Monday, July 9, 2018


We’re going to wrap up our Cornerstones Commentary with this issue … meaning that from this point forward, we’ll dispense with the commentary and instead simply enjoy the show. 

We have only ever offered constructive criticism in this regards ... suggestions that might make for an even better show than it already is.  Sometimes artists lose sight of what pleases their fans most and ... as they have said since the beginning of time ... without the fans, there is no show.

But the plain and simple truth is that there is absolutely nothing that I can say or suggest that is going to change anything anyway.  We can all opinionate to our hearts’ content … but the show is going to go on the way THEY want it to … and if their collective conscience has no trouble sleeping at night, then I’ve said all that I’m prepared to say. 

And really, what’s to argue?  Start to finish, it’s a GREAT show … THOROUGHLY enjoyable throughout … put on by a bunch of guys that I truly love and care a great deal about.  It has rejuvenated our collective love of this music and has had nothing but a positive result, with sell-out show after sell-out show after sell-out show.  (I’ve probably seen the show a dozen times already and could see it five dozen more and still not tire of the way this music is being presented.  It has been such a HUGE part of my life that I feel honored to be affiliated with these artists in ANY capacity … and my love and appreciate for this music will never die.) 

So let’s go to the mat one last time … and then sit back and enjoy the show.  (kk) 

We attended the Cornerstones of Rock show, driving up from Rockford, and found it an incredibly pleasant experience. The traffic was not a problem as we parked in a Park and Ride facility on the southwest edge of town and took the shuttle bus in for $3.00, which reflects a senior citizen discount. From there on in, it just got better.
It was Throwback Thursday and admission was only $5.00 and beers were half price. As advertised on your site, some of the band members mentioned a 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm start instead of the posted 4:00 pm start shown on the websites. The daily schedule also stated 3:00 pm. As it turns out, the start was at the original 4:00 pm time slot, even though the stands were packed at 3:00 pm.
The only problem with this time frame was that the bright sun was directly over the unlit covered stage and for about the first hour you had difficulty seeing the actual bands on stage. The bright sun is typical of the problems that I want to have these days. In addition, there were spotty problems with the sound system during small portions of the show. With so many competent singers on stage, it was if the sound guy was having difficulty highlighting the volume on the individual microphones as vocals switched from singer to singer. These were minor details and all in all it was a good show.
The sets were expanded from the previous shows. My highlight of the show was seeing and hearing "Mr. Unreliable" performed live for most likely the first time since 1968. Contrary to your statement, I am in agreement with Jim Fairs in the fact that some of the songs could use a little tweaking to reflect the advancements in sound equipment, not to mention the 40 - 50 plus years of additional practice time available to the musicians. I felt like a little edge had been added to the performance of "Mr. Unreliable" and I was OK with that. Although Jim Fairs did not attend the show, as indicated one of his original guitars apparently did.
Although I enjoyed all of the performances last night, I felt that the top performances came from The New Colony Six and The Buckinghams. Let's get some more 4:00 pm shows on the schedule. That time frame fits in better with my current life style.
Robert S. Campbell

Kent -- 
When I first started interviewing musicians for my website, I was often indignantly criticized by the interviewees for using the term “garage band.”   Years ago (and the perception still persists today to a lesser degree), the word “garage” symbolized to many musicians a “lack of professional status.”  Many of these musicians couldn’t understand how a pro group could be considered a “garage” band, not realizing the term reflected more of a sound than a skill-set level. Now, of course, having been in a 1960’s “garage band” is almost a badge of honor, and — as with the Cornerstones show — even used as part of a group’s marketing angle. But, if we’re being honest, the best known songs — i.e., the hits — by the Buckinghams, the Cryan’ Shames, the Ides of March and the New Colony Six, all fall squarely outside what is typically categorized as “garage rock” (granted, all of these groups recorded excellent songs that favorably compare to the best of ‘60s garage rock … but it’s not what they’re remembered for.) 
The one Cornerstones group that personifies true garage rock, of course, is the Shadows of Knight. Although they had a later “bubblegum” phase, they’ll always be remembered for ‘Gloria,‘ 'Oh Yeah.,’ ‘I’m Gonna Make You Mine’ and other legendary garage rockers.
To be clear, I am in no way knocking any of the groups that form the Cornerstones, as I am a huge fan of each. But when listing the best 1960s garage bands from Chicago (again, Shadows of Knight excluded), none of them would immediately come to mind. Bruce Mattey, as a member of the Revelles (their song ‘Little Girl’ is included in Cornerstones shows), however, perhaps represents the concept of a “garage band” better than any of the true headliners (Shadows of Knight excluded).
My point? If I was to organize an authentic Chicago garage rock concert, I would instead feature groups like the Knaves, the Little Boy Blues, Dirty Wurds, and Shady Daze (along with the Shadows and, yes, the Revelles.)   To me, hearing songs like Mattey’s garage pop ‘Little Girl’ is always a highlight … and helps lend some credence to the garage band angle of the shows. In fact, I think the Revelles’ ‘You Love Me No More,’ written by Forgotten Hits’ contributor Freddie Glickstein, should be added. It’s a garage rock classic. 
In my opinion, as enjoyable as they are, the Cornerstones show is better represented as a “Chicago’s Hitmakers” performance rather than a “garage band” concert.
Mike Dugo

We made the trip up to Milwaukee to catch the Cornerstones show at Summerfest last week … first time for me (although I had read so much about it on your site before that I felt as if I already knew the show by heart.)  
Still, there were a few surprises as each act (with the exception of Jimy Sohns) performed extended sets as promised in your posts the week before.  (I'm not sure what happened with Jimy, but he didn't look well.  He left the stage after only three songs … and never performed his biggest hit, "Gloria."  I'm worried about him … what have you heard?)
As for the rest of the show, The Ides Of March proved to be a very suitable "back-up band" for the other acts … and also performed a killer set of their own.  But if I had to pick a "winner" at the Summerfest show, I'd have to give it to The New Colony Six who I believe performed the strongest set of the night.  It was great to see both Ronnie Rice and Ray Graffia, Jr. singing their hits together again and I thought Bruce Mattey made an interesting contribution with his own Revelles' hit "Little Girl."
Having read more of the controversy regarding The Buckinghams and their failure to include original singer Dennis Tufano as part of the Cornerstones mix, I have to say that they still put on a very strong set to close the show.  While I would loved to have seen Dennis and Carl trade off vocals, just as they did in both the original PBS Soundstage Cornerstones broadcast and the Benefit Concert for Marty Grebb, I understand that Carl is the voice of The Buckinghams today … and has been for the past 30-35 years now.  Still, I understand your point that it would make for a nice olive branch gesture to have Dennis participate in the Cornerstones shows only if only as a way of keeping these performances unique … and I believe that this might actually spark more opportunities for Cornerstones to tour outside the Midwest, as The Buckinghams had, by far, the biggest national hits of all the acts featured.
It's a tough call … but I still have to believe that SOMETHING could be worked out that would allow the band provisions and an understanding that they could all live with as well as providing a means to better satisfy their audience who grew up with all of this great music.  One can only hope that something can be worked out that creates a "livable" situation for all parties concerned.
You raise another good point … with health issues already plaguing Jimy Sohns and Jim Pilster … and having already taken all three members of Aliotta, Haynes and Jeremiah from us as well as Gary Loizzo of The American Breed … coupled with the fact that the novelty of these acts will eventually fade away unless they continue to expand the play list to include more surprises and variety … just how many more Cornerstones shows are in all of our futures?  I would love to see these groups go out on a high note … I love the idea of Ronnie and Ray performing together again … perhaps Jim Fairs can team back up with Hooke and Toad of The Cryan' Shames and, with a little bit of luck and compromise, Carl and Dennis singing together again in The Buckinghams.  Who knows … that change in attitude just might keep fans coming back again and again.
The truth is, Cornerstones seems to draw many of the same, faithful fans again and again and again already, myself included.  They really don't need to change a thing and people will still come out to see the show.  We never tire of hearing this great music presented in a way that rewards all of us who have remained faithful for the past five decades.  But I believe that our suggestions for keeping the show fresh and mixing things up now and again would not only keep things more interesting for the fans, but for the artists themselves as well.  The burden for this falls squarely on The Ides Of March, as they are the ones who have to back up all the other artists on stage ... but I don't doubt for a minute that they'd be up for the challenge.
To clarify a couple of points in my previous post … it was not my intention to slam Bruce Mattey's participation with The New Colony Six … he has been a member for over thirty years now, all during a time when Ronnie Rice didn't want to be associated as a member of the band but rather as a solo artist.  Likewise, thirty-something years ago Dennis walked away from a permanent Buckinghams reunion in order to pursue other solo career options … and it has been Carl and Nick that have kept the "brand name" going and viable … and they have been VERY successful in doing so, headlining on many of the Oldies Cruises and Happy Together Tours.  This has all been THEIR doing, thanks to a commitment to keeping this great music alive by presenting it to fans who have always loved it and still want to hear it.
My feelings, more to the point, were that there can be NO possible logical way that justification can be made for Bruce Mattey to be included in every Cornerstones show but that Dennis Tufano shouldn’t be.  It just doesn’t make rational sense.
That being said, I read an interesting quote in Chuck Negron's autobiography the other day.  Although several opportunities presented themselves over the years once Chuck was clean and sober again, the original members of Three Dog Night never performed together again.  Danny and Cory toured as Three Dog Night (or Two Dog Night or Two-Thirds Dog Night) for decades while Chuck's only option was to carve out a solo career.  (As probably the most recognizable voice in Three Dog Night, he, too, has done very well for himself, touring as part of many oldies packages as well as Oldies Cruises and Happy Together Tours.)  He has cleaned up his act and has become a huge concert attraction on his own.  With the passing of Cory Wells a couple of years ago, the option of a full-on Three Dog Night reunion is no longer possible … and that's something Danny and Chuck will have to live with for the rest of their lives.  (When Carl and Nick and Dennis and Marty Grebb got back together for the benefit concert that Dennis organized, it was an electric moment that can't be described any other way.  It was the combination of these four guys … plus dearly departed drummer Jon Jon Poulos … that made the magic happen way back when … and resulted in The Buckinghams being named The Most Popular American Band in 1967.  But a key part of that success was the fact that Dennis Tufano sang the lead vocal on EVERY hit The Buckinghams ever had.  It wasn't Carl's guitar playing or Nick's bass playing that sold the records ... quite often those roles were filled by studio musicians on the records ... it was the total sum of ALL the parts that made The Buckinghams a success.)
Chuck relates an incident that happened in 1993 that could have allowed all three members to perform together again …
MCA Records, which now owned the Three Dog Night catalog had just released a very successful anthology album … Chuck was recording again as a solo artist and MCA Executives wanted to see Chuck perform before a live audience to see if they might be interested in signing him back to a record deal and tour.

Here's how Chuck tells it:
Danny … now blaming Cory for keeping me out of the band … told me on the telephone that Three Dog Night had a big concert scheduled at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.  He said I could join them for at least one number if Cory consented to the idea.  I called Cory and assured him that I would work for no pay.  I merely wanted a chance to show them what I could do on stage.  Cory said no.  He explained, "Chuck, I can't help you.  We've been giving them hamburger for so long that if I bring a piece of steak on stage, I'll never be able to give them hamburger again."  So that ws the end of it.  I wouldn't get a chance to sing with Danny and Cory again.
This story puts a lot of things into perspective, dontcha think?  (kk)

I was not able to attend the Cornerstones show at Milwaukee's Summerfest but I wish that I would have been able.  I liked your post about group members burying the hatchet and singing together for a few shows.  You hit the nail on the head. It is a similar story with many of the groups of that era.
Phil Nee – WRCO

I saw the Buckinghams two years ago as part of the Happy Together tour.  In my humble opinion it's hard to look at a band doing all their hits without the original lead singer. 
Yes, The Buckinghams were just fine, but not my favorite part of the show simply because that voice I heard coming out of my radio wasn't there.
Sorry, Bucks. I'm happy that you are still getting work, but you aren't the Buckinghams to me without the real voice out front.
I also agree that when bands go out and do their hits, do them the way we remember them. I've been in bands for many years, and the tribute band that I'm in does our very best to replicate the songs we do simply for that reason.
Carl has been the voice of The Buckinghams for so long now (35+ years) that he and Nick have become the accepted version of the band … and they have toured virtually non-stop, successfully, during this era.  (When Dennis elected to walk away to pursue other opportunities, the band could have simply died right there … but Carl and Nick decided to percevier … and they have done an amazing job of keeping the brand alive.  Having Dennis appear, even at special events like a Cornerstones show or the aforementioned Marty Grebb Benefit Concert (which Dennis organized, by the way, inviting both Carl and Nick to participate), confuses the public.  (Carl once told me that he has spent the past 30+ years trying to get the audience to forget that he’s not the original lead singer … and for the more unsuspecting crowd, it seems to have worked.)  Still, as stated previously, I think it would be nice to include Dennis in the Cornerstones shows because that is the foundation on which they were built.  I can accept each act performing their separate shows the rest of the year … and fully support BOTH of them in their efforts to do so.
Please keep in mind that Carl and Nick ARE The Buckinghams ... this is THEIR baby ... and they don't have to do anything they don't want to do.  (The other side of that coin, of course is that they CAN do whatever it is that they want to do ... and that common "want" does not seem to include Dennis in the Cornerstones shows.)
But Dennis WAS the voice of The Buckinghams … if you hear them on the radio, THAT’S the voice you’re going to hear.  (Incredibly, I heard 60s on 6 / Sirius XM play “Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song” the other day … and the deejay announced the band as “Dennis Tufano and the Buckinghams” … which tells me that either those in the know want it to be known that Dennis was the voice on the records … or the Sirius XM 60s guys are Forgotten Hits Readers!  (lol)

That being said … (‘cause I feel like we have beaten this to death once again), I’m going to share one more detail from Chuck’s book with you …

As the positive reviews of my concerts started coming in, I was asked to play more and more solo shows.  Promoters across the country booked me to sing at everything from casinos and corporate events to festivals. The popularity of my shows quickly became a concern for Danny and Cory.  They felt I was taking business away from them and they were determined to make sure that didn’t happen.  Instead of talking about it, they decided to try and put me out of business instead.
I found out what they were up to when I was booked to do a show in San Diego.  As the date approached, the promoter called me to say there was a problem and maybe I didn’t need to show up.  He had received a letter from the agency handling Three Dog Night stating that if he billed as “The Voice Of Three Dog Night” or anything related to Three Dog Night, the agency would stop doing business with him.  The promoter didn’t want to be boycotted by a large talent agency and he was scared.
When we saw a copy of the letter, my lawyer checked around and found that the same thing was happening in a lot of places … the agency was threatening to sue or boycott businesses that booked me and used the Three Dog Night name. 

Can you believe this???  The agency that was handling the bookings for Three Dog Night (Cory and Danny) was strong-arming venues behind the scenes if they were considering booking Chuck on his own, threatening to withhold not only Three Dog Night from performing any future shows at their venue but also dangling the rest of their stable of artists as being “off limits” should the venue book a Chuck Negron solo show.  (Can you even imagine this … going out of your way to deprive a key part of your OWN success from making a living???  Pretty underhanded stuff, right?  Now of course OUR guys would never do something under-handed like this … would they???)  kk

Kent -
I'll send my review of the Cornerstones show later … but how is Jimy Sohns?  He did not look good and had to sit while singing one of his songs. Hope he is Ok.  He did not even sing Gloria. Worried.
Mike DeMartino
We received about a dozen emails asking about Jimy Sohns after word went out about his shortened set during the Cornerstones Summerfest Concert.  Obviously, fans are concerned, especially after Jimy suffered a stroke a short while back.  Honestly, I don’t know how they do it … so many of the performers we write about are now well into their 70’s and yet they’re still out there, giving their all on stage and, in many cases, in 90 - 100 degree heat!  This can’t be healthy for ANYBODY!!!  (I can’t stand to even sit out there in this extreme weather, much less perform!)  I made several attempts to contact Jimy over the past week and a half just to see how he’s doin’ … but never received any sort of a reply back.  We can only hope that he’s doing OK, and saving up his strength for future shows.  (Take care, Jimy!)  kk

And then …

Kent -
Finally got the time to get back to you.
The Cornerstones concert was great. A few negative items but I am not going to mention them and dwell instead on the positive.
As always, the Ides backed up all of the bands except the Bucks.  Especially with the Shames and the NC6, it was a “harmony heaven” with the Ides joining in vocally.  I would say it was a great show. As I mentioned before, I’m most concerned about Jimy Sohns ... I certainly hope he is OK!
We are so fortunate to have a show like this, showcasing acts from Chicagoland from the great era of the 60's.
I can die now having heard not only "Superman" but "Rollercoaster," too … THANK YOU, Jimmy and the Ides!
I feel bad about Dennis not being included in the show. I thought the bad blood was over with! C'mon guys … grow up! We love you all and it hurts your fans to see this nonsense!
Finally, I would love to see the Flock do a number from their “Destination" days.
Love ya, Kent!  Hope to catch you somewhere in the summer.
Mike De Martino 
We have suggested that they add The Flock tune “Take Me Back” to the Cornerstones set several times now … we saw Bruce Mattey perform this at one of the Bob Stroud / Rock And Roll Roots Release Parties a few years ago and he blew the doors off with this one.  Add in the Ides Horn Section and this would be a GREAT way to salute yet another Chicago ‘60’s Band … and also liven up the set with another killer, up-tempo track.  (kk)

I want to thank you for telling it like it is regarding the exclusion of Dennis Tufano from the Cornerstones concerts.  If anyone should be there, it's Dennis.
I was not too shocked to hear that he wasn't invited AGAIN, but none the less, I was disgusted.  You called it embarrassing.  I agree.  It's also shameful and hurtful to exclude a founding member. To shut out a band member whose voice made the songs hits is absolutely incomprehensible.  Thus, I would say the Cornerstones of Rock lacks authenticity and has lost its purity. 
If it's any consolation to Dennis, his fans love him, and they know that he can outperform and outclass just about any other singer on the bill.  Hmm, maybe that's the problem.
Thanks again, Kent.
Kathy Cook

Read your Summerfest post ... betcha get more than a few others chiming in and will be interested to see if they are posted.  That being said, I have to say that I am pretty proud of the bonding that those of us who have been blessed to still play our “ancient’ music have been enjoying as part of Cornerstones.  On a side note, I have to agree that if Bruce (Ronnie’s voice in NC6 now for 30 years) and Ronnie can get along and share the stage and time behind the scenes, why cannot all of us?  “Why can’t we be friends?  Why can’t we be friends? Etc.”   
As such, I agree with your premise and find it difficult to understand that whatever injuries both / either Carl and / or Dennis suffered in the past are not able to be laid aside and a new / refreshed friendship begun (or at least tolerance shown).  I guess (as a totally uniformed outsider) that the hurting must run incredibly deep.  Shifting gears…
Regarding your comment that several readers had singled us out as being a highlight of the event, that was exhilarating and super satisfying, however our set was only expanded to a sextet, although with the additions of I'm Just Waitin’ and Roll On to at least vary things a smidge I couldn't help but wonder why not Can't You See Me Cry acoustic, which Bruce and I have performed as part of Cornerstones in the past, as nobody would have had to learn anything and it would have added less than 2.5 minutes to our set.  Oh well, perhaps another time!  (By the way, Bruce sang Roll On yesterday, including the bridge, which Ronnie did on the record ... Ronnie said he'd rather not do it, so Bruce handled the whole song.)  
Heading back to the homestead after typing this to see how much stuff appeared on Facebook – fingers crossed for some vids posted as I, too, thought we were at our best yesterday. 
Coming to any of our solo Colony gigs this summer?  Hope so!  
We have firm commitments so far this summer include the Colony appearing at:
  • the Sheffield Garden Walk in Chicago on 7-22 (;
  • Del Webb Sun City in Huntley, IL on 7-31 (yep – a Tuesday and done by / before 9 but unsure of any way to secure tickets other than to call the facility – could not find anything online … yet?);
  • an outside fest in Hillside in August ( and …
  • one more performance but this one may be a private dealie for a reunion – notes I have are not crystal clear but that’ll be in the southern suburbs on 9-22 and I’ll fill you in with details if it will be open to the public! 
Peace, brother Kent;
Happy Weekend
Ray Graffia, Jr.
The New Colony Six

Hope to make it out to at least one of these.  Meanwhile here’s the only video clip we could find on YouTube from the Summerfest Concert … a group effort tribute to The American Breed’s #1 Hit “Bend Me, Shape Me” …

You can read more from Ray’s Facebook posting here:

That’s it … we’re out of gas on this one.
If you have the opportunity to see the show, PLEASE do so … you will NOT be disappointed.  And if somewhere down the line they decide to spice things up with a few song revisions here and there  (or an unexpected face and voice happens to appear on stage), so be it … consider yourself lucky to have been there to witness the experience. (kk)

11/24 – The Arcada Theatre  (St. Charles, IL)

7/21 – Sheffield Garden Walk  (Chicago, IL)
7/27 – Wood Dale Prairie Fest  (Wood Dale, IL)
7/28 – Brookfield Zoo  (Brookfield, IL)
8/21 – The Ides Of March sing The National Anthem before the Chicago White Sox Game  (Guaranteed Rate Field / Sox Park – Chicago, IL)
8/25 – DeKalb Corn Fest  (DeKalb, IL)
9/7 – Winfield Good Old Days (Winfield, IL)
12/15 – The Arcada Theatre (St. Charles, IL) – The Ides Annual Christmas Show  (This is NOT to be missed!)

10/6 – Moraine Valley Community College  (Palos Hills, IL)
1/12/19 – Wentz Hall  (Naperville, IL)

7/22 – Sheffield Garden Walk (Chicago, IL)
7/31 – Del Webb Sun City  (Huntley, IL)

7/21 – Colletti’s Restaurant (Chicago, IL)
11/10 - Temple Chai School Days, Temple Chai, South Social Hall  (Long Grove, IL)

7/22 – Sheffield Garden Walk  (Chicago, IL)

No upcoming shows listed

7/21 – Sheffield Garden Walk  (Chicago, IL)
7/28 – Wood Dale Prairie Festival (Wood Dale, IL)
8/28 – Hillside Fest (Hillside, IL)
9/29 – Hot August Night  (NYCB – Westbury, NY)
10/19 - Golden Nugget Casino  (Las Vegas, NV)
10/20 – Golden Nugget Casino  (Atlantic City, NJ)
10/26 – Woodstock Opera House  (Woodstock, IL)
11/17 – Bergen Performing Arts Center (Engelwood, NJ)
12/14, 12/15 – Belfry Music Theater  (The Buckinghams Christmas Show)  Delavan, WI
9/23 – Copernicus Center  (Chicago, IL)
9/29 – American Music Theatre (Lancaster, PA)