I’ve just returned from seeing Jay Black’s 76th birthday concert at Bergen Performing Arts Center (BergenPac) in Englewood, N.J. For those of you who may not be familiar with Jay Black. He was the lead singer for Jay and the Americans known for such hits as “Cara Mia,“ “Only in America,” “Come a Little Bit Close” and many others which Jay performed Saturday night. He’s known as “The Voice” for his richness and deep and long holding notes.
I’ve seen Jay many times over the years and he never fails to disappoint. He’s much older now and has had recent health issues and tonight he said he saw the doctor this week and the doctor told him not to sing as he had tracheatis which is damage to his windpipe, but he told the doctor I can’t let the people of BergenPac down so he performed anyway and apologized if he couldn’t hit the notes anymore. However he hit all the notes perfectly and the audience roared in approval giving him standing ovations especially on “Cara Mia.” I’ve included two links below of Jay doing Cara Mia. One is from several years ago (2011) on a PBS special and one is from last year at Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown New York where he gives a little story intro to it. 🙂
Backed by a 10 piece orchestra consisting of saxophones, trumpets, trombones, three guitars, piano and drums, Jay delivered as he opened his set with the Roy Orbison hit song “Pretty Woman” followed by the Neil Diamond song “Solitary Man.” Every time I see Jay he tells pretty much the same stories, but I never tire of hearing him tell them. It’s as if he’s in your living room talking to you personally and reminiscing about his life and being on the road with Jay and the Americans.
Jay has four kids and several grandkids and one great grandson. His one son is 45 years old and plays in his band and also works on Wall Street. Jay tells the story that when Cara Mia was popular in the 60’s 100,000 people named their daughters Cara. His son had a daughter and what does he name her? Layla! like Eric Clapton’s song at which point he turned to his son and said kiddingly “Go play in Clapton’s band” and everyone laughed. 😀
At one point when Jay sang “Come a Little Bit Closer” he told the audience to sing the chorus which occurs three times in the song and they did and It sounded beautiful too. Jay closed his show with “Some Enchanted Evening “ from the play and movie “South Pacific” and a hit by Jay and the Americans and “This Magic Moment.” As Jay left the stage the audience broke out with Happy Birthday to him. Jay thanked the audience and said. “If I’m still alive this time next year I’ll be back.” It was kind of tearful, but a great performance still.
Opening for Jay was a really funny and great new comedian Jeff Norris. Jeff had the audience in stitches as he covered a wide array of subjects from performing on a seniors cruise (“When Royal Caribbean called me and they said they wanted me for a seniors cruise I said high school or college? To my surprise it was like a floating old peoples’ home.”) 😀 to him being in an interracial marriage (“I’m Irish and she’s Italian”) 😀 to imitating Archie and Edith Bunker in describing his parents and imitating Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci describing his wife’s family to imitating Arnold Schwartzenegger in”Predator”when stalking his wife’s pet cat. :D. I’ve included a really funny video of Jeff below where he does the same jokes we saw him do. Please check it out as well as the two Jay Black videos.