Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back-To-Back Reviews by Jack Mongan

Freelance Photographer Jack Mongan went to a couple of shows this past week ...

And decided to share his photos and commentary with our readers ...

First up ...

Dennis Tufano at The River Raisin Center for the Arts in Monroe, Michigan on August 12th ...    


To say the fans of Dennis Tufano are loyal is an understatement ! They filled the first two rows of a packed house at the River Raisin Center for the Arts in Monroe, Michigan on August 12th. Some of them traveled from other states and, given their reactions as well as the rest of the audience, it was a trip they would gladly make again!  

Those who know and still love 60’s music will first recognize Tufano as the voice that led the Chicago band The Buckinghams to national recognition with a worldwide following. In truth, he is much more. Dennis Tufano is a “performers’ performer”.  

Yes, he still sings the hits he helped make famous, but his talent and presence as a solo performer put him in a class well beyond “60s rock star”.  

One only has to hear him singing the songs of Bobby Darin ... from the classic Mack the Knife to the heart felt romance of My Funny Valentine ... to know this man has the range and class of the singers who were once the royalty of Vegas stages.  

This show was a mix of the Buckinghams’ hits as well as songs from Tufano’s one-man show, “I Remember Darin”, which has received rave reviews every time he has performed it, as well as an array of other sixties classics like the Eddie Brigati / Felix Cavaliere / Rascals' tune, How Can I Be Sure and Sonny Geraci’s / Outsiders’ iconic Time Won’t Let Me. Oh, and if you want to hear some mean Blues harp, just listen to Dennis wail on the Bobby Darin tune Funny What Love Can Do!   

It’s easy to see why Dennis Tufano has had such a  dedicated following over the years. His stage demeanor is at once engaging and warm while also being so energetic and electric that you feel a little exhausted once the show is over! Like the Eveready Bunny, the man keeps going and going!  

The t-shirts that Tufano’s fans wore said, “Tufano Rocks!”  I doubt there was one person in that audience who wouldn’t agree. If they had been selling them in the foyer after the show, there would have been a whole lot more people wearing them the next day.    

Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, Dennis Tufano does rock!  And he just keeps rockin’!
-- Jack Mongan




THE CHICAGO EXPERIENCE at The Bolingbrook Performing Arts Center

The clouds (along with thunder and lightning!) opened up during The Chicago Experience’s show in Bolingbrook last Friday, but that didn’t deter the avid fans this group has developed from sticking around! 

The group rewarded their followers with one of the stongest, most powerful and electric performances I have witnessed to date.  

Adam Briel and Brian Hemstock couldn’t have been tighter or more commanding in their singing, once again proving that this group is beyond compare when discussing Chicago tribute bands!  

Ron Brandt’s guitar work (as well as his vocals on the Robert Lamm songs) and Tim Rutter’s bass must have been affected by the electric storm because they killed every number, leaving the audience to forget the rain and dance in front of the pavilion. Each and every number that this band plays from the Chicago songbook recreates the sounds that we have loved over the years but, and this is important, each time the group performs one of Chicago’s songs, they don’t just play      it … they infuse it with a new soul! 

The professionalism of each of these musicians is beyond reproach. Each performance verifies the fact that from the incredible brass section, with Steve Frost, Terry Viano and, filling in for Tim Falls this week, Jim Massoth to the striking rhythm section led by Adam Cowger and augmented by percussionist extraordinaire, Ruben Alverez, and Paul Wood on keyboards, this band is more than a tribute group. They are a Rock Band … with a capital R&B!  (By the way, on top of great keyboarding, Paul Woods also plays a mean guitar during a free style head to head with Ron Brandt!)   '

The stage at Bolingbrook is huge, with a platform unit that goes up about 10 or 12 feet and incredible lighting and lasers plus, get this, rockers, a smoke machine!! All of this added to the spectacle that night but, as large as the stage was, The Chicago Experience filled it to the breaking point with their performance and musical talents.  

The real smoke that evening came and continues to roar from this beast of a Rock Band called The Chicago Experience!! 
-- Jack Mongan 


(All photos courtesy of Jack Mongan Photography)

We were at that Friday Night Bolingbrook Show ... what a shame the rain didn't hold out until after the concert. (Drove over an hour to get there ... then got about 45 minutes of music before the sky opened up ... all of a sudden it was all about the wind, lightning show and the downpour as most of the patrons made their way toward the exits.)
We've yet to catch their full act ... but we will ... these guys are just as impressive as can be ... so keep watching their website for upcoming dates ... they're not to be missed.  (kk)