six
Thanks, Craig ... I really appreciate that. The New Colony Six were really TWO bands in one ... and successful in BOTH genres of music. They were one of the pioneer "Garage Bands" from the mid-'60's and early classics like "I Confess", "Love You So Much", "You're Gonna Be Mine", "Cadillac" and "I Lie Awake" dominated the Chicago charts during this era and helped pave the way for some of our OTHER local bands (like The Cryan' Shames and The Buckinghams and The Ides Of March) to earn some airplay on our AM giants, WLS and WCFL. This early incarnation of the band is STILL being recognized today, as witnessed by The New Colony Six's recent invitation to perform at Cave Stomp in New York a couple of years ago ... in fact, it is their earliest material that has most often seen the light of day via CD reissues that are capturing the hearts of brand new garage band fans today. When Ronnie Rice joined the band, they took on a whole new persona, scoring their biggest national hits with ballads like "I Will Always Think About You", "Things I'd Like To Say", "I Want You To Know" and "I Could Never Lie To You" ... not to mention "Can't You See Me Cry", a tune written by NC6 founder Ray Graffia, Jr. It was THIS genre of music that earned them their greatest national attention, including television appearances and tours with artists like The Beach Boys. (I suppose on a much grander scale there are music cynics out there who will criticize the Michael McDonald era of The Doobie Brothers and the addition of Joe Walsh to The Eagles as not being true to the original focus of these bands ... but the statistics bear out the fact that, regardless of any personal opinion, THESE were the most successful records either of those bands ever made, too!) We've been very fortunate that many of our Local Heroes continue to perform and entertain us here during the summer months ... we can still go out to see The New Colony Six or Ronnie Rice solo if we choose ... we can go see The Buckinghams or check out Dennis Tufano at one of his solo gigs ... we can go see The Cryan' Shames with original lead singer Tom Doody ... or enjoy a special guest appearance by Bob Stroud on lead vocals. The Ides Of March (with all of their original members intact) sound better TODAY than they did when their records were peaking on the charts ... and Forgotten Hits has always been VERY loyal to these artists who won our hearts over so many years ago ... NOT simply because they were local Chicago talent ... but, as I've said COUNTLESS times over the years, because their music stands up against the BEST music being released at this time. So thank you, Craig, for taking the time to write. (Now when can we get together and check out those 1965 / 8mm California "home movies"?!?!? lol) kk

Kent -
I discovered your column a few months ago and it gives me great joy to read it.
A few weeks ago you mentioned how it would be so great to have all the 60's Chicago groups appearing on one stage.
It did happened quite a few years ago (my memory is hazy but I would guess about 10-15 years) at Holiday Star Plaza. The show had the Ides of March, Shadows of Knight, Cryan' Shames, Ronnie Rice (but not the NC Six) but the real coup was getting Dennis Tufano (first time he appeared in ages!!! ... and I know he has recently surfaced last year back performing again) and catch this the AMERICAN BREED (I BELIEVE IT WAS ALL THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS). It was a great show to say the least!!
A couple of comments: I thought this would be the start of shows maybe every year as the place was packed. But I guess it was not meant to be. Also, I contacted the person at the time who run the Taste of Chicago for the city about having something like this, but never received a response.
What a shame the city does not care about its own stars I had to go Indiana to see a show of this magnitude.
Mike De Martino
President of the Lovejoy Music Club
A show like this would be a GREAT annual attraction. (Even I personally have never seen The American Breed perform live ... didn't think Gary did that anymore. I met him AGES ago at his Pumpkin Records Recording Studio ... this was even before he started working with Styx on their albums!) It would be awesome to see a TRUE "Chicago Gold" Concert featuring ALL of the artists of this era ... or, better yet (as I suggested before), do a TRUE Chicagoland Tribute and film it for all posterity by building a Soundstage Program around appearances by ALL of these artists together on the same bill ... give everybody a chance to come up and do three or four songs and record the thing for generations to come to enjoy. Get somebody like Stroud to host the thing ... put ALL the egos and personal frustrations aside for one night ... and just go out there and have fun one more time as a way of saying "Thank You" to all the Chicagoland Fans who have supported these acts for some 40 years now. It's a sure-fire hit if we can just pull it all together ... plus it'll give folks around the country to see just how much good music came out of our fine city back in the '60's. (kk)

How about devoting some time about Jim Lounsbury (the Dick Clark of Chicago Rock and Roll). Wonder what happened to some of the "regular dancers" he had on his Record Hop Show???
Keep up the great work!
I can honestly say that I never watched this program!!! But maybe somebody out there on the list would have an interest in putting a little something together??? (kk)

Here's one tune each from the two different eras that define The New Colony Six.
First, from 1966, their very garage-sounding "I Lie Awake", which "bubbled under" in Billboard at #111 ... but went all the way to #19 here in Chicago. This is the one that Ray Graffia, Jr. told us (during our exclusive Forgotten Hits / New Colony Six series a couple of years ago) was based on Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue", which some of the band members had just been studying in school. (You may ALSO recognize those opening notes from all of the United Airlines commercials that have been running these past few years!) And then one of their great, over-looked ballads, "Can't You See Me Cry", from 1968. This one rose to #52 on the national charts but made Chicago's Top Ten. It was released right in between the band's two biggest national hits, "I Will Always Think About You" and "Things I'd Like To Say". It certainly deserved a better fate ... and still sounds great today. A perfect example of the diversity offered by these Chicagoland Local Heroes.