Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Guest Concert Review: Bowzer's Doo-Wop Concert

We've got another concert review for you this morning as our frequent guest columnist Shelley Sweet-Tufano ... yes, our very own Show-Biz Shelley ... takes us thru the paces of Bowzer's latest Doo-Wop Concert.


Remember the Peppermint Lounge? 

Remember twisting? 

Remember that your ‘twist’ comes with a pain factor now? 


Joey Dee opens Bowzer’s Doo-Wop Concert and we HAVE to start twisting and get back our happy groove.  Joey has a high energy act while twisting in his bright red suit. ‘Let’s Twist’, ‘What Kind of Love is This?’, and ‘Peppermint Twist’ are the three numbers we hear in rapid succession with a little info banter between. Since Bowzer’s shows run three and one-half hours in length, the performers TRY to keep the talk to a minimum and fill the stage with music, dance, and yes … sometimes unexpected mayhem.  

The music of the 50’s and 60’s was one of diversity, both through the artists involved and the styles they sang. It was an all inclusive time, which is why my grade school students could relate to it and embrace it. It is clear examples of what we teach and SHOULD be living. 

I am reaching for the time when we don’t need to look for the diversity in life, because it is automatically there in some manner, with the word ‘bigotry’ forgotten from unuse. 

So fitting then that following Joey Dee, is The Dubs, with original member Cleveland Still. ‘Please Don’t Ask Me To Be Lonely’, ‘In The Chapel of Dreams’, and ‘Could This Be Magic?’ are their selections and what smooooooooth vocals and synchronicity they have. As Bowzer points out, those “young Dubs sing pretty good”. In blue brocade jackets (you know I love my fashion reports, left over from modeling and costume design) they sway, hold onto those harmonic tones, and give us back that slow dance you had with your current crush.  

Bowzer, alone on stage, at the piano, re-playing his classical training at Juilliard and remembering his mother, Bessie. She was the push behind his forward shove to success. The best mother doesn’t plot out your life. She prepares you to live it fully ... and rejoices in ANY success. “Jonathan, you made it!” Tears fill his eyes as he finishes. Maybe his best tribute to her?  

A first-timer, brand new to Bowzer’s circuit is Dennis Tufano. Again, I hear from the stage about what a nice guy he is and how great a performer we will see. True. 

With a red stylish handkerchief peeking out of his jacket pocket, he delivers a bold, strong vocal rendition of his songs, ‘Don’t You Care?’, ‘Hey Baby’, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’, and ‘Kind of A Drag’. Rocky and the Rollers Band is backing the majority of the acts today, and I notice they follow Dennis’ lead and direction as if they know him well. Seeing Dennis twice in consecutive months, I can attest that his touring days are at an all-time high. 

And my girls are here ... Shirley Alston Reeves and The Shirelles! Man, I see them listed all over the country. They booked down to Florida after this concert. Ok, my female friends … WHAT ARE THEY WEARING, YOU ASK?  

Snow white glitter, sparkles and chiffon give them sway and float them across the stage. Shirley still wears platform shoes that increase her stage presence mightily. I just heard her in Torrington, CT; but her voice is even stronger here at the Mohegan Arena. ‘Mama Said’, ‘Baby It’s You’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’, ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ and ‘Soldier Boy’.  

Bowzer brings out The Stingrays and Sha-Na-Na special guest: Johnny Contardo. They just have to start with ‘BLUE MOON’. Then Johnny sings ‘Runaway’. I notice how the years have melted away and the audience has grown younger as we immerse ourselves in the music. ‘Those Magic Changes’ and ‘Lovers Never Say Good-bye’ done as a duet between Johnny and Bowzer. AND THEN … ’Twisting the Night Away’, ‘Hand Jive’ and ‘Shout’! OK, I am dancing and feeling as though I could do the choreography I used to do in my dancing days. Wait a minute! I COULD DO THAT CHOREOGRAPHY TODAY! I feel it! And then I could feel the ride home with the EMT’s.  

How to close the first act? DON’T STOP! Ok … unreasonable, unfeasible, ridiculous. So, bringing out Jay Siegel and The Tokens is brilliant. ‘Tonight I Fell In Love’, ‘Please Write’, and ‘PORTRAIT OF MY LOVE’ (oh yes!) A medley of ‘See You In September’ and ‘One Fine Day’ are sung to honor two groups that The Tokens produced:  The Happenings and The Chiffons. Bill, Kurt and Joel end with a tickling rendition of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. You know, singing that song is always just a whim away for me. (grooooooooan … saaaaawwwwy)  



‘Baby Comet’ is Bill Turner, who has been singing with The Comets on and off since 1987. Originals are Dick Richards / Richard Boccelli (same person) former football player, phys-ed teacher, actor and 93 year old STILL DRUMMING rocker; and Joe Ambrosio, former Caesar’s Palace Floor Boss, 83 years old and STILL ROCKING THAT ORIGINAL SAXOPHONE, from the Bill Haley records. They give me goose-bumps still! They instill energy in me and easily convince me that the future is bright and loooooong in front of me. Red jackets for the originals, blue for the “baby”, they open with ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll’! They could have done that one number and rocked the Arena, BUT they continue with the 1956 hit ‘See You Later Alligator’ which evolves into Dick’s many-minutes long drum solo. Joey is featured in each of the songs, so Dick gives him a break during this solo time. STANDING OVATION!! ENTIRE ARENA STANDING OVATION! Three milliion people says Bowzer! Even though the truth is almost 10,000 people are here (practically full house), it is ROARING! Can we quiet down to hear their final contribution? Yes, ‘Rock Around The Clock’ is clearly heard, jumped to, and clapped to around the Arena with another rousing good-bye send-off to the amazing musicians of the birth of rock-and-roll.  

AH! Time to sit down and calm down and STILL enjoy the greatness of Charlie Thomas and The Drifters. Blue Frock Coat Suits, red ties and matching stylish kerchiefs these professionals put us in the palms of their hands and romance us with ‘On Broadway’, ‘Sweets For My Sweet’, ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’, and ‘Would You Stay?’. A young girl playing percussion (Tori?) is a welcome new addition to their performance, and I believe, is a niece of Charlie Thomas’. Then we go ‘Up On The Roof’, ‘Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay’ and lastly ‘Under The Boardwalk’. Showmanship! Dancing! More Showmanship! More Dancing! And The Drifters drift off-stage as if floating away in a dream.  

I am having such fun with my friends, the music, and meeting concert newbies that it is only now that I remember … this is the RETURN OF KENNY VANCE AND THE PLANOTONES! Four years later, Kenny returns to the concert stage. Hey, Scott Shannon!! YOU WANTED ME TO BE THERE, but you weren’t sure it would ever happen again. MUSIC RULES! MUSIC OVERCOMES! MUSIC HEALS! 

There is no way to express the impact of this moment as Kenny and Johnny Gale begin with an acoustic presentation of ‘For Your Precious Love’. Kenny, still in hat and sunglasses, sings as though nothing to challenge his life has happened. Bringing out his son, Ladd Vance, Kenny joins in duet for ‘Let It Be Me’. And then, to honor the original New Haven, CT, recording of The Five Satins, sings ‘In The Still Of The Night’. Fred Parris, of The Satins was actually in the audience here at The Mohegan Arena. Jimmy Bense, Chip Degaard and Tony Galina all return to the stage with Kenny and Johnny and, of course, we are still ‘Looking For An Echo’. Ending with ‘This Is The Night For Love’, I tell you that it certainly was.  

There is only one more thing to sing … ’Goodnight Sweetheart’ ... featuring Bowzer and The Stingrays with Johnny Contardo.  

Good Night indeed. I feel this is just a beginning.  
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

Thank you, Shelley, for another great review.

And FH Reader Tom Cuddy tells us about another amazing up-coming show (if you happen to live up in that area) ... if so, I'm sure this is one you'll want to check out pronto ... especially if you missed the show Show-Biz Shelley just told us about ... as you'll find many of the same acts onboard for this event!


“A Weekend of Doo Wop and Rock & Roll” returns to Long Island , New York in April for its 20th Anniversary.  It’s a two day event, unlike any other one I’ve seen on the east coast in recent years.  Most acts are backed up by the same band, so the tempo of the show moves along quite quickly.  Each act does their hits. 

Among the chart toppers featured this year are Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon, Kenny Vance of the Planotones and Jay & the Americans, Brian Hyland, the Happenings featuring Bob Miranda, Jay Siegel’s Tokens, Gary U.S. Bonds, Charlie Gracie, Joey Dee and many more!

  Freddy Cannon 

Brian Hyland

Gary U.S. Bonds

One of the aspects of this show that fans love is that every artist interacts with their fans.  Either at intermission or at the end of the show, every act is invited to their own table in the lobby to chat with fans, autograph and take pictures, and sell merchandise.

It’s held at Hauppauge High School in Hauppauge , NY.  The auditorium is above most high school facilities.  It’s a huge stage and the sound and lights are better than many professional club settings.

The memorable weekend of music is put together magnificently every year by LAR Enterprises of Long Island. 

Tickets are available in advance by calling 888-718-4253. 
-  Tom Cuddy

   New York, NY

Saturday //  April 21, 2018
Showtime 5:00pm

Kenny Vance - Looking For an Echo
The Coasters - Charlie Brown
Willie Winfield & The Harptones - Life is But a Dream
The Fleetwoods - Mr. Blue
The Chantels - Maybe
Kid Kyle - The Diary
Jimmy Gilmer - Sugar Shack
Tony Middleton & The Willows - Church Bells May Ring
Lenny Dell & The Demensions - Over The Rainbow
Jimmy Gallagher & The Passions - Just To Be With You
Cleveland Still & The Dubs - Could This Be Magic
​Maurice Newton (original lead singer of The Fidelities) -  These Are The Things I Love

Sunday // April 22, 2018
Showtime: 3:00pm

​ Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon - Palisades Park
Kenny Vance - Looking For an Echo
Gary US Bonds - A Quarter To Three
Joey Dee - The Peppermint Twist
The Capris - There's a Moon Out Tonight
Brian Hyland - Sealed With a Kiss
The Happenings - See You In September
Charlie Gracie - Butterfly
Jay Siegel's Tokens - The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Larry Chance and The Earls - I Believe
La La Brooks (original lead singer of The Crystals) - Da Do Ron Ron
The 5th Estate - Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead
The Quotations - Imagination 

Sounds like one heck of a show, Tom!
(We can't wait to see Freddy when he comes to The Arcada Theatre in July.  Jay Siegel's Tokens, Larry Chance and the Earls and Ladd Vance will also be on hand for this one ... as Doo-Wop comes to The Arcada!  (kk)