Friday, October 16, 2015

Cornerstones Of Rock: American Garage Bands - Chicago Style - A Forgotten Hits Exclusive!

Tonight's The Night!!!   

A few weeks ago we told you about the taping of a WTTW / Sound Stage television special featuring all of our Local Heroes from the '60's ...   

They're calling it their "Cornerstones Of Rock" series.  The Ides Of March are bringing together members of some of the biggest Chicagoland Groups of the '60's:  The Buckinghams, The Cryan' Shames, The American Breed, The New Colony Six and The Shadows Of Knight ... together again on one stage to perform their biggest hits before the television cameras that will document this collection of artists who dominated the local scene ... and the national charts ... back in the glory days of Chicago Rock ... and preserve it for all time.   

Here's a link to our original piece from about two weeks ago:   

Tickets to the taping sold out in the blink of an eye ... and it's been the talk of the town ever since the details were announced.  (Several of our Forgotten Hits Readers will be attending ... and we're hoping that they'll report back with full coverage of the event since we are unable to attend.)   

Between you and me and the lamp post, we first learned of this event several weeks earlier than it was officially announced ... but were asked by Jim Peterik of The Ides Of March and Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams to refrain from mentioning anything about it on the website with the promise that when they were ready to launch, we would be the first to know and the story would break as a Forgotten Hits Exclusive.  As such, I have to admit that it was VERY disappointing to see all the details outlined by several other sources instead when we could have been (and should have been) the ones to exclusively break the story first worldwide.  (Instead, out of respect and loyalty to the participants, we held back any early announcement, waiting for approval and the official word to let 'er rip.)   

Clearly, loyalty only runs one way in this regard as, despite giving more press to both The Ides Of March and The Buckinghams than probably ALL of the other media sources in the world combined over the past sixteen years of doing Forgotten Hits, we were robbed of the honor of exclusively breaking the news first ... and then denied tickets to the concert as well as access to the rehearsals.  I'm happy to report, however, that in the process I've learned a very valuable lesson ... from now on I'll simply follow my journalistic instincts and go with the "breaking story" every time ... lest it be pulled out from under me while silently waiting for the go-ahead in unfounded trust and broken promises.  (After all, that's what makes or breaks a great publication, isn't it? ... the ability to scoop everybody else with key, breaking news.  The story comes first ... consequences be damned!)   

So with this newly infused thought process in mind (thanks, guys!), I am happy to announce today that Forgotten Hits has learned EXCLUSIVELY the proposed set list for this major event being taped tonight.  (If you've ever been to any television tapings before, you're probably already aware that something like this is always subject to change should things run long, not play well, or end up on the cutting room floor during final editing.  Things are rarely taped in sequence and, in order to arrive at the best possible product, songs are often stopped, restarted and then performed again in order to obtain the most perfect take.  With The Ides Of March acting as the "house" back-up band for the majority of these artists, things may run a little bit smoother than normal ... but if you're one of the fortunate few able to attend ... I heard there are only 400 seats ... I'd still prepare yourselves for a lengthy, somewhat slow-moving night.  But be patient ... because you'll be treated to some GREAT music every step of the way.)   

In all likelihood, when all is said and done the special will only run an hour (or, at best, 90 minutes) when it actually airs ... add in the typical pauses for pledge drives and isolated commentary and interviews and it becomes quickly apparent that the two hours that are being filmed Friday Night will never be fully aired on the station ... which allows fans to hope that through a significant donation to PBS, we might be able to purchase the complete, full length concert on dvd instead.  While no official airdate has been announced yet, speculation seems to put it at late November / early December ... and "Cornerstones Of Rock" may become more of a "regular" feature on PBS as well, with additional chapters and profiles, ultimately airing in other cities across the country, too, much the way Soundstage did several years ago.  

As previously announced, Wendy Snyder will oversee the basic program as host (although it looks like Ron Onesti is now also involved in some capacity as well.  Ron has recently become a WTTW spokesman for many of their musical fund-raising events ... sort of our very own version of T.J. Lubinksy ... only FAR more personable and charming!!!  WTG, Ron!)  And while we were banking on seeing an all-Chicago program, the show is taking some of the focus off our local scene by now featuring not only The McCoys (as tipped here a couple of weeks ago) but also The Standells.  (Too bad in a way, as the set lists of some of our local heroes have been cut short in the process to allow time for these other artists to perform.)    

The Ides Of March will kick off the program with "A Little Bit Of Soul", the Music Explosion hit from 1967 ... and a garage band favorite.  (For the complete list of All-Time Greatest Garage Bands ... as voted upon by our Forgotten Hits Readers ... be sure to check out the link below.)     

They're then scheduled to go into their own hits "You Wouldn't Listen", "L.A. Goodbye" and "Superman", followed by a tribute to Chase, performing their big hit from the early '70's, "Get It On" with a guest appearance by one-time Chase member Dartanyan Brown.  The Ides then wrap things up by playing their own biggest hit, "Vehicle", after which Jimy Sohns will join the band on stage to perform three of The Shadows Of Knight's biggest hits, "Shake", "Oh Yeah" and "Gloria".    

Next up ... The New Colony Six, featuring lead vocalists Ray Graffia, Jr., and Ronnie Rice.  Ronnie and Ray will be performing four of their hits:  "I Confess", "Love You So Much", "Things I'd Like To Say" and "I Will Always Think About You".  (Just four tracks for the guys who kicked the doors down and got AM Giants WLS and WCFL to start featuring local talent on the airwaves?  Now that doesn't seem quite right!!!)  It's especially nice to see Ray included this time around, as he was snubbed last year at The Ides similar "Cornerstones" show, despite being not only a founding member of the band (Ronnie joined later) as well as the guy who still fronts the group whenever they perform. 

After The New Colony Six, you'll get The Cryan' Shames.  (Sadly these guys never had a National Top 40 Hit ... and believe me when I tell you, they were ROBBED ... their music was amongst the best to ever grace our city ... yet they get FIVE songs to The Colony's four!!!  As Rodney might have said, "No respect, I tell ya".)  They'll kick off their set with "Sunshine Psalm" (huh?!?!  My guess is that this'll be the first song dropped from the broadcast as NOBODY knows it.  I'm also willing to bet that this was a concession of some sort to get original songwriter and guitarist James Fairs back up on stage with Jimmy "Hooke" Pilster and Tom "Toad" Doody!  Man, I would have traded this one for "Mr. Unreliable" or the classic "Greenburg, Glickstein, Charles David Smith And Jones" in a heartbeat!!!)  The group then shines on a couple of my all-time favorites:  "Up On The Roof" (rumor has it that Carole King had The Cryan' Shames' version played at her second wedding), "I Wanna Meet You", "It Could Be We're In Love" (#1 in Chicago for four weeks back in the Summer of '67) and "Sugar And Spice", a record that blows The Searchers' original version away!   

After that, you should experience one of the most anticipated highlights of the evening ... the long-awaited reunion of The American Breed, who perform their #1 Hit "Bend Me, Shape Me".  (All four original members are back for this one, the first time they've appeared together on stage in about 40 years ... yet they, too, will be backed by The Ides.)  And, after all of that, they're only doing one song!!! 

The program then shifts gears to feature The Standells ("Dirty Water" and "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White") and The McCoys ("Come On, Let's Go" and "Hang On Sloopy")  Unfortunately this detracts from the concept of this being a program saluting our local heroes ... in retrospect, an All-Chicago edition followed by an All-Garage Band edition (featuring some of the biggest names of this era from around the country) would have made far more sense ... but that isn't the direction they've chosen to go.   

So, after this brief diversion, out come the headliners ... The Buckinghams, who broke through in a way no other Chicago band from the '60's did, scoring five National Top Ten Hits.  For this portion of the program, the entire current line-up of the band will perform (sans The Ides), bringing out original lead singer Dennis Tufano to sing the last couple of numbers.  (Rumors of Marty Grebb's participation have not been confirmed at press time.)  Kudos to Carl Giammarese for extending the olive branch and bringing Dennis Tufano back to share in this momentous occasion.  (Last year at The Ides show the guy who sang every hit The Buckinghams ever had wasn't even invited!)

And then a two-part finale ... first, a tribute to Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah with a performance of the classic "Lake Shore Drive", featuring Skip Haynes, the writer of this song and Ted Aliotta, brother of the recently departed Mitch.  (John Jeremiah passed away a couple of years ago.)

This will all be followed by an "encore" group ensemble performance of The Greatest Garage Band Song Of All-Time, "Louie Louie". 

So there you have it ... tonight's program in a nutshell (all you need to know before it even airs!)  Attendees, please send us your comments and reviews ... and if ANYONE out there gets the word on when this program will air, please let us know this as well so we can pass the information along to our readers.  (We're chomping at the bit to see it!) 

Check back tomorrow for more commentary (some of the underbelly of an event like this isn't always a pretty sight!) and, shortly thereafter, some exclusive photos from our FH Buddy Jack Mongan.
Also next week we'll have a review up on the site of the Stevie Wonder / "Songs In The Key Of Life" concert that we'll be attending this evening while all this is going on at the WTTW Studios.   

Stay tuned!

Kent Kotal 
Forgotten Hits