OGCMA Presents DOO WOP EXTRAVAGANZA August 31 At The Great Auditorium
It wouldn't be summer in The Great Auditorium at The OCEAN GROVE CAMP MEETING ASSOCIATION (OGCMA) without the harmonies, choreography, costumes and mellow R&B of the '50s - a hot'n'rollin' DOO WOP EXTRAVAGANZA - and this 150th anniversary year is no different.
Fans from yesteryear and today can look forward to sizzling performances by noted groups of that era, still soulful as ever as they reprise their greatest hits on Saturday, August 31st at 7:30 p.m. The Belmonts will remind us of the torment of being "A Teenager in Love." Barbara Harris & The Toys will offer a set "Sealed With a Kiss"; Bobby Wilson will honor his legendary dad with A Tribute to Jackie Wilson; The Brooklyn Bridge Band will remind all that "You'll Never Walk Alone"; and former Platters lead singer Sonny Turner will prove he's no "Great Pretender." So head for the sand and sea - you're gonna love it!
Reserved seats (which can be ordered online on at oceangrove.org or by calling 1-800-590-4064) are $25 to $55; general admission (tickets purchased at the door on show night) are $20. The Great Auditorium is located at Pilgrim and Ocean Pathways in Ocean Grove, New Jersey and all facilities are handicapped accessible.
In many ways, The Belmonts were and are the epitome of Doo-Wop: urban, east coast, and trendsetters for the world of rock from the '50s to today. These friends, high schoolmates and New York natives named themselves after a street in their Bronx neighborhood and went from singing in their homes and schoolyard to making their first record, "Teenage Clementine" on Mohawk Records in 1957. Their pal Dion (whose talent soon made them Dion and The Belmonts) joined the group for their next single, "We Went Away" and stayed with them through such memorable super-hits as "I Wonder Why," "No One Knows," "Don't Pity Me," "A Teenager in Love," "Where or When" and "When You Wish Upon a Star." They have always created a unique blend of rock'n'roll, jazz, country, pop and blues - which, early on, got them voted Best Vocal Group of 1959 by Downbeat Magazine. Dion and The Belmonts went their separate ways in 1960, but The Belmonts continued to enjoy success on stage and on the charts with hits that included "We Belong Together," "Tell Me Why," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "I Need Someone" and "C'mon Little Angel." Albums followed singles, the '60s wrought the '70s, and by that time The Belmonts were doing contemporary hits like "My Sweet Lord" and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)." In 1972 The Belmonts reunited with Dion for a concert at Madison Square Garden that sold out and resulted in a chart-topping live album. In 1974, Dan Elliott, a former member of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, joined the group as lead singer - a position he held until his untimely death earlier this summer. But the show - and The Belmonts - go on. Subsequent hits included "Let's Put the Fun Back in Rock N Roll," Burt Bacharach's "The Bell That Couldn't Jingle" on a Christmas album, and "A Hundred Pounds of Clay." Their music was featured in the films Peggy Sue Got Married, The Buddy Holly Story and A Bronx Tale. Throughout their career, The Belmonts have toured the world, earned virtually every top award in the music business, and appeared on every major variety and talk show for the past 50 years.
By the time 11-year-old Barbara Ann Harris moved to Queens, New York from her North Carolina hometown, she was already a much-in-demand church singer. Immediately, the Big Apple introduced her to dancing (which became a lifelong passion) and high school brought her into a street-corner-singing girl group. A family friend and music manager soon had them singing back-up for artists recording in the famous Brill Building - which in turn brought them to the attention of iconic producer Bob Crew, their first recording contract and their new name: The Toys. Throughout the '60s they appeared on such popular TV music shows as American Bandstand, Shindig and Hullabaloo and topped the charts with such hits as "A Lovers Concerto," "Attack," "See How They Run" and, of course, "Sealed With a Kiss." Over time, Harris' group mates left to make their individual marks, but Harris continued as a sometimes-solo/sometimes-teamed artist from then until now. The current Toys are Sandra Taylor and Shahidah Wiltshire and, with Harris, offer glowing performances of oldies and new material.
Bobby Brooks Wilson - Mr. Entertainment to his many fans - is a chip off the old block, and more. Raised in foster care as a child and on his way to life as a career officer in the Navy as a young man, Wilson's musical career began when an honorable medical discharge pulled him out of the high seas and, by chance, into the world-famous Doo Wop group The Love Notes. That situation led to numerous concerts, tours, and a surprise "summons" to their hotel room by Levi Stubbs and Lawrence Payton - two of the original Four Tops. Under the heading "small world, isn't it," the two Tops were both cousins of the legendary R&B/Soul singer Jackie Wilson, and it was they who told Bobby he was Wilson's biological son (they had also known Bobby's biological mother, an early member of Jackie's coterie of wives and girlfriends)! Not surprisingly, Bobby's musical work had already led to onstage opportunities to recreate the persona of Jackie Wilson because of his uncanny resemblance, voice and moves of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. Although he never got to meet his father, Bobby embraced his heritage and began a successful career as a true Tribute performer. While he doesn't strive to imitate his dad, he doesn't have to. Just being himself allows him to bring Jackie Wilson's many hits back to life - including "Higher and Higher," "Lonely Teardrops," "Whispers," "Baby Workout" and "A Woman, A Lover, A Friend." Jackie Wilson will be honored with a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in September. His talented son - who's recorded several CDs and been nominated thrice for a Grammy - will continue to star in clubs, theaters, casinos and cruise ships around the world.
The Brooklyn Bridge Band - long known until 2010 simply as Brooklyn Bridge - formed in 1968, but their musical hearts were still very much in the '50s. Among their many hits: "The Worst That Could Happen" and a rousing cover of "You'll Never Walk Alone." As they moved and grooved with the times, they performed in numerous prominent venues, including Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, The Beacon Theater, Radio City Music Hall and radio maven Murray The K's seminal rock'n'roll stage shows at the Brooklyn Fox Theater. They were also frequent guests on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Della Reese Show and Clay Cole. As a sign of their talent and standing, they often shared the stage with superstars, including Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Dion, The Righteous Brothers, The Beach Boys and Steppenwolf. Like many musicians past and present, members of The Brooklyn Bridge Band were previous or subsequent members of other groups, and/or provided back-up for fellow artists. For example, band vocalist Les Cauchi (an original member) was also a member of The Del-Satins, renowned for their vocal back-up of Dion on "Run Around Sue" and "Ruby Baby." Two other original members, James Rosica (bass player and vocalist) and Joe Ruvio (vocalist) were members of a Long Island garage band, The Rhythm Method. And Louis Agiesta (drummer) toured with the cast of the Broadway classic Jesus Christ Super Star. In the early '70s, Martin D'Amico (keyboards and vocalist) and James Sarle (lead guitarist) both played on a few early Bridge records before actually joining the band in that decade. Last but by no means least is lead vocalist Joe "Bean" Esposito - a Grammy nominated singer/songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Labelle, Stephen Stills, Brenda Russell and Laura Branigan, among others. All together, The Brooklyn Bridge Band dispels all troubled waters with a creative blend of solid rock and smooth R&B that can't be beat in any era.
It was in 1959 that then-19-year-old Sonny Turner won out over 100 other hopefuls and became the new lead singer of the Doo Wop masters The Platters, replacing the popular Tony Williams who had decided to go solo. The Platters and the 1950s had dawned together, but their career was on the wane when Williams exited. However, Sonny Turner had the talent, charisma, and creative energy to turn things around and he stayed at the helm of The Platters until the 1970s, when the British rock invasion motivated him to move on to pursue a successful solo career. From then until now, Sonny Turner has been a mainstay in the Las Vegas/Reno/Lake Tahoe triad of popular lounge acts. But it was during his nearly-two-decades fronting The Platters that Turner pulled the group back up the charts with such hits as "Ebb Tide," "If I Didn't Care," "I'll Never Smile Again," "I Love You 1000 Times," "With This Ring," "Washed Ashore" and "It's Magic." In performance, The Platters were also able to recharge their Tony Williams-era successes, including "The Great Pretender," "You've Got That Magic Touch," "You'll Never Know" and "Twilight Time." In 2005 Turner received a Lifetime Excellence in Entertainment award from the Doo Wop Hall of Fame. In 2007 he garnered the Black Music Award; 2008 The Gateway Classic Lifetime Achievement Award; 2009 induction into the Pacific Avenue of the Stars; and in 2013 the State of West Virginia Hall of Fame.