Sunday, April 10, 2016

Doowop in Long Island, day one

I'm back in the States on the first leg of my spring trip, starting with Doowop Weekend 13 in Long Island. It features dozens of Doowop groups and artists, each performing three or four numbers. The venue is the high school auditorium in Hauppage, the audience is largely original lovers of the genre, now in their seventies, and I felt at home as I passed the 70 landmark myself yesterday.
In terms of quality there was plenty of sweet harmony singing to be had with most of the groups having just one or two original members augmented by newcomers who had high quality vocal chords. The first named act on was a case in point. Cleveland Still is the only surviving member of The Dubs, but along with the newer members they were note perfect on classics like Don't Ask Me To Be Lonely and Could This Be Magic. Magic indeed. The acts continued thick and fast, including The Solitaires (Walking Along), Tony Middleton and The Willows, who were excellent on their big hit Church Bells May Ring and Detroit's The Diablos, now without Nolan Strong, who were a big influence on Smokey Robinson and whose The Wind is a classic.
Brooklyn's The Danleers, with Billy Carey, were good on One Summer Night, but Jimmy Clanton showed that he is perhaps past his best on Go Jimmy Go, Just A Dream and Venus In Blue Jeans. MC Bobby J joined the next act The Heartbeats, standing in for Wally Roker, who has died, and the group was fine of A ThousandMiles Away and She's Gone. Next was Jimmy Gallagher and The Passions, who were a highlight of the show, with Gloria and Just To Be With You, among others. After the break there was some fine singing from Jimmy Charles, reprising his 1960 hit A Million To One and The Excellents got the locals singing along to Coney Island Baby. The Mystics were excellent on an acapella version of That's The Way It Goes and their biggie Hushabye, and then it was the turn of Chuck Girard who, it turns out, was lead singer of both The Hondells (Little Honda) and The Castells (Sacred and If This Is Love). Who knew? Norman Fox and The Rob Roy's were not bad on Pizza Pie and Tell Me Why. One group who I was looking forward to seeing was The Majors, who featured two originals and a young male falsetto lead who was excellent on She's A Troublemaker and Wonderful Dream. At last there was a female group with The Chantels showing that even without Arlene Smith they are among the very best of the girl groups on Look In His Eyes, He's Gone, I Love You So and Maybe. Finally it was The Teenagers, with original member Herman Santiago and Bobby J again joining the line up. Current lead singer Timothy Wilson was Uncannily like Frankie Lympn on Goody Goody, ABC Of Love and I Promise. Day one ended with the Doowop anthem Why Do Fools Fall On Love, a fitting end to a day that was quite gruelling on terms of length but brilliant in terms of quality. Day two follows today and photos will appear on the blog in due course.


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