UPDATED: 1-30-2000
SHOW #29 (2/20/99)

GAYNEL HODGE, JIMMY PIPKIN, VERNON GREEN, GEORGE GRANT, JEWEL AKENS, MANY OTHERS ROCK THE PETROLEUM CLUB!

On Saturday night, February 20, the DWS's 29th concert had a full house of over 400 people rockin' between the tables into the wee hours. In fact, the show, which began at 8 p.m., didn't end until nearly 1 o'clock in the morning. And even at that late hour, the Petroleum Club in Long Beach, where the DWS has been holding these concerts since 1995, was still 60% full.

As part of our celebration of Black History Month, the evening began with a rousing 20-minute set from The Greater Salem Baptist Church Choir. Now that everybody was fully awake, our backup band, The Boomers, featuring Val Poliuto (formerly of The Jaguars) on piano, and Dave Cadison on sax, delivered a Los Angeles honking number to ease the audience into a secular state of mind.

The CALVANES


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Then The Calvanes leaped out onstage with one of their polished, tight sets that included their 1955 double-sided local hit, "Don't Take Your Love (From Me)" and "Crazy Over You." Three of the four guys have been singing together since 1958, so you know The Calvanes have got it down right.

Jewel Akens with DWS board member
Eddie Davis (in shades), Isaac Hurley,
Al Martin, and Bruce Meeks



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Next up was Jewel Akens and his reconstituted Four Dots. Everyone knows that Jewel's big hit was the 1965 pop hit, "The Birds & the Bees," but Jewel had earlier worked in several groups, including the Nuggets and the Four Dots (featuring the late rocker Eddie Cochran). After starting his set with his hit song, Jewel and the group went into a series of Sam Cooke-flavored tunes, including The Soul Stirrer classic "Touch the Hem of His Garment" and a rousing version of "Just For You."

George Grant (of the Castelles),
Carl Green and Gaynel Hodge



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George Grant (of the Castelles),
DWS board member Ray Regalado,
and Herman Pruitt (of the Calvanes)



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Gaynel Hodge & The Turks were next. Now get this lineup: Tony "Nite Owl" Allen, George Grant (of The Castelles) and Carl Green (the original Johnny of Marvin & Johnny, as well as the composer of "Hey Senorita" (the flipside of The Penguins' "Earth Angel" (cowritten by Gaynel Hodge). Gaynel went through most of his '50s songs with The Hollywood Flames and The Turks, including "I'm a Fool" and "Fathertime." George sang one of his popular numbers, "My Girl Awaits Me," and Tony of course sang the always popular "Nite Owl," which always gets the crowd going. There were some favorites yet to be sung, but Gaynel and crew was saving them for the next set.

Jimmy Pipkin (right)
and the Gallahads



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Finishing off the first half was Jimmy Pipkin & the Gallahads. Though not as tight as this reviewer might have wished, the group pleased the crowd. After all, this is the first time Jimmy Pipkin has sung in L.A. since 1962. Jimmy went through most of his Del-Fi material, including of course the ever popular "Lonely Guy," sounding very much like he did 40 years ago.

During the intermission the crowd flocked to the various vendors selling CDs, albums and 45s, or went back to the autograph table where several artists were already hanging out. The one great thing about these DWS shows is that the fans get to meet their heroes. If they don't find them at the tables, they can sometimes mingle with them at the bar. The DWS contract with entertainers stipulates that they meet with their fans, and nearly all of the singers are more than happy to comply.

Jewel Akens returned to start off the second half of the show, followed by another stunning set by The Calvanes, who seem to get better every year. Then the crowd was treated to Vernon Green & The Medallions. Though Vernon is confined to a wheelchair, he still commands a crowd, and The Medallions (containing two originals from the '50s, Billy Foster and Jimmy Green) are well choreographed and polished. Vernon always wows the crowd with his sweet words of pismotology and the pompitudes of love, singing "The Letter."

Jimmy Rodriguez (left)
and Louie Martinez



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Closing the show were Gaynel & The Turks, with added vocals from Joe Louis of The Hollywood Saxons. Now that the hour was late, the guys treated the audience to what it was like to be hanging out on a streetcorner. Some of the songs were improvised on the spot. Some were ragged, but they were always stirring. The highlight of the night came with the very last song, Jesse Belvin's "Heartless." Gaynel sang behind Jesse on the original 1958 RCA recording, and nowadays he can uncannily sound like his mentor. The song brought down the house, as befitted such a fantastic show.

There may have been some complaints about certain elements of the show, but the only one stated aloud was that there was simply an embarrassment of riches. In other words, nearly 5 hours of music was just too much. The audience was worn out. But as they headed toward the door, most of them stopped by to personally thank Vernon, Gaynel, George, Jewel and the others for the great show. And special thanks go out to the DWS's wonderful new emcee, Eugene Maye, who held the whole show together.

The DWS has done it again.

Order Show #29 now by sending a check for
$20 (members) or $25 (non-members) plus $3.50 S&H to

DWS
3553 Atlantic Avenue #251
Long Beach, CA 90807




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