THE ETERNALS MEET THE STORYTELLERS
July 8, 200, was a wonderful and exciting night at the Petroleum Club in Long Beach as a packed house watched The Eternals, The Storytellers, The Alley Cats, The Boomers and GirlTalk deliver a full four hours of solid vocal group harmony and flat-out rhythm & blues. Though the concert was billed as an "Hispanic Doo-Wop: East Meets West" show (and every act was indeed fully or in part Latino), hardcore R&B and '50s doo-wop were the order of the day.
The Eternals (first set): lead singer Charlie Girona on the left
GirlTalk, a female trio who came with their own 4-piece rhythm section, started the evening's first set at 8 o'clock sharp, performing three famous Girl Group songs: Betty Everett's "Shoop Shoop Song," The Crystals' "Doo Ron Ron" and The Chantels' "Maybe." The three ladies--Marcia Paul, Lisa Martinez and Lorna Katz--did a great job on their maiden performance, and you can bet they'll be back.
Next up, the DWS's regular band, The Boomers--keyboardist Louie Martinez, guitarist Dave Morales, bassist/vocalist Joe Gariby, drummer Elias Chico and tenor sax man Dave Kadison--romped through a lively set of Lee Allen's "Walking With Mr. Lee," Larry Williams' "Just Because," The Medallions' "Buick '59," The Five Satins' "In the Still of the Nite" and Bill Doggett's "Rambunctious." It was great to see The Boomers intermixing straight-up doo-wop and straight-out R&B instrumentals. After all, that's how the music was presented at the great rock 'n' roll shows of the 1950s.
The Boomers (Louie and Joe)
Then came The Storytellers from the San Gabriel Valley, with their new lineup. Al Sanchez, Nick Delgado and Ruben Ochoa have added John Grajeda to the group, and they sound much better as a quartet. Along with their own songs "L.A. Shuffle" and "You Played Me a Fool," they performed The Tabs' "Never Forget," Huey Smith & The Clowns' "Don't You Just Know It," Robert & Johnny's "I'm Yours" and Johnny Ace's "How Can You Be So Mean?"
Then came the headliners from New York, The Eternals, augmented by their original songwriter and lead singer, Charlie Girona, who has been living in Los Angeles for many years. This polished aggregation came out with a full show, handing off lead vocals throughout the set to showcase their versatility. They sang nearly a dozen familiar songs, such as Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher," The Jacks' "Why Don't You Write Me?" Little Jimmy Scott's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool," an Oldies But Goodies medley, The Dell-Vikings' "Whispering Bells," The Dubs' "Please Don't Ask Me to Be Lonely," and of course their own two regional hits that everybody came to hear: "Babalu's Wedding Day" and "Rockin' in the Jungle."
The intermission was kept fairly brief, but there was enough time for the crowd to mob The Eternals at the autograph table, where fans bought at least $500 worth of CDs and photographs and met all the members.
The Eternals (second set)
The second set began with a flashy acappella group, The Alley Cats, four young guys--Phil Gold, Royce Reynolds, Mondo Fonsca and John O'Campo--who have been touring steadily around the country, working for oldies crowds more interested in catchy novelties than real doo-wop. But knowing that tonight they were working for a more demanding audience, these crazy cats performed their most doo-woppy stuff, including The Dominoes' "Sixty Minute Man," The Clovers' "Love Potion #9" and The Platters' "Smoke Gets in Your eyes," and nearly stopped the show. Okay, so they also did Burt Bacharach's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," but The Alley Cats definitely impressed the finicky DWS crowd with their tight harmonies..
GirlTalk with DWS board member Eddie Davis
Then GirlTalk came back out to sing three more songs: The Marvelettes' "Beechwood 4-5789," Robert & Johnny's "We Belong Together" and Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers' "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?"
Dave Cadison (The Boomers)
The Boomers did another eclectic set of five songs, ranging from the Chicago Soul of Billy Stewart's "Sitting in the Park" (an East L.A. favorite) to The Treniers' "Rock That Boogie" to Van McCoy's "Mr DJ" to The Jive Five's doo-wop classic "This Is My Story" to Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk." Who said eclecticism is dead at our doo-wop shows?
The Storytellers returned with Wade Flemons & The Newcomers' "Here I Stand," The Dells' "Why Do You Have to Go," The Accents' "I Give My Heart to You," Don & Dewey's "Justine" and their own 1990 Classic Artists single, "Please Remember My Love."
Then The Eternals closed out the show with another 10-song set, reprising their "Babalu's Wedding Day" and introducing, among others, The Penguins' "Earth Angel," The Flamingos "Close Your Eyes," The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," two songs by The Turbans ("When You Dance" and "Congratulations"), and The Moonglows' "Sincerely." It was almost as good as having all those groups on hand, that's how well The Eternals deliver those classic songs.
This was a solid show that sent the audience home whistling their favorite tunes. If there was a glitch, it was that nearly half of the audience came through the promotional efforts of The Eternals themselves, especially Charlie Girona. That meant that a big segment of the DWS's regular membership missed one hell of a rock 'n' roll show.
Let's hope everyone's on hand for our upcoming concerts with Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge (September 30) and The Chantels (October 28).
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