I am a(n) researcher and archivist.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Concert Review: Spring Doo Wop Cavalcade In Lancaster, PA On March 2, 2013

March 2, 2013 began my first event pertaining to the "Operation: Last Chance" concert series I launched earlier this year. This concert was called the Spring Doo Wop Cavalcade and the bands on the bill were The Tymes, The Legendary Teenagers, The Demensions, Jay Siegel's Tokens, The Chantels, The Passions and The Excellents. Each act featured at least one ORIGINAL member and an ORIGINAL member of The Classics, Emil Stucchio, was the MC for the evening. The event took place at the American Music Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The first act was The Excellents, with original vocalist John Kuse. I arrived to the gig late so I only caught the third and last song of their set. It was their hit "Coney Island Baby" and I am elated I arrived to hear at least some of it. They will be back in the area on March 22 so I can see their full set at that time.

The Passions, featuring original vocalist Jimmy Gallagher, hit the stage next with a no nonsense setlist. The first song was "This Is My Love" followed by the upbeat number called "I Only Want You". The Passions closed with their best known song, "Just To Be With You" ... a tune that reached number 69 on the billboard chart and was a top 20 hit in cities on the East Coast in 1959. The group has a bunch of other songs that I would like to hear in the future. Hopefully I will see them headline some time soon.

Here is a non-flash photo. As you can see, it is always better to use flash!
Photobucket

The Chantels, including original members going way back to the 1950s, Lois, Sonia and Renee, walked onto the stage after a flattering introduction. They opened with "Look In My Eyes" followed by "He's Gone". I found the next selection in the set to be very interesting. It was the B-side to the previous song, "The Plea". One of my personal favorites, "I Love You So" was the fourth song and "Maybe" closed their set for the evening. The crowd showed its approval on "Maybe". As everyone in the seats and backstage willl attest to, the girls sounded incredible. It was a flawless set by The Chantels and the most recent member of the group, Ami, did the songs justice.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket


The url for the above video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM37oHeH9LE

Jay Siegel's Tokens, a group that I thought would headline the concert based on the promotional information, was next. This line-up of the group is worthy of note because not only is the original vocalist of The Tokens, Jay Siegel present, Jay Traynor of Jay And The Americans is with them as well. The opening number was The Tokens' first ever single, "Tonight I Fell In Love" ... a song I consider to be one of the finest tracks of the era. Another B-side made its way into the evening's program as "I'll Always Love You", the B-side of "Tonight I Fell In Love", was performed. The third song was their 1967 hit "Portrait Of My Love". Jay Siegel made a point to mention that song was a hit post-British Invasion. As many of you know, the British Invasion ruined the scene for the Doo Wop bands and Jay Siegel mentioned that it was very hard for non-British bands to get on the radio back then. Earlier I mentioned the original Jay of Jay And The Americans is part of
this version of The Tokens and after a brief introduction by Jay Siegel, Jay Traynor performed the Jay And The Americans' hit "She Cried" ... a song that reached number five on the Billboard singles chart in 1962. At this point in the show, Jay Siegel talked about how their success as a group afforded them the opportunity to produce songs for other artists. Two of these acts were The Happenings and The Chiffons and in honor of their collaborations, "See you In September" and "One Fine Day" were performed. Closing the set was one of the most recognizable songs in music history, The Tokens' number one single from 1961, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and yes, Jay Siegel could still hit those falsetto high notes. I just had to hear it live and I did ... and Jay did not disappoint. At the first note, I knew he would he would do the song justice and he did do the song justice more than fifty years after its initial release.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Jay Traynor singing "She Cried":
Photobucket

Emil walked out on stage once again to announce an intermission. I spent the time talking to some other fans about Doo Wop History.

The first band after the intermission and the fifth band overall was The Demensions, featuring the original vocalist Lenny Dell. They opened with "Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart" followed by "My Foolish Heart", a song that peaked at number ninety-five on the charts. Lenny gave a bit of a historic retrospection on the next song, "Over The Rainbow". He mentioned Judy Garland's version of it for the Wizard Of Oz movie and stated that he is proud it was one of the most popular songs of the twentieth century. The Demensions cover of the track made it to number sixteen on the Billboard chart.

The Legendary Teenagers, featuring original members Herman Santiago and Jimmy Merchant, hit the stage next with an electrifying set. The first tune was "Goody Goody" with the recognizable background harmony "Bop Bop Doo Wop". The second song in the set was "I Promise To Remember". "Share" was next followed by "The ABC's Of Love". The fifth and final song was the extremely well-known top ten hit from 1956, "Why Do Fools Fall In Love". Prior to leaving the stage, the guys parted with some fast and efficient dance moves. By seeing this line-up of The Teenagers, fans were able to experience a little more Doo Wop History through the lead vocalist Timothy Wilson. Back in the 1950s, he fronted the group Tiny Tim And The Hits.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

The act that closed the evening was The Tymes, featuring original members Albert Berry and Norman Burnett. The Tymes opened with a cover tune, "Love Train", and continued with their own hit single from 1963, "Somewhere" ... a song that peaked at number nineteen. The band's chart topping number one smash "So Much In Love" was performed next after an introduction that included a reference to the cover versions of the track that were released over the decades. Next up was "You Little Trustmaker". It was a top twenty hit for the band in 1974 ... a song way past the days of the Doo Wop Era, but certainly an important part of the history of the group. In addition to the music, the band members incorporated funny skits typically making fun of their, as they see it, advanced ages. It was an enjoyable show they put on.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

After the gig I walked into the lobby and spoke to some fans who noticed my 78 RPM record of "Why Do Fools Fall In Love". I was hoping to get the record signed. As I continued to talk to the dudes about Doo Wop music, I noticed Jimmy Gallagher at a merchandise table and then I saw Herman Santiago hanging out by another merchandise table. Since Jimmy's table had a bit of a crowd, I walked over to Herman. I showed him the vinyl record and he responded to it enthusiastically. I pointed out his name in the writing credits area on the record. This 78 was a first pressing and his name was removed from later pressings. The matter pertaining to the song-writing credits is controversial. The facts can be found with the use of a search engine. In any event, I showed him his name and he signed the 78. After that he handed me one of his business cards. The merch table had photos for sale so I purchased one and he signed that. He signed the ticket stub for me as well. I told him I will be seeing him again a number of times this year.

Photobucket

I need three more signatures now!
Photobucket

The ticket stub (with Herman's signature):
Photobucket

Here is his business card in case you want to book the group:
Photobucket

Here we are!!!
Photobucket

I then walked over to Jimmy and he asked what I had. I showed him the 78 and he made a comment to the effect of imagine if Frankie Lymon signed it. I showed him his 45 RPM single of his song "Just To Be With You" and he signed it on the label. I told him when I play it, I can see his name spinning around.

Here I am with Jimmy Gallagher:

Photobucket

This 45 RPM single of "Just To Be With You" is a First Pressing from August 1959:
Photobucket

I walked out to my car and pulled out of the venue parking lot. I needed fuel so I went to a Hess station. I went into the convenience station in the lot and a few minutes later, Jimmy Gallagher walked in! He jokingly asked if I wanted to take a picture by the coffee machine. I talked to him about his upcoming gigs and about the Doo Wop scene in general.

It was a fantastic night and a fine start to my "Doo Wop Tour" of 2013!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Operation: Last Chance Pertaining To Early Rock N Roll, Doo Wop And Oldies Acts

As I have told some of you personally, I am launching "Operation: Last Chance". It pertains to the bands and singers of the Early Rock N Roll/Doo Wop/Oldies Era. Most of these people are over 70 now so it is important to see them asap. Think about it - this is your opportunity to hear some of the greatest songs of all time performed by the actual artists who wrote and/or recorded these songs in the 1950s and 1960s.

My first "Operation: Last Chance" campaign was launched in 2008 and the quest pertained to meeting and writing letters to Super-Centenarians who were born in the 1800s, "Real Children" of American Civil War Veterans, World War I Veterans and World War II Veterans.

About Me

My photo
I am a(n) researcher and archivist.