There was a lot of commotion in The Wolf Den as preparations moved forward for Chuck’s evening performance. He has a new band, new arrangements, and presumably, new opening night jitters. There was a five year period in which no one had more hits or sold more records than Three Dog Night. I am told that there are members of the audience who are more nervous about tonight’s opening than Chuck is … or at least appears to be.
He steps out calm, seemingly relaxed and amazingly strong for all his health issues. It’s allergy season for all, including Chuck tonight, but I am refreshed at the idea that his allergies are bothering him more than the need for his oxygen glasses tonight. Oh sure, he needs to take deep breaths of air when he has a vocal pause, and he doesn’t share as many stories as he has other times; but this can also be a matter of time allowed for the concert and the preference to include as many songs as possible.
FAMILY OF MAN opens the concert as Chuck arrives on stage. This song tied with ‘Black and White’ for me as my fave Three Dog Night piece. The sound balance between Chuck and the band seems to be off. The band is louder than it needs to be. Chuck’s voice is powerful … STILL powerful … and The Wolf Den lighting and sound crew are known for their excellence … but tonight I am feeling an imbalance that is not corrected at any time. I could pass it off as just my location, but other friends, in other Den sections, brought it up to me after the show.
‘Out In The Country,’ ‘Shambala’ and ‘Liar’ follow next. Listen to the lyrics of ‘Out In The Country.’ “Before the air I breathe is gone” … I connect this directly to Chuck’s present life. He cherishes every breath … he has turned his life around to where it needs to be and values his self-worth within his friends and family. The song ‘Liar’ is gritty, edgy as Chuck crawls inside it and spits out his emotions. The band takes over for a heavy rock instrumental and guitar player Ricky Z prances around Chuck, who is obviously feeling his music tonight. Chuck comments after, “I thought he was having a seizure.”
Adding depth and richness of voice to ‘Never Been To Spain’ and a purity to ‘Pieces Of April,’ words come rushing through my pen onto my notebook. I look at it now and read, “Only the strength of the music can keep someone going strong or appearing strong when the body is weak.”
From a 60’s Hippie Musical come lyrics that still pound into our present and, if we don’t change, continue into our future ... ‘Easy To Be Hard.’
‘Chest Fever’ with a Latin beat and killer keyboard solo gets Chuck clapping for the musicians in his band. This has always been a strength of his - he claps for his musicians as they perform. ‘One Man Band,’ ‘The Show Must Go On’ and Paul Williams’ haunting ‘An Old Fashioned Love Song.’
‘The Show Must Go On’ becomes my favorite in tonight’s show. I wasn’t sure at first. The calliope impression was quirky, slow, off-key, fast, slow again, on key. But as it wound its way into my mind, I could picture and feel the life of mystery and unpredictability of carnival life and the singer’s goal to keep it going even so.
Coming into the last of the 15 songs: ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come,’ (Glad you did anyway, Chuck), ‘One,’ ‘Celebrate’ and, of course, ‘Joy To The World’.
The really cool thing tonight is that two of my friends passed out green glow sticks to the people standing in line, waiting to get into the free concert at The Wolf’s Den. So when Chuck began his tale about “Jeremiah was a bullfrog,” up pops a green glow throughout the audience. This is made even better in the knowledge that the “high rollers” who are able to reserve seats, did NOT have them and looked at us quizzically as if to say, “Hey! Where’s mine?” “How did you get those and I didn’t?” Chuck was all smiles as he figured out that the “have-nots” had become the “haves”.
Brilliant, Chris and Dan! Thank you!
My final comments are to Chuck’s new band. Chuck is still strong of voice. You guys are gifted musicians. Do not be afraid to be strong, but remember that you do not need to compensate for Chuck. You only need to enhance him. Have a wonderful tour.
-- Shelley J. Sweet-Tufano
As reported here on Sunday, Chuck Negron will once again join The Happy Together Tour when the shows kick off next summer, 2019. Also on the bill: The Turtles (of course!), The Buckinghams, The Cowsills, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and The Classics IV. Watch for tour dates right here ... in Forgotten Hits. (kk)