BWW Review: DE ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME at The Baby Grand
Paula and George Wolkind's dream of a Delaware Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is now a bonafied institution. A sellout crowd at the baby grand on September 22 welcomed not only musical legends but also historians, DJ's and promoters who have had and continue to have a profound influence on the music scene.
(Personal note: George and I were the same year at U of Delaware, 1969. Talk to me. These were tumultuous times. George headed up the campus SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) and organized sit-ins and demonstrations against Nam. To understate, he was reviled by the administration. To this day I admire the balls it took to forward this movement).
The Hall of Fame's resident backup band is "A Rock N Roll Event" Club Phred; also deserved inductees this year. CP opened the show with the rousing and 'tight' Neil Young tune "Ohio". (back to Nam for a glimpse). They were soon joined by The Horn Section featured on the David Letterman Show including Tom "Bones" Malone (guess what instrument), Frank Greene, trumpet and Alan Heick, sax.
Malone has played with EVERYONE (Disbelieve me at your own peril. Check his Wikipedia page), including Ringo and Sir Paul on his latest EGYPT STATION. He was also music arranger on SNL. In the 70's, Ackroyd and Belushi approached him in the mid 70's..." Hey Bones, we've got this crazy idea for a musical skit. Can you chart the music"? The rest is history and Bones was in the iconic movie.
DICK SCHMIDT: Owner of Blue Crab in Elkton, a home for multitudinous DE musicians since 2000.
DR. HARMONICA AND ROCKETT 88: Closing in on 40 years of entertaining masses in the US. The band is fronted by Mark "Dr. Harmonica" Kenneally, a member of the Blues Hall of Fame. A student at Brandywine High (me too! Go Bulldogs!), he saw George Thorogood perform in hs. (Fun Fact: The bad to the bone dude is the most famous Bulldog student. He never graduated. He hated school. He knew what he wanted to do; drink one bourbon, one scotch, one beer). Joining Mark on stage was Alan Yandziak, Quentin Jones, Danny Bendig and Patrick Redding.
LOIS LIPTON PARKER: Lois is a force unto herself, a dynamo at preserving the sounds of the '50's. Through her Luray Productions, she has staged several events at The Grand and throughout NCC. A consultant to DE HOF, she counts many rock n rollers as personal friends.
JOHNNY NEEL: Born in Wilmington, Neel moved to Nashville in '84 and later joined the reunited Allman Brothers Band as song writer. He has been a studio musician, playing piano, Hammond B 3 and harmonica. Neel has toured internationally and recipient of the Grammy's "Lifetime Achievement Award".
ROCKA-BYE BABY: Jimmy Stayton created DE's first rock n roll band after being inspired by The King! With guitarist Mort Marker and drummer Honey Voshell they cut a Stayton penned tune, "Hot Hot Mama" in the state. Voshell, behind the drum set, led the tribute on Sunday.
ALFIE MOSS/DEXTER KOONCE: Both musicians have been DE institutions for years. Alfie's extensive repertoire covers blues, rock, R & B, gospel and Caribbean. With Dexter on the keyboards, they have opened for James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few. Statewide they have been celebrated by DE Today Magazine in 'Best of Jazz' and 'Best of Jazz Band' over many years. Dexter trained under his uncle Robert "Boisie" Lowry, a sax player and teacher of Wilmington legend Clifford Brown.
MICHAEL ACE: A collector of rare and vintage 45 rpm records that date to the 40's. He acquired an almost complete collection of 45's from the Blue Hen label out of Harrington DE. He and DE HOF historian Steven Leech produce "Rockabilly Ridge" on U of D's WVUD every Saturday morning. Fun Fact: This writer founded then-WHEN, now WVUD in 1969 and was the first GM). Michaels's reference to Warren G. Harding had me a bit confounded.... but, whatever.
CLUB PHRED: Formed in 2002, one of CP's many claims to fame is performing at Newark's Stone Balloon. Wildly popular as a 60's, 70's cover band, the group has a tenacious philanthropic bent; you name a non-profit that needs a fund raiser? CP is there for you, raising over $5mil in charitable events. Leader Fred Dawson began playing sax but now is behind the keyboards. Brian Daring on bass played sousaphone in 6th grade. (Gosh, cannot CP incorporate the sousaphone in one of their tunes? John Philip Sousa and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" is trending...somewhere, somewhere). Kathy Layfield - keyboard and vocals - has a singing style that transcends many musical genres. Mark Sisk - rhythm guitar and vocals - is a founding member and conclusively defines the eternal question: "What do rhythm guitarists do?" (ask John Lennon). Gaetano Vinciquerra - sax - a consummate musician whose solos wail and whose positive energy and eternal joy infuses the band! Jim Palmer - drums - an intense but celebratory musician - always a smile on his face - the locomotive behind the band setting the beat. Brian Scott - guitar - by decades the youngest and newest member of the group. (What was he getting into)! I personally have been in front of CP for years. This dude is the bossest shredder they've ever had.
MARIO ROCCO: DE's legendary Elvis impersonator, Rocco also emceed "The Country Video Dance" on Channel 28. He has opened for Tammy Wynette, Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks and The Temptations, to name a few.
DEB SHANE: Performing in two bands currently; 'Makin' Whoopie' and 'Bridge Out Band'.
Mitch Thomas: The first black DJ in Wilmington on Radio Station WTUX and later on WILM. In '54 he managed The Five Diamonds, who were 2018 DE HOF inductees. From '55-'58 he hosted The Mitch Thomas Show on Ch 12, where 'The Stroll' was invented. He was last heard on Even Stephen's Boptime on WVUD prior to his passing in 1999.
NIK EVERETT: Performing for over 30 yrs in the region, Everett seems to be everywhere. A composer, he co-wrote the music for "Greetings From Asbury Park", which aired on PBS. Winning many awards, he counts membership in DE HOF as his greatest.
THE TRADEWINDS: Forming in the late 50's, The Tradewinds wrote and recorded a steady string of hits that kept them on WAMS Top 30 Chart. Do you remember "Wildwood Twist", "The Snake" and "Abba Dabbo Do"? Additionally, they played for WIBG, Hy Lit, The Geator with the Heater, and oh boy...Grady and Hurst. Founder Carmine Poppiti passed in 1998. Wife Peggy, the booking manager, passed in 2019. The remaining members dedicate this award to Carmine and Peggy.