Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Couple Of New Concert Reviews

We heard from a couple of folks on the list who saw shows last week and wanted to share the experience with our Forgotten Hits Readers ...


Wow, time goes so quickly when you are anticipating another concert.  
Here I am at Dick Fox's Doo Wop Adventure in Westbury, Long Island.  The MC is our vibrant Emil Stucchio of The Classics. I really do enjoy him as a presenter because he loves the music and the people producing the songs. He tells us that every act tonight has the original lead singer so I am expecting to recognize some voices, even if I don't remember the names or faces.

Lenny Dell and The Dimensions start off. They are an early 60's group recording before The British Invasion hit our shores. Their final number (from 1960) is 'Over The Rainbow'. Gene Wilder requested Ella Fitzgerald's version of the "Song of the Century" as his "exit song" from earth. I understand it was indeed played at his parting, and so now ... it is very difficult to harness my tear control any time I hear it. Beautiful harmonies, beautiful HIGH notes achieved. A great way to start.

The Chiffons? Judy Craig? OMG, they look gorgeous in those red and black pants outfits! Judy combines her niece, her daughter and her hits to present a display of songs I sang to my radio: 'One Fine Day', 'Sweet Talking Guy', 'He's So Fine' and 'The Way It Goes'; a song The Chiffons sang before they hit it big. These ladies are on target with my memories and their voices ring out sweet and true.

Both of these groups hail from The Bronx. There was a round of applause to this. However the same people clapped for Patterson, NJ, AND Brooklyn. As Emil said, "You guys really moved around, I guess." So, let's get the group from Patterson, NJ, on stage:  The Happenings! In previous reviews I have explained my personal connection with their music director / guitar player and I always look forward to seeing them whenever I can.  The 'house band' changes participants from group to group as each performance brings along their own staple players. But the transitions run smoothly and all the musicians are professional. It works, It flows. It rocks.

Bob Miranda and The Happenings open with a non-Happenings song: All The World's People Just Got To Be Free. As with all stages, Bob Miranda finds a hidden trampoline and jumps excitedly throughout their set. 'Go Away Little Girl', 'See You In September' and 'I Got Rhythm'. I didn't know that 'See You In September' had become a Vietnam soldiers' song during the '60s. They say it gave them hope that they would return and the war would be over. More tear time.

If you google all these groups that I saw perform tonight, you will find they are in various Halls of Fame. There is the Vocal Hall of Fame, the Hit Parade Hall of Fame, the Song Writers Hall of Fame, and more. This is NOT a shabby turn-out.

Closing the first act is a performer I have not seen live before. Gary US Bonds, comes down the Westbury ramp and breaks into 'New Orleans'.  Now, Westbury is most often theatre-in-the-round. It is so tonight. Others have made mention of this but Gary brings it into the limelight with. "Oooooooh, this damn thing's turning." A turning stage adds another dimension to the experience for both audience and performer.  When he sings a medley of his songs, he states, "We're doing this 'cause we're tired of them ... over 60 years and the same old crap." I love his casual, honest and still dynamic approach. He is fun! He talks about the song Bruce Springsteen gave him and then makes a joke that Bruce may have shared his song, but has never shared his money with Gary.  Of course not, but Gary US Bonds makes you think that's funny.  His back-up singers consist of his daughter and his wife of 52 years. Like The Chiffons, it's a family project.

OK, Brooklyn, we open act 2 with Jay Siegel's Tokens.  Jay also produced The Chiffons and The Happenings. More Musical family ties.  Their third song is the 1967 easy listening winner. 'Portrait of My Love'. I could listen to that ad infinitum. OK, eventually I might grow tired, but those lyrics partnered with the haunting melody is magic. Of course the magic of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' has caused that song to be reinvented and re-established for younger successive  generations. A WEEM A WAY! The beauty of the harmonies that carried through The British Invasion up to today. And make no mistake, I LOVE The British Invasion! Why can't I claim many genres?

Who ends the show? 
Well, Billy J Kramer already gave it away.  Lightning Lou Christie! Thank goodness he decided to go after and release 'Lightning Strikes' or he could have been known as Rainy Rhapsody Lou Christie.  Lou has re-released his cd 'Pledging My Love' with an additional song, 'Dream'.  In honor of this release he sang 'I Sure Fell In Love', the third song on 'Pledging My Love'.  He wrote this song for Frank Sinatra, but Frank never recorded it.  He died so Lou never got to play it for him ... but Sinatra's family and friends say Frank would have loved it!  Lou has a great delivery on his jokes, and a very down to earth presentation that allows us to peek into his summer travels and shock at returning to the States and our political nonsense. He did not refer to it as "nonsense". He was more specific, but "nonsense" covers it.  His hits, his encore (only encore allowed this show) were well worth the wait we have had in the northeast. EVERYONE this night was at the top of their game. You really expect that most multi-group shows, will average out and you will enjoy it overall.  However, this show didn't need a "grading curve".

I hope you made it Billy J.

Next week?  

Shelley J Sweet-Tufano
From Billy J ...
Hi Kent ...
Lou is always great!
Last night we went to see The Legends of Rock in concert in Fort Lauderdale. I have my doubts on who there was a true legend, but anyway ...  
Opening up was Mitch Ryder. He had a few big hits in the 60's. Legend? Meh. He sang Little Latin Lupe Lou, Sock it to Me Baby, Jenny Take a Ride and, of course, Devil With The Blue Dress On. He tried telling a few jokes and stories that fell completely flat on the audience. He was kind of "out there". But he sounded good.  
Backing him was Rick Derringer and his band. He is a legend. I didn't realize he had written Free Ride and Frankenstein! He was kickin' on that guitar playing them! Apparently he wrote a lot more hit songs than that for others. My favorite part was when he sang Hang On Sloopy! I knew, but I guess a lot didn't, that he was in The McCoys back then. He sang the "missing verse" that he said was cut from the song when played on the radio back then.  
He then introduced Mark Farner, and told us he was not allowed mention Grand Funk Railroad. Apparently, GFR is also on tour with three singers taking Farner's place. He did all the big GFR hits, except We're An American Band (which surprised us). But the real audience favorite was Closer to My Home, and mine, too! He is a phenomenal guitar player, also.  
After the intermission, came the headliners ... Jefferson Starship. I felt like I was seeing a cover band. Oddly, just plain Starship was appearing in Orlando at the same time. I wonder who was in THAT band? There was one original member, David Freiberg, and the lead singer looked like a Stevie Nicks wannabe with her long blonde hair and cowboy hat and boots. She had a raspy, powerful voice. A lot of people left the theater while they were on. They sang Miracles, Somebody to Love White Rabbit and a bunch of songs I didn't know. The finale had everyone back on stage to do Volunteers, the song Jefferson Airplane played at Woodstock. 
Here are a few photos from the show ...

And a few photos from Shelley's concert review last week of Peter Noone and Herman's Hermits along with Matthew and Gunnar Nelson's Tribute To Ricky Nelson that we didn't receive in time to run with the review ...

Next up for us ...

Tommy James and the Shondells ... 

This Saturday Night at The Arcada Theatre (another sold out show!!!)

Aw heck ... one with Nelson, too!!!