No parking in the Five Boroughs at DWS Show #45
By Kate Karp
How wonderful it was to arrive relatively early for a Doo Wop Society show at the Petroleum Club in Long Beach and drive around for a full 10 minutes looking for a parking space.
There’s no sarcasm in that statement, nor is it intended to end cutely with "a place we almost found." For everyone eventually did find parking, and the club ballroom had a full house. Given the thin numbers at previous shows, this was heartening.
Show 45 (an auspiciously descriptive number) was nearly as good as it can get. The DWS commonly features a couple of acappella acts and either has a couple of feature acts or a number of local groups of various degrees of renown and one headliner. On the evening of November 13, there was one act-a major one, comprised of members from legendary East Coast metropolitan area groups, with a special appearance by a famed lead singer of another group. They sang straight through from 8 p.m. until midnight, with a short break that many of the group members spent socializing with fans and family.
The show featured the Five Boroughs - okay, there were six of them: Eddie Pardocchi (Five Discs), Bruce Goldie (Dreamers), Dave Strum (Excellents), Jimmy De La Rosa (Street Corner Memories), John Sorrentino, and Frank Iovino (Bob Knight Four) - the group "boss," with his energetic lead, tireless rapport with the audience, and more-than-occasionally nasty mouth.
This was the Borough’s third appearance at the DWS, and if Frank got out of hand and took particular joy in driving DWS President Phyllis Bardone up a wall with his antics, he probably knew that he could get away with it, considering the quality of the performance and everyone’s overall lovableness. Several of the guys were suffering from colds, and there were a couple of clammy notes. There were also one or two stray reaches that almost didn’t make it, but somehow the Boroughs managed to grab them down before they got away. The energy was unflagging, even after a flight in from Florida and a rehearsal the night before. The sound system added a little hash, but not enough to muffle the performance. And the audience listened - even the guy who kept screaming for "Gloria."
The group brought their own band with them. Instead of the usual two dance numbers the band generally uses to segue into the show, there were a couple of instrumentals at different points in the performance while the Boroughs wet their sore whistles with water. The Five Boroughs Band - Earl Catron on horns, Victor Giardino on guitar, Joe Costadiera on drums, Tim Myer on bass and Steve Bzyczek on keyboards - played a thrilling version of "Harlem Nocturne" in the style of the Viscounts, and one of "Sleepwalk" that cried out for a dance floor. The Boroughs themselves opened the program right away, masterfully trading leads through a repertory that was strictly collectible doo wop. Highlights - and there were too many to list - included the Five Keys’ signature song "You Belong to Me"; a night-soft rendition of "Peace of Mind"; a moving interpretation of the Bonnevilles’ "Lorraine" that brought up goosebumps in layers; Little Anthony and the Imperials’ "Traveling Stranger," which took on a life of its own; and "Cara Mia" - not, as Frank said, "a doo wop song, but we’re making it one." They also performed what Frank said was "the worst song he ever recorded" - "Recess in Heaven," whose lyrics were written by Ed Engel and which was arranged and set to music by Frank. Surely, Frank’s statement about the song’s worth was not serious.
Eddie Pardocchi’s fabulous falsetto soared throughout the songs that called for them, despite his plugged-up sinuses.
Audience members seemed to shed decades from their years as the show progressed. Maybe the DWS figured that people would become jaded and think that the organization couldn’t possibly outdo themselves, so they brought in Norman Fox of the Rob-Roys. Fox sang "Tell Me Why," "Dance Girl Dance," and "Pizza Pie," among others. Backed by the Five Boroughs, Fox’s appearance will be hard to top.
Show 45 was, incidentally, the first time that Fox ever sang in California. His daughter Kim is a renowned songstress living in Southern California, which made it possible for him to visit her and sing at the show.
Frank’s clowning around with Dennis Bardone and Paul Luchetti, both of whom came up to guest a few leads, rounded out the evening. Audience members included several popular disk jockeys, including KRTH 101.1 FM’s Brian Beirne, WPMD 1700 AM’s Steve Propes, and a newly celebrated radio hero, John Regan. Regan’s new new "Finger Poppin’ and Doo Woppin’" show, heard on 540 and 1260 AM, is an eclectic mix of old top 40s and obscurities that gives a feel of listening to the green plastic radio in the kitchen back in 1958. It’s rescuing Southern California from the Oldies Doldrums.
Ms. Bardone and DWS Vice President Manuel Jimenez reported that the DWS will most likely need a new venue to put on their shows, unless they can negotiate the 625 percent raise in price that the Petroleum Club’s new management plans to charge. "We can’t afford this," Phyllis said. "If you know of a good venue, we’ll look at it."
The DWS is a nonprofit organization. According to Ms. Bardone, all revenues from the show go toward producing the next show
Despite this unfortunate note, it was all perfect harmony. We had a time.
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