Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Another Guest Concert Review

How is it possible that I find the performers at my concerts getting better with each show? How can there be Newbies blended into each concert audience who are just now rediscovering the music of their youth? How can I refer to these concerts as ‘my concerts’, and HOW can Emil Stucchio have been married for 56 years? I have no answer for that last question. Ask Emil’s wife. Actually, I cannot give you answers for any of those questions except the one referring to ‘my concerts’. It is a personal experience wherein I feel each performer is singing to me on some level, and that enhances my life.

Who is here? The Coda Band, Emil Stucchio as emcee, The Devotions, Peggy March, The Marcels, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Vito Piccone and The Elegants, Don K Reed pops out of the audience, The Vogues, and Lightning Lou Christie. Whoa Boy! You are all singing your favorite songs already! I have seen all of these performers before, though not all on the same bill. Call it Doo Wop. Call it 60’s. But just call ME to let me know when and where to be.

The Devotions MUST do ‘Rip Van Winkle,’ their 1961 surprise novelty hit. The first time I heard this song live, I was with a large group of friends and we sang the bass line together all the way through, dancing in our seats. It is preceded by (I Love You) ‘For Sentimental Reasons.’  Men are holding the hands of the women next to them. Gee! I hope they all know each other. And singing along … I know this for sure throughout the show, because as the artists change a pause in their songs, I hear the audience continue on. Yes, sing your memories folks!

Drop the “Little” from this woman from Lansdale, PA, and you have the BIG voice of Peggy March. Being the youngest girl ever with a number 1 hit has advantages, the best one being, at its core, that you get to be on American Bandstand one year before your mom says you can join the dancers. The rest of us just had to wait for mom to say ‘yes’, or never appeared on Bandstand at all. American Bandstand was in our living rooms for such a large part of our lives that it really does seem as though I was on it, dancing with others, from my home. What a strong voice Peggy has! ‘The Bandstand Theme,’ ‘Rock Around The Clock,’ ‘Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love,’ and naturally finishing with ‘I Will Follow Him’. I heard this last song on Sirius the next day as they had a 1961 countdown. I listened even closer to the words, while driving in my car. You know, if you change the words to ‘I Will Follow Them’, this song becomes a part of each of us here on Forgotten Hits. We follow them to concerts, wherever they may go … over mountains, rivers and oceans … because the joy they give us, and the memories they revive are priceless. (Well then again, Live Nation has managed to come up with price tags, but I think they are worth more than we pay)

The Marcels! People who have read other reviews know I love The Marcels! Tuxedos are prevalent at this show, and The Marcels run on stage wearing their blue sequin trimmed jacket tuxes. There they go! Spinning, twirling jumping! I am so close, I could jump on stage with them and perform. No. Don’t. They would only trample me. ‘Heartache,’ ‘Goodbye To Love’, and OF COURSE … ’Blue Moon’. Tingles go up my spine and the lady next to me gets so excited, she spills her drink. I feel a few drops on my left foot and she spends the rest of the concert apologizing. I just laugh. All part of the Westbury experience, but it gives her the courage to ask me where my notes will be going. She goes home with the website info, but not my name. I forgot. Sorry. Just too much bop-a-bopping going on for me to remember my name.

Closing the first act is Gary Lewis and the Playboys. OK, NO tuxes here. They are rock-n-roll casual, as I feel they should be. Their first seven recorded songs all made top 10. I realize that I am friends with several former Playboys; and two of them even performed in Gary’s group. (ok, lame ... but the thoughts that spring up during a concert can be unique) A full compliment of hits follow: ‘Count Me In’, ‘Everybody Loves A Clown’, ‘Green Grass’ … “It’s Spring Time” (finally here in the NE) … “We Will Love the Summer Long” (YEAH! So Ready!) 

And then: ‘Save Your Heart For Me,’ (at a much slower tempo than I’ve heard before ... has a different love song aura), ‘Sure Gonna Miss Her,’ ‘My Heart Symphony,’ ‘This Diamond Ring’ (kicked The Beatles out of #1 slot) and concluding with their second biggest hit, ‘She’s Just My Style’. As with all the performers tonight, Gary is filled with wonderful stories that wrap around the music and create a life for each number. I wrote down stories from each group and then deleted those notes. It is best to hear them first-hand and for the first-time in a live concert. Then, you will actually enjoy hearing them over and over and over, at each succeeding concert you attend. 


Vito Piccone and The Elegants take center stage throwing red roses into the wave of women in the audience (and wearing tuxes).  They have just returned from the Buddy Holly Ballroom Fest, so after opening with ‘Poison Ivy,’ they dedicate ‘Everyday’ to Buddy and his contribution to music. 

Another dedication, this time to Ray Charles, brings ‘Georgia’ on to all our minds. Remember the show NAME THAT TUNE? We got to play it with The Elegants and, as an audience, we won; being able to recognize the harmonica opening of ‘Hey! Baby! (will you be my girl?)’. No prizes, but winning was good. It is no surprise to any of you that the final song was ‘Little Star.’  Vito’s acting career is going strong so keep an eye out for a BIG movie coming out with BIG name stars soon (that was an obvious hint).

The Don of Doo Wop, Don K. Reed, comes onstage to talk to Emil. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the DJ’s I know and all who visit this website. Whether you loved your job, hated your job, or fought for and in your job; I want you to know just how you affected me in positive ways. By bringing me news and music through the years, I have found a place to feel welcome, inspired and important. Thank you all.

‘You’re The One,’ Vogues! The thriving metropolis of Turtle Creek, PA, produced a group with the tightest harmonies that has continued through loss of members and the march of time. They are also lively in their song presentations, as they add vim and vigor to their peppy steps. This is the second time I have heard them live and I am just as enamored this time as last. The second song is their 2nd million seller, ‘(You Are) My Special Angel’. The rotating stage has been good to me so far and it now presents the three Vogues full face to my section and creates more hand-holding and even some snogging. I really do hope all these people know each other. The romance continues through ‘Till’ and then, as they present their first million seller, ‘Turn Around, Look At Me,’ they are facing the opposite direction. HEY VOGUES! YOU turn around! Nothing I can do about it, so I will just enjoy the beautiful melody and more striking lyrics. The stage still has not returned full face when they begin their last number, ‘Five O’clock World’. Maybe Troy Elich senses the need of my side of the audience, or maybe he is just a consummate performer, but he leans back and turns to sing a line to my section. Oh yeah, I’m the 5 o’clock girl waitin’! OK, it could be any of the 100 women in my section. But it feels good. I can’t believe how powerful this concert is.

The last act is coming down the ramp. Lou Christie! In a TUX! There are many youtube videos of Lou performing in tuxes, but I have never seen him perform live tuxedo-clad. He begins predictably with ‘I’m Gonna Make You Mine,’ but segues into ‘Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.’  Another new one for me, and such a powerful vocal delivery. Oh my! Being able to walk around the revolving stage gives him an edge about choosing his location for singing, standing still and bowing. GUESS THE NEXT SONG! You wouldn’t ever be correct unless you were aware that Lou had always had a crush on Annette Funicello. Even then, this is a long shot: ‘Meet The Mouseketeers.’  No, I am not kidding. Acappella yet. Then on to the medley of hits: ‘The Gypsy Cried,’ ‘Two Faces Have I,’ and ‘Rhapsody In The Rain.’  During Lou’s performance of ‘Beyond The Blue Horizon’ someone’s phone starts ringing in the section to the right of me. He never missed a note, nor made a comment about it. Brilliant. It distracted me more than him. 

Another surprise comes. ‘I Can’t Stop The Rain’ is a song Lou wrote that I have only heard on his website or cd, but tonight he performs it for some of his friends. Sung in English and Italian, it again showcases Lou’s vocal strength. The band starts telling him that time is up (shut up band!) I would have wanted every performer there this afternoon, to come back on stage and repeat the show. But it is time so he finishes with ‘Lightning Strikes’ and then the touching encore, ‘Never My Love.’ 

This was a difficult review to write because the show was just so good. That sounds awkward, but just how many different ways can you say, “They were good / great”?  So I asked myself just how did the environment of this concert affect me personally. I felt charged, exuberant and confident that 2018 is to be my best summer ever. The music will be there for me. It will sustain me, console and comfort me, and encourage me to keep trying, growing and achieving. Come along! Next stop is at Mohegan Sun for The Fab 4.
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano

Sounds like a killer line-up, Shelley … and you are gonna LOVE The Fab 4 … can’t wait to see your review for that one!  

I have always wanted to see The Vogues but have never had the chance.  Then, after lead singer Bill Burkette passed away a couple of months ago, I figured that this probably spelled the end of the group.  

So glad to hear that they have continued on ... and now, FINALLY, I will get my chance to see them when they play The Arcada Theatre on August 25th, sharing the bill with Jay and the Americans!  (Not gonna miss this opportunity 'cause who knows if or when it'll ever come again!)  kk