Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chuck Negron Concert Review

We've got a guest columnist today sharing a review with our readers ... welcome back to Rich Turner, who just caught Chuck Negron, live in concert, down in Clearwater, Florida! 

Take it away, Rich!  


Well, I just saw the "official" Three Dog Night just three weeks ago here at our annual Ribfest in St. Petersburg, Fl (and sent in a review which you put on the blog, thank you!) Now it was time to see perhaps the real deal, Mr. Chuck Negron himself, former lead vocalist of the aforementioned. 

For the last few Decembers, Clearwater, Fl, has hosted a Christmas celebration they call "Miracle On Cleveland Street. It is usually the first Saturday night of December (this year December 5 to be exact) and they close off several blocks of the main downtown drag, yes Cleveland St. They erect a stage, have music, vendors and stuff for kids. Last year the featured music artist was Little River Band (or, as we all know them as, the band that plays Little River Band music.) This year the main act was Chuck Negron. And it's completely free! Bring your chairs, get a $3.00 beer or a slice of pizza and enjoy the, yes, 70 degree nighttime temperature here in Florida in December. Christmas is less than three weeks away. 

The opening act before Chuck was a local Pat Benatar tribute band by the name of Fire And Ice ... and they were great! Not only did they play a nice selection of Benatar tunes but also did a few other 80's songs, too. Any 80's band that had a hit with a female vocalist was covered by Fire And Ice. Their lead singer, who I only know by her first name of Rosemary, was great. Great-sounding and great-looking with what I really love, big 80's hair.  The rest of the band was just three guys, playing, guitar, bass and drums and their sound was big and impressive. They even rocked up a couple of Christmas tunes like Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree. I was very impressed and even more impressed when I got to meet Rosemary after the show. She was very appreciative of my good words and I promised to check out her band in the future. Now I know that all this doesn't mean much to anybody except Tampa Bay area residents but I still wanted to give them a plug. They are on Facebook. 

Now on to Chuck. 

I saw Chuck Negron just last March on the Happy Together Tour down here in Plant City, Florida, at our annual Strawberry Festival. Yes, we get a lot of festival events down here! You may have heard the weather is nice year 'round. It's Florida. I sent in a review of that show which you also ran, thanks again.  

At that show, Chuck was backed by the Happy Together Band and, of course, only played five songs, as that is pretty much the limit for the acts on the Happy Together tour. So I was really looking forward to seeing him do a much more complete show with his own band.   

His band came out and consisted of a keyboardist, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and one final guy switching off on guitar and keys. Chuck was introduced and he slowly walked onto the stage as the band broke into Family Of Man. Let me put this out there right now ... Chuck is 73, but he could easily pass for late 50s or early 60s in appearance ... but he doesn't move around too well. I guess you could say he moves like a 73 year old man. But here's the main thing, he looked good (dressed in white pants with a white jacket over a black tee shirt) and he sounded GREAT!. I personally thought he sounded almost as good as the Chuck Negron on Three Dog Night records of 40 to 45 years ago. The band was excellent also.  

The next song was Shambala (a personal favorite of mine) and even though Cory Wells was the original vocalist on record, Chuck made it his own as he did with the third song, Liar, which is one of the few Danny Hutton songs. Then an outstanding job was done on Out In The Country (another personal favorite) which his band really helped out on the vocals. Beautiful!  

Then for a slight change of pace the keyboardist, whom I only know by the name of Carlos, started to play the opening notes of the TDN album classic (also done originally by The Band) Chest Fever. After about 30 seconds Carlos segued into the Deep Purple favorite Lazy from Machine Head and the band soon joined in as they recreated that tune. Then, after a couple minutes of Lazy, it was back to Chest Fever with Chuck on the vocals. Very impressive. 

Then it was on to more Three Dog Night hits ... Old Fashioned Love Song (another highlight), Eli's Coming, Never Been To Spain (didn't quite work as it's originally a Cory vocal), Celebrate, One Man Band, Mama Told Me Not To Come (nice job on this one even though it's a Cory song) and then his outstanding performance on One, Three Dog Night's first big hit. And then one final song, of course Joy To The World. 

Let me mention this ... Chuck did not do a whole lot of chit-chat between songs (unlike at the Strawberry Festival, where he talked and joked quite a bit).  However, before Joy To The World, he did make mention of the passing of Cory Wells and Jimmy Greenspoon and said how much he misses those guys and the music they made back in the day. And even more impressively he went on to mention every member of the Dog's from the past by name and said he hoped he didn't miss anybody. I think he missed Mike Allsup's name but I'm not sure at this point. I did mention the $3.00 beers earlier so things might have gotten just a little fuzzy!

Anyway Chuck thanked the band, said that he misses them, and dedicated Joy To The World to Cory and Jimmy. Very touching especially when you consider that when I saw Three Dog Night just three weeks ago, Danny Hutton never mentioned Cory Wells at all, let alone Jimmy Greenspoon.

After about an hour and 20 minutes it was over. Chuck walked off the stage just before the song was done (gingerly) and was helped by two security guards back to his white van. I guess you might be able to call it a small limo, but it looked like a large stretch van. They helped him get in and it drove off and I figured that's all I would see of Chuck Negron this night. But no, more later. The band finished up, I went over and shook hands with the guitarist and bass player and complimented them on a job well done. Let me throw this out there. There were maybe 200 to 300 people watching the show and it was FREE. I'm sure this looked like a pretty disappointing turn-out for the band and Chuck Negron.  

Me and my two buddies packed up our chairs and headed back to the parking lot with a few others. We were about two blocks away and what pulled up from a side street to the street we walking on, but, yes Chuck Negron's white van! We could see him in the van (by himself with a driver) and motioned with our phones if we could get a picture. Unbelievably he waved us over. We ran around to the other side of the van and the driver hopped out and opened the door. Chuck was just sitting there and said, hey go ahead and get a picture. My buddy, Andy, who is just a little bolder than me, asked if he would get in the picture with him and Chuck said sure. Andy climbed into the van and sat next to Chuck and I got the shot. Then Andy climbed out and I gave him my camera and climbed in.  

As I tried to sit down next to Chuck (more standing than sitting) I mentioned to him that I had seen Three Dog Night just three weeks ago here in town. His reply, "Was Cory with them then or was it after he had passed?" I replied that no, it was just a few weeks after Cory had died and David Morgan had taken his place. Chuck very diplomatically said, "Yes, I know David. I think he's a great singer." My friend Andy got a couple of shots and as I got up to leave I thanked Chuck for his time and then said. "Chuck one final question. Why are you and Three Dog Night not together to this day?" He stuttered for a couple seconds (I'm guessing searching for the right words) then replied, "Man, it's just all a bunch of bullshit. That's the best way to put it. It's just a bunch of bullshit." I thanked him again, and we waved goodbye.  The driver slammed the door shut and the van took off. 

Great night of music, great Pat Benatar tribute band, great singing performance by Chuck Negron, and I got to meet him after the show.  The show was free and the beer was cheap. What more could you want on a Saturday night here in Clearwater, Florida???  

-- Rich Turner 
   Safety Harbor, Florida  

P.S.  I'm sending a few photos including the one of him and me in the van ... hope they come out okay to use.  


Thanks, Rich, great review.  We saw Three Dog Night and Chuck Negron back-to-back a couple of years ago ... isn't it funny that BOTH groups kick off their shows with "Family Of Man"???  

It is SUCH a shame that these guys couldn't mend their fences and pool their resources ... they probably could have headlined around the world on a major reunion tour and sold out every venue ... and I'll bet sales on their catalog would have gone thru the roof, too.  Such a shame. 

The Danny and Cory / Two Dog Night show is no more ... with Cory's recent passing, I don't know how much longer the fans will be willing to listen to a substitute once the novelty wears off.  Chuck Negron's back on the The Happy Together Tour again this year ... and is also coming to The Arcada Theatre along with Mark Farner, the former genius behind Grand Funk Railroad, and they are performing as "The Voices Of Rock" ... and I, for one, can't wait to see them.  (I was supposed to interview Mark Farner a couple of years ago when HE was on The Happy Together Tour but we could never get our schedules to coincide.  I did, however, have the chance to talk with Chuck after one of those shows ... and you'll find MY picture down below, too!  All I can tell you is that he was in GREAT shape ... and in fine voice and spirits the night we saw him ... seemed very happy doing what he's doing. 

Thanks again for sending ... I've been listening to Three Dog Night - "The Complete Hit Singles" all week long in the car ... so this is the perfect capper to the week for me!  (kk)

Three Dog Night scored 21 straight Top 40 Hits between 1969 and 1975 ... and seven of those went all the way to #1.  For a while there, they were the most popular group on the planet!  I was fortunate enough to see them a couple of times back in their hey-day ... and have caught The Two Dog / Danny and Cory Show and Chuck Negron solo show several times since as well.  Suffice to say I was a MAJOR fan at the time ... and still haven't gotten tired of their music.    

Here's the Three Dog Night Hit List ... EVERY one a Top 40 Hit Record!  

1969 - Try A Little Tenderness  (#22)
           One  (#1)
           Easy To Be Hard (#1)
           Eli's Coming  (#7)
1970 - Celebrate  (#11)
          Mama Told Me Not To Come (#1)
          Out In The Country  (39)
          One Man Band  (#11)
1971 - Joy To The World  (#1)
          Liar  (#6)
          An Old Fashioned Love Song  (#4)
          Never Been To Spain  (#3)
1972 - The Family Of Man  (#8)
          Black And White  (#1)
          Pieces Of April  (#18)
1973 - Shambala  (#1)
          Let Me Serenade You  (#12)
1974 - The Show Must Go On  (#1)
          Sure As I'm Sittin' Here  (#16)
          Play Something Sweet  (Brickyard Blues)  #24
1975 - Till The World Ends  (#22)