Cinco de Mayo, May 5, was a warm and pleasant Saturday at the Petroleum Club in Long Beach, a perfect evening for good music. But Cinco de Mayo is a popular Southern California holiday loaded with street festivals and Mexican concerts. Maybe that's why the crowd of roughly 260 paying customers who showed up for Show #36 was considerably thinner than expected. Of course, that didn't stop the entertainers from delivering a first-class show, supported by a backup band and a new sound system that sounded better than ever. In short, The Dreamlovers/Jacks/Cadets concert was a keeper.
Emcee for the evening was Eugene Maye, formerly of The Millionaires and brother of Arthur Lee Maye. Eugene, who used to hang out with members of The Cadets/Jacks in the 1950s, volunteered for the post, and his personal recollections added to the presentations of the various artists.
The show began with Dennis Bardone and The Chapeaus (Joe Rotell, Barry Jacks and Mike Jacks) warming up the crowd with five carefully crafted acappella ballads: "Tonight (Could Be the Night)," "A Thousand Miles Away," "One Summer Night," "Diamonds & Pearls" and "Sunday Kind of Love."
Emcee Eugene Maye greets the Dunn Brothers, James (left) and Cliff (right), of The Dreamlovers Pep Torres
Then the audience got a surprise when the next act, which was added to the lineup only two weeks earlier, took the stage. Pep Torres and his band (guitarist Joel Morin, standup bassist Tony Macias and drummer Eric Heinly) are definitely not doo-wop, though they did start off their set in harmony with "Tell Me Why." But since this was Cinco de Mayo, the young entertainer and his rockabilly/R&B outfit gave the crowd a little taste of East L.A., including a five-song tribute to Ritchie Valens that included "Come On Let's Go," "Framed," "Hi-Tone," "That's My Little Suzie" and "Donna." Pep also performed several songs in Spanish, including "Girl of My Best Friend" and "Tallahassee Lassie."
Then out came Pete Foxx, Willie Davis and Tommy Turner of The Jacks/Cadets, who apologized for being only a trio this night; bass singer Randall Jones had had a stroke the night before and was in the hospital. But that didn't stop these old pros, who winged their way through their 1950s Modern singles like "Church Bells May Ring," The Jacks' hit "Why Don't You Write Me," "Let's Make Up," the stirring "Why Did I Fall in Love" and The Cadets' 1956 Top 10 hit "Stranded in the Jungle." Randall's absence did require some rearranging on a couple of songs, and the group's original song list had to be trimmed by a couple of songs, notably "Dancing Dan," the group's reworking of "Sixty Minute Man," which was clearly Randall Jones' song.
|Jacks/Cadets: Willie Davis,
Tommy Turner and Pete Foxx.
|During rehearsal, several days before the 5/5/2001 show, Jacks/Cadets Randy Jones (right), Pete Foxx and Willie Davis harmonize.|
|Willie Davis sings the blues.||Randy Jones during rehearsal
for Show #36 (5/5/2001)
Closing the first set were The Dreamlovers, fresh in from Philadelphia on their first-ever trip to the West Coast: original members James Ray Dunn (bass) and brother Conrad "Cliff" Dunn (lead), plus first tenor Earl Worsham (formerly of The Turbans) and second tenor/baritone Charlie Brown didn't disappoint. These guys made it look and sound easy, harmonizing on their old songs from half a dozen 1950s labels: "Zoom Zoom Zoom," "If I Should Lose You," "Together," "Oh Baby Mine," an acappella "Young Blood" (not one of their recordings, but an excellent display of four guys singing on a street corner) and their big 1961 hit, "When We Get Married," which really stirred the crowd.
After an intermission, The Chapeaus (shouldn't that be chapeaux?) returned to the stage for five more acappella tunes: "Come Go With Me," "Ten Commandments of Love," "Never Never," "This Is My Love" and "Little Girl of Mine." One word of advice to this quartet: more uptempo songs next time, because acappella requires a little more added excitement. Then the DWS house band, The Boomers, featuring Dreamlovers music director Doug Payne on guitar, played a rousing "Buick '59."
The Cadets/Jacks came back with another five songs, trading the lead vocals back and forth on "Fine Looking Woman," "So Wrong," "Let's Rock & Roll 'Em," "Empty Heart" and "Do You Wanna Rock." Eugene Maye pointed out in their introduction that Willie Davis was his favorite vocalist, and there's no doubt that Davis is still a convincing interpreter of song.
The Dreamlovers finished the evening with eight great songs: "Amazons and Coyotees," "Let Them Live and Be Loved," "Pretty Little Girl," "These Will Be the Good Old Days," "While We Were Dancing," then they stopped the show with an acappella rendition of The Turbans' "Sister Sooky." They ended their set with another performance of the crowd-pleasing "When We Get Married" and came back for a well-deserved encore with "You Gave Me Somebody to Love." Classy guys, a classy act.
A new sound system (and new sound engineer) served the performers well this time (as opposed to some of the problems from last show), and The Boomers were extra good in steady support. Thanks to bassist Louie Martinez, keyboardist Jimi Seville, guitarist David Morales, drummer Robert Zapata (of Cannibal & The Headhunters) and honking sax man Dave Kadison (formerly of the Pastel Six) for a great job.
Musically, Show #36 was superb. The only downside was the aforementioned thin crowd, which was at least 100 people smaller than last show's. Considering the costs of flying a five-man vocal group into town and putting them up at a hotel, along with the escalating expenses of simply putting on a concert (club rental, security, sound system, backstage refreshments, and the fees paid to four different groups and a full band), the Doo-Wop Society can't afford to keep putting on shows that lose hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.
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