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Morris Museum Acappella & Doo Wop Concert # 1
Morristown, NJ, July 15, 2011

Scroll down to see videos!


 

What an incredible night it was at the Morris Museum’s stately Bickford Theatre on the evening of July 15, 2011.  We were telling people all along not to miss this concert and those who attended found out why.  Four outstanding acappella groups combined to give us a night of sheer delight.

This concert had been in the works for several months.  Paul Ressler, was the architect, producer, MC and chief champion of the concert.  It was but one of several events surrounding the Morris Museum’s “Jersey Rocks” exhibit, a celebration of New Jersey’s contributions to Rock & Roll.  This was the first of two Museum acappella concerts, the second took place on July 29.

We've added some videos to this review, thanks to Marian Cicerale.  Scroll down to see them.  All videos were posted after first receiving permission from the individual groups. 

Many concert goers arrived early to first tour the Jersey Rocks exhibit.   When we entered, the theatre was already buzzing with excitement.  We had a few minutes to visit backstage and ran into many of our singer friends.


Charlie presenting Glenny T with a 1979
Fourteen Karat Soul flyer,
designed by KJ O'Doherty


1979 Flyer
(from the Classic Urban Harmony Archives)


Nicky Addeo & Pam


Ecstasies' Joe Grimaldi & 14 Karat Soul's Glenny T


Pam, Glenny T, Frank & Marian Cicerale


Fourteen Karat Soul
Left to right: Calvin Nadir Powell, Glenny T, BDavid, Anthony Holding, Mark Beckett
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Group harmony aficionados Tom Rowell, Pam Horner and KJ O'Doherty


Sheps' Johnnie Barlow, (MC) Paul Ressler, Tommie Shider and Charlie Coleman


14 Karat Soul's Glenny T and Vibranaires' Bobby Thomas


The Copians:  Bill Keith, John Paloney, Jim Bakay, Rich Giresi, Paul Maxwell


Fourteen Karat Soul
(Photo courtesy of Marain Cicerale)
 

We took our seats just as Paul Ressler welcomed everyone to the theatre.  Paul dedicated the concert to two people who meant so much to his life but whom are now only with us in spirit; Four Fellows’ lead singer Jim McGowan and Paul’s late son.


Concert producer and MC, Paul Ressler
 

Opening were the newly formed Copians acappella group.  In keeping with the New Jersey theme, group organizer Jim Bakay announced that four of the Copians live in New Jersey and that he did so until his recent move to Philadelphia.  Though the Copians have only been singing together for a short time, all of the members have long singing careers with other groups.  Jim Bakay and Rich Giresi formerly sang with the group, Street Corner Five.  Bill Keith sang with the Blendtones (“Lights Please”), A Moment’s Pleasure and numerous other groups.  John Paloney began his singing career with the Intentions (“Summertime Angel”) but has also sung with the Ecstasies, Balladeers and more recently with Junior & the Four Seniors.  Paul Maxwell has a strong background in Gospel harmony.

The Copians opened the evening’s entertainment with Rich leading the Dubs’ standard, “Is There a Love For Me”.  Some of the Copians’ highlights included Jim Bakay’s falsetto lead of the Ebonaires’ “Love Call”; Bill Keith leading the Revels’ “Talking to My Heart,” and Rich Giresi’s two collectors’ tunes “Please Say You’ll Be Mine” (Sunbeams) and “Missing You” (Starlites).  Jim Bakay introduced the Sunbeams record by telling the audience how Charlie Horner's radio program got him back into the music many years ago.  He recalled how Charlie played the Sunbeams record and said it was the king of record that makes you beat your head against the wall.

Opening a concert of this quality is never easy but the Copians were more than up to the task and very entertaining.   Great job, guys!


The Copians


The Copians


Copians' Rich Giresi belting out "Missing You"
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Copians' co-founder "Night Train" Jim Bakay did a great falsetto lead on "Love Call".
Jim also does a fine Saturday morning radio show on WRDV-FM.
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Bill Keith singing "Talking To My Heart" (Revels), a song he led with
Jim Bakay at our anniversary, in a forerunner of the Copians group.
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


The Copians


The Copians
 


Copians singing "Please say You'll Be Mine," a rare collectors side
originally recorded by the Sunbeams on the Acme label.
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)


Jim Bakay leading the Copians with "Love Call"
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)


Next up was the New Jersey based quintet, the Sheps.  The fine acappella group, who took their name from the late Heartbeats’ lead James Sheppard, has been thrilling audiences in this area for twenty years.  They are able to perform either 1950’s doo wop standards or obscure collectors’ tunes with equal ease.  Their superb harmony has led the Sheps, at various times, to be picked to back up the leads of the Spaniels, Moonglows, El Dorados, Charms, Prisonaires and many many more.  Richie Camacho lead the group on several songs including “It’s All In The Game”.  Charlie Coleman surprised the audience with the obscure 1952 song “My Love Is Gone,” originally recorded by Joe Van Loan with Chris Powell’s Blue Flames.  Johnny Barlow led a magnificent version of “I Only Have Eyes For You”.  Another highlight was Tommy Lockhart’s lead of “There In The Night,” a version that rivaled the original by the El Dorados.  It was great seeing Tommy Shider back with the group after a short absence due to an illness.  Though Tommy did not sing lead, the rest of the group stepped up their performance and it was magnificent.


Richie Camacho (left) leading the Sheps


The Sheps


The Sheps


Sheps' Tommie Shider (left) and Charlie Coleman
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Sheps' Tommy Lockhart leading "There In The Night"
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Richie leading the Sheps


The Sheps singing "There In The Night," originally done by the El Dorados
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)


The Sheps singing "My Love Is Gone"
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)


Paul Ressler introduced the Vibranaires’ lead, Bobby Thomas, who will be performing on the next Morris Museum concert on July 29.  He then invited the attendees to take a short intermission and another chance to visit the Jersey Rocks Exhibit.


Paul Ressler & Vibranaires' Bobby Thomas


Paul Ressler, Bobby Thomas.  Museum's Eric Hafen in background.
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
 

In 1975, a teenager from East Orange, NJ, named Glenny T put together a group that would soon become one of the most respected young vocal groups in the world.  Many of us first saw Fourteen Karat Soul in 1979 at a Ronnie I’s United in Group Harmony Association show.  From there they began recording, appeared in two off-Broadway shows, sang on national TV on Saturday Night Live, backed Brian Seltzer on the Stray Cats’ “I Won’t Stand In Your Way,” and toured Europe with Whitney Houston.  The Village Voice called them “the finest teenage singing group in America”.  In the mid-1980’s they started touring Japan where they became huge stars.  Although they haven’t sung in many years, Paul Ressler recently encouraged Glenny T to put 14 Karat Soul back together, specifically for this concert.

Fourteen Karat Soul gave the performance of a lifetime!  Even those of us who were very familiar with Fourteen Karat Soul, were unprepared for what we were about to see and hear.  The high energy group used finger snapping, hand clapping and even acrobatics all while singing superb harmony.  The group began with Genny T leading “Take Me Back Baby” (Four Fellows) followed by "It's Alright" (Impressions) and “Wonderful World” (Sam Cooke).  Just when 14 K Soul had the audience at a fevered pitch, they slowed the pace with the Harptones’ “That’s The Way It Goes”.  Although 14 K Soul sometimes sings songs that originated with other groups, their arrangements are so unique that they ought to be given co-writer credits!  Nowhere is this more evident than with the groups’ rendition of “Jump Children,” a song that we associate with the Flamingoes.  14 Karat Soul took command of the song using an energetic arrangement and heart-stopping choreography.  It's been awhile since we've seen an acappella singer jump over a microphone stand let alone leap over the back of another singer.  They received a standing ovation from the crowd.  From the back of the room, someone shouted, “We love you!”  Not allowed off the stage without an encore, 14 Karat Soul sang a song they performed on Saturday Night Live, “That’s My Baby”.  Fourteen Karat Soul combines perfect harmony, choreography and excitement.  This is the type group we want to see again and again.  Welcome back Fourteen Karat Soul!


Fourteen Karat Soul


Fourteen Karat Soul
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Fourteen Karat Soul


Fourteen Karat Soul's BDavid leaps over another singer.
(Photo courtesy of Janet Markman)

 

Fourteen Karat Soul
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


Fourteen Karat Soul


Fourteen Karat Soul


Fourteen Karat Soul singing "Jump Children"
A MUST WATCH VIDEO!
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)


Fourteen Karat Soul singing "Take Me Back Baby"
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)


Fourteen Karat Soul singing "That's The Way It Goes"
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
(Video posted with prior permission of the group)



Fourteen Karat Soul
 

After an unbelievable show to this point, we still had a New Jersey legend to go.  His name is Nicky Addeo.  Nicky Addeo was born in Newark but raised in Asbury Park.  His lead voice has been a huge part of the Asbury Park music scene for many years.  He has sung with the Darchaes, the Uniques, the Plazas, Barbaroso & the Historians and now the Nite Owls as well as solo.  Nicky along with Bobby Thomas and several other R&B singers laid the groundwork for later Asbury Park singers like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny.

Nicky had a new group of Nite Owls for this performance, a group that included our friends BJ Jones (bass) and Warren Tesoro (first tenor) along with Bobby "Blue" Castellano (baritone) and Elliott Banks (second tenor).  Nicky sang most of the leads, occasionally sharing leads with Warren and BJ.  The highlights of the performance were some of the songs we’ve come to associate with Nicky Addeo’s soaring operatic tenor voice; “Blue Star” (Blue Notes), “Gloria” and of course, “My Hero”.  It was wonderful to hear Nicky’s distinctive voice again, especially with the talented group he had backing him.


Nicky Addeo & Nite Owls, (Left to right):
BJ Jones, Warren Tesoro. Elliott Banks, Bobby "Blue" Castellano, Nicky Addeo


Nicky Addeo (left) & the Nite Owls


Nicky Addeo


Nicky Addeo & the Nite Owls
 

For a finale, Nicky Addeo called all the performers back on stage to sing “In The Still Of The Night”.  Paul Ressler joined in and even sang lead.  After the show, the audience didn't want to leave and hung around the front of the stage until the theatre staff started blinking the lights.


The Finale


The Finale


Paul Ressler leading the finale with "In The Still of the Night"
(Photo courtesy of Marian Cicerale)


The Finale
(Photo courtesy of Marain Cicerale)
 

Part of the grand final.  Paul Ressler leading all the singers with
"In The Still Of The Night"
(Video courtesy of Marian Cicerale)
 

This was an exciting night for lovers of vocal group harmony and may not be duplicated again.  For a review and photos (and soon videos of Morris Museum Acappella & Doo Wop Concert Part 2 with Bobby Thomas & the Vibranaires, Quiet Storm, the Del Larks and Joe Zisa & Friends’ Jersey Tribute click Morris Museum Concert Two.


 

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