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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #21.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox..

Classic Urban Harmony
Newsletter #21
 

Welcome once again to our Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter issue (#21).  We know it's been awhile since the last newsletter.  A lot has happened since then, keeping us very busy.  We'll try to catch you up on all that's been going on.  Our website has just passed 100,000 hits!  When we started www.classicurbanharmony.net some 5+ years ago, little did we dream that we'd reach this point.  Thanks so much for your support!  As always this newsletter contains the latest news from the world of group harmony plus concert, film, book and CD reviews, interesting features and unfortunately more passings from our music family.  Again, there's something for everyone here.  We hope this newsletter will continue to be your source of group harmony information. 

Quote of the month:  "Music is the universal language of mankind." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Classic Urban Harmony LLC promotes the legacy of Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop, Soul and Gospel Vocal Group Harmony through multimedia presentations, historical research, interviews, magazine articles, museum displays, radio guest appearances, lectures, college courses, concert production and emceeing, vocal group bookings, our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net, and this free newsletter.  Here you'll find news of important events relevant to our music as well as updates to our website and summaries of our Classic Urban Harmony activities and projects.  To read more about and see more photos from the articles in this newsletter, check the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  We hope you'll enjoy this issue of the newsletter and again find it entertaining and informative.  Please continue passing the word on to others who might want to receive it.  They can sign up by sending their names and email addresses to CUH@att.net. - Charlie & Pam Horner - August 7, 2014.

Classic Urban Harmony Website passes 100,000 Visitors! 

We've done it!  Our website,  www.classicurbanharmony.net has just surpassed 100,000 hits!  When we started this website 5+ years ago, we had high hopes for it but never expected it to catch on as it did.  Thanks so much for making our website one of the premier sites in its field.  Now lets head for one million.  At our current rate we should reach that mark by 2063 - Charlie & Pam.

The late Bobby Thomas [Vibranaires, V-Eights, Orioles] honored with an Asbury Angels boardwalk plaque

The late Bobby Thomas, founder and lead singer of the Vibranaires and Vibes and member of the V-Eights and Orioles received his Asbury Angels plaque on the Asbury Park (NJ) Boardwalk of Fame on Saturday June 14, 2014.  The popular Asbury Park singer passed away in 2012 and was honored as an "Asbury Angel" in this his first year of eligibility.  Bobby was a pioneer in R&B vocal harmony.  The Asbury Angels Project honors those who have made major contributions to the Asbury Park music scene and have now passed on.  Classic Urban Harmony's Charlie & Pam Horner, consultants to the Asbury Angels Project were there to help honor Bobby’s memory along with members of Bobby’s family and friends.   Photos and a biographical sketch of Bobby Thomas were be added to the Asbury Angels website.  Bobby Thomas was one of nine prominent and influential members of Asbury Park's music scene selected for this year's induction.  Other members include Odyssey Moore, owner of the West Side's legendary night spot, the Orchid Lounge; singer Donnie Bertelson; Jim Giantonio who booked acts at the Fast Lane nightclub; Delores Holmes, soul singer; Jim McDonald, lighting director and stage manager; Carlo Novi, tenor sax player; William & Albert Rediker who brought big bands and R&R shows to Convention Hall; and Vinnie Roslin, bass player.  [Above photo, left to right: Pam & Charlie Horner, Bobby's son Randy, wife Betty and daughter Vickie.  Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale.]  For more photos of the plaque dedication visit www.classicurbanharmony.net.
 

 

Sept 21st Benefit concert for Joel Katz keeps growing!  What a line-up!

The benefit dinner concert for ailing singer, Joel Katz, set for September 21, continues to draw many of the major stars of group harmony.  New additions to the concert include the Duprees, the Encounters, Barbara Harris of the Toys, and the Super Girls (members of famous girls groups).  Joel Katz has played a significant role in the preservation of group harmony for many years, both through his singing and his recording studio.  As Joel continues to battle the effects of cancer treatment, many of his friends have banded together to raise money for his medical expenses.  Along with the previously mentioned new additions, the benefit dinner and show will feature the Dubs, Fireflies, Little Isidore & the Inquisitors, Devotions, Solitaires, the Willows, Kid Kyle and Quiet Storm.  Hal Keshner is musical director and the Golden Gup will dj.  The event will take place at 3 PM on Sunday September 21, 2014, at The Elan, 111 US 46, West Lodi, NJ.  Tickets are $75 per person and includes a family style dinner and the show.  For info see the Events Calendar of www.classicurbanharmony.net or call 570-775-9217 or 201-845-0579.  
 

Stax Records Broadway Musical now under development

The recent flurry of Broadway musicals dealing with older R&B and Pop music, from "Motown: The Musical" to "Beautiful," "Memphis," "Baby It's You," "The Million Dollar Quartet" and "Jersey Boys," has spurred the development of even more.  We've just heard that the Concord Music Group and Grammy Award winning producer Stuart Benjamin have begun development of a musical about the story of the legendary soul record label, Stax.  Stax went from humble beginnings in an old Memphis movie theater to a major label that would shape the sound of American soul music with releases by Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Booker T. & the MG's and dozens more.  The musical is targeted for Broadway in 2016.  [The photo above, from the Classic urban Harmony Archives, is the Stax Museum, built on the site of the original studio.]  [Thanks to SoulfulDetroit.com for this item].
 

Soul music historian, Bob Abrahamian, tragically takes his own life.

We were stunned and saddened on June 6, to learn of the death of Bob Abrahamian, soul music historian and host of the popular and informative "Sitting In The Park" radio program.  Bob has always been a friend to us at Classic Urban Harmony, supplying us with photos, contacts and information about groups we were researching, especially those from Chicago.  Tragically, Bob took his own life.  He was only 35.  Bob was one of the most knowledgeable people we knew regarding 1960's and 1970's soul vocal group music.  He single-handedly tracked down members of more than a couple hundred soul groups and interviewed them on his radio program, sharing them with the public through his website.  Bob dedicated most of his life to preserving the legacy of our music and he is irreplaceable.  Bob's passing is a devastating loss to our music. .Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob's family. Read Bob's obit in the Chicago Sun Times.  [The photo above shows Bob (left) and Charlie in 2009].
 

Legendary Jazz Vocalist, Jimmy Scott passes.

We were terribly saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, legendary vocalist, Jimmy Scott, on June 12, 2014.  Jimmy was 88.. Jimmy’s vocal stylings have, over the years, influenced everyone from Sonny Til to Frankie Valli.  His influence transcended just about all musical genres and he had to be one of the most important singers of our time.  It’s hard to imagine what popular music would have been without Jimmy Scott.  In addition, we’ve come to know Jimmy and his wife Jeanie as two of the nicest people we’ve ever met.  We tried to catch Jimmy Scott's performances whenever he was in our area, both on NYC and CT.  Whenever we'd make our way backstage, Jimmy always was glad to see us.  Jimmy had a way of welcoming people into his life.  He was both humble and warm hearted.  The world has lost one of its greatest stars.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Jeanie and Jimmy's family and friends.  [Photo above, Pam & Charlie backstage with Jimmy Scott.]

Cleveland Street named after Jimmy Scott!

On July 11, 2014, the city of Cleveland renamed East 101st Street between Cedar and Quebec Streets, "Jimmy Scott Way," in honor of the legendary vocalist who recently passed away.  Jimmy Scott lived on that block as a child and had many happy memories of the street.  Andy Leech, Director of the Library & Archives of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, acted as a go-between with Jimmy's wife, Jeanie and the Mayor's office to make this happen.  Photo here is Jeanie Scott, Jimmy's sisters Elsa Scott, Nadine Walker, Betty Jones and Congresswoman Mamie Mitchell.  [Photo by Storm Gardner, courtesy of Jeanie Scott.]
 

Leroy "Roy" Campbell of Lisa & Lovetones dies

The group harmony world is morning the loss of singer Leroy "Roy" Campbell, of the group, Lisa & the Lovetones.  Roy had also sung with Quiet Storm.  He passed away on June 5, 2014.
 

Stand Up Bass from Orioles' Johnny Reed, Bobby Thomas' Guitar, to be part of the Asbury Park music exhibit

Our sincere thanks to the family of the late Bobby Thomas (Vibranaires, V-Eights, Orioles) for donating items from Bobby's estate to us for the upcoming Asbury Park West Side Music Exhibit.  Thanks to them, the exhibit will now display original Orioles' Johnny Reed's stand up bass and Bobby Thomas' guitar (seen above).  Other donated items to be in exhibit are 78 RPM records by the Vibranaires/Vibes on the After Hours and Chariot labels.  Other members of the West Side community have been very generous in supplying us with many rare photos and other memorabilia.  The expanded exhibit will open at Monmouth University in West Long Branch NJ on February 4, 2015.
 

Re-MemberThen wins 2014 Don K. Reed Acappella Contest outside Nader Doo Wop Show for second time in 3 years!

Congratulations to our friends in the Piscataway NJ based acappella group, Re-MemberThen, who on May 30, 2014, won Don K. Reed's outdoor acappella group contest, outside of the IZOD Center prior to the Richard Nader Doo Wop Concert XXV.  This was the second time in three years that Re-MemberThen entered the contest, winning each time.  The winners then got to open the concert inside the IZOD Center later that evening.  Re-MemberThen has a new CD out (see below).  Watch a video of Re-MemberThen singing at the IZOD Center by clicking Re-MemberThen.
 

Long awaited first CD by Re-MemberThen now out!

The fine Piscataway NJ based acappella group, Re-MemberThen, is out with their first CD and it's a good one!  A mix of doo wop standards and some obscure collectors songs, this CD has something for everyone, each cut done in exquisite harmony.  Most cuts feature the powerful lead of Frank Cicerale, though other members Marty Geliebter, Jim Offner and Harry Maitland each take turns demonstrating their own talented voices.  Bill Butkowski's booming bass ties all the cuts together.  The influence of Larry Chance & the Earls is evident in more than just the group's name.  The album starts with an uptempo rendition of the Larry Chance composition, "Streets Of The Bronx," from the movie "A Bronx Tale" and concludes with the Earls' classic, "RememberThen.. In fact, Larry Chance volunteered his skill in mixing the CD and even lent his voice to a few of the recordings as guest vocalist.  For the group harmony connoisseurs, when was the last time you heard an acappella group sing "Give Me Your Heart" (the Termites) or "Made Up My Mind" (the Royal Counts).  There's "Crying In The Chapel" in tribute to our friend Bobby Thomas and Harry Maitland's original composition "Thank You Johnny" for Johnny Maestro.  Add to this, nice versions of songs like "You Are," "Wonderful Girl," "To The Aisle" and an original adaptation of the Duprees' "You Belong To Me" and you have a winner CD.  Fourteen cuts in all.  Copies available through the group for $10 plus shipping & handling.. Email
RememberThenAcapella@gmail.com. 
Be sure to visit Re-MemberThen's FaceBook Page.

Bill Boykins, Hampton Roads' Godfather of Gospel Music passes

Gospel radio personality and promoter, Bill Boykins, known in the Hampton Roads VA area as the "Godfather of Gospel Music," passed away at his home on June 19, 2014.  He was 83.  Boykins  grew up in Suffolk VA and began in radio in 1958 as the first black announcer at WYSR in Franklin, VA.  Over the next 55 years his radio career took him to stations WLPM, WRAP, WPCE, WBSK, WMYK, WSVY and WGPL- FM and -AM.  Over the years, Boykins welcomed and interviewed countless gospel groups on his radio programs and promoted numerous gospel concerts.  He was especially helpful in promoting local gospel groups from the Norfolk and Hampton Roads area.  [Thanks to Rev. Brenda Boone for this item.]

August 12 is Vinyl Record Day - Grass roots organization trying for recognition of date as a national holiday

On August 12, 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.  Now a non-profit organization in California is trying to preserve the legacy of vinyl records by having August 12 declared Vinyl Record Day.  They've even petitioned the USPS to have stamps printed celebrating vinyl records.  We don't know if they'll succeed but we applaud their efforts.  Read about the organization and their mission at the VRD website.

Soul, gospel and R&B group singer-songwriter, Bobby Womack dies.

Bobby Womack, gospel, soul and R&B group singer-songwriter with a career spanning more than 50 years died June 27, 2014 at his home in California.  He was 70 years old.  Womack began singing gospel in Cleveland, OH, as a youngster with his brothers.  Billed as the Womack Brothers, the group was mentored by Sam Cooke.  Cook recorded the group on his SAR label in the early sixties.  After recording the gospel song, "I Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," the group adapted the song to secular lyrics and recorded it again as "Looking For A Love".  By then they had also changed their name to the Valentinos.  Another Valentinos record, "It's All Over Now," was covered and made more popular by the Rolling Stones.  After Sam Cooke's death, Womack went solo.  Bobby Womack's real success came as a soloist, having huge hits with "Harry Hippie" and "Woman's Got To Have It".  Womack's personal life was plagued with problems that we won't go into here, but which he detailed in his autobiography.  Womack was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame in 2009.  To hear the Valentinos on YouTube, listen to "Looking For A Love".

Tony Obert, former member of Larry Chance's Earls, dies.

Tony Obert, former member of Larry Chance's Earls in the 1970's died at his home in Ohio, in mid July.  He was 72.  No photo was available to us.  [This item, thanks to Glen Fisher's Doo Wop Revival Newsletter.].

Concord Music Group buys Vee Jay catalog

The Concord Music Group, an independent music company that has been recently acquiring the catalogs of other major labels from past eras, has just purchased the catalog of Vee Jay Records.  Group harmony fans know Vee Jay as the label that issued all those great records by the Spaniels, Dells, El Dorados, and dozens of other groups.  The deal includes more than 5000 recordings.  The sale does not include the rights to the Beatles and Four Seasons recordings, that were lost by Vee Jay years ago.  Vee Jay was started in Chicago in 1953 by Vivian Carter and James Bracken.  In it's day it was one of the most successful of the black owned record labels.  The label went bankrupt in 1966.  Concord Music has already acquired the catalog of Stax Records.  See the earlier article about their desire to produce a Stax musical.
 

"Get On Up," A Review of the new James Brown movie

"Get On Up,” the James Brown biopic that was released this month is a captivating film, not only for its riveting sound track but for its frank portrayal of one of the most important entertainers of our era.  Chadwick Boseman gives the performance of his life, portraying James Brown, the very troubled yet extremely talented “Godfather of Soul” who changed the face of American music.  Flashing back to childhood events to show how they shaped his life, the movie presents Brown in a series of major events, sometimes jumping from event to event.  The young James Brown is shown overcoming huge adversities including extreme poverty, racism in a Jim Crow South, abandonment by his mother, physical abuse from his father, and being raised by an aunt in a brothel.  Music is the one saving grace in his life, and he uses it to propel himself to international stardom.  Yet for all his brilliance as a singer, songwriter, producer and entertainer, Brown is portrayed as a self centered, egotistic with an abusive and sometimes violent personality.  From what we’ve read and heard, the incidents of drug abuse, domestic violence and clashes with the law as portrayed in this film only scratch the surface.  The history of our music is not always pretty.  Still, James Brown  gave back to our music a lot more than he took from it.  If you’re into R&B music, this is a must see film.
 

Artifacts from our Vaults - Deek Watson's 1967 book on the Ink Spots

Usually we save discussions on books for the Bookshelf section of our website and this newsletter, but this book is so obscure, we thought we'd discuss it in our artifacts section.  The book was written in 1967 by original Ink Spots member, Deek Watson, and is only 72 pages long, but is a fascinating first hand account of the story of this famous group.  While the book is only Deek Watson's remembrances of the way it was, it is historic in that it is probably the first singer written book about a vocal group.  The book long out of print and very hard to find.  We have our copy through the generosity of our friend Joe Grimaldi of the Ecstasies, who donated it to us.  Thanks, Joe. 

Book Review: "Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns..."

"Here Comes the Night:  The Dark Soul of Bert Burns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm & Blues" by Joel Selvin (Counterpoint, 2014) is the biography of Bert Berns.  Bert Berns was one of the most important R&B songwriters and record producers of the 1960's.: He wrote songs like "Twist & Shout" (Isley Brothers), "A Little Bit Of Soap" (Jarmels), "Cry To Me" (Solomon Burke), "Tell Him" (Exciters), "Killer Joe" (Rocky Fellers), "My Girl Sloopy" (Vibrations) and hundreds more.  As a producer, he was even more prolific.  The book runs 366 pages and that doesn't count the 30 pages of small print discography.  Style-wise, Joel Selvin is an excellent writer and he does a thorough job of covering Bern's life and career, putting it in context with what was happening in the record industry.  He also goes into much detail about the music industry characters that surrounded Berns.  At times I felt that Selvin gave too much detail on surrounding characters, but then I'm a ferocious reader and had already read books on Ahmet Ertegun, Doc Pomus, Leiber & Stoller and the like.  If I hadn't already been familiar with their stories, I would have been fascinated by the info.  Certainly there's a lot to like about this book and it's a mandatory addition to any music fan's bookshelf.  For a more thorough book review and a one click link to buy it on Amazon, visit the Bookshelf Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net .

Dreamlovers' Conrad "Cliff" Dunn dies

We were very saddened to hear of the passing of Cliff Dunn [second from right in above photo], baritone lead of the great Philadelphia R&B group, the Dreamlovers.  Cliff died on Sunday, June 22, 2014.  The Dreamlovers began singing as the Romancers in North Philadelphia in 1956.  The group initially consisted of brothers Cliff and Ray Dunn, Cleve Hammock, Tommy Ricks and lead William Johnson.  When Johnson was tragically shot and killed at a neighborhood party, the group added guitarist (and singer/songwriter) Donald Hogan and eventually new lead Morris Gardner and re-emerged as the Dreamlovers.  After  three very fine, yet unsuccessful records for the local Len/V-Tone label and a prolific career as Cameo Parkway backup artists for Chubby Checker (they were on "The Twist"), Dee Dee Sharp, the Dovells, etc., the Dreamlovers came into their own on Heritage Records.  There they scored with "When We Get Married," "While We Were Dancing," "Zoom Zoom Zoom" and "Welcome Home".  Later Dreamlovers' hits included "If I Should Lose You" and "You Gave Me Somebody To Love". After a brief career as the soul group, A Brothers Guiding Light, the group became the Dreamlovers again in the 1980's.  [Thanks to Ceasar Berry of the Tymes for letting us know about this.]
 

A Perfect Blend a big hit at Somerset NJ Library!

What a time at the Franklin Township Public Library in Somerset NJ on July 9, 2014, when the acappella group, A Perfect Blend, captivated a packed house with their "perfect blend" of soul and doo wop harmony.  We didn't know you could pack so many people into the library's community room.  We estimate 125-130 in the audience for the free event, with an unknown number turned away because of space limitations.  We told everyone to register early!  A Perfect Blend is a fine soul and doo wop acappella group from North Philadelphia consisting of Gibson "T" Trowery, his three daughters Kristina, Deka and Victoria and Elliott Jenkins singing bass.  Each member of this talented group took turns singing lead.  Songs included "Drip Drop," "Stand By Me" (the Spyder Turner version), "He's Gone," "Gee Whiz," the Little Anthony & the Chesters' tune, "The Fires Burn No More" and many others..  See photos and a review of the evnt from the link on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net.  You can visit the group's website at www.aperfectblend.biz.  Our thanks to A Perfect Blend and to Keith Lewis of the Visual Communications Group Inc (www.aboutvcg.com) for a great evening of entertainment.
 
September 14, Philly Doo Festival on track for a fabulous time!
After a year absence, the popular Philly Doo Wop Festival returns to Philadelphia!  The venue and format may be different, but this year's event promises to be bigger and better.   On stage outdoors will be 15 great acappella and doo wop groups from the Philadelphia area!  Philly's best oldies radio disc jockeys, past and present (including our own Charlie Horner) will be emceeing.  There will be a 5 hour Dance Party inside.  Record Collectors and Memorabilia vendors. Vintage cars on display.  More details and performing group line up to follow. All this for $20 which includes Beer and Food, Free Parking, Children under 12 Free, a full day of music and fun!  This year's festival will be held at FOP 7C, 11630 Caroline Road, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19154, on Sunday September 14, beginning at 2 PM.  For more info, visit the Phila. Doo Wop Festival at the FOP Facebook Page

Jersey Boys film review

We went to see Jersey Boys, the film and were glad we did.  The movie, the story of the rise, fall and rise again of the legendary vocal group, Four Seasons, is directed by Clint Eastwood and opened in theaters on June 20.  We were at first tempted to compare it to the Broadway musical, which we saw twice, but it's best not to do that.  While the story line is the same, requirements for stage and screen are much different.  Watch this film pretending you've never seen the musical and you'll thoroughly enjoy it for its own merits.  The story line is true and the music is unforgettable.  Will music historians pick out a few historical inaccuracies?  Of course.  It's called poetic license and sometimes it's done to keep the plot flowing.  To watch a trailer from the film click Jersey Boys.

 

Alan Freed ashes ousted from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum

The ashes of the late Alan Freed, popular radio dee jay who is credited with popularizing the phrase "Rock & Roll," have been removed from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland.  The gold urn with Freed's ashes was picked up from the Rock Hall by Freed's son, Lance, on Monday August 4 at the Rock Hall's request.  Lance Freed told CNN that the museum was being "disrespectful" to his father's legacy as a pioneer of rock & roll by asking the ashes be removed.  The Hall's Executive Director Greg Harris disputed this, saying Freed will continue to be very prominent in the Hall.  Harris explained that the museum is moving away from exhibiting remains since ashes don't help tell a story.  Still, it's ironic that Freed's ashes must be removed from the Rock Hall, when Alan Freed is the primary reason the Rock Hall was located in Cleveland.  Freed's ashes have been in the Rock Hall Museum for the past 12 years.  The Freed family will spend the next several weeks deciding where in Cleveland to take the urn.  They are looking to create some sort of modest memorial where people who want to pay respect, or reflect can visit.  [Thanks to CNN for this story].

 

Asbury Park Exhibit Celebrating The West Side's Music Taking Shape.  Set for January & February 2015 Openings.
Asbury Park's West Side pioneered the sounds of jazz, gospel and rhythm & blues.  Classic Urban Harmony LLC and the Asbury Park Historical Society are working in connection with the Light Of Day Foundation and Monmouth University's Center for the Arts on an upcoming gallery exhibit that highlights Asbury Park’s black music scene from Count Basie to Billy Brown. We've been very busy securing and framing nearly 100 rare photographs plus phonograph records, posters, sheet music, musical instruments and other memorabilia from Asbury Park's West Side.  The exhibit will cover jazz, gospel and R&B music, and will also highlight black radio, record labels, record stores and Springwood Avenue nightclubs and theaters.  The exhibit will first open in the Heaven Art Gallery, 721 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ, running from January 11 - 19, 2015 during Asbury Park's annual Light Of Day concert series.  The Light Of Day Foundation funds research into Parkinson's Disease and their concert series brings thousands of music fans from around the world.. Following the exhibit's close in Asbury Park, it will be expanded even further and moved to Monmouth University's Pollak Gallery on the university's campus at 400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch, NJ.  There it will be viewable for the entire month of February, 2015.  There will be a grand opening reception on February 4, 2015, to which the public is invited.  There will also be a Classic Urban Harmony presentation on West Side Music (Date TBD) and possibly an acappella group harmony concert.  Fans of R&B, doo wop and gospel vocal harmony groups will find the exhibit especially exciting..  There'll be plenty of items related to Bobby Thomas & the Vibranaires, Lenny Welch & the Mar-Keys, the Ray Dots, the V-Eights, the Broadways, Billy Brown with the Moments & Ray Goodman & Brown, the Missionary Jubilaires, Golden Harmonaires, United Gospel Singers, Golden Harmonettes, Carolina Crusaders and many more.  Visit the What's New page of www.classicurbanharmony.net for updates.
 

Next issue of Echoes of the Past to feature our article on the North Philly R&B groups, the Dreamers, Quadrells, Universals, Cameos, Strangers.

Our latest article for the magazine Echoes of the Past (due out in September) covers the related North Philly R&B vocal groups, the Dreamers (Grand and Rollin' labels), Quadrells (Whirlin' Disc label), Universals (Mark-X, Cora-Lee, Ascot and Relic labels), Cameos (Cameo label), Strangers (Maske and Checker labels) and Tommy Cook & the Fantastics (Priority label).  It is a fascinating look at a talented pool of singers from the same neighborhood.  You can read the story by subscribing to Echoes of the Past magazine.  This magazine features great articles on R&B and doo wop vocal groups from the 1950's and early 1960's.  It comes out four times annually and only costs $16.99 per year.  To subscribe, contact Bob Belniak at echoes.past@yahoo.com.  To hear a YouTube of the Dreamers singing "No Man Is An Island," visit Dreamers.
 

25th Anniversary Nader Doo Wop Concert at the IZOD Center brings back memories!

It was a "blast from the past" at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ, for this historic 25th anniversary doo wop concert produced by Richard Nader Entertainment on May The concert, 2014.  Richard Nader originated the Rock & Roll revival concerts back in 1969.  In 1989, he started Richard Nader Entertainment Inc.  Though Richard is no longer with us, Deborah Nader and RNE continue to provide top notch doo wop concerts in major venues around the country.  In tribute to Richard Nader, this concert featured many of the groups that performed on Richard Nader Entertainment's first concert in August 1990.  It starred the Belmonts, Cleveland Stills & the Dubs, Larry Chance & the Earls, the Chantels, the Capris, Jay & the Americans, the Mello-Kings, Vito Balsamo (former lead of the Salutations) and group, the Impalas, the Tune Weavers and Tommy Mara & the Crests.  It was a great show.  To see photos and read our review of the concert click 2014 Nader IZOD Concert.  We can't wait until next year's Nader concert (June 6, 2015).  [Photo above, the Tuneweavers at the IZOD Center.]

New Kid Kyle CD out!

We remember Kid Kyle as a youngster when he first sang at the United in Group Harmony shows.  A few years have now passed and it's good to see Kyle still singing and doing well.  In fact when we ran into Kyle backstage at the Nader concert, he told us he'd be making his first appearance in the UK next May.  All of this leads us to a review of kid Kyle's newest CD, "Without Love".  We must say, we were very impressed with the CD and the direction he has taken.  Kyle's tenor voice is a strong as ever and his vocal styling has matured greatly since we've last heard him.  Kyle displays versatility in the cuts selected for the album, from doo wop like "Play Those Oldies Mr. Dee Jay" to R&R like "Dream Lover" to powerfully emotional renditions of songs like "Without Love". Each song is well produced with nice instrumentation and fine vocal harmony background.  We expected that when we saw the background harmony was supplied by familiar names like Warren Tesoro, BJ Jones, Joseph Mirrione, Phil Granito, Tommy Ferrara, etc.  But what impressed us most with the CD is that Kyle's vocal phrasing has a way of taking each song and making it his own.  "Gee (But I'd Give The World)" is masterfully done and "Every Breath I Take" has the excitement that makes us think of a young Gene Pitney.  The CD is available through Kid Kyle's website, www.kidkyle.net.

 

Ralph Pruitt, last original member of the soul group, the Fantastic Four, dies.

Ralph Pruitt (in center of above photo), last surviving original member of the Detroit soul vocal group, the Fantastic Four, died June 3, 2014 of natural causes.  He was 74.  The Fantastic Four had a long career but are probably best known for their 1967 hit, "The Whole World Is A Stage" (Ric Tic label).  The Fantastic Four took the name of their group from the Marvel Comics heroes.  Over their career, they recorded for the Ric Tic, Westbound, Epic and Motown labels.  To hear a YouTube of "The Whole World Is A Stage" go to Fantastic Four.

Classic Urban Harmony presentation on Central Jersey groups draws a great response

Classic Urban Harmony's latest multimedia presentation, "Doo Wop Groups of Central New Jersey," was given to a packed house on June 16 and has to go down as one of our most successful events.  The community room at the Franklin Township Library in Somerset NJ holds 100 people and there were only a couple empty seats (if that).  We traced the growth of central New Jersey 1950’s and 1960’s Doo Wop Music in Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Bound Brook, New Brunswick, Trenton, Princeton, Somerville and Plainfield.  We even covered groups that formed at McGuire Air Force Base.  In the audience were members of many local groups as seen in the photo above:  Left to right: Tommie Shider (Sheps); Joe Urbano (Satan & Angels); Ron Taylor (Del Larks); Pam Horner; Joyce Walker (Golden Bells & Contessas); Mary Cheek (Contessas); Charlie Horner.  Following the presentation we were also treated to some live doo wop acappella singing by the Piscataway based group, Re-MemberThen!  Our presentation was sponsored by the Franklin Township Public Library and was free to the public.  We had such a great time, we'd love to give this presentation again somewhere, though because of narrow geographic scope of the project, we don't know where or when that might be.  To read more about this event and see photos plus videos of Re-MemberThen singing go to CUH Central Jersey Groups.

Charlie Horner appears on Alan David Stein's WCTC radio program

On June 10, 2014, Classic urban Harmony's Charlie Horner made a guest appearance on Alan David Stein's morning drive radio program on WCTC (New Brunswick).  The two talked about doo wop groups from central New Jersey and played audio clips by groups like the Del Larks, Contessas and Satan & the Angels.  They also took calls from the audience.  What a great time.  Thanks, Alan.  [Alan also does the Doo Wop Drive program Friday evenings on WMTR].

Charlie Horner spins rare records, Vic Donna Group sings, at TNT North Jersey R&B & Doo Wop Party.

What a fabulous time at the TNT North Jersey Rhythm & Blues and Doo Wop Party in South Hackensack on Aug 1.  Bob Campbell and Charlie Horner spins some of the rarest and best 45 RPM vocal group records and the The Vic Donna Group was incredible!  Charlie's set was well received, especially when Charlie played both sides of an unreleased 1955 acetate by a North Philly R&B group.  The record is intended to be the first release on our upcoming "Classic Urban Harmony" record label.  It will be pressed in extremely limited quantity on colored vinyl with a picture sleeve.  More details later.  Many thanks to Tom & Tony for letting us spin some rare sides.  For info on the monthly get together of group harmony enthusiasts, visit the TNT FaceBook Page.
 

From Paul Ressler's Archives - Photo of Marv Johnson in the UK

Each newsletter we try to feature a rare photo from our friend Paul Ressler's extensive archives.  This issue we've chosen a photo of R&B singer Marv Johnson in the UK in 1969.  Marv Johnson was born in Detroit MI in 1938 and began singing in talent shows at the age of 13.  After graduating high school in 1957, he joined a vocal group called the Serenaders  (this could be the early fifties Serenaders, though by 1957 they were calling themselves the Royal Jokers).  With this group, Marv recorded "Once Upon A Time" for the Kudo label, though the record only credits him.  Johnson went to work at the 3-D Record Mart, where he met the establishment's owner, Berry Gordy.  That led to Marv Johnson recording the first ever Motown record - "Come To Me" (Tamla 101).  Johnson went on to record chart records like "You Got What It Takes," "I Love The Way You Love" and "Move Two Mountains".  A 1969 record, "I'll Pick A Rose For My Rose" was big in the UK, leading to a tour there, and hence this photo.  To hear Marv with a group singing "Once Upon A Time" click Marv Johnson.  Thanks, Paul, for another great photo!

Still spots open for Classic Urban Harmony's October 2014, 5-week course on R&B/Doo Wop Groups at Raritan Valley Community College Lifelong Learning Institute

There are still spots open in Classic Urban Harmony's course on R&B and Doo Wop Groups at Raritan Valley Community College's Lifelong Learning Institute.  The course will be offered Wednesdays, 2 - 3:30 PM for five weeks beginning October 8, 2014.  Each week we'll present an hour-long multimedia presentation, followed by a discussion of relevant music books, websites, shows and current group harmony news.  Last year we covered everything from the origins and development of doo wop singing to groups from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, New Jersey and even group harmony singing around the world.  Enrollment is restricted to those 50 and older.  Registration is now open!  Tuition is $50, covering all five weeks.  Call 908-526-1200, Ext. 8524 for info or see RVCC LLI 
 

More Details and Photos from the Above Articles on our Website

There's just so much we can fit into one newsletter issue, but many of the articles here are repeated on our website with additional details and photos. To read more visit the "What's New Page" of www.classicurbanharmony.net. And while there, don't forget to visit our other pages, like Our Events Calendar Page, Our Bookshelf, or our section on Articles We've Written.

Past Issues of the CUH Newsletter Now viewable on line

Want to catch up on any past issues of this newsletter that you may have missed? Now you can. Just go to the top of this newsletter and click on "View it in your browser". Then you be able to click on "Past Issues" on the upper left of your screen.

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