Classic Urban Harmony is bringing together, for one evening only, five groups who were a vital part of Ronnie I’s United in Group Harmony Association back in the day. Like many of you, Pam and I have fond memories of UGHA, a time when acappella groups ruled the day. On Friday evening October 4, 2019, we will relive those days when we bring to the stage of the Morris Museum’s Bickford Theatre, the Cliftonaires, the Sheps, Choice, Patty & the Street-Tones/Mixed Company and the Grand Central Echoes. All four groups were known for bringing great vocal harmony to the stage of UGHA and all four recorded for Ronnie I’s Clifton record label. On October 4, all will be singing acappella.
The Cliftonaires were one of the most prolific Clifton label vocal groups, recording several CD’s on their own as well as backing numerous singers on Ronnie’s Ladies First (Vol 1 & 2) CD’s. The Cliftonaires were Ronnie I’s go to group for recording. With the passing of Ronnie I and later Jack Scandura and Wayne Smith, the Cliftonaires have not sung together in many years. We have now re-assembled the Cliftonaires including original members Joel Katz, John Clemente and Cindy Taylor who sang on the “Ladies First Vol 2” and iconic “How Sentimental Can We Be” all acappella CD.
The Sheps are another great acappella group that helped form the backbone of UGHA acappella shows. The group recorded several albums and singles and appeared countless times at UGHA, often backing legendary lead singers that Ronnie brought in, besides doing their own sets. The Sheps are coming out of retirement for this one final performance.
Choice is a superb acappella group long associated with UGHA. Formed in Jersey City in 1981, the self-titled “Bad Boys of Acappella” sang for 37 years before disbanding last year. Their highly acclaimed Clifton label album, “Great Jumpin’ Catfish,” is a masterpiece of acappella harmony. Choice will come out of retirement to do this concert.
Patty & the Street-Tones were one of the early acappella groups to form at UGHA. With Patty Zielinski handling most of the leads, the Street-Tones recorded three singles on Clifton and one for the UGHA label in 1979 and 1980. This group would evolve into the acappella group, Mixed Company, another long time UGHA group. Minus Patty, the group continues today as Original Mixed Company. But on this night, Patty will rejoin original member Jeff Chambers and Original Mixed Company to recreate some of the Patty & the Street-Tones and Mixed Company magic of years gone by.
Grand Central Echoes is yet another legendary UGHA acappella group that began singing in 1983. While founding member Elliot Matlin has kept the group going all these years, the personnel has seen a number of changes. Recently, original member, Warren Tesoro, has rejoined the group. Another original member of Grand central Echoes is John Kuse, well known as the lead singer of the Excellents of “Coney Island Baby” fame. John Kuse will be joining Grand Central Echoes on stage October 4 to sing “Coney Island Baby” acappella.
As this event is a few months out, the line-up and group personnel is always subject to change but this is where we stand right now. More details will be announced soon for this once-in-a-lifetime reunion concert, but seating will be limited. Tickets will first be offered at Classic Urban Harmony’s Roxy & Dukes 4th Anniversary on August 4 and thereafter by mail. The first five rows center will be assigned seating at $50. All other tickets will be general admission at $40.
Accept no substitutes. This is the real thing and it will be historic.