Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Saturday Surveys (June 7th)

Here's a 1969 chart from KELP out of El Paso, Texas.

Nice to see The Spiral Starecase (misspelled on the chart) on top with their late-'60's classic ... they only peaked at #12 in Billboard (and #7 nationally).

A couple of Forgotten Hits Favorites can be found in The Top 20 ... "Mendocino" by The Sir Douglas Quintet and "Israelites" by Desmond Dekker and the Aces.  (I'm also partial to the #22 Hit by Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, "Black Pearl", one of the last hits produced by Phil Spector.)  Pretty cool to see The New Colony Six debut higher than The Beatles, too!

And check out the photo below of The Cowsills receiving their gold record for "Hair"!  Very cool chart!

Here's another cool chart, from KRLA this time, circa 1965 ... a two-pager listing The Top 50 Hits (plus 5 "extras") played by the station.  (Check out a couple of those "pick hits" ... one was chose by Bob Eubanks, who later went on to host The Newlywed Game ... the other by Dick Biondi who had recently relocated to LA from Chicago's WLS!  Bob's pick ... "Yes, I'm Ready" did a little bit better than Dick's.)

The Sir Douglas Quintet are represented on this chart, too, with their other big hit, "She's About A Mover".  Another Forgotten Hits Favorite sits at #31 ... "Laurie" by Dickey Lee. 

You'll find some great Two-Sided Hits on this list, too ...

"Satisfaction" / "The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man" by The Rolling Stones (second week on the chart and leaping from #41 to #9) ... they've also got a two-sided hit at #20 ("The Last Time" / "Play With Fire").

More surprising ... how about Them ... with three hits on the chart this week ... their version of "Here Comes The Night" sits at #8 and "Gloria" / "Baby Please Don't Go", listed as a two-sided hit, is at #16.

The Beatles are here (as one would expect) with their latest two-sided winner, "Ticket To Ride" / "Yes It Is" at #15 and Tom Jones is at #37 with "What's New Pussycat" / "Once Upon A Time".

Check out the #13 Record ... it's The Olympics' original version of "Good Lovin'", nine months before The Young Rascals would take THEIR version to #1.  And our buddy Billy Hinsche is new on the charts this week with the first big hit by Dino, Desi and Billy, "I'm A Fool".  Good stuff!

Here's one of the oldest charts sent in for our Saturday Surveys feature.

Dating back to June 9th of 1956, we got some pretty M.O.R. stuff here ...  Vic Damone at #1 with his version of "On The Street Where You Live" ... "I Could Have Danced All Night" by Sylvia Sims at #9 ... and several other titles that wouldn't really rank as "rock and roll" this early in the game.

And although this is only a Top Ten Listing, they still managed to slip in more tracks, thanks to a three-way tie for #3 between The McGuire Sisters, Pat Boone and The Chordettes ... a two-sided hit at #5 by The Four Lads and two two-way ties at #8 between Elvis Presley and Nervous Norvus ... (Elvis was also at #4) ... and #9 between the aforementioned Sims and Teresa Brewer ... giving you a total of fifteen titles in all on their Top 10 Tunes chart this week.

(I wonder how many of these surveys survived through till 2014 ... with the encouragement at the bottom to clip these photos out for your collection!)

Friday, June 6, 2014

50 Years Ago This Weekend (June 6th)

Our first Billboard Chart of June, 1964 finds that THE BEATLES were only able to hold on to the top spot for one week with LOVE ME DO as THE DIXIE CUPS' CHAPEL OF LOVE pushed them out to #2.  A WORLD WITHOUT LOVE, LITTLE CHILDREN and P.S. I LOVE YOU remained in The Top Ten (at numbers 6, 8 and 10 respectively) and THE DAVE CLARK FIVE's version of DO YOU LOVE ME sat right outside The Top Ten at #11.  Other British Hot 100 Hits include DIANE at #14, BITS AND PIECES at #25, DON'T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING (up 21 places to #26), DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET (down to #36 from #19), GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY by THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS at #44, SUGAR AND SPICE by THE SEARCHERS at #47, (meanwhile, their newest release, DON'T THROW YOUR LOVE AWAY, jumps up from #69 to #54), I KNEW IT ALL THE TIME by THE DAVE CLARK FIVE at #53, BAD TO ME, up ten places to #61 for BILLY J. KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS, YESTERDAY'S GONE (sitting at #64 for CHAD AND JEREMY and #84 for THE OVERLANDERS), and THE ROLLING STONES, holding steady at #82.  Surprisingly, there were no new British debuts on the chart this week.

The Beatles kick off the month of June at #1 for one more week on The WLS Silver Dollar Survey with "Love Me Do" / "P.S. I Love You".  Also in The Top Ten:  "Yesterday's Gone" by Chad and Jeremy at #5, the two-sided hit "Little Children" / "Bad To Me" at #7 and "Do You Love Me" by The Dave Clark Five, now up to #8. 

Peter and Gordon's version of "A World Without Love" slips a notch to #11, a position it now shares with Bobby Rydell's version!  "Diane" is at #12 and then there's not another British artist to be found until you hit #40 where "Die Beatles" sit with their German version of "She Loves You", "Sie Liebt Dich"!

On Sunday, June 7th, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and performed three songs: "Pride", "Little Children" and "Bad To Me".

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thursday This And That

re:  Tommy Roe ... And The Triple Crown!:
Hi Kent ... 
I thought you might be interested in hearing my new single, released on Monday, June 2nd.
This is a song I wrote with my long time friend Mike Borchetta called "California Chrome." It's a song about the California-bred dream horse running for the triple crown at Belmont on June 7th. I recorded two versions, one pre-race which I am sending with this email, and one post-race if he wins. Hope you enjoy and if he wins I will send you the winning version.
Tommy Roe
Thanks, Tommy!  Here's hoping he wins!!!  (I wanna hear the other one!!!  lol) 
Forgotten Hits subscribers got an exclusive, sneak peek premier of this track earlier in the week ... and who knows, it just may become quite a collectors' item!  If Chrome wins The Triple Crown, Tommy's revamped "Winners Version" will be the official single release, making this pre-race track (get it?!?!) obsolete.  So hold on to your copy! 
Meanwhile, for those who haven't heard it yet, here's "California  Chrome" by Tommy Roe.  (And be sure to check the racing results this weekend!!!)  kk

Dear Kent,
Thanx for sending me Tommy's effort. As you know, it'll be a while before I'm named president of Mr. Roe's fan club, but this tune is terrific ... completely enjoyable.  I loved the hooks and the melody is catchy.
This does bother me ... I doubt Tommy's song will get much air play. Ask yourself which station is going to add the tune to its play list?
Now, let's go back 40-odd years to Secretariat, "Big Red", prepping for the Belmont. I have no doubt both 'LS and 'CFL would have made the record "happen" on their play lists.
My sincere congrats to Tommy Roe.
Chet Coppock
Host: Chicago Blackhawks Heritage Series
Host: Notre Dame Football, WLS Radio
Tommy personally told me to make sure that you got a copy of this ... "be sure to give it to your sports guy in Chicago"!  (lol)  Hey, maybe you can feature it on YOUR show and drum up a little interest.
Sadly, you're right ... there are SO many great artists out there that are STILL making great music after all these years ... yet radio won't give them the time of day.  (How did artists make "comebacks" back in our day?!?  SOMEBODY had to give 'em a shot and let the fans decide.)
Tommy's latest CD has some GREAT music on it ... and it has won some critical awards ... but the days of instant success and gratification seem to have disappeared in favor of 13 year old girls making home-made YouTube videos in their bedroom, singing into a hair brush.  When an artist like Paul McCartney can't even get his new stuff played on the air, you know just how badly the deck is stacked against some of these other acts and artists.  The real satisfaction for me is knowing that they're still doing it ... doing what they love ... and making good music  That's why we try so hard to promote these tracks here.  Over the past ten years or so we have "sneak peeked" more tracks than ever ... because the artists and PR guys know that radio simply isn't going to play them.  At least "leaking" a track through Forgotten Hits reaches the proper target audience!!!  (kk)
It pains me that artists we dug so much growing up can't get the time of day ... I really dug Tommy's song ... he's come along way from "Dizzy."
See ya soon,
Yes, the times have definitely changed.  (Do they even give out gold and platinum awards anymore???) LOTS of buzz going on about the possibility of a Triple Crown Winner being in our midst.  I think if we can get enough people to play and listen to Tommy's new tune, we just may see it turn Solid Chrome!  (kk)   

Thanks! This is very nice. Tommy sounds great, and it's very well done.
David Lewis    

Thanks Kent. Looks like Tommy went from fast girls (Sheila & Hazel) to fast horses.  I'd like to hear Tommy sing about the horse running in the Belmont, trying for the Triple Crown. When I play the Chicago song I call it = "Saturday At Belmont Park".
Frank B.    

Hi Kent, 
Loved hearing “California Chrome.”  I spent many years in Sacramento (Chromes' “home town), so the fact that he is so close to the Triple Crown fills me with pride.  

That was interesting ... thanks for sending!

Say Kent, thanks for being a Sweet Pea and emailing me that Tommy Roe track ... waiting to hear it was making me Dizzy.

Hi Kent,
I would LOVE to hear Tommy Roe's newest future hit!!!  My maiden name is Roe, and I always told all the kids in school that he was my cousin (you never know, I could be!!! I've done genealogy for over 30 years, and Imight be able to figure out where he fits in!)  I know I'm asking a lot, but could you tell him my story about telling everyone that he was my cousin, lol. 
Kim Roe-Kester
Aka Amzng Moonie
I'm not so sure Tommy would be "thrilled" with your secret identity ... but he'll probably read it right here in Forgotten Hits!  (kk)

re:  This And That:
Did you happen to watch The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony?  I've yet to see the whole thing all the way through (it runs about 3 1/2 hours!  and, quite honestly, there are parts of this that I couldn't care less about!) ... but I DID happen to catch Daryl Hall's acceptance speech the other day and enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share it with you. (You're preachin' to the choir on this one, Daryl ... but we're with you 200%!)
Speaking of Philadelphia, you know I did some research and do you know that we're the only home-grown Philadelphia band that has been put in The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?
Now I'm not sayin' that because I'm proud of that ... I'm sayin' that because that's fucked up!
What happened to Todd Rundgren, The Stylistics, The Delphonics, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Lenny Barry ... Chubby Checker ... how 'bout the biggest single in the history of the world, Chubby Checker ... why isn't HE in it, huh?
So I'm callin' everybody out ... there better be more Philadelphia artists in this place, OK?
Now that's all I've got to say.
-- Daryl Hall   

Speaking of awards, congratulations to Tom Jones, who will be receiving The Silver Clef Award for the SECOND TIME!  Jones is being honored for his nearly half-century career as a performer.  Other two-time recipients include Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Take That and The Who.
The 73 year old Welsh singer has gone "from strength to strength, sustaining his popularity as a live performer and recording artist for more than four decades.  He has lent his voice to every form of popular music, from gospel to country and from dance to rock, selling over 100 million records in the process."
Sarah Edge, director of Sony Mobile UK said, "Sir Tom is a living legend.  Not only has his music brought pleasure to many people, he has also used his music and influence to benefit many charities over the years.  We are honoured to present him with the Sony Mobile Lifetime Achievement Award."
Jones said (of winning the award) "To be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award is a great honour and to be amongst the other fantastically talented artists is a real pleasure."
Previous winners include Paul McCartney, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Coldplay, Oasis, The Clash, George Michael, Robert Plant, Sting, David Bowie, Elton John and Phil Collins.  (kk)

I had the pleasure of listening to a very enjoyable night of music the other night when Rich Daniels and the City Lights Orchestra performed right here Schaumburg.  The orchestra featured any number of guest vocalists (including Disco Queen and five-time Grammy Nominee Linda Clifford as well as Bruce Mattey of The New Colony Six, who has been performing with these guys for years!)  It was a wide array of musical styles ... everything from disco to Neil Diamond ... show tunes from "Chicago" and "Phantom of the Opera" ... a tribute to Frank Sinatra ... and much, much more.  It really made for a swinging time ... and I'm hoping to catch them again before the summer's over.  (A great way to spend an evening on a cool summer night!)
Special Guests that night were Bruce's fellow bandmates Ray Graffia, Jr. and Greg Favata.  (The New Colony Three???)  They sang the group's '60's smash "I Will Always Think About You" (which sounded amazing with the full orchestra backing) as well as their Chicago Gold Medley (featuring the music of The Cryan' Shames, The American Breed, The Buckinghams, The Shadows of Knight and The Ides Of March.  I'll tell you what ... that orchestra was REALLY enjoying playing "Vehicle" the other night ... they ought to keep this one in the set!)   kk 
Many of their dates are corporate events or private affairs ... but Bruce tells me that they DO have another gig coming up in the area in August:
We have another out door concert in Evergreen Park Sunday, 8-17, 6 to 8 pm, located about two blocks South of 95th Street on Homan Avenue at the Klein Parkk band shell.  Bring a chair or blanket.  This is a nice neighborhood annual event. (Music only so byo beverage, too.)
I really appreciate your message and very glad you liked the presentation. 
Thanks again and stay well,
-- Bruce   

And, speaking of the New Colony Six ... 

>>>I am  standing in a bank in Cleveland, Ohio. They have Muzak playing I Confess by the New Colony Six.  Does not get better than this!  (Clay)
How cool is that, Kent?  Please thank Clay for sending his note and extend even more kudos for his recognition of “I Confess” AND knowing it was New Colony Six performing it!  Clearly, Clay is quite the connoisseur of quirky music, or perhaps grew up in Chicago.  I heard “I Will Always Think About You” a few weeks ago during brunch at the Cary Diner and hear something of ours at least every 2nd or 3rd time we visit a Portillo’s, so Dick must be a fan or the programmers who put together his song lists must be, eh?
Ray Graffia, Jr.
Actually, I hear your stuff quite often at Portillo's, too!  Clay worked for a number of distributors back in the day and regularly processed orders for New Colony Six singles as they were being released in the '60's!  A VERY knowledgeable guy ... with (OBVIOUSLY) very good taste in music!  (kk)     

"Danbury Fields Forever" extends early-bird ticket discounts in honor of Sir Paul McCartney's Birthday this month
The New York / New England regional Music Festival for Beatles fans will "come together" Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27, 2014, at Ives Concert Park in Danbury, CT, with 10 bands playing each day from Noon - 8 pm.  The 20 different acts will be playing songs from every era of The Beatles' legacy, including their Hamburg / Cavern beginnings and BBC-Sullivan years right up to Pepper / Abbey Road and beyond, plus solo career cuts. Producers are previewing the performers' set-lists to ensure that the same songs won't be repeated daily. 
Early-bird discounted are available from
Fans coming both days have the option of staying at area hotels offering a special festival rate of only $79 per night. Visit: For entertainment line-ups or further info, visit website or call (203) 795-4737.   

Lovely tribute to your graduating Daughter.
Boy, am I a DORK ... I said that Maurice's Daughter and Barry sang "First of May" on the Sunday morning program when, in fact, it was "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" ... Senior moment and, when you think about it, the correct song makes much more sense.
Paige is the "baby of the family" so everyone keeps referring to us as "empty nesters" now ... so yes, this is a bit of an emotional moment for us.  Meanwhile the graduation ceremony went off flawlessly so now we're all on to the next chapter of our lives.

 Dad and Grad

As for Barry Gibb, I'm just glad I got to see the clip ... I wish I could have seen the concert but it just wasn't affordable at those ticket prices.  I'm glad the crowd reaction has been as good as it has.  Wow ... a thirty song set!  I wouldn't have figured!  (kk)

Kent ...
The Rolling Stones were #1 on your post of Billboard's biggest grossing acts of the past 24 years.
We just celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their first arrival in America.
Frank B.

On June 8th, Harvey Kubernik will be the guest interview subject and discuss his Turn Up The Radio! Pop, Rock and Roll in Los Angeles 1956 - 1972 book on Sunday night June 8th at 8:00 pm (PST) on the radio program Head Room, hosted by 
Barry Smolin on KPFK-FM (90.7).’ Listen world wide in real time at 
"Tune into Head Room for a weekly two hours of exploratory rock and roll designed to lubricate your mind: vintage and contemporary psychedelic music along with hefty doses of local bands and solo artists currently making the scene in L.A." --KPFK-FM   

Kent ...
Just before 7 AM (EDT) Scott Shannon asked the contest question =
What 1967 Hit, that was #1 for 4 weeks opened with the line "It was the 3rd of June" --
Woman on the phone continued singing "another sleepy, dusty, delta day."
She answered the question right and won concert tickets.
Scott played a small portion of the song, explaining "It doesn't fit our format so I can't play the whole song."
A few minutes later, he gets a text from Broadway Bill Lee (Afternoon DJ),  questioning his manhood. Now Scott says he will play the whole song, "Ode To Billie Joe", shortly after 9 AM. I guess I won't be hearing "El Paso" anytime soon.
Frank B.
Yeah, we haven't featured this one in a couple of years now ... for a while there, it was an annual tradition.  I did ask a couple of people at work if they took a moment to remember Billy Joe McAllister on the third of June ... after a moment's reflection, they got it ... one even cursed me out for sticking this song in her head for the rest of the day ... but "Ode To Billie Joe" ... big as it was ... is yet another MONSTER hit that has disappeared from the airwaves. (kk)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Monkees - Live At The Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville, Indiana

Capping off an incredible weekend of concerts, I went to see The Monkees Reunion Show at The Star Plaza Theater in Merrillville, Indiana, on Saturday Night. 

Incredibly THIS was the only show I saw all weekend that wasn't a complete sell-out ... and the very idea blew me away.  When Micky, Peter and Mike reunited after the death of Davy Jones last year, there wasn't a ticket to be had ... a fact not lost on Peter Tork who remarked from the stage, "Thank you all for coming ... those of you who are here ... and you know who you are!"  (lol) 

It was quite a multi-media extravaganza Saturday Night ... a giant movie screen was perched directly behind the band and it never stopped all night long, showing vintage clips from their old television series (that virtually every fan in the audience was able to recite right along with them, word-for-word, forever embedded in our memories and known by heart.)  There were also quite a few outtakes shown, including much more from their original screen test / audition tapes (which kicked off the show prior to The Monkees Theme coming on), including scenes of each of the Pre-Fab Four auditioning with other actors who did not make the final cast.  (Sorry, no ... Charles Manson was NOT amongst them ... but that was all just a big rumor anyway!!!) 

Musically, the trio was supported by what was in effect a ten-piece band ... so we were treated to a very full and rich sound ... musically speaking, it may have been the best backing I'd ever seen afforded a Monkees concert. 

Over the years I have seen some various incarnation of the Monkees at least forty or fifty times ... Davy, Micky and Peter, each as a solo act (again and again and again) ... several of the usual, post-MTV comeback "Here We Come ... just the three of us ('cause Mike's not here)" shows that have happened all over the midwest during the past forty years, Micky and Davy (doing their "Just Monkeeing Around" schtick at this very same theater AGES ago where I'll bet there weren't 28 people in the entire audience!), as well as a few of the original Dolenz, Jones, Boyce and Hart / "The Guys Who Wrote 'em and The Guys Who Sang 'em" Reunion Shows (including their very first gig together at Six Flags Amusement Park in St. Louis, Missouri, way back in 1976!)  Speaking of amusement parks, I've seen Peter at the long-since-gone Old Chicago indoor amusement park in Bolingbrook, too, as a solo act (where he signed a napkin for me with a green felt-tip pen!) as well as at various clubs around the city back in the early '80's ... and Micky and/or Davy at many of their local summertime neighborhood fests in and around the Chicagoland suburbs ... everything from the beautiful "Music In The Park" Wednesdays in Bensenville, IL, to the echo-bouncing-off-the-walls Elk Grove outdoor concerts to Franklin Park's "Railroad Days", which was held across the street from the train tracks (where the music was drowned out every time a train passed by ... which was about every twenty minutes or so!)

But I had NEVER seen Mike Nesmith before.  (The one chance I had to go was a LONG, long time ago when he did a solo date at a club in the Wrigleyville area ... but I got sick that night and was unable to attend.  Based on all the subsequent reunion shows that never included him, I felt like I had blown my one and only chance to EVER see The Nez.) 

But Mike was in full view Saturday Night ... taking center stage on a great number of songs throughout the night, revisiting a part of The Monkees catalog that has long since disappeared both from the radio and the concert stage over the past 40+ years.  (I couldn't get over the way Mike was dressed ... blue jeans ... a white t-shirt ... very "down home" ... but then these black, sparkly, glitter shoes that seemed so COMPLETELY out of character for him.  When I had the chance to visit with him a little bit backstage after the show, he had changed into black sneakers ... and I told him "I had REALLY hoped to get a picture of you in those shoes!"  Mike laughed and said "Well, you're too late ... those came off a half hour ago" to which I replied "You probably can't wear those in Texas, right???") He was gracious enough to then pose for a photo (taken, as was the shot below of me and Micky, by Micky's wife Donna.)

A TON of Nesmith material filled the set list ... "Sweet Young Thing", "You Just May Be The One", "Tapioca Tundra", "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round" (actually written by country star Michael Martin Murphey of "Wildfire" fame), "You Told Me", "Listen To The Band", "Circle Sky", "Papa Gene's Blues", "The Kind Of Girl I Could Love", "The Door Into Summer", "Sunny Girlfriend" and probably a few others that escape me as I type this.  (I couldn't help thinking how cool it was to not only hear these songs again, but to hear them from the guy who originally wrote and sang them.  A typical Monkees show over the past dozen years might have featured two or three Nez-Songs as a tribute to Mike, but that would have been it ... now we were being treated to nearly his full Monkees catalog.  I told him how good it was to hear HIM singing these songs again ... but couldn't help but know that, had Davy still been around for this tour, Mike's set list would have most likely been cut by 60-70% ... and he probably would have once again become disenchanted with the whole idea of doing these shows.) 

Speaking of Davy, his name was NEVER mentioned once during the course of the entire show ... quite a surprise to me.  I guess by now, everybody just knows and accepts the fact that he's gone ... whereas the first Micky / Mike / Peter reunion shows were staged as more of a tribute to Davy.  In fact, other than a short film clip of Davy's song and dance routine from the film "Head" (Harry Nilsson's "Daddy's Song") the only other Davy song performed all night long was "Daydream Believer", where they guys (including Mike) each took a turn singing a verse.  (Mike's reading was especially moving ... he might most likely deny it, but his voice cracked during his verse and in my heart I believe that was due to the pure emotion of performing a song SO associated with Davy ... and knowing that Davy will never be able to sing it again.)  The performance rendered a well-deserved standing ovation ... and was an emotional highlight of the night.  (I got choked up just telling this story the next day!) 

Addressing the elephant in the room, I will also admit that I am more than a little bit heart-broken every time I think about Davy not being here to be able to share in what fans have waited SO long to see ... a full-fledged Monkees reunion featuring all four original members.  But, shame that it is, it just wasn't to be ... and fans truly do appreciate the return of Michael Nesmith to the fold to help keep the legacy going. 

Most of the schtick and comedy were missing from Saturday Night's show ... this seemed to be a much more serious presentation of their music ... and any humor that was to be found came by way of the vintage tv clips ... there were no antics on stage this time around ... which has always been a HUGE part of a live Monkees concert.  As such, the band who "couldn't play their own instruments" certainly excelled in the live concert environment Saturday Night. 

And, because they were as much saluting the songwriters as the group's recorded legacy, we were treated to Mike singing his own "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" and Peter performing his "For Pete's Sake", both of which featured Micky on lead vocals during their original commercial releases.  I have to tell you that both sounded excellent when performed by their originators Saturday Night. 

As for any comments made recently in these pages about Micky's "lackluster" performance at The Arcada Theatre a few weeks ago, I can absolutely assure you that this was most certainly NOT the case at this Monkees concert ... he held absolutely NOTHING back at The Star Plaza show ... and was in EXCELLENT voice from start to finish, tackling the full gamut of Monkees material at a very high energy level ... "I'm A Believer", "Last Train To Clarksville", "Steppin' Stone", his own "Randy Scouse Git" (which was accompanied by a movie clip featuring some old man yelling out his window at one of his daughter's suitors, calling him a "randy scouse git" ... great stuff!), "Goin' Down" (which featured an audience member singing an entire verse, every word in perfect phrasing, to a HUGE round of applause from the crowd), "No Time" (a favorite of mine from the "Headquarters" album, from which they performed SEVEN tracks!), a killer rendition of "She" (from "The Monkees' Second Album") and "Pleasant Valley Sunday", their final encore track.  GREAT performances all around. 

They also performed the entire "Head" soundtrack ... which, for the die hards was, I'm sure, a real treat ... but truth be told, this simply is NOT The Monkees' strongest work ... despite 40+ years of them trying to convince us of otherwise.  (I have DESPERATELY tried to find the shining light in "Head" for four decades now ... and it still alludes me!)  Truth is, if you weren't a TRUE, die-hard fan, you probably had a hard time getting past "The Porpoise Song" and "Circle Sky" ... the music just isn't that commercially accessible. 

On the plus side, two of the absolute highlights of the night for me featured Peter and Micky trading off vocals on the seldom-heard and long-forgotten tracks "Words" and "Shades Of Gray", both of which are featured below (along with the obligatory Nez-Tune!) ... both of these classic tracks were executed beautifully and showed again just how well these two work together. 

As mentioned earlier, I was invited back stage after the show (Thank You Again, David Salidor!) to meet Micky.  Escorted in by Micky's wife Donna (who I had absolutely NO idea that this was who she was at the time she came to get me!), I got a chance to visit briefly with one of my all-time heroes in rock and roll.  (I have always maintained that The Beatles were the first, biggest and longest-lasting impact of music on my life ... but it was The Monkees who made me want to PLAY rock and roll ... and I remember telling Micky that many, many years ago when I had the chance to meet him at a signing after one of their shows at this very same Star Plaza Theater.) 

Overall, a GREAT show ... and an opportunity to finally hear some Monkees music long absent from our consciousness for far, far too long.  (I can't imagine that there'll be too many more of these shows featuring all three original members ... although The Monkees' 50th Anniversary is coming up right around the corner ... so who knows!!!) 

If you get the chance to see them, do yourself a favor and go ... this music was such a HUGE part of our lives growing up in the '60's ... it's not to be missed.  I can assure you that you'll really enjoy seeing it performed live by the guys who gave it all to us in the first place!
 kk and Micky

 Mike Nesmith in the foreground


Micky and Peter

If you DO plan on going, you'd better act quickly ... there are only a few dates left ... 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone with Jay and the Americans - Live Concert Review (from The Arcada Theatre)

I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed by a Peter Noone concert ... and I've probably seen close to 20-25 of them over the past 10-12 years.  

To this day his remains one of the most entertaining and engaging performers of ours or any other generation.  

Totally at home on stage, he covers all of the hits you'd ever want to hear ... with a whole bunch of adlibbing along the way.  No matter how many times you've seen him ... or the fact that many of the bits are recycled from show to show ... Peter ALWAYS brings something fresh and new to the table to make each performance unique and entertaining in its own right ... and Friday Night at The Arcada Theatre was no exception.  

About twenty minutes into the show, Noone picked up the set list from the floor, looked it over and announced ... "This is our set list for tonight's performance ... and we haven't done ANYTHING on it yet!"  It was damn near a true statement ... intermixed with a bunch of clowning around about fulfilling his life-long dream of performing in St. Charles, Illinois, at the Arcada Theatre, he managed to slip in tributes to Johnny Cash and Mick Jagger ... along with a couple of his earliest hits including "I'm Into Something Good", "Wonderful World" and the Herman's Hermits B-Side "Sea Cruise" ... as well as "Love Potion Number Nine" by fellow British Invasion act, The Searchers.  

Never letting up on the "St. Charles Connection", he kept the audience laughing throughout the night with frequent mentions of the rustic suburb, even incorporating its name (and that of The Fox River) into the lyrics of some of his songs.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to sit through a Peter Noone concert without a smile on your face the entire time ... he is, without question, one of the most endearing and engaging performers out there ... and, incredibly, he still looks like a kid having a blast up on stage.  (Noone hasn't aged vocally or in appearance since Herman's Hermits last hit the charts ... and his loyal legion of Noonatics still pack every single show.  Friday Night's show at The Arcada was a complete sell-out ... and he played to well-deserved standing ovations throughout the night.)  

All of the hits were there:  "A Must To Avoid", "Dandy", "No Milk Today", "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat", "Listen People", "Silhouettes", "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter", "End Of The World", Forgotten Hits Favorite "Just A Little Bit Better", the audience sing-along version "I'm Henry The VIII, I Am" (the best I think I've EVER seen it performed) and show-closer "There's A Kind Of Hush".  Wall-to-wall hits ... and wall-to-wall fun.  

Noone is booked solid well into next year. (You can find the complete schedule ... with new shows being added all the time) here:  
Click here: Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone


Opening up for Herman's Hermits was Jay and the Americans, featuring (as he is referred to throughout the show) Jay #3.  (He's actually Chicagoan John Reincke ... and has been fronting the band for just over eight years now.) 

Joining with former Americans Marty Sanders, Howie Kane and Sandy Deanne, the group faithfully recreates the hits produced by the original band (with tributes to Jay #1 and Jay #2 throughout the evening.  A highlight for me was hearing Sandy Deanne refer to Jay #2 ... Jay Black ... as "a real pain in the ass!"  There's no love lost between these two!)   

Honestly, their between song banter needs a lot of work ... it doesn't feel at all natural ... much more "scripted" than conversational ... but once the music and the singing starts, there is no denying the power of this band ... they had the audience up on their feet numerous times throughout the night, offering up thunderous applause to many of the tracks they performed.  Forget the fact that Reincke is, to some degree, a hometown hero ... the reaction was genuine and well-deserved.  (There are other Chicago connections as well ... our FH Buddy Dave Zane plays lead guitar ... jeez, can anybody name a band this guy ISN'T in?!?!? ... and Chicagoan Billy Corston plays bass.)   

They, too, have dates booked through June, July and August ... mostly on the east coast where they are currently based (New York and New Jersey) but are also regularly adding dates.  (In fact, stay tuned for word on their return to The Arcada Theatre ... Ron Onesti has already promised to bring these guys back again.)    

Click here: Jay and the Americans    

Musical highlights of the evening included "Cara Mia" (naturally ... and, without question, the most powerful song of the night ... the audience went absolutely crazy!), "Come A Little Bit Closer", "This Magic Moment", "Let's Lock The Door (And Throw Away The Key)" and "She Cried" (which also received a tremendous response from the crowd) ... but quite honestly ALL of the hits they performed were near-perfect executions ... and they did 'em all ... "Hushabye", "Some Enchanted Evening", "Tonight", "Only In America", "Crying", "Walkin' In The Rain" and the Neil Diamond-written "Sunday And Me", his first big break-through hit as a songwriter.   

Definitely worth a look if they come to your area ... I know that I will definitely be back to see them for their return engagement at The Arcada ... maybe even as headliners next time!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Burton Cummings At The City Winery

There has never been another voice quite like his ...  

And when you strip it down to just that voice ... that incredible voice ... accompanied only by his own piano ... it resonates with every nuance and tone ... and it's nothing short of a powerful experience ... both dramatic and dynamic ... you literally FEEL every word ... every note ... in a crystal-clear clarity that just blows you away.  

Such was Burton Cummings last week in two sold out shows at The City Winery ... just Burt and his piano ... Up Close and Alone ... and it was spectacular. 

As you know, we had the pleasure of interviewing Burton last year just before his big show at The Arcada Theatre ...  
Click here: Forgotten Hits - bc    
Click here: Forgotten Hits: Burton Cummings Concert Review 

And both of these were incredible experiences for this life-long fan. 

But last week's shows were different ... without the band, there were limitations as to what he could and could not perform faithfully.  (He joked about not being able to do justice to "American Woman" without all the guitars that drive the song ... but then did a very cool version of "No Time" by featuring only "Burton's parts" ... meaning that with all of the background vocals missing there was no "no time left for you" but only Burton's response "on my way to better things" ... the whole experience was a whole lotta fun.)   

It also gave him a chance to do some things he doesn't typically do in concert with the full band ... softer, mellower stuff like "Sour Suite", a minor US Hit (#41) in 1972 that was a Top Ten Smash back home in Canada ... and several LP tracks including my all-time favorite, "Dream Of A Child", which closed the show.  Some worked better than others ... "Clap For The Wolfman" was just as entertaining performed as a solo piece as it was when we saw him perform it with The Carpet Frogs (aka The Burton Cummings Band) last November ... "Hand Me Down World" not so much ... and "Glamour Boy" (another personal favorite) fell somewhere in between.  As Burton explained, being up there solo he had access to much more material to choose from than he would have at a typical full rock band concert as the band didn't know all of his songs ... but he did ... and, as such, he was able to handle an obscure request here and there.  (This apparently occurred more on Wednesday Night than it did on Thursday ... Thursday we were treated to several songs added to the set list the night before ... because he'd now had the chance to practice them!!! lol)  

Along the way, we were also treated to a few surprises ... two songs by Bobby Darin, one of his ... and my ... all-time favorite performers ... (Burton gave us his readings of "Mack The Knife" and "Clementine") ... "Ferry 'Cross The Mersey" by Gerry and the Pacemakers ... the Georgie Fame version of "I'm In The Mood For Love" as well as his ALWAYS hysterical reading "If Rod Stewart Were Gordon Lightfoot's Favorite Singer" routine where he performs Stewart's "Maggie May" in a letter-perfect, booming Gordon Lightfoot voice. 

Burton is a very entertaining and personable performer.  He stated up front that he wanted the show to feel like having a bunch of friends over to his home while he entertained them in his living room and that's exactly the way it came off ... assuming your house guests typically give you a standing ovation six or seven times during the course of an evening!  (lol)  The stories and banter between songs kept things moving in a most-entertaining and endearing way ... and Burton waxed somewhat melancholy / nostalgic on several occasions when he reflected back to just what the City of Chicago meant to him.  (The Guess Who recorded the majority of their early hits here at RCA's studios on Wacker Drive downtown, a recurring theme that wasn't lost on his audience both nights.)  After seeing him twice now in the past six months (and spending a fair amount of time with him on the phone, corresponding via email and visiting back stage), I can assure you that these feelings are most sincere.  Cummings is truly humbled by the fact that, at age 66, he's still able to do this and emotionally touch an audience ... his music is still regularly featured on the radio some 40+ years later ... and he can still sell out venues wherever he goes.  He feels genuinely flattered to have been fortunate enough to carve out a career doing exactly what he loves doing and being the guy who got to either write, sing, perform and / or produce all of these great songs.  In fact, he told us that if crowds like this keep coming to see him play and sing, he could see himself doing this another 10-15 years.  (If he is able to stay in the fine voice and health that he's in today, this shouldn't be a problem ... Burton clearly comes off 20 - 25 years younger than he is ... and still sings every song in its original key and with all of the necessary afflictions.) 

Afterwards I heard a few guys talking in the men's washroom about how moved they were by the whole show ... two admitting that on more than one occasion Burton brought these "grown men to tears" with his performance.  These songs touched us ... and continue to evoke this type of response all these years later ... and when performed by the guy who brought them to us ... in such a personal way ... it truly is magical how this whole experience can make you feel. 

Burton Cummings returns to the Chicagoland area for an encore performance at The Arcada Theatre (with the full band) in November ... November 14th to be exact.  Get your tickets now as this show will most certainly sell out.  Don't miss an opportunity to see one of the all-time greats doing exactly what he does best.