Friday, April 24, 2009

KV's Man In Sarasota


Above: Larry Chance & The Earls -from a Remember Then Concert from last year
We interrupt our exploration of Ward 10 and Eldridge Street for a music review done by Joe Bruno for his old singing buddies from the 4th and 6th Wards
THE SHOW AT THE VAN WEZEL (PRONOUNCED VAN WAY-ZEL) IN SARASOTA WAS GREAT. JOHNNY MAESTRO SOUNDED LIKE HE ALWAYS DID. LIKE HIS VOICE NEVER AGED IN THE PAST 50 YEARS. ALTHOUGH, HE DID LOOK LIKE HE WAS A LITTLE UNDERWEIGHT. A LITTLE UNDERNOURISHED. LIKE HE NEEDS TO EAT A STEAK WITH SOME POTATOES. MAYBE TWO OR THREE PORTIONS. WITH A LOT OF BREAD AND FIVE DESSERTS.
LARRY CHANCE AND THE EARLS PUT ON A MUCH BETTER SHOW THAN JOHNNY MAESTRO AND THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE. LARRY CHANCE SEEMED TO BE ENJOYING HIMSELF ON STAGE MUCH MORE THAN JOHNNY MAESTRO WAS. AND EVEN THOUGH LARRY CHANCE HAD THROAT CANCER A FEW YEARS BACK, HIS VOICE DIDN'T SEEM TO SUFFER TOO MUCH.
THE SHANGRILAS ALL LOOKED GORGEOUS. AND TWO OF THEM WERE OVER 60 YEARS OLD. THEY WERE THIN AND SHAPELY LIKE 30 YEAR OLDS. NOT BAD SINGERS EITHER. TOO BAD THEY WERE ONLY ON FOR 20 MINUTES.
DURING HIS GIG, LARRY CHANCE TOLD JOKES, AND WENT INTO THE AUDIENCE TO SPEAK WITH THE CROWD. HE EVEN MADE PEOPLE SING STUPID CHORUSES INTO THE MICROPHONE. THEN HE BROUGHT THREE GUYS ON STAGE TO DANCE AND SING CHARLIE BROWN WITH HIM.
IT WAS HILARIOUS. THE THREE GUYS WERE SO OLD, IT LOOKED LIKE THEY NEEDED BATTERY-POWERED, CAST-IRON WALKERS.
I WAS IN THE SECOND ROW UP FRONT (I BOUGHT THE TICKETS IN SEPTEMBER AFTER I SPOKE WITH YOU). WHEN LARRY CHANCE GOT NEAR ME, MY WIFE TOLD HIM NOT TO GIVE ME THE MICROPHONE TO SING, OR HE MIGHT NOT GET IT BACK.
THAT WAS GOOD ADVICE. I NEVER MET A MICROPHONE I DIDN'T WANT TO TAKE HOME WITH ME.
LES CAUCHI AND FRED FERARRA FROM THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE ALSO SEEMED MORE COMFORTABLE ON STAGE THAN THEIR LEAD SINGER. THEY LOOKED LIKE THEY WERE HAVING FUN PERFORMING. JOHNNY MAESTRO LOOKED LIKE HE WAS JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS.
AFTER THE SHOW, I MET A GUY I PLAY BALL WITH IN THE OVER-60 SARASOTA SENIOR SOFTBALL LEAGUE. HE SAID THE SAME THING I DID.
LARRY CHANCE IS NOT THE SINGER JOHNNY MAESTRO IS, BUT HE PUTS ON A MUCH BETTER SHOW. HE PLAYS TO THE AUDIENCE. THAT'S HIS PERSONALITY. I GUESS IT'S JUST NOT JOHNNY MAESTRO'S PERSONALITY TO BE THAT WAY. IT DOESN'T MAKE HIM A BAD GUY. IT'S JUST THE WAY HE IS.
I SPOKE TO JOHNNY MAESTRO, LES CAUCHI AND FRED FERARRA AFTER THE SHOW. THEY WERE SITTING AND SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS FOR AN OLDER CROWD. THERE WERE MORE CANES IN THE CROWD THAN TEETH.
I BOUGHT ONE OF THEIR CD'S "PEACE ON EARTH", WHICH I DIDN'T HAVE. I HAVE ALL THE REST. IT CONTAINS ALL RELIGIOUS, OR SPIRITUAL SONGS, LIKE AVE MARIA, HAIL MARY, I BELIEVE, AND YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE. JOHNNY MAESTRO SIGNED IT FOR MY SON, WHO IS A MINISTER IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA.
DON'T ASK. I CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF.
I MENTIONED TO JOHNNY MAESTRO WHERE I CAME FROM. WHERE WE BOTH GREW UP. I MENTIONED KNICKERBOCKER VILLAGE. HE DIDN'T SEEM MUCH INTERESTED. HE JUST SORT OF GRUNTED, KEPT HIS HEAD DOWN AND CONTINUED SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS. LES AND FRED WERE MUCH MORE APPROACHABLE AND FRIENDLY.
I KIDDED WITH LES THAT YOU TOLD ME TO TELL HIM I WAS A BETTER FIRST TENOR THAN HE WAS. WE GOT A GOOD LAUGH OUT OF THAT ONE. THEN I TOLD HIM THE TRUTH. THAT HE'S PROBABLY THE BEST FIRST TENOR TO EVER SING DOO WOP. AND THAT IS THE TRUTH. HE THANKED ME AND SHOOK MY HAND. HE SAID TO GIVE YOU HIS REGARDS.
THERE WAS A BIG CROWD THERE WAITING FOR AUTOGRAPHS, SO I DIDN'T WANT TO TAKE UP MUCH OF THEIR TIME. WITH THE AGE OF THE CROWD, I DIDN'T WANT TO SEE PEOPLE FALLING LIKE FLIES, WAITING FOR AUTOGRAPHS.
NO KIDDING. THERE WERE A FEW OXYGEN MASKS IN THE CROWD. MY WIFE WAS AFRAID TO LIGHT A MATCH TO SMOKE A CIGARETTE. IT COULD HAVE BLOWN THE ROOF OFF THE BUILDING.
YET ALL IN ALL, IT WAS A NICE EXPERIENCE. ESPECIALLY FOR THE OVER 60 CROWD. IN FACT, MY WIFE AND I WERE PROBABLY THE YOUNGEST PEOPLE IN THE CROWD (MY WIFE'S 48. I'M 61, THE SAME AS YOU).
IN SARASOTA, MOST PEOPLE ARE RETIRED OR IN NURSING HOMES. THE JOKE IS THAT THE AVERAGE AGE IN SARASOTA IS EXTINCT. AND IF YOU PUT YOUR DRINK DOWN IN A BAR IN SARASOTA, SOMEBODY MIGHT PUT THEIR FALSE TEETH IN IT.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON THE SHOW IS THAT I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S WORTH THE TIME, MONEY OR EFFORT TO GO SEE THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE IN PERSON. YOU COULD JUST STAY HOME AND LISTEN TO THEIR RECORDINGS, OR THE 90 MINUTE DVD THEY PRODUCED, WHICH I PURCHASED TWO YEARS AGO.
WITH THE MONEY SAVED (I PAID $75 PER TICKET), US SENIOR CITIZENS COULD BUY MORE BATTERIES FOR OUR PACEMAKERS. OR MORE PRUNE JUICE TO KEEP US REGULAR GUYS.
UNFORTUNATELY, JOHNNY MAESTRO'S STAGE PRESENCE IS A BIG DISAPPOINTMENT. BUT HE SINGS LIKE AN ANGEL. YOU CAN'T DENY THAT.
ON THE OTHER HAND, I'D GO SEE LARRY CHANCE AND THE EARLS SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. LARRY CHANCE IS A SUPREME ENTERTAINER. IT'S IN HIS BLOOD. HE MAKES THE CROWD SMILE AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES
JOHNNY MAESTRO MIGHT HAVE THE BEST VOICE IN THE HISTORY OF DOO WOPS. BUT ON STAGE, SADLY, HE'S JUST A NICE SUITING SINGING MOSTLY TO HIMSELF.
MAYBE THAT'S WHY, STRANGELY ENOUGH, HE'S NOT IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. WITH HIS VOICE, YOU'D THINK HE'D BE IN AUTOMATICALLY.
BUT THE MORE I THINK OF IT, THE LESS SURPRISING IT REALLY IS.
YOUR LIFELONG PAL,
JOE "MOONEY" BRUNO

6 comments:

Topaz Angel said...

I only saw a Johnny Maestro and Brooklyn Bridge concert once, a couple of years ago. It was fantastic! Johnny did lose some weight after being hospitalized for a heart stent replacement in Dec. 2008. He'll be 70 next month, and his voice is still incredible. When I got his autograph, he was giving his full attention to the fans waiting after the concert. Maybe he was just having an "off" night on Wednesday. I'd pay anything to see him again.

TopazAngel said...

The Shangri-Las should have been billed as a tribute group, since none of the singers are from the original group.

Sol Bellel said...

Joe Bruno told me that
"TOPAZ ANGEL IS WRONG. TWO OF THE ORIGINAL FOUR SHANGRI-LAS WERE AT THE CONCERT.
ONE WAS BETTY WEISS AND THE OTHER WAS MARGE GANSER.
THAT'S THE WAY THEY WERE INTRODUCED. AND THEY ARE TWO OF THE FOUR ORIGINALS.
THE PRODUCER OF THIS SHOW WAS AN ACTIVE ADVOCATE OF THE NEW TRUTH IN ROCK AND ROLL AMENDMENT. HE MADE A SPEECH ON THE SUBJECT.
SO I DOUBT HE WOULD HAVE TWO GIRLS ANNOUNCED AND PRESENTED AS TWO MEMBERS OF THE ORIGINAL SHANGRI-LAS IF THEY WERE NOT, IN FACT, TWO OF THE ORIGINAL MEMBERS.
BUT THEN AGAIN, WHO THE HELL KNOWS??"

TopazAngel said...

Was Marge Ganser wearing angel wings? She died in 1996 from cancer. Her identical twin sister, Mary Ann, died in 1970. Mary Weiss had been touring as a single act, but certainly could have gotten together with two other singers to reprise the Shangri-Las. You can find more info about the gals on Wikipedia.

Jennie said...

Back in the 1980's we were privileged and honored to get to meet and hear the Great Johnny Maestro of Brooklyn Bridge and
Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops and Kutchie Pelaez at his famous restaurant "Kutcharitaville" of Key West. After their great performances we all sat around shooting the shit, eating cheese burgers and key lime pie. They were all really cool dude's and related to us like normal people would. Strange for such big star's.

It's such a shame, seems like all the star's are headed to Rock N Roll Heaven these days?

Willie Jordan said...

It's a shame to lose so many of our favorite entertainers and singers in such a short time. Like someone said Levi Stubs,Johnny Maestro,Isaac Hayes and so many more.
My wife and I met Isaac Hayes one evening while visiting Kutchie and Anita Pelaez's Key Kime Pie Factory. We have always loved they're pies.
Isaac was there playing his big hit "Shaft", fantastic. After the show he invited us over to his table. We had a very nice chit-chat with him as well as with Kutchie and Anita.
Isaac insisted that we eat with him some of Kutchie and Anita's king size sirloin steak sandwiches. They we're great and so was Isaac,Kutchie and Anita. To say the least, that was the most astonishing evening and will remain in our memories forever.