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There were storms coming and heat hanging thick in the air,  which kept an unfortunate number of people away from doo-woping the night away with me, but none-the-less, the show was fantastic. I have to say…when you attend these types of shows, were it is multiple groups from the same era performing, you get the best songs from each group, but that doesn’t always mean that all of the groups are good! In this case, they are all worthy of praise and attendance!
The night started out right, with singer Barbara Harris of The Toys. She has “It”! Whatever that intangible is, she has it! She lights up the stage when she performs. She still has a great, clear voice. I am so excited that I got to watch her perform, “A Lover’s Concerto”…one of my all-time favorite songs! More than that though, she performed so well, that all I could think of was, “this woman needs to be in other types of shows, too. I would love to see her on Broadway as Mama Morton in “Chicago”…she would kill it! Let’s get her agent on the phone!!
The Tymes came out next and gave us a good time! With two of the original members, they started out with their chart-topper, “Somewhere”. Followed by their hit version of, “Wonderful! Wonderful!” (the version that Cliff and Clair danced to on the series finale of, “The Cosby Show”). They are very well polished and put together with their newer members rounding out their sound. They concluded their set with another hit tune you may have heard of, “So Much In Love” which allowed them to break-out the in sync dance moves. With groups like this that have lost some of their original members, it is great to see younger generations joining in to keep the music alive.

Next up was another favorite of mine and a real treat, The Cookies lead by original member, Margaret Ross. The Cookies, as a group have an interesting past, being the back-up singers known as The Raelettes for Ray Charles in 1958. They are also the back-up that you hear in Neil Sedaka’s, “Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do” and Little Eva’s, “The Loco-Motion”, but with hits of their own in the 1960’s, they will forever be remembered. Ross with her new Cookies, Sandra Taylor and Barbara Wiltshire, eh-hem Harris, had a grand time performing, “Chains” and a fantastic version of Sam Cooke’s, “You Send Me”. Ross’ voice is crystal and she has real gusto! I’m not sure of her age, but I can guess and she has wonderful energy and moves…and in heels, thank you very much! Tina Turner should watch out! They finished up with their biggest hit, “Don’t Say Nothin’ (Bad About My Baby)”, which again, for me was a highlight!

As if I wasn’t already thrilled to be there, next was Jimmy Clanton.  Jimmy is still a teen idol, even if the teens are older now, haha!  “Go Jimmy Go” started off the set.  Clanton still has the boyish charm and melodic voice that made him so popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s with, “Just a Dream” and his biggest hit, “Venus in Blue Jeans”…a song that my Mom always sang to me as a child!  I was fortunate enough to meet him after the show and he is just as charming off-stage.  A very sweet man and genuine.
Talk about sharp dressed men…The Marcels.  “Heartache”, their chart-topping hit and “Blue Moon”, being their biggest hit, packed punches with excellent harmonies and in sync dance moves that harken back to a better time in music.  The Marcels covered many songs at this concert including, “Earth Angel”, “Sea of Love”, and “Sincerely”, to name a few.  It was an interesting turn to the evening, being that this group was the only assembled group at this show.  Unfortunately, most of The Marcels’ original members have passed away, but they are managed by surviving member, Walt Maddox.  However, The Marcels was only comprised of original members from May of ’61, until August of ’61.  So, “original” members would be relative anyway.  Members have been with the group for decades and some for a few years, but whatever the case, their voices blend extremely well and the dance moves were stellar!
This night kept on going (in a good way) and next up was Larry Chance and The Earls.  Poor Larry was hoarse from sleep deprivation from their previous nights concert and traveling, so let’s hope he gets some rest and doesn’t injure his voice!  Throughout the set he was clearing his throat, but having been through that myself, I sympathize.  He managed through and I do believe that they did a shorter set than usual, but he was a trooper and aside from the coughing, you wouldn’t have known there was an issue.  We still got to hear, “Remember Then” and “I Believe” , but I was sad not to hear my favorite, “Life is But a Dream”…better that he takes care of himself though!!  I will just have to see The Earls again!
Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs…need I say more?!  Maurice Williams is a legend and I had never seen him, until now?  How did that happen?  Thank goodness that has been rectified.  To hear them perform, “Little Darlin'”, which Williams wrote was very cool, even though The Diamonds cover is actually the hit you usually hear on the radio.  Of course, “Stay” was the highlight of the set. Williams’ inflection is identical to the record from fifty years ago!  Bravo!
Jay Siegel and The Tokens with special guest, Jay Traynor performing as a Token was the next group.  The Tokens, of course known the world over for, “The Lion Sleeps its many incarnations.  Jay Siegel, an original member and lead singer, was tapped in high school by fellow student, Neil Sedaka to join his singing group, The Linc-Tones, who later morphed into The Tokens.  Seigel hits his high notes like the consumate performer that he is, with a laugh and fingers crossed (to be funny).  In actuality, he hits the notes with ease and the highest of highs (and they are high) are flawless.  He does an incredibly interesting shift from the high falsetto to his lower notes that seems very difficult, but the shift was perfection.  Also, of note, is that he did it in the original key of F!!  An added bonus is Jay Traynor.  Not only does he add gorgeous tone to the back-up for Siegel, but when he takes lead…watch out!  Traynor sang lead vocals for The Mystics and then formed a little group called, Jay and The Americans…luckily for The Filene Center, Jay took centerstage and sang his hit, “She Cried”.  The depth that went into that song was indescribable.  He was haunting.  He has a rich voice and the notes hung in the night air and slowly washed over us.

The common thread through the evening was talent!  Another thread that went through the whole night, amazingly, was the band.  The same band played all of these hits!  The Coda Band are superstars and really steered the boat.  Keeping up with these acts is no small feat.  In addition, we also had Henry as MC.  He kept the night rolling and was a delight to talk to after the show.

This is an unbelievably put together show of music history.  Phenominal songs by original artists, that sound just like they should.  These people don’t need back-up dancers, light shows, or auto-tuned mics!  Their only back-up  is a supremely talented band.  This is the real deal!
I can easily give an A+ to each performer, without singling anyone out.  Some covers, yes.  Some illness, yes.  But those are just circumstance.  If I had to be picky, I would question the length of The Marcels set and number of covers that they performed, when there were other groups that could have kept going, with original songs.  However, the songs that they covered were all hits of the time and they performed them terrifically!  I would also complain that they announced at the close of the show during the traditional, “Goodnight Sweetheart”, that the acts would be out to sign autographs and visit with the fans…the only people who came out (ten minutes after the announcement was made) was Henry and Jimmy Clanton.  I can only guess that Jimmy is used to the heat, being from Baton Rouge, and the rest of the gang just wanted a cool shower?!  But, then don’t make the announcement!  It was disappointing, but at least I got to talk to Jimmy and Henry extra and meet Joe from the band 🙂  Overall, it was a very good time and I completely recommend this night of doo-wop, but mostly, I recommend that everyone see these living legends.
Venue: A, it was a tad hot, but better than it has been…The Filene Center could really use industrial fans pointed towards the audience to circulate air. Parking was under control and all services were running smoothly.
For future dates of The Ultimate Doo- Wop Show, go to www.canterburyproductions.com/upevents.htm OR “Like” them of Facebook. Also, individual acts have their own website, Facebook, and/or Twitter.
For booking The Coda Band, go to www.codaproductions.net
For the rest of the Summer season of The Filene Center, go to www.wolftrap.org

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