Today only three of the original members of the group are still performing with them. They are Screamin’ Scott Simon, Donny York and Jocko. Lead singer Johnny Contardo now lives in L.A. does occasional solo spots and gives singing lessons. John (Bowser) Bauman, he of the deep bass voice and a group favorite graduatesd from Columbia University now lives in New York State with his family and hosts oldies shows. Dennis Green, the only black member of the group went into law after leaving Sha-Na-Na and is now a visiting law professor. Another member Santini is now an orthopedic surgeon so you can see these were not just off the cuff street performers. They had advanced degree backgrounds.
At Friday night’s show I thought they started out rather low key doing a litany of various oldies songs such as “Save the Last Dance for Me “ and “Teenager in Love” and “In theStill of the Night”getting the audience to sing along and at times inviting young ladies to come up on stage and dance with them. A particular highlight of the show was when they did “Itsy Bitsy Teeney Weeney Yellow Polka Dot Bikini”. Original member Scott Simon came out with a wig on and towel wrapped around him and revealed a yellow polka dot bikini. 😀
I thought original member Donny York in his trade mark red and black striped sleeveless t-shirt sunglasses and greaser hair cut was the most animated and looks exactly the same. Up close after the show I noticed he did look older, but still as I remembered him.
After a short intermission after playing only 45 minutes they returned. It was in the second half I thought they really shined and displayed the versatility of each member moreso.
In the second set newer members guitarist Randy Hill who plays a real mean guitar and Downtown Michael Brown who plays a mean sax exchanged musical rifts doing “Tequila” and other long, but great dance instrumentals such as “Wipeout”.
Scott Simon told the story how they were appearing in New Brunswick, N.J. once and there was this new guy doing a 20 minute song about driving his chevy to the levy (Don McLean). Scott said afterwards they said to him,” Don that song will never be a hit. The day the music died? That’s such a maudlin idea.” Little did they know what a hit that would become. They then went into” Everyday” by Buddy Holley, “Chantilly Lace” by the Big Bopper and “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens.
Following that set they went into “Rhythm of the Rain.”sporting umbrellas. Scott told how they appeared in the movie “Grease” and he wrote a song for it he wanted to do, but they got this guy from New Jersey named John Travolta to sing it. 😀 They then did “Sandy” from Grease followed by “Greased Lightning,” “Hopelessly Devoted to YOU” ”You’re the One that I want,” and “Stranded at the Drive-in” all from Grease.
Overall it was a pleasant trip down memory lane and good to hear the oldies as always. 😉
Sha Na Na: 16 Tons – YouTube ( the original song featuring Bowser with funny skits in between verses with them as miners)
Sha Na Na – Ghost Riders In The Sky – YouTube (Original song featuring Bowser with funny skits in between verses.)
TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY CONTARDO (SHA NA NA ) ” IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT ” – YouTube (a really great tribute to Johnny done by a fan with him singing “In the Still of the Night” while showing pictures of him from childhood to him today. Johnny looks different today, but still a very good looking man and a cool guy. Check it out. 😉
Sha Na Na ~Stand by me – YouTube (Featuring Dennis Green. The tall bald guy in the group is Santini who is an orthopedic surgeon today.)