We’ve got a Shelley Sweet-Tufano Concert Review Two-fer for you today …
As the Summer Concert Series winds down again (man, where the heck has this year gone?!?!), we’ll feature reviews of a couple of different shows she saw recently as yet another Guest Concert Review. (If you’d like to submit a review of something you’ve seen recently, drop us a line … we welcome your input!) kk
First Up … The Oldies Spectacular Show!
Get a cup of coffee, tea or glass of wine and have a read.
I want to take a moment to focus on the support staff that work with our 50s, 60s, 70,s and 80s musicians. I know it is not an easy job working with / serving the public. (that’s us in this case) On its best day you can laugh, smile and say, “Wow! That was a fun time!” At its worst, you STILL must smile, while gritting your teeth or keeping down panic. You need to keep remembering, “I have coffee and a soft bed at home. It’s ok.” For this weekend I want to thank Lou Christie’s Ladies and LAR Enterprises, Inc. for helping me with ticket purchases, concert information, and making me feel welcome. So Kathy, Linda and Laura: THANK YOU! There are many people making it all happen.
This is an “Oldies Spectacular” sponsored by The Lions Club of Southampton and Radio Station WLNG out of Long Island. We have mentioned this oldies station before in Forgotten Hits. Tonight’s Master of Ceremonies is Cool Bobby B, host of the Doo Wop Shop Oldies Show on Tuesday nights. The following is his intro:
Pennsylvania, 1957, at precisely midnight, and under a full moon, a shadowy figure breaks the flimsy lock on a “day timer” radio station transmitter room, cranks up the power to 100,000 watts and broadcasts Street Corner Harmony records (later to be know as Doo Wop.) The police responded but before they could apprehend him, the intruder slipped out the back door and into Rock ‘n Roll history, leaving but a single clue … a cowbell. He remains wanted to this very day, but that same voice can now be heard throughout the country on the nationally syndicated Cool Bobby B’s Doo Wop Stop.
It’s a true story. Bobby B even beats us to the lobby after the show (he had just closed the show from the stage) and says Good-night and Thank You to each patron. That is one slippery disc jockey.
The Quotations open the show. Although they have appeared on the My Music TV shows, this is the first time I have seen them live. It was NOT my ‘Imagination’ - they were very good. Beautiful harmonic renditions despite reported health issues from one of their team. Each act sang full sets (the concert was three and a half hours long) and so even though I wrote down each song all night, typing the set lists would overshadow the space on this review. If anybody wants to know, ask me. I will be glad to send any and all to Kent, but for now let’s talk performances.
The Quotations gave us fast and furious, (Let Me In) humor, (What’s Your Pain?) smooth, (Sha-Boom, Sha-Boom) and romantic (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.) Of course, they performed “Gimmee the Mah Mah Mah ... Gimmee the Mah Mah Mah gination” ... and now this song is stuck in my head.
Imagination is funny ... (Oh stop it! )
They were an unexpected treat for me starting the show. The Lions Club has done a great job printing full page info on each act so I will be quoting a few lines about each one.
“The Quotations are a doo-wop band that got its start in 1958 when the boys were students at James Madison High School in East Brooklyn, New York. Like so many rock and roll groups, they would hang out in the neighborhood, harmonizing and dreaming of the day they would get their chance to “make it” into the big time. But in those days, Barney’s Pool Room on King’s Highway was about as far as they got, but it was the center of their universe and a place to meet.”
It took ‘Imagination’ …
Red suit … red shoes … Let’s go to the Peppermint Lounge. Joey Dee runs out, jumps around and dances (girls twist better) through his set.
"1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, 10 Downing Street, and maybe one or two others ... these were among the few addresses around the world which were instantly recognizable to just about anyone who was alive during the 1960’s. But all they had to do was hear, “There’s a place down on 45th Street …” and anybody who was even barely conscious knew it was the location of the Peppermint Lounge, a rather small nightclub which had become the primary watering hole for the rich and famous of that era. And it was all due to a handsome, talented kid from New Jersey named Joey “Dee” and his super-energetic band called the Starlighters, who rocked the place to the rafters every night to the great delight of the glittering clubbers who flocked to see them.”
Two ‘twist’ songs and, of course, ‘Shout’ are performed by Joey tonight, as well as a Rap parody named ‘Pants On The Ground’. The Quotations become his back-up singers (standing off-stage) for ‘Peppermint Twist.’ He brings them out to give them their credit applause. Nice, right? Speaking of applause, Joey tells us he wants to take a picture for his family in Florida to prove that he received a standing ovation tonight. So what do we do? Stand up! Joey gets his picture and skips (yes, skips) off-stage.
White boots, white pants, and a bright “shocking orange” shirt delight the crowd as Lou Christie emerges to end the first act tonight.
“Throughout the 1960’s Lou recorded hit after hit that would sell millions of copies to his loyal fans around the country and around the world. The list of hits included 'Lightning Strikes,' 'I’m Gonna Make You Mine' and the controversial 'Rhapsody in the Rain,' which was banned from air play because of lyrics that were deemed 'suggestive' for the time. But as so often is the case, material that’s suppressed becomes even more desirable than it might have been without the censorship and 'Rhapsody' became one of Lou’s major recordings.”
I am picking up a pattern on Lou’s introductions from stage to stage. A common phrase used is: APPEARING ON THIS STAGE IS THE MAN HIMSELF, LOU CHRISTIE. Think about this. I finally had to. To be called “the man himself” time after time requires one to be elevated to a certain position or stature. I have heard from other performers that “Lou is just a nice guy.” Three times from the audience tonight a woman shouts out, clearly audible, “YOU’RE STILL HOT!” He IS still hot. He is still in command of a powerful voice that brings falsetto and romance together in a classic “Moon-Pie” combination (Northerners: “Scooter-Pie.”) When they sing to us, these performers still make us feel desired and appreciated … and young. He gets all the words right for "The Heart of Saturday Night" and brings down the house with "Lightning Strikes" and the encore of "Never My Love."
“Frank Reina is the original second tenor of The Capris. Tony Sergi joined The Capris in 1985 as their drummer. At 13 years old, John Monforte started singing as a first tenor on the street corners of Queens. Lou Esposito joined The Capris in 1998 after their guitarist Danny Spitalieri became ill. Michael D’Amore is lead singer and the newest member of The Capris.”
Thus begins the second half of the show.
The Capris verbally pay homage to Eugene Pitt, founding member of The Jive Five, who passed away July 5th. They mention him often and dedicate songs to him. Their initial appearance on stage is to a jumpin’ "Great Balls of Fire." They are obviously looking out for the men in the audience when they tell them to keep away from "Runaround Sue." Great harmonies and a blistering falsetto from Michael D’Amore mark their set, which gives me another view of "Love Potion #9." Boy, that was one busy gypsy supplying all that potion to these vocal groups.
Frank steps up as spokesman and regales the crowd with stories. I almost love these stories from the artists as much as the music. The stories they tell pull the time, the people, and the music together into a cohesive unit. How to end the set? Only one way: "There’s A Moon Out Tonight." And actually, there was no moon. There was a partial new moon lunar eclipse. Ironic.
And closing the show are The Duprees.
“The Duprees are known the world over for their romantic interpretations of some of the most beautiful love songs ever written. They have made a career out of giving new life to old hits. If you take the Glenn Miller arrangements of the 1940’s along with the tunes of Joni James, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Nat 'King' Cole and the vocal harmonies of Tom Petillo, Tony Testa, Phil Granito and Jimmy Spinelli and put them together, you have the sound of THE DUPREES.”
It is a puzzlement to me as to why this is the first time I have seen The Duprees in live concert. They sing 15 songs and have a killer stage show, but our paths have not crossed before. “We sing harmonies in love songs. It’s what we do.” Yes, it certainly is! Beautiful, classic songs that even if they are not about romantic love, bespeak of love of some type. My mouth dropping favorite was "Exodus." I loved this song from the moment I first heard it, yet to hear it swell up from the stage with the strength of “THIS LAND IS MINE. GOD GAVE THIS LAND TO ME” not only gives goosebumps, but brings tears. My all-time favorite movie (speaking of tears) is GONE WITH THE WIND. Yes, they performed "Tara’s Theme," which did not have words in the movie and certainly could never have been sung by Scarlett given the drama of the plot, but now helps you to relive the events the movie portrays and hope that Miss Scarlett is wiser and open to a new outlook. At one point, Phil Granito is given the stage and turns into a human Gumby singing a medley that ends with "Say You Will." This is a sudden, surprising contrast to their coordinated love harmonies movement. The final song, "You Belong To Me," is a culmination of romantic love in its harmonic best.
For those of us who love the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s music, what comes around will just keep going around. There is a flash of new … a dash of classic … and an eternity of delight and memories. New performers join the seasoned and the “Hits just keep on coming” in concerts around the world. I am delighted ... and frustrated ... that currently there are more concerts within a three hour radius than I can get to. This week is my vacation from both jobs and Saturday brings a show in Coney Island, a show on Long Island, a music fest in Milford, CT, AND I am traveling home that day from concerts in Pennsylvania.
Wait a minute … I am scheduled to work Monday night? During my vacation? I MEAN REALLY??!!
It’s ok … Deep breath … I have coffee and a soft bed here at home.