Opening with a marvelous acapella number by the Tee-Tones, this set the tone for the evening. They were followed with a tight number by the 8 piece Blue Suede Orchestra featuring Pete Mastropaolo & The Coda Band who ably backed all the acts on their hits. Barbara Harris & The Toys were up next. Charming, elegant and fun, their Lover's Concerto is one of those classics you just never tire of hearing. The Vogues were in fine voice and then The Marcels tore the roof off. Exuding charisma and boundless energy, they squeezed what seemed like 37 classics into a medley with each snippet getting a pop from the adoring crowd. Their hit Blue Moon was met with cheers and the spontaneous and rousing standing ovation was well-deserved. For me, The Marcels stole the show and were the hit of the evening. Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners had the daunting task of following them which I wouldn't wish on any act. Always great, however, to see an original lead live and in person, and Since I Don't Have You is as great a song as has ever been written.
The happy buzz during intermission from the nearly sold-out crowd showed that these "oldies shows", in a world-class venue like The Beacon Theatre, are still commercially and artistically viable.
Following intermission, Motown's Sylvester Potts' The Contours put on a polished and entertaining set. While Earth, Wind & Fire's September was recently deemed the happiest song of all time, Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance), has to be right there at the top of the all-time most joyful numbers and is always a show-stopper.
Charlie Thomas at age 80 exuded warmth and charisma as he led The Drifters through their classics. He made the large Beacon Theater feel like a backyard barbecue with friends and family and he actually introduced his great grand-children.
Headliners the Duprees exhibited brilliant harmonies and the four gentlemen sounded more like a dozen with their rousing and flawless sounds. And never did I expect a great Jackie Wilson medley in the middle of their set. While some acts who have been out there fifty years plus years may see some wear and tear on their vocals, these guys have "still got it." Bravo.
Ending the show with everyone on stage singing Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight one left with not just a nostalgic glow, but knowing we had seen a world class event. With the exception of the Tee-Tones deserving more stage time (hey, this is billed as a Doo-Wop show) little to complain about with this nearly 3 hour triumph. Kudos to the promoters for keeping things tight and moving.
In short I have every intention of coming back to this lovely annual New York event next year.
Evan Ginzburg is the Associate Producer of The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke and the upcoming full-length documentary 350 Days. He is a 25 year plus TV, radio and film veteran formerly of 50,000 Watt WBAI-FM 99.5 NYC. He currently hosts The Evan Ginzburg Show, an Arts program on www.villageconnectionradio.com Sundays 11AM-1PM.