South Philly String Band Club
Hosts Steve Applebaum Tribute Concert
(Philadelphia, March 25, 2010

by Pamela & Charlie Horner


Steve Applebaum was one of the most knowledgeable, well-respected and well-liked group harmony aficionados that we knew.  His untimely passing affected all of us, especially those from the Philadelphia area.  It was only appropriate then, that one of Steve’s favorite music venues would hold a tribute concert to celebrate his life. 

On March 25, 2011, the South Philly String Band Club, well-known for its bi-monthly doo wop acappella shows, set aside a special show to honor Steve.  When we arrived, DJ Jimmy De Pre was spinning Steve’s favorite songs.  Carole Applebaum and many of Steve’s friends, as well as several acappella groups, gathered for the tribute.

Pam with Carole Applebaum

Charlie with Doo Wop @ the South Philly String Band Cub Co-Founder Eddie Natale

A new acappella group on the scene from central New Jersey, Re-memberThen, made their first String Band Club appearance.  They set the stage for a night of harmony with “Tonight Could Be The Night”.  Led by Frank Cicerale,  Re-memberThen acknowledged the wealth of group harmony that came from Philadelphia by singing a Tymes' song, “So In Love”.  To close their set, they did the song that gave them their name, The Earls' “Remember Then”.  Because so many groups were waiting to sing, all the groups did abbreviated sets.    Re-memberThen was enthusiastically received and called back for an encore, “Crying in the Chapel”.



Frank (Re-memberThen) & Marian Cicerale

WRDV’s Jim Bakay was the MC for the evening.  He explained that the String Band Club would each year give out The Steve Applebaum Memorial Award to that person who best epitomized Steve’s joy and enthusiasm for our music; someone who made major contributions to keeping classic R&B harmony a vital part of the Philadelphia music scene.  The first annual award was presented to Val Shively of R&B Records.  Val has been at the center of this music in Philadelphia since the early 1960’s.  Val was certainly deserving of this award.

MC, WRDV's Jim Bakay

Jimmy DePre presenting the award to Val Shively

Val Shively and Jim Bakay

Pam, Charlie & Val

Charlie with Patty & Val Shively

Another marvelous acappella group stepped up to the microphones, Junior and The Four Seniors.  Junior (Jimmy DePre) talked about what Steve’s encouragement meant to him and his group began with one of Steve’s favorite songs, The Four Buddies’ “I Want To Be The Boy You Love”.  Singing second tenor for the Four Senior was John Paloney, an original member of The Intentions, from South Philly.  With Jimmy DePre on lead they sang The Intentions' record “Mister Misery”.  Called back for an encore, Dave Moore led with another Philadelphia standard, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”.

Junior (far right) and the Four Seniors

Junior & the Four Seniors

Charlie & Buzzy Garland

One group that’s been on the Philadelphia music scene for many years is Nostalgia 5.  This group has endured personnel changes over the years and has recently resurfaced with a great new sound.  They are a very smooth sounding group doing difficult material.  They sounded great on The Ravens’ “Love is the Thing”, and “Count Every Star”.  Their final number was a superb rendition of The Velour’s arrangement of “I Apologize”.

Nostalgia Five

Nostalgia Five

One of the hottest groups around today is the ever popular Quiet Storm.  The Storm’s first tune was The Crickets’ “You’re Mine”; an arrangement updated by the Vibrations.  Quiet Storm tapped into 1980’s soul with rhythmic Temptations’ “Lady Soul”.  The Flamingos’ “Everybody’s Got A Home But Me” was followed by one of Steve Applebaum’s favorites, “Only The Angels Know” (Esquires).  Quiet Storm wrapped up their performance with Skip Mahoney and the Casuals’  “Where Ever You Go”.  Marty Bentley did a tremendous job with a falsetto tenor lead.

Bill Keith (seated) and Jim Bakay with Quiet Storm waiting in the wings.

Quiet Storm

Quiet Storm

Pam & Quiet Storm bass singer, Smitty

Next up was a group from Pottstown, PA, The Tributes.  They did a short set of two rhythmic R&B numbers, Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop, and Fly” and Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother-in-Law”.  The group had everyone clapping along.

The Tributes

The Tributes

We have long-awaited seeing the newest acappella group around, The Copians.  Rich Giresi  performed a powerful and energetic lead on The Starlites’ “Missing You”.  Bill Keith led a smooth rendition of the Re-Vels' tune “ Talking To My Heart”.  Vinnie Tucker, formerly of Quiet Storm took the lead on The Ad Libs arrangement of “Human”.  For an encore the Copians gave us a foot stomping “Little Bitty Pretty One”.  This was an impressive debut for The Copians.  We look forward to seeing them again.

The Copians singing "Missing You"

Bill Keith (left) leading The Copians in "Talking To My Heart"

Charlie & former radio co-host, Don Leins

It’s not unusual at a String Band show for groups to spontaneously get together to sing a song or two.  On this night, Dennis Gillen, formerly of Rick and The Masters, assembled an all star group to close out the show.  Bob Reilly did his Jocko rap from the old Neighbors Complaint and A Moment Pleasure days.  Dennis then did a powerful lead on “When We Get Married” (Dreamlovers) and “Your Way” (Heartbeats).

The Dennis Gillen group

The Dennis Gillen group

Pam, Charlie, John Mattei, Tom Harford

Tom Harford, Dennis Bergey, Pam, Lar-Kings's Gil Torres

Frank Cicerale & Angelo Pompeo

It was a wonderful celebration of our friend Steve Applebaum’s life and his love of music.  It was our pleasure to document this event.


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