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Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter. Issue #28.  Bringing the world of Doo Wop, R&B, Soul and Gospel Harmony to your Inbox..
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Classic Urban Harmony

Newsletter #28
 

     Welcome to our Classic Urban Harmony Newsletter issue (#28).  It's been almost a year since our last newsletter and so much has happened since then.  Not to worry; we are both in relatively good health and doing fine.  As usual, we have taken on more projects than we can handle.  It's not our fault.  There is so much to do and so little time.  We commit to these projects because they must be done to preserve the legacy of our music - vocal group harmony.  Many of you out there are also doing your part, but unless we can document the history of the music and at the same time spur increased interest in it, our music may soon be forgotten.
     For those who visit our website, www.classicurbanharmony.net, you've probably noticed that as of last February it looks quite different.  It was designed by Fortune Marketing of Asbury Park and it now works on mobile devices as well as PC's.  Of course you can no longer scroll back and see posts from eight years ago, but blame advancing technology, not us.  Our old site was built eight years ago with software that was common then, but now obsolete.  When our web host stopped supporting it, we could no longer add nor change anything on it.  We had to take it down and replace it with a new website.  We suppose in another eight years we'll have the same problem.  Welcome to the 21st Century!  But now our new website is great for posting coming "Events" and "What's New" articles and then sharing them with FaceBook.  Talking about FaceBook, have you checked out the "Charlie Horner" and "Classic Urban Harmony LLC" FaceBook pages yet?  How about our chorner1 YouTube channel?  
     As far as what we've been up to the past eleven months, you'll find most of the highlights, and sadly the low lights, in this newsletter.  Our Asbury Park West Side exhibit is down and packed away in storage, waiting for a permanent home (yes, we have had inquiries).  We had a monumental all-acappella concert last February at Monmouth University with five acappella groups plus Larry Chance of the Earls that drew an audience of 600 people.  It was so popular we'll be doing another on March 4, 2017.  This past March we were featured in a several page article in New Jersey Monthly magazine.  We've continued bringing acappella groups into Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen NJ, one Sunday a month.  We are the only ones we know of doing regular monthly all-acappella doo wop shows in the country.  We're still writing articles for Echoes of the Past magazine.  We still make guest appearances on local radio shows.  We still give multimedia presentations at libraries, senior centers, museums and historical societies.  We still work to find paying bookings for local acappella groups.  We're consultants for three music documentaries or film projects that are being produced (all different topics).  We're now in the process of writing a book on African American music from Asbury Park's  West Side.  We've assisted in the research of several other music books this year.  Our Classic Urban Harmony Archives have expanded greatly since our last newsletter, now possibly holding the largest collection of vocal group photos in the world.  Since our last newsletter, we've traveled to New Orleans for Jazzfest, visited Gaynel Hodge in Amsterdam and searched for records in Lucerne, Switzerland.  And of course, we still make time to attend just about every vocal group concert and event we can.  We support all who are helping to promote our music.       
     Read on to see details on all that's happened in the world of group harmony since last December.   It's a long newsletter, so we hope you will hang in there until the end.  As to all the members of our musical family that we've lost since December... there are far too many to dedicate an article to each.  We'll have to settle for a listing of the names, their associated groups and their dates of passing.  No disrespect intended.  Many were our friends.  We've placed that list at the end of this newsletter.

Quote of the month: "Give me that soul to soul, brother to brother, acappella.  It sounds good to me!" - Sung by the Persuasions (written by L. Carter and O. Nevada).

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 - November 25, 2016.

Pookie Hudson's Spaniels, Vito & Salutations to Headline All-Star Acappella concert at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ, March 4, 2017.  Tickets on sale now.

Many of you attended last February's huge Doo Wop Explosion acappella concert.  The response was so great (600 people in attendance) that we've been given the go-ahead to do it again!  "Doo Wop Explosion II will take place on Saturday evening, March 4, 2017.  It will feature an all star lineup including:

  • Pookie Hudson's Spaniels - the group Pookie Hudson sang with for the last ten years of his life.
  • Vito & the Salutations - featuring Shelly Buchansky, who sang on their mega-hit, "Unchained Melody" and many other recordings.
  • Quiet Storm - one of the top acappella groups in the country!
  • Re-MemberThen - popular central NJ acappella group that backed Larry Chance on last February's concert.
  • A Perfect Blend - this popular group has resurfaced with some personnel changes to become one of the hottest groups around
  • The Copians - new group made up of some of the area's most talented singers

The concert will take place at the Pollak Theatre on the campus of Monmouth University, 400 Cedar Avenue, West Long Branch, NJ.   It's scheduled for Saturday evening March 4, 2017.  We should be through with Winter by then.  But in the unlikely event of weather issues, we have a snow date of April 1).  Tickets are $25, $40 and $55.  The $55 tickets are Golden Seats, enabling the holders to attend a special pre-concert "meet & greet" reception and photo/autograph session with the singers..  Purchase tickets now before all the good seats are taken.  Visit www.Monmouth.edu/arts or call 732-263-6889 for tickets.

First Ever Book on the Mills Brothers now available.   

Just out – the first ever book on one of the greatest vocal groups of all time – the Mills Brothers! FOUR BOYS AND A GUITAR: The Story and Music of the Mills Brothers by Douglas E. Friedman, is the only biography of this famous American singing group, and it was worth the wait!  379 pages including an incredible 150 page discography of over 2000 Mills Brothers recordings.   The book has more than 140 photos.  If you love vocal harmony of any kind – R&B, Doo Wop, Acappella, Soul, Jazz or even Barbershop – this book is an absolute must!  Beginning in the mid-1920’s, the Mills Brothers laid the groundwork for all these styles of quartet singing.  With over 70 Chart hits, the Mills Brothers dominated popular music for decades.  The book tells the group’s story from their humble beginnings in Piqua, Ohio to their rise to international stardom. Their radio career, their recordings, their movies, their tours of the U.K. – it’s all in here.  The racial aspects of their story are also covered, especially as they mirrored the racial history of the country over the course of the group’s career.

As a music historian as well as co-founder and former president of the Mills Brothers Society, I can truly say that this book is a vital contribution to the study of American popular music.  It is superbly researched and well written.  If you are coming to one of our Roxy & Dukes acappella shows, email us and we’ll have a few of autographed copies there for sale.  Otherwise, you can order a copy directly from the author by going to www.millsbrothersbook.com.

The book sells for $22.95 plus $3.50 postage.  100% of the profits from the sale of this book go to the Center for Holocaust, Human Rights & Genocide Education, Inc. and its programs designed to combat racism.

Classic Urban Harmony Archives Acquires Large Lot of Letters sent to the Four Vagabonds, 1936 – 1938.  Content revealed in Dec 2016 issue of Echoes Of The Past magazine.

Our Classic Urban Harmony Archives recently acquired approximately a hundred letters sent to the pioneer vocal group, the Four Vagabonds, between 1936 and 1938.  The hugely influential vocal group was broadcasting from Chicago over nationwide radio at the time, and many of the correspondences are fan letters requesting specific songs or asking for autographed photos.  Some business correspondences and personal letters were also found.  While the letters have little monetary value, their historical importance is extremely significant.  They have opened a window of understanding of how the public related to one of our nation’s most significant African American vocal groups during the first real decade of radio.  A number of letters ask whether the group is “White or Negro”.  One correspondence asks the broadcasting station why they are making the group do skits in “demeaning Negro dialect” between songs.  He happened to grow up with the group in St. Louis and knows them to be very articulate.  Many fans seem sure the Four Vagabonds are really the Mills Brothers singing under another name.  We have begun  inventorying the letters and have now made many public in the December 2016 issue of Echoes of the Past magazine.  Echoes of the Past is currently the only magazine we know of that specializes in 1950's and 1960's R&B and Doo Wop vocal groups.  You can subscribe to this quarterly magazine in the U.S. for $16.99 per year.  Email echoes.past@yahoo.com

Video of Re-MemberThen’s Acappella Tribute to Del Larks’ Ron Taylor goes Viral with 46,000 views in two months.  Watch it here.

On September 1, 2016, we attended the memorial service for our friend Ron Taylor of the great Plainfield vocal group, the Del Larks.  In a celebration of Ron’s life, the acappella group, Re-MemberThen got up and sang a couple songs, including “Crying In The Chapel” and the Del Larks’ song, “I Never Will Forget”.  Ron had sung with Re-MemberThen on a few occasions and had helped the group learn the harmony on “I Never Will Forget”.  After the service, Re-MemberThen retired to  a local railroad tunnel where they sang an impromptu acappella rendition of “I Believe” in memory of Ron Taylor.  A couple of guys coming off of the train walked through the group during the song.  We watched and Marian Cicerale video’d the song and posted it to FaceBook.  Within the first 48 hours, the video has gotten more than 8,000 views and over 200 shares.  Now, after two months the video has been watched by more than 46,000 people.  Re-memberThen is a Piscataway NJ based acappella group consisting of Frank Cicerale, Bill Butkowski, Marty Geliebter, Mike DelFranco and Sal Contrino.  The group will be appearing with Earls’ Larry Chance at Roxy & Dukes (Dunellen, NJ) on December 11, 2016 and will also be one of six acappella groups on our March 4, 2017, Doo Wop Explosion-II at Monmouth University.
To watch our YouTube of this video, click Tunnel Tribute to Ron Taylor.

Classic Urban Harmony's Pam & Charlie visit Gaynel Hodge in Amsterdam

While in Europe this past Summer, we had the opportunity to get together with Gaynel and Ilona Hodge in Amsterdam. Gaynel, of course, is the last surviving original member of the Platters and co-writer of "Earth Angel" (Penguins) and "Goodnight My Love" (Jesse Belvin) plus numerous other great songs as well as a former lead of the Hollywood Flames and Turks. Gaynel is one of our all time favorite lead singers (think "Peggy," Emily," "Father Time," etc.).  Pam and I first met Gaynel back in the UGHA days and though we've kept in touch, we hadn't seen him in about 25 years.  He and Ilona now reside in Amsterdam.  Gaynel still is quite active as a performer, recently touring backed by our friends from Barcelona, the Velvet Candles.  We all sat and talked for most of a Sunday afternoon.  Gaynel was there at the beginnings of the Los Angeles R&B scene and has enough fascinating stories to fill a book. Of course, Pam & I also found time to enjoy Amsterdam, a city we've been to before but never get tired of.  We also spent time in Switzerland, France and Germany

Street in Highland Park named after Jackie Wilson

This past August, the city of Highland Park, MI, renamed a street in honor of the great R&B vocalist, Jackie Wilson.  A special dedication ceremony was held to rename a block of Cottage Grove Street as "Jackie Wilson Lane".  Known as "Mr. Excitement," Jackie Wilson grew up in Detroit before his family moved to 248 Cottage Grove in nearby Highland Park in 1943.  Wilson left Detroit to join the R&B group Billy Ward & the Dominoes in the 50s.   His biggest fame came as a soloist, recording songs like "Lonely Teardrops," "That's Why (I Love you So)," and "Higher And Higher",  Wilson had over 50 hit singles as a soloist.  His performance style influenced some of the greatest entertainers of all time such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley and James Brown.  (Jackie Wilson is on the far right in the photos above).

Missionary Jubilaires Reunion, April 2016

In 2013, Classic Urban Harmony, working with the Asbury Park Historical Society, honored the Missionary Jubilaires, the great Asbury Park gospel group who sang from 1948 to 1988.  Though we presented group members with framed proclamations of “Missionary Jubilaires Day” on the stage of a huge “Gospel Explosion” concert, we always lamented that we’d never had the chance to see and hear the Missionary Jubilaires sing as a group.  Well that all changed on Saturday night April 30, 2016, when we were invited to a gospel program in Farmingdale, NJ, featuring a reunion of the Missionary Jubilaires.  Getting together for the occasion were Missionary Jubilaires Herman Latimore, Sam Murphy, Curtis Moreland and Sean Bradforth.  Of course, the Missionary Jubilaires were not the only gospel singers on the program.  We missed the beginning of the program because we stopped to scan a number of old photos of the group that Herman Latimore had brought up from Georgia.  But we enjoyed hearing 4 By Faith, the Mighty Cherubims, Mother Graham, Pastor Grant and Sons, and the Roy Daniels Family sing.  The program took place at the Deacon’s Union of Monmouth,353 West Farms Road, Farmingdale, NJ and was produced by Nakoma Jones and emceed by Deacon Louis Wilson. The Missionary Jubilaires came on last and sang two inspiring songs that brought the audience to their feet.  Sean Bradforth, a later member of the Missionary Jubilaires (and now the lead of the Swan Silvertones) led “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”.  He also led “Low Down Chariot” with Sam Murphy (a Missionary Jubilaires member since 1952) doing the narration.  “Low Down Chariot” was one of the Missionary Jubilaires’ signature songs.  It was a historic night and we were so glad we were there to capture it in photos and videos.  Please check out the photo gallery and then watch the two videos by the Missionary Jubilaires on our website page.  Click Missionary Jubilaires Reunion..

New CD  label, Chirpin', issuing previously unreleased doo wop acappella.sides from back in the day

We all recall the days long ago when doo wop vocal groups (professional and amateur) would sing live acappella when there was no band.  Those were the days before "tracks" when pure vocal harmony ruled the day.  Well many of those great live acappella performances have been rescued from obscurity and offered to us in the form of a new series of CD's from Chirpin' Records.  Presently, there are 15 CD releases available containing material that captures the vocal group sound of the early 1950's thru the 1990's.in "acappella.  Just some of the CD's are: Dino & the Heartspinners; Uptown Acappella; The Camelots; The Paragons & Tokens; The Jive Five; The Arrogants Vol. 1; The Arrogants Vol. 2; and a series of "Live Acappella" CD's with songs by the Ad Libs, Decoys, Bobbettes, Jaynells, Bobby Lester's Moonglows, The Dubs, The Eternals, The El Dorados, Pearl McKinnon & Group, The Solitaires, Earl Lewis & The Channels, The Cadillacs, The Magnificents, The Keystoners. The Native Boys, The Sunbeams and many more.   For more info, email chirping2015@aol.com 
 

Phil Groia Wall dedicated at Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters

When music historian and author Philip Groia passed away on July 8, 2014, the world lost one of the leading advocates for rhythm & blues vocal group singing and we lost a friend.  Phil entrusted Classic Urban Harmony with his most treasured possessions, his music archives.  We decided back then that we would dedicate a segment of our headquarters to preserving Phil’s legacy.  We have now completed our “Phil Groia Wall,” complete with a number of Phil’s framed original vocal group prints by noted photographer Charles Stewart, Phil’s United in Group Harmony Hall of Fame literary award, the mounted and laminated cover of his book and a record from his collection.  The record we chose was the Five Keys recording on the Bim Bam Boom label, of which he was closely associated.  Phil’s copy is in red vinyl.  In the center of the display is Phil’s photograph.  For those unfamiliar with Phil Groia’s importance to our music, here’s a short piece we wrote to be read at Phil’s memorial service.
“Perhaps a measure of one’s legacy has to do with how many lives they’ve impacted in a positive way. Phil Groia’s passion for music led him to research and document Rhythm & Blues vocal harmony.  In doing so, he laid the foundation for thousands of us to better understand this music.  As music historians ourselves, we owe a debt of gratitude to Phil. In the early 1970’s, serious research into the history of our music was in its infancy. A few brave souls were daring to interview singers of the 1950’s for articles in magazines but few of us had the depth of knowledge or patience to write a whole book.  Phil’s book, “They All Sang On The Corner” took the research of R&B vocal groups to a level of detail not previously seen.  His book is a valuable resource today but in the early years, it was mind-blowing!  But Phil didn’t simply look at singers as writing subjects. He took the time to get to know those he wrote about.  To many, he became a lifelong friend.    Thank you, Phil, for your painstaking research, for your friendship and for the inspiration you gave us to do what we do.” - Charlie & Pam Horner, Classic Urban Harmony

Book Review:  "The Philly Sound" immense contribution to R&B and Soul Music history!.

We knew this book was coming.  We even assisted, in a small way, with some of the information in it.  But we never expected it to be this great!  There's That Beat! Guide to The Philly Sound, Philadelphia Soul Music and its R&B Roots:From Gospel & Bandstand to TSOP by Dave Moore and Jason Thornton (Stockholm: Premium Publishing, 2016) is the most comprehensive book ever published about Philadelphia soul music.  The 9" X 11" hardback book contains 690 glossy pages with thousands of color label scans and countless rare photos.  It's scope is unbelievable.  It's not just Philly soul music.  In order to fully understand the genre, Moore and Thornton had to set the stage with coverage of the music's roots, including Spirituals, Gospel, Jazz, Blues, R&B and Doo Wop.  It covers street corner doo wop singing, the originals of R&R, Bandstand, Payola, Cameo-Parkway Records, Philly's famous recording studios, Harthon Records, Philly disc jockeys, Philly radio, Arctic Records, TSOP and just about all the other Philly record labels.  The book is superbly researched and well written.  To see the full review on our website for more details and how to purchase a copy, visit Philly Sound.

Classic Urban Harmony's Charlie Horner honored with the Doo Wop Preservation Award at the 2016 Philly Doo Wop Festival  

Our sincere thanks to Dennis Gillen and the Staff of the Philadelphia Doo Wop Festival and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 for another great Philly Doo Wop Festival.  The weather was perfect and the vocal harmony was superb!  All ten groups did an excellent job and we got to meet a lot of friends.  In one afternoon, we got to hear Mid Life Crisis, 45 RPM, Grand Central Echoes, 5/3 Woodland, Frankie & the Fashions, Now & Then, the Belairs, Quiet Storm, Relatives By Appointment, A Perfect Blend and special guest, Chi Chi McCauley Devine of “Memory Lane” fame.

I (Charlie) was presented, on stage, with the 2016 Doo Wop Preservation Award and I thank Dennis and his staff for honoring me.  Thanks also to Jimmy “Cannonball” Parsons for his kind words during the presentation and to all those who listened to me during my 25 years on Philadelphia radio. SiriusXM’s Cool Bobby B said to me yesterday, “Charlie, you started all this.” I’d never thought of it that way, and it might be true, though many others also had a hand in relaunching doo wop music in Philly during the 1970’s. But little did I imagine when I first took to the airwaves in 1969, that this music would still be so popular 47 years later. Pam and I will continue to do what we can to preserve the legacy of this great vocal harmony. Again, many thanks.  We took a lot of photos and have supplemented them with photos from Matty G, Candyce Holmstrup and Keith Lewis.  You can see the complete photographic record of the event by going to 2016 Philly Doo Wop Festival.. 

Capitol Records celebrates its 75th Anniversary with a return to vinyl!

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Capitol Records celebrates its 75th Anniversary with a return to vinyl!

This month (November 2016), Capitol Records launches its year-long 75th Anniversary celebration.  The label received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.on November 15, the first record label to have one.  The label also has planned an extensive schedule of music, film and literary projects throughout the coming year.  First up is the re-release of 75 albums that represent "the best of Capitol Records from among literally thousands of works the company has released over the past 75 years".  Significantly, these albums are being released in VINYL.  Capitol has partnered with Crate & Barrel and this album collection has already begun appearing in the chain's many store.  On December 15 a book will be released on "75 Years Of Capitol Records" covering the label's evolution. We looked at the list of 75 albums being re-released but did not see any 0f the labels' 1950's R&B groups.  What happened to the Five Keys album?  How about the Four Knights album?  We know we weren't asked for our opinion, but if we were Capitol, here's some of their past artists we'd re-release;  Five Keys, Four Knights, Jubilaires, Striders, Cues, Edsels, Fascinators, Four Deals, Johnny Otis Show, Nuggets, Persuasions, Rob-Roys, Rovers - well you get the point..

Classic Urban Harmony attends 2016 JazzFest in New Orleans.

What a time we had at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest). This was our third Jazz Fest so we knew what to expect – continuous live music of all kinds on twelve stages from eleven in the morning until seven at night. Tens of thousands of people, great food, crafts, art and an overall great time. Jazz Fest is held annually beginning the last weekend in April and continuing the first weekend in May – a total of seven days – at the Fair Grounds, a huge race track. We could only get away for one weekend and this year picked the first weekend – April 22, 23 and 24.  We were joined at Jazz Fest this year by our friends Jim Bakay (WRDV-FM Radio) and Carl Tancredi (Gold Radio).
It was great to see star performers like the Dixie Cups, Jean "Mr. Big Stuff" Knight, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Robert "Bare Footin'" Parker and Tommy "Sweet Dreams" McLain.  We also enjoyed performances by some great gospel groups like the Rocks Of Harmony and the Electrifying Crown Seekers.  We took hundreds of photos and posted a good number on our website for you to see.  We have three pages about Jazz Fest on our website - Day One, Day Two and Day Three.  Take a look!

Did you know we're on FaceBook?

There are many ways you can follow our Classic Urban Harmony activities besides this newsletter.  We're very active on FaceBook.  You can send a friend request to Charlie Horner or like our Classic Urban Harmony LLC page.

New Classic Urban Harmony Multimedia Presentation, "Vinyl-Mania: Adventures of a Doo Wop Record Collector" premiered at Somerset Library on Sept 21, 2016.

Our newest 90 minute multimedia presentation, Vinyl-Mania" was given for the first time on Sept 21 at the Franklin Township Library in Somerset, NJ.  It was a lighthearted look at what serious record collectors have gone through to preserve our music.  The audience loved it!  We hope to give it again.  If your library is interested, here's the description of the talk.
"From the time he was two years old, doo wop music authority Charlie Horner of Classic Urban Harmony has been addicted to collecting vinyl records. Now, after more than half a century of collecting, Charlie reveals in one multimedia presentation, what he went through to amass 55,000 records. Through photos of long ago vanished record stores, song clips of rare record finds and barely believable, yet true, antidotes of searching the world for doo wop records on his want list, Charlie explains what it means to be vinyl obsessed. A fun filled doo wop music presentation. Bring your sense of humor!"

January 10, 2016: The Vic Donna Group at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ

Our first acappella concert of 2016 featured the outstanding vocal group, The Vic Donna Group.  These guys did a fabulous job, singing two full sets.  Unfortunately, we don't have a web page review to link to, since our website was down until February.  We were fortunate to have captured the Vic Donna Group's singing three songs on video and present links to them here.  Listen to "The Angels Sang," "Don't Say Goodnight" and "Have You No Heart".    The Vic Donna Group also sang on our big Monmouth University acappella concert in February.  The Vic Donna Group is currently inactive as they audition singers for a couple open positions.  We hope to see them back performing soon.

March 6, 2016: Still Around & the True Devines at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ

Another incredible night at Roxy & Dukes with great acappella harmony from Still Around and the True Devines.  March 2016, marked the first time we had two acappella groups singing on the same show at the Dunellen NJ night spot.  Still Around took the stage first and gave a lively performance, mixing up tempo songs like “Zoom,” “When You Dance,” “My Juanita,” and “I’ll BE Forever Loving You” with smooth ballads including “Congratulations,” “No One But You” and “When I Fall In Love”.  Still Around was the resident group at Stu & Pat Pushkin’s NJ Doo Wop Group Harmony Singers Club which is currently looking for a new location.  Stu organized Still Around seven years ago and sings with the group.  The True Devines were the last discovery of Stan Krause, owner of Stan’s Square Record Store in Jersey City NJ and the Catamount record label.  Stan and his wife were in the audience.  Unfortunately, Stan passed away not long after this concert.  The True Devines lived up to our expectations, starting off with “Stormy Weather” and following it with “If I Should Lose You” and a nice bass led rendition of the Spaniels’ “People Will Say We’re In Love”.  Other standout songs included “Dee I,” “The Sun” and the Channels’ “You Hurt Me”.  To watch videos and see photos from that night, visit Still Around and True Devines.

May 22, 2016: A Perfect Blend & Quiet Storm at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ

What an incredible night at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ, on May 22, when we were serenaded by two of the finest doo wop acappella groups around – A Perfect Blend and Quiet Storm.  Both groups were up from the Philadelphia area.  A Perfect Blend was making their first appearance after some personnel changes.  We can now say that A Perfect Blend sounds as great as ever.  Current members include:Gibson “T” Trowery (group founder and leader), Kristina I. Trowery, Gary Williams (original member returning to the group) and new members Cheryl and Andy Petruzelli (both formerly of the Norristones).  A Perfect Blend started off strong with the Flamingos’ “Mio Amore”.  Andy demonstrated a powerful lead with the Platters’ “My Prayer”.  Gibson followed with the group’s signature song, “Stand By Me” blended into a medley of Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Smokey Robinson tunes.  The arrangement originally came from Spyder Turner but over the years A Perfect Blend has turned it into a vocal harmony acappella classic.  Other stand out songs included “Never Let Me Go,” “Gee Whiz,” “I’m So In Love” (Roxy & the Daychords), “Let It Please be You,” and a medley of “You Can Depend On Me” / “Ooh Baby Baby” / “I’m Gonna Miss You”.  A classic mix of soul and doo wop, done to perfection by A Perfect Blend!  Of course, the evening was only half over.  After a short intermission, we were back to great acappella harmony with Quiet Storm.  Kamau “Smitty” Akiba, Darrall Campbell, James Phillips, Ron Silva and William Nix did another splendid job in their return to Roxy & Dukes.  Quiet Storm now has a nice opening song, “Waiting For So Long”.  James led his classic take on the Five Stairsteps’ “You Waited Too Long”.  The group followed with splendid renditions of “I’m On The Outside looking In,” “Sixty Minute Man,” “You Send Me,” “Just My Imagination,” “Wonderful Wonderful,” “Just Ask The Lonely,” “You’re Mine” and more.  Darrall again thrilled the audience with “Remember”. They closed with a powerful “Everybody’s Got A Home But Me”.  As always, Quiet Storm was magnificent!  To watch videos and see photos of this concert, visit A Perfect Blend & Quiet Storm.

August 14, 2016: Copians & Nostalgia 5 at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ 

We did it again!  Another unbelievable night of acappella harmony on Sunday night August 14, 2016 at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen.  We had two great groups from Philadelphia, the Copians and Nostalgia 5.  First up, the Copians got the place rockin’ as Jim Bakay led the group in “Let’s Go For A Ride” (Collegians).  The Copians gave us a diverse set that included great harmony renditions of “Fool Fool Fool” (Clovers), “If I Knew” (Cruisers), “Story Untold” (Nutmegs), “False Alarm” (Re-Vels) and the Wind’ (Diablos) plus many others. Those who remember dj Jocko Henderson enjoyed Bobski’s “Jocko Rap”.  We loved hearing Horace Brown lead a vocal harmony rendition of the Bobby Blue Bland song, “Members Only”.  John Bishop’s voice was as strong as ever and paired nicely with Bill Keith’s in a duel lead on “Pain In My Heart”.  And what a performance by Nostalgia 5! We loved their selection of material and their flawless tight harmony. You’ve got to be good to do Ravens’ songs (“Count Every Star” and “Love Is The Thing”) and Nostalgia 5 did a great job with them. (The only other group we know of that does Ravens’ songs is Jimmy Keyes’ Chords, who we’ll have at Roxy & Dukes on September 18).  We were thrilled to hear Nostalgia 5 do the Intervals’ “Here’s That Rainy Day,” not to mention “I Was Such a Fool,” “In The Morning,” “The Stars,” “That’s The Way It Goes” and many more. And “I Apologize” was one of the evening’s highlights. Thanks to Nostalgia 5 and the Copians and all those who came out to Roxy & Dukes to hear such great acappella singing.  For videos and photos of this concert, visit Copians & Nostalgia 5.

October 9, 2016: Frankie & the Fashions & Re-MemberThen at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ

It was a wonderful night for acappella at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ, October 9, 2016. Frankie & the Fashions came up from Philly for their first appearance at Roxy & Dukes and they were superb! They started out as a four acappella man group – Frank Lafaro, Jerry Tempesta, Matty Raimo and Tony Russo – singing “No No No,” “Sunday Kind Of Love and “ABC’s Of Love”. Then they brought on the newest member of the group, Chuck Holloway, to sing bass. (Actually Chuck was a key member of the group, years back. He’s just returned to Frankie & the Fashions and is doing a fabulous job.)  Chuck provided the prominent bass part in “Blue Moon”. Matty led an outstanding rendition of Lee Andrews’ “The Clock”. Frankie & the Fashions sang other stand out songs like “Gloria,” “When We Get Married,” and “That’s My Desire”. They closed with their signature song, the Frank Lafaro penned and led favorite, “What Do I Have To Do”. At that point the audience wouldn’t let them off the stage until they sang a couple more songs. They had everyone in the audiences clapping along to “Good Old Acappella”. We’ll definitely have the group back at Roxy & Dukes soon.  In the audience were a number of singers including Juan Ibanez Mateos, all the way from Barcelona, Spain. Juan sings with the Velvet Candles, one of the top doo wop groups in Europe. Juan stopped by Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters prior to the show and even sang one song with Re-MemberThen.  We hope to have the Velvet Candles at Roxy & Dukes some time in the future. Also in the audience were “Smitty” Akiba from Quiet Storm, Jim Bakay from the Copians, Pamela Del Franco from the DelAngels, Joe Cassidy from Echoes Of Time, and Mike D’Amore, current lead of the Capris.  After a short intermission, we welcomed Re-MemberThen, filling in for Quiet Storm, who was unable to perform due to the passing of one of the members’ brothers. Re-MemberThen was in top form.  Frank Cicerale, Bill Butkowski, Marty Geliebter, Michael DelFRanco, Sal Contrino started the set with tributes to Del Larks’ Ron Taylor (“I Never Will Forget”) and Bobby Thomas (“Crying In The Chapel”). After they fine rendition of the Royal Counts’ “Made Up My Mind,” Re-MemberThen asked Juan Mateos to join them on stage for “Morse Code Of Love”. Juan sang bass and the audience went wild! Re-MemberThen then backed Pamela DelFranco in a powerful “Gee Whiz”. After a few more songs (“So In Love” and “Diamonds And Pearls”), Re-MemberThen launched into several Larry Chance of the Earls’ songs, including “Acappella With My Friends,” “Life Is But A Dream,” “Streets Of The Bronx” and “Never”. Re-MemberThen will be backing Larry Chance live singing an acappella set at Roxy & Dukes on Sunday December 11.  To watch videos and see photos of this concert, click Frankie & the Fashions and Re-MemberThen.

August 10, 2016: 5-3 Woodland at the Franklin Township Library, Somerset, NJ

On August 10, 2016 we brought 5/3 Woodland to the Franklin Township Library for a free acappella concert. This was part of the Library’s Summer Concert Series. What a great performance 5/3 Woodland gave. The Library community room was filled to capacity with about 120 people attending. Registration filled up a couple weeks before the concert and people calling late could not even get on the wait list. We don’t know how many people were turned away.  5/3 Woodland was in good form, as expected. They did a total of 19 songs, all acappella, including “Good Old Acappella,” “Til Then,” “Get A Job,” “Sometimes,” “Another Saturday Night,” “Wonderful Tonight,” “Life Is But A Dream,” “60 Minute Man” and many others. In between songs, Joe’s humor kept the audience roaring with laughter. 5/3 Woodland is truly one of the most entertaining groups around.  To see videos and photos of this concert, click 5-3 Woodland.

Classic Urban Harmony is back on the Internet!  Have you visited our website lately? 

When our website got frozen in cyberspace last October, many of you lost your window to the world of group harmony.  While we tried valiantly to save it, our old site is gone.  But in its place is a new www.classicurbanharmony.net, designed and installed in February by.Fortune Web Marketing (Asbury Park).  The new site is modern, more user friendly, and can do a lot more with it.  The What's New Page continues where the last site left off.  There's a page with all of our Echoes of the Past Articles By Us and an Our Music Family photo gallery with hundreds of photos of us with our singer friends from our long career in this field.  The Events Page contains the latest in what's happening in a clear and concise form.  And best of all, for the first time there's a search button to help you find things.  It's the little magnifying glass on the upper right of each page.
2017 R&R Hall of Fame Nominees Announced - No 50's or 60's R&B/Doo Wop Groups Included
The 2017 R&R Hall of Fame Nominees have now been announced.  We guess it's a sign of the times that no fifties or sixties R&B, Doo Wop, or Soul vocal harmony groups were included.  We suppose, if we vote, we'll select 1970's group, Chic or R&B legendary soloist, Joe Tex.  Of course, there's always the chance the Rock Hall will induct a fifties group under the category, "Early Influence".  It happened in 2015 when we were surprised to hear the Five Royales were inducted.  One can only hope. 

Earls' Larry Chance to sing acappella at Roxy & Dukes (Dunellen, NJ) December 11.  Backed by Re-MemberThen!

If  you live in the New York / New Jersey / Eastern Pennsylvania area, and you haven't yet been out to one of our monthly doo wop acappella concerts, what are you waiting for?  On December 11, 2016, we'll have a spectacular concert featuring Larry Chance, internationally known lead of the Earls backed by ReMemberThen.  Larry's entire set will be acappella.  In all the years we've been following Larry Chance's singing career, we've only known him to do an all acappella set once - and that was at our Monmouth University concert last February.  We don't know if or when Larry might ever do this again.  Roxy & Dukes is a small club so attendees will get to meet Larry Chance up close and personal.  ReMemberThen will sing an opening set acappella.  They will also back special guests De'Sean Dooley (star of the musical  "Soul Harmony" and grandson of Orioles lead Sonny Til) in an acappella rendition of "Crying In The Chapel".  Plus, ReMemberThen will back Harry Maitland on "Thank You Johnny," the song Harry wrote in tribute to Johnny Maestro.
Admission is $25 but only advanced ticket holders will be admitted.  Due to space limitations, only 85 advanced tickets will be sold and most are already taken.  Don't miss this once in a lifetime concert.  If you'd like one of the remaining tickets, email us at CUH@att.net and we'll let you know how you can order one.  Don't delay as this concert is almost sold out.   Doors open on Sunday December 11  at 7 PM, at Roxy & Dukes, 745 Bound Brook Rd, Dunellen NJ.  For more info visit. our Events Page on it.

Concert Review:  Our Feb. 20, 2016 huge all acappella Doo Wop Explosion concert at Monmouth University a tremendous success!

On Saturday evening, February 20, 2016, Classic Urban Harmony produced a huge doo wop acappella concert for Monmouth University’s Center for the Arts. It took place at the University’s newly renovated 700 seat Pollak Theatre in West Long Branch, NJ. On stage were six of the area’s premier acappella groups including Re-MemberThen, the Tee-Tones, Frankie & the Fashions, Quiet Storm, the Vic Donna Group and Choice. Our special guest was Larry Chance, legendary lead of the Earls, singing an all acappella set backed by Re-MemberThen. In addition, we showed a high resolution video on the theater’s giant screen of De’Sean Dooley (star of the award winning musical “Soul Harmony” and grandson of the Orioles’ lead Sonny Til) singing Orioles songs acappella backed by Quiet Storm.  Every group did a spectacular job.  The concert was attended by almost 600 people and included a “Meet & Greet” reception for holders of “Golden Seat” tickets to get autographs and photos with the performers. “Doo Wop Explosion: A Night of Acappella Harmony” was a huge success. To take a look at more than 90 photos of the event visit our Doo Wop Explosion 2016 web page.

Classic Urban Harmony's Charlie & Pam Horner profiled in the March 2016 issue of New Jersey Monthly magazine.  Read the article from a link here.

We, at Classic Urban Harmony, were profiled in a several page article in the March 2016 issue of New Jersey Monthly magazine.  The article was being written by Kevin Coyne who interviewed us at Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters.  Kevin was out to visit our exhibit, “Spirituals to Soul,” at the Monmouth County Historical Association in Freehold, visiting it twice before it closed on November 14, 2015.. Jennifer Pottheiser of Turtlebox Pictures and her assistant visited Classic Urban Harmony Headquarters in January and took over a hundred photos.  We even took them to our CUH Archives at an undisclosed East Coast location, though we had to blindfold them first.  Just kidding! … or maybe not.  We’ve long been subscribers to NJ Monthly and were thrilled to be included in it. The article about us has now been posted on the magazine’s website and is available for all to view, free of charge. This is important because many who follow our website and activities don’t reside in New Jersey and don’t have access to the printed edition. To read the article, click Collector of Songs and Stories.

"In The Still Of The Night" turns 60.  New Haven's St. Bernadette Church where song was recorded celebrates.  Fred Parris honored.

 On February 19, 1956, members of the young R&B vocal group, the Five Satins, gathered in the basement of St. Bernadette Church in New haven, CT, to record a song written by their lead singer, Fred Parris, while he was on guard duty at the Philadelphia Naval Yard.  The pastor had given them and their producer, Marty Kugell, permission to use the location to record.  The group recorded the song on reel-to-reel tape and Kugell released it on his small record label, Standord   The song went on to become the "National Anthem of Doo Wop Singing".  This past February, the church commemorated the event with a big celebration.  And the guest of honor was Fred Parris.  Also present was Vinny Mazzetta, a church parishioner who played sax on the record.  Parris and Mazzetta sang the song along with St. Bernadette School students at the ceremony.

Classic Urban Harmony working on book about Asbury Park's West Side Music (1880 - 1980)

Classic Urban Harmony is hard at work on our latest project - the definitive book detailing the unique musical heritage of the area around Asbury Park's Springwood Avenue from 1880 to 1980. Much like our recent highly acclaimed exhibits at Asbury Park's Heaven Gallery, Monmouth University's Pollak Gallery and the Monmouth County Historical Association Museum, the book will cover Spirituals, Jazz, Gospel, Rhythm & Blues, Doo Wop and Soul music from the West Side.  A portion of the book's proceeds will be donated to the Asbury Park Historical Society

For more than a hundred years, singers and musicians from Asbury Park have pioneered the sounds of jazz, gospel, doo wop and rhythm & blues music. Much of the music was centered in the predominantly black West Side. In Asbury Park’s early years, the land west of the railroad tracks became home for those who worked to build the beach resort area, but were mostly excluded from it. African Americans developed their own separate society in the West Side, with Springwood Avenue as the main business and entertainment thoroughfare. Springwood Avenue has been largely ignored by music historians, even in well researched genres like jazz. Countless books have been written about jazz in Harlem, New Orleans and Chicago, but none about jazz in Asbury Park. Yet, Springwood Avenue had a major impact on the careers of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Claude Hopkins, Erskine Hawkins, Sonny Greer, Fats Waller and many more. This book aims to correct the historical record.

We are grateful for the tremendous help the Asbury Park community gave us in setting up our recent exhibits on this subject. We again ask your help with information, photos, posters, news clippings and anything that sheds light on West Side music from 1880 to 1980. We're especially looking for photos of singers, musicians, theaters and clubs along Springwood Avenue. Anyone having old photos, please email us at CUH@att.net.

Classic Urban Harmony acquires Mike Caldarulo Photo Archives

Classic Urban Harmony announces the acquisition of the Mike Caldarulo Photo Archives.  Mike Caldarulo played a key role in the United in Group Harmony Association and often acted as unofficial photographer for the organization.  He took photographs at virtually every UGHA show.  Mike recognized the importance of documenting the performances of all the groups that sang at UGHA.  In addition, Mike was an ardent collector of R&B, Doo Wop and Soul vocal group stock photos.  When pioneer groups appeared at UGHA, he would always bring photos of the groups to have them autographed.  Mike loved to share the photos he took and many times would print 8X10’s for the groups at his own expense.  He was that kind of guy and we are proud to have had him as a friend.
Tragically, we lost Mike in 2005. Yet we felt it was important to preserve the photographic record of R&B vocal groups and UGHA shows that Mike dedicated much of his life to.  We thank the Caldarulo family for entrusting Mike’s collection of hundreds and hundreds of photos to us.  We’ll do our best to continue the preservation and give recognition to Mike for the great work he did as a music archivist.

Great Broadway Musical Comes and Goes: Review of short lived "Shuffle Along" and story of the Four Harmony Kings

We had the opportunity to see “Shuffle Along,” while it played at the Music Box on Broadway, NYC.   We were lucky to see it, as it only ran from March 15 to July 24.  In it's short life, "Shuffle Along" .was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, but unfortunately did not win any.  We originally pictured this be a recreation of the groundbreaking black musical that took the entertainment world by storm when it opened at the 63rd Street Music Hall in 1921.  But this year's “Shuffle Along” was much more than that.  It was actually about the making of the 1921 musical sensation and all that followed, set to the music and dancing of the original show.
The 1921 “Shuffle Along” was the first major African American written, produced and acted Broadway musical. The music was written by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake and the script written by Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles.  Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake were with bandleader James Reese Europe whose 369th Infantry “Hell Fighters” Band had distinguished themselves both as war heroes and as the musical group that spread the new form of music, jazz, throughout Europe.  When Europe was murdered in 1919 by one of his own band member, Blake and Sissle began thinking of how to bring a black musical to Broadway.  The original “Shuffle Along” ran for 504 performances – an unusually long run for the 1920’s. It launched the careers of Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Adeline Hall. Florence Mills, Hall Johnson, William Grant Still and many others.  Prominent in the original musical was a vocal quartet called the Harmony Kings.  The Four Harmony Kings were what interested us the most.  So after seeing this musical, we posted to our website, a history of this early vocal group on our website including photos of their record labels, sheet music, a complete discography and even a couple early videos.  To take a look, go to Four Harmony Kings

Golden Gate Quartet returns to Virginia for 2016 Portsmouth Gospel Concert

What a time at Rev. Brenda Boone’s annual Gospel Concert in Portsmouth, VA in celebration of Black History Month on February 28, 2016.  In addition to the usual all star line up of area gospel vocalists and quartets, the program featured the return home of the legendary Golden Gate Quartet.  The Golden Gate Quartet, one of the most important quartets of the 20th Century, trace their beginnings to a Norfolk, VA, barbershop in 1934.  By mid-1936, the Gates were touring the Carolinas and singing over local radio stations.  They became so popular, singing their own brand of rhythmic narrative jubilee style songs, that they were signed to RCA Victor Records where they began recording in 1937.  After appearances on the nationally broadcast NBC radio network, they were brought to New York City to perform on John Hammond’s legendary 1938 “Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall.  The Gates have sung at the White House several times and appeared in a number of motion pictures.  The style of jubilee spirituals they pioneered became a model for thousands of spiritual and gospel groups that followed.  Since the mid-1950’s, the Golden Gate Quartet has been based in Paris and performing worldwide.  They’ve performed in 77 different countries.  Since 1957, they’ve only sung in the United States three times – once at the United in Group Harmony Association’s Hall of Fame in 1994 (Charlie Horner helped bring them here then), one for the filming of a television program taped in Disney World and once at the memorial service for the group’s long time bass and leader, Orlandus Wilson.  Having them back in Virginia was an indeed historic moment.
On this occasion, the group’s bass singer, Thierry Francois, was unable to join them, and the Gates were forced to locate another bass singer with only a couple days notice.  Fortunately, Otis Jones, bass singer for the great gospel group, King David’s Harp, volunteered to fill in and did a magnificent job on short notice  The Golden Gate Quartet was fabulous, as usual.   We’ve seen the Golden Gate Quartet a number of times in Europe and are proud to be regarded as their friends.  This time we were honored to be invited to the Gates rehearsals the day before the performance.  Our sincere thanks to Paul Brembly, Frankie Davis, Mike Robinson, Otis Jones, Joel Rocher (the Gates’ musical director) and of course Rev. Brenda Boone (the program’s producer and promoter).
And the Golden Gate Quartet was just one of eleven magnificent vocal groups and soloists that sang on this evening.  The incredible night included powerful gospel music by Rev. Luther Barnes & the Sunset Jubilaires, King David’s Harp, the Mighty Stars, Rev. Ronald Harper & the Harmonizing Echoes, the Word Singers, the Gospel Travelers of Garysburg, NC, Min. Paul Boone & the TempleAires, Danny Hill & Group Determination, Rev. Brenda Boone & the Higher Praise Community Choir (featuring Sister Mattie Wood), Amelia Sears Goodman and Carolyn Smith.  To take a look on our website at over 70 photos from this historic program, visit Golden Gate Quartet Returns Home.

Book Review: "Acappella Living In The Shadows, 1963 - 1973" covers the evolution of the Hudson Sound  in the turbulent 60's

"Acappella, Living In The Shadows, 1963 - 1973: A Social History," is the latest book by author, Abraham J. Santiago. .Acappella quartet singing has been a part of African American culture since slavery times.  It led to the development of 1950's street corner doo wop singing.  But when these street corner groups went to record, record producers added instrumentation to make a more commercial sound.  Then in the early 1960's, a new genre arose, particularly in the Northeast Corridor of the United States between Boston and Philadelphia.  There, certain small independent record labels started recording and promoting these street corner groups, singing just acappella.  Abe Santiago uses the term, "The Hudson Sound," to describe the 1960's acappella singing, mainly by non-African American vocal groups, that was born on the banks of the Hudson River, where New York and New Jersey meet.  (Think... Five Jades, Savoys, Heartaches, Five Sharks, Chessmen, Royal Counts, etc.)  This book offers offers an intriguing look at how this "acappella sound" evolved  and matured through its first golden age (1963 - 1973).  Santiago was on the scene singing with the Concepts at the time.  He looks at the African American roots of the genre as well as contributions from Hispanic, Italian and Jewish neighborhoods.  This book covers the development of acappella in context with the social and cultural influences of the turbulent sixties.  Another section of the book tells the musical journeys of six prominent people involved with this music, written in their own words.  There's a large section of photos of groups and album covers and  a comprehensive discography of acappella recordings of that era.  Abe Santiago's latest book is an interesting and thought provoking read. It's a welcomed addition to our music library.  For a full review and a link to Amazon where the book can be purchased if desired, visit our Reviews website page.

Visit our 'chorner1' YouTube channel.  200,000+ views.  We must be doing something right!  

Have you visited our YouTube channel lately?  Our 169 videos have already been viewed more than 204,000 times.  Almost all are original videos of acappella groups filmed by us at our events.  Feel free to subscribe so you'll get a notice when we post new ones.  We have almost 250 subscribers now.  To visit our YouTube channel, click chorner1 YouTube.

Billy Dawn Smith honored.  Legendary songwriter, producer, singer, label owner.  Responsible for many hits by the Crests.

On May 15, 2016, the Goodfellas Doo Wop Club honored legendary songwriter, producer, singer and label owner, Billy Dawn Smith for his outstanding contributions to our music.  The celebration was held at the Woodhaven Manor in Woodside, Queens, NY..  It’s hard to imagine what our music would be without Billy Dawn Smith. Billy began his career singing with the Billy Dawn Quartet (4 Dukes and Heralds).  Billy became the A&R person as well as an arranger and songwriter at Herald Records.  After leaving Herald, Billy co-founded Hull Records and the label scored big with the Heartbeats’ “A Thousand Miles Away”.  At Hull, Billy honed his songwriting skills, writing or co-writing songs for the Heartbeats (“People Are Talking,” “Oh Baby Don’t”), the Avons (“I’m Sending An S.O.S,” “Gonna Catch You Nappin’,” “Oue Love Will Never End”), Miller Sisters, and many more..  Leaving Hull Records, Billy Dawn Smith hung out with his friend Al Browne, who was recording the first records by Johnny Maestro & the Crests on his Joyce label. Joyce Records soon closed down. Billy Dawn Smith was aware of the Crests from the beginning. “I was there at the recording session when they did ‘Sweetest One’ and ‘My Juanita,” Billy once told Charlie Horner.  “There was no more Joyce Records and I wasn’t going to let Johnny and the group be out there in the middle of the street.”  Billy Dawn Smith suggested to George Paxton that they start their own record label to record the Crests.  “I just wanted to record the Crests,” said Billy. “We weren’t thinking about forming our own record label because we were doing alright in the publishing business.  I said, ‘Let’s start a record label.  I’ve already got this group the Crests and they’re not doing anything. Let’s start off with the Crests."  [See our article, “The Johnny Maestro Story” on our website under Articles By Us.]  Billy Dawn Smith wrote most of the Crests hits, including ““Step by Step,”, “The Angels Listened In,” “Trouble in Paradise,” “Six Nights A Week,” “I Thank The Moon” and “Gee (But I’d Give The World)”. In all, Billy has written more than 700 songs,  The Tribute was hosted by Alex Augustine. The entertainment was fantabulous.  In order of their performance the singers were:  The Tribunes (all acappella), Nostalgix, New Shades of Soul, The Silver Fox, The Super Girl Group (Louise Murray, Lillian Walker-Moss, Beverly Warren and  Nanette Licari), Tina DeCara, Pookie Hudson’s Spaniels, and Jimmy Keyes’ Chords.  Billy received an award for his outstanding contributions to the music industry.  Some of Billy’s friends joined him and even sang.  Willie Winfield (Harptones), Bill Witt (Rocketones), Bill Carey and Robert Mirre (Danleers), Rich Green, and Joe Hayes.  [Bill Carey has since passed away.]  Thanks to Jackie Nunez for all her efforts to make this very special event happen.  To read more about Billy Dawn Smith and see about 20 photos from this event, click Billy Dawn Smith.
By now, you probably know that Classic Urban Harmony brings doo wop acappella groups to Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse, 745 Bound Brook Rd, Dunellen, NJ, one Sunday evening each month.  As not everyone lives close enough to New Jersey to attend these concerts, we review each concert, complete with videos and many photos, on the What's New Page of www.classicurbanharmony.net .  Below are summaries of the ten concerts we've had there since the last newsletter.  We have links on each back to the web page with the full reviews, photos and videos. 

February 14, 2016: Quiet Storm at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ

When Choice had to cancel their February 14 evening appearance at Roxy & Dukes due to a medical emergency, we were very concerned about who we could get as a last minute replacement. Finding a top caliper acappella group on a chilly Valentines Day with only hours to spare is not easy, but fortunately our friends, Quiet Storm, volunteered to come up from Philly to save the evening. And what a magnificent job they did. Quiet Storm brought the house down! They sang more than 20 songs in two sets, including great renditions of “At Night” (Flamingos), “Remember” (Aladdins), “Wonderful Wonderful” (Tymes), “It’s Too Soon To Know” (Orioles), “Love, I’m So Glad I Found You” (Spinners), “You Waited Too Long” (Stairsteps) and Sixty Minute Man” (Dominoes}. Darrall used the Manhattans’ “Can I” to come down off the stage and sing among the audience. To see photos and videos from that night click Quiet Storm. .

April 3, 2016: The Larkings & Re-MemberThen at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ

What a fabulous night of harmony at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen, NJ, April 3, 2016. We again had two great acappella groups, the Larkings and Re-MemberThen.
The Larkings started off with Gil Torres leading on the Moonglows’ “Over And Over Again” and “Most Of All”. The Larkings are best known to us from UGHA in the early 1980’s.  They excel in songs by the classic groups.  The Larkings treated us to “Story Untold” and “Make Me Lose My Mind”. “Island Of Love,” “So In Love,” “Six Nights A Week,” “More More More,” “Desirie,” Don’t Say Goodnight,” and “Why Do You Have To Go”.  Warren Tesoro’s soaring falsetto on the Turban’s “Congratulation” was a show stopper.  Our sincere thanks to Gil Torres, Cal Ng, Tino Alvarez, Warren Tesoro and Les Levine for a great performance.  After a short break, Re-MemberThen took the stage. Following the Larkings is never easy but Re-MemberThen was certainly up to the task.  Frank Cicerale  had the audience clapping along with the Larry Chance song “Acappella With My Friends”.  Just five weeks earlier, Re-MemberThen had thrilled the Monmouth University audience at our Doo Wop Explosion by backing the famous Earls’ lead on an all acappella set.  At Roxy & Dukes, the group also rendered excellent versions of Earls tunes, “Life Is But A Dream” and “Never”.  Re-MemberThen is equally skilled at singing ballads, giving us fine versions of “Two Kinds Of People,” “That’s My Desire,” You Are,” “Please Stay” and “Diamonds And Pearls”.  Mike Del Franco led a great rendition of the Teenchords’ “Please tell The Angels”.  Marty Geliebter led on the Del Larks’ “I Never Will Forget” which they sent out to original Del Lark, Ron Taylor, who was in the audience.  Re-MemberThen closed with two powerful and emotional songs, “I Believe” and “My Mother’s Eyes”.  Great job, Frank Cicerale, Bill Butkowski, Sal Contrino, Marty Geliebter and Mike Del Franco!  To watch videos and see photos from this concert, click Larkings & Re-MemberThen.

July 10, 2016: Our One Year Anniversary Concert at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, NJ, with Grand Central Echoes & the Whiptones

A packed house, standing room only, crowd turned out to help us celebrate our First Anniversary at Roxy & Dukes on Sunday, July 10) at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen. We came dangerously close to turning away people who didn’t make reservations, but a couple “no shows” and the club bringing out some extra chairs allowed us fit everyone in.  The first 50 paid admissions received a special surprise souvenir of the event – a 45 RPM vinyl record by a great R&B vocal group in a custom made cardboard sleeve containing our logo and a list of all the acappella groups that performed at Roxy & Dukes during the past year.  On stage were two of the more popular acappella groups around – Grand Central Echoes and the Whiptones.  The Grand Central Echoes turned in a spectacular set, including great versions of “Hey Senorita,” “Wonderful Girl,” “I Thank The Moon,” “Sunday Kind Of Love,” “One Summer Night,” “Zoom,” “Don’t Say Goodnight,” Could This Be Magic” and “Solitaire”. Tony Aquino handled most of the leads with his strong voice.  Elliot Matlin, Harry Van, Michael Pia and Roger Miliote provided some tight harmony.  The Whiptones, the teenage singing sensations from Whippany, NJ, showed why they are so popular. They started up tempo with “Who’s That Knocking” and “Rama Lama Ding Dong and really had the place rocking with “Rockin’ Robin'”.  At one point they called a young lady up from the audience and serenaded her with the Cadillacs’ “Please Be My Girlfriend”.  The Whiptones’ high energy set continued with “Book Of Love,” Runaround Sue,” “Long Tall Girl” and “ABC’s Of Love”.  They paid tribute to Johnny Maestro with “It Must Be Love” and even sang an original tune, “The Best Time Of Our Lives,” a song that they sang at their high school graduation.  The encored with “Come Back My Love”.  We’ve been fans of Mike, Derek, Brad and Matt since we first saw them at Lead East in 2012.  To watch videos and see photos of this night visit Grand Central Echoes & Whiptones

September 18, 2016: Nostalgix & Jimmy Keyes' Chords at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ 

Another amazing night at Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse in Dunellen, NJ, on September 18, 2016.  Two outstanding vocal groups – The Nostalgix and Jimmy Keyes’ Legendary Chords – both singing splendid street corner acappella!   We’ve come to expect fine R&B and Doo Wop acappella singing month after month at Roxy & Dukes, and this was another great one!  The Nostalgix – Tony Aquino, Joe Gironda, Pat Moschetto, Roger Miliote and Les Levine (filling in on bass) – were up first.  We’d seen The Nostalgix sing to tracks before but this was the first we saw them sing acappella.  They did an impressive job.  The Nostalgix opened with “Morse Code Of Love” and the slowed the pace with “Two Kinds Of People” and “That’s The Way It Goes”.  They had people clapping along to “Stormy Weather” and gave us nice renditions of “It Happened Today.” “Sincerely,” “Lorraine” and “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”.  The Nostalgix closed with a strong version of “Sometimes”.  When the audience called them back for an encore, The Nostalgix finished with the Temptations’ “My Girl”.  A first class job!  Thanks, Nostalgix!  Like Nostalgix, Jimmy Keyes’ Chords gave us a rare all acappella set that was amazing.  The group – Tito Rivera, Al Moe Jr., Sergio Clark and Raymond Sanders – trace their group lineage back to the original 1950’s Chords who’s “Sh-Boom” was a huge cross-over song in 1954.  With the passings of Jimmy Keyes and the rest of the original Chords, we’re fortunate that the group is carrying on the Chords’ tradition.  Sounding much like the Chords’ records (only done in magnificent acappella) Jimmy Keyes’ Chords gave us renditions of Chords standards “Lulu,” “Hold Me Baby,” “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire,” Zippity Zoom,” and of Course, “Sh-Boom”.  Their versions of “Little Maiden” and “More, More, More” were real showstoppers.  Jimmy Keyes’Chords finished with a powerfully delivered “Gloria”.  For an encore, the had the place rocking with the Drifters’ “What Cha Gonna Do”. For videos and photos of this event, visit Nostalgix & Jimmy Keyes' Chords.

November 13, 2016: Brooklyn Connection & Echoes Of Time at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen NJ

Unbelievable!  Our 16th acappella show at Roxy & Dukes in Dunellen NJ and it was another one we’ll remember for a long time.  Two superb doo wop acappella groups – Brooklyn Connection and Echoes Of Time.  Brooklyn Connection was making their first appearance in New Jersey since getting back together after a long absence. The group was well known in the days of the United in Group Harmony Association and a number of former UGHA members were in the audience. They performed a tribute to Mickey Zayas, their original lead who passed away recently. Tony Aquino provided a strong lead on many of the songs Brooklyn Connection of old was known for, including the Teenagers songs “Share” “Creation Of Love” and “Why Do Fools Fall In Love”. Les Levine, as usual, did a great bass lead on “Sixty Minute Man”. Warren Tesoro’s falsetto really hit the high notes on the Turban’s “Congratulations”. “Traveling Strangers” … “Teenager’s Dream” … Brooklyn Connection closed with a fabulous rendition of “The Fires Burn No More”.  What a performance! Our thanks to Tony Aquino, Cal Ng, Tino Alvarez, Les Levine and Warren Tesoro.  Not to be outdone, Echoes Of Time gave us another specular second half of the concert! The group was organized by bass singer, Bill Pron. Most of Echoes Of Time’s songs were led by Carlos Vazquez who did a magnificent job on songs like “Here Am I Broken Hearted,” “Take Me As I Am,” “Darling Lorraine,” “Up On The Roof,” Other standout songs were “Six Nights A Week,” “So In Love” (Tony Gutierrez lead), Island Of Love, Sixteen Candles” “Can’t We Be Sweethearts,” This Magic Moment” “The Girl I Love” (Joe Cassidy lead) and a great encore song, “Gee (But I’d Give The World)”. Our thanks to Bill Pron, Carlos Vazquez, Joe Morelli, Joe Cassidy, and Tony Gutierrez.  For videos and photos of this concert go to Brooklyn Connection and Echoes Of Time.

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More Details and Photos on the Above Articles available on our website.  Visit www.classicurbanharmony.net
 

Lost Luminaries:  Singers who've left us this year.

We always receive comments from our readers that our newsletters are so depressing since we list so many passings.  We too are saddened, especially since so many of these singers are people we know.   However, it is by posting this list that we can reflect back on all that these people have given us - music that has enriched our lives.  To those lost luminaries who have passed on, we can only say thank you!
Lost Luminary Group(s) Died Age
       
Eddie Sullivan Enchanters, Desideros, Four Gents, Classic Sullivans 1/2016 73
       
Nicolas Caldwell Whispers (soul group) 1/5/2016 71
       
Otis Clay Golden Jubilairs, Famous Blue jay Singers gospel groups. Soul singer 1/8/2016 73
       
George Grant Castelles, Modern Red Caps, Orioles, Ink Spots 1/13/2016 78
       
Charles Jasper Middleton Jaguars 1/22/2016  
       
Fred Roman Native Boys 2/7/2016 78
       
Augie Miuzzo Arrogants 2/11/2016  
       
Mickey Zayas Brooklyn Connection, Stardust, Larkings 2/13/2016  
       
Willie B. Holland Persuaders (soul group) 2/15/2016  
       
Wayne Smith Bop Shop, Little Isidore & Inquisitots, Capris, Cliftonaires, Trax, Passions 3/12/2016 60
       
Lee Andrews Lee Andrews & Hearts 3/16/2016 79
       
Frank Iovino Five Boroughs 3/17/2016  
       
Pete Anders Videls, Tradewinds 3/24/2016 74
       
Carlo Mastrangelo Belmonts 4/4/2016 70
       
Mike Laza Tempos (See You In Sept) 4/12/2016 83
       
Robert Peterson Volumes, recently with Contours 4/16/2016 76
       
Franklin C. Kennedy Frankie & Spindles (soul group) 4/20/2016 67
       
Prince Pop soloist 4/21/2016 57
       
Frank "Skeets" Squillace Mystery Quartet, Ecstasies 4/22/2016 86
       
Billy Jackson Revels, Tymes 4/23/2016  
       
Billy Paul soul soloist, also Blue Notes 4/24/2016 81
       
Richard "Moe" Ferrari Enchantments (Rogue label, 1970's acappella), Still In Style 5/17/2016  
       
Frank V. Strapoli Three Friends 5/22/2016 79
       
Carlene McCartney Sabb Clickettes 6/13/2016  
       
Tony Silvestro Cop Shoo Bops, Just Us, Nostalgia, Stormy Weather, Emeralds 6/17/2016 68
       
Stan Krause Owner of Catamount label 6/20/2016 74
       
James Wright Creators, Spellbinders, Vintage 6/23/2016  
       
Darryl Miller Medallions (Philly?) 6/23/2016  
       
Ron Taylor Del Larks 7/6/2016 77
       
Gary Paxton Skip & Flip, Hollywood Argyles 7/16/2016 77
       
William "Curlee" Dinkins Hollywood Flames 7/16/2016 77
       
Charles "David" Young Fabulaires, Broadway Express (soul group) 8/2016  
       
Carman Romano Elegants 8/2/2016 76
       
Dennis Dorrity Sr. Promotor 8/4/2016 72
       
Bruce Wolff Meridians, started Doo Wop Corner website 8/18/2016  
       
Edward Dwight Fields Manhattans (later member) 8/28/2016 66
       
Sandra M. Gomez Remembrance (UGHA group) 9/1/2016 66
       
Clifford Curry Five Pennies, solo soul artist 9/5/2016  
       
Bill Carey Four Fellows (Triboro label), later Danleers 9/12/2016  
       
John Loudermilk singer, songwriter 9/21/2016 82
       
Mike Nicoletti NY Exceptions, Teenchords (later member),  9/27/2016 69
       
Little Royal soul singer 9/29/2016 81
       
Joan Marie Johnson Dixie Cups 10/2/2016 72
       
Don Ciccone Critters, Four Seasons (later member) 10/8/2016 71
       
Robert Bateman Satintones, songwriter 10/12/2016 80
       
William "Sonny" Sanders songwriter, producer for Chi-Lites 10/13/2016 77
       
Robert "Big Sonny" Edwards Intruders 10/15/2016 74
       
Phil Chess Owned Chess label 10/18/2016 95
       
Bobby Vee Pop soloist 10/24/2016 73
       
Jimmy Williams Emanons, Double Exposiure (soul groups), later Trammps 10/31/2016  
       
Eulis Mason Martells, Velours (1980's) 10/31/2016  
       
Franklin Roosevelt Pitts Jive Five 11/4/2016  
       
Diz Russell Regals, Orioles 11/16/2016 83
Copyright © 2016 Classic Urban Harmony LLC, All rights reserved.


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