On Friday night my wife and I were “Up on the Roof,” “Under the Boardwalk” “Looking for an Echo” in “Wildwood” N.J. as we attended the Doo-Wop Spectacular at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, N.J.. For those of you younger readers, ”Doo-Wop” refers to the name given when groups of friends would gather on street corners and harmonize in the 50’s. It originated in Philadelphia and worked its’ way over to New Jersey and New York City. Doo-Wop refers to the harmonizing sounds they used to make when singing a song.
At Friday’s concert Barbara Harris of The Toys opened up. She is the only original member of a three black girl group who made the song “Lover’s Concerto” a big hit. She opened with a melody of songs made famous by girl groups from the 40’s- to the 60’s such as The Maguire Sisters, Chiffons, The Ronettes and Supremes. She ended with their hit “Lover’s Concerto” which I have included a you-tube of below.
Following The Toys were Emil Stucchio and the Classics. They consisted of Stuccio, Al Cantera (both originals) and their newest member Theresa McClean who was with them for about 12 years they said. They did their classic songs “Since I Don’t Have You” and “Til Then” in perfect voice and harmonies. Theresa did a few solo numbers with a terrific voice range, clear as a bell. In between they made fun of Emil’s age at 73 and having a younger girlfriend of 29.Theresa made cracks about Al Cantera’s hair color being so dark for his age,”Are you saying this is not my natural color?’ Cantera said to her.
“Well you brought it so you own it so it’s yours,” she replied much to laughter from the audience. They ended their set with their hit song “Til Then” to a rousing applause. Check out their website for songs and lots of pictures below.
Following The Classics was Charlie Thomas and his Drifters. Charlie Thomas is the only original member of the Drifters, but three of the others could have been originals as they are in that senior age group and a fourth was much younger. They did their hits Under the Boardwalk and “Up on the Roof” “Save the Last Dance for Me” and several others.
Next came my favorite act Kenny Vance and the Planatones. We’ve seen Kenny before performing two summers ago in our town of Bloomfield, N.J. at the High School. Kenny Vance was the founder of Jay and the Americans whom you all know from hits like “She Cried,” ”Come a Little Bit Closer and “Cara Mia” that Jay Black is known for. They all dress in black suits, dark fedora hats and sunglasses like the Blues Brothers. Kenny has a white fedora and the guitar player sings bass and has long 60’s era hair. Kenny looks and sounds great and can really hold those high notes for long periods. In between songs they have humorous banter and Kenny explains about some of the songs and when they sang them. I’m including links to two songs they did last night, “Looking for an Echo” and “Cara Mia”. You can see how Kenny holds those notes and I wonder if his vocal chords will go the way of Frankie Valle’s of the Four Seasons did who used to hold long, high falsetto notes and now can’t do it anymore because of that. When listening to ’Looking for an Echo” you will know what Doo-wop was all about.
After a short break, Bobby Rydell came on with a ten piece band and a set like a professional Vegas revue. I grew up listening to Bobby and he didn’t disappoint. He’s 71 years old and looks and sounds fabulous. On a serious note Bobby told how he recently underwent two transplants, a liver and kidney. He said a young girl named Juilia who was in a car accident saved his life with those organs and also saved the lives of six others so he recommended that everyone sign up as an organ donor when they renew their driver’s license.
Bobby told stories of his Italian heritage growing up in Philadelphia and later Brooklyn New York. He did songs from “Bye Bye Birdie” the musical movie he was in opposite Ann Margaret and a medley of songs in a dedication to the late Bobby Darin his friend and mentor. Bobby did Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” and “Mack the Knife.”Bobby also told about his grandmother who owned a rooming house in Wildwood, N.J. to which many people applauded, us included. He then went into his hit song, “Wildwood Days” which I’m including below and his hit song “Sway”. Bobby ended his set with his hit song “Volare” to a standing ovation applause. It was a good clean show and a totally enjoyable trip down memory lane.
http://www.planotones.com/ Kenny’s website with schedule and songs.
Kenny Vance & The Planotones – Looking For An Echo – YouTube from 2011 on a cruise ship