By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida–June 10, 2017
Every year the “Happy Together” tour, which consists of The Turtles (Flo & Eddie) and numerous other 60s pop bands roll into Clearwater to play at Ruth Eckerd Hall. I had been thinking about going because this is the music of my childhood. Lord knows, I heard most of the music on AM radio whle riding in the back seat of my Mom’s Buick Riviera. I decided to venture based on my current retro mood (I just decorated my living room with Mid-Century furniture) so the concert seemed to be a natural extension.
When I arrived in the parking lot of Ruth Eckerd Hall (my favorite venue, I must say), I saw about eight people walking around in identical bright green shirts with a spiral tie-dyed design. I could hear “Piece of My Heart” as I entered the lobby where a live band was playing. Normally the bands play in the courtyard but with the dark looming clouds overhead, this was a good decision—and the people loved it. There were vendor booths in the lobbies selling vinyl records, tie-dyed shirts, decorated guitars, and memorabilia, which gave the venue the feel of a 60s convention.
The first band that appeared promptly at 7 p.m. was Ron Dante, the original voice of The Archies. He played “Bang-Shang-A-Lang”, “Jingle Jangle” and ended with “Sugar Sugar”, which provoked the Baby Boomer audience into chair dancing and mouthing the words. Between songs Dante talked about his experiences in the recording and TV commercial industry. Dante was also the voice behind the Cuff-Links best known for the 1969 Top Ten hit, “Tracy.” He recorded iconic jingles with his good pal Barry Mannilow and also produced hits like “Mandy” and “I Write the Songs”. Dante then sang a few jingles he had recorded, including, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” “Coke, It’s the Real Thing”, “The Dr. Pepper Song”, “Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut”, and many more. Dante received a standing ovation at the end of his set, which was truly enjoyable and nostalgic!
Next up, were The Cowsills, which consisted of Bob, Paul, and Susan Cowsill. My personal memory of the band is that their album was the first I had ever received in my life. During the evening The Cowsills sang hits like “The Rain, the Park, And Other Things,” “Indian Lake,” “Hair/Let the Sunshine In” (from “Aquarius”). During the “Hair” song the videos on the screen behind the band included ads for Dippity Do, Glemby Girl Salons, and segments of the hair styles of the day. Like Dante, they were the unknown voice behind familiar advertising songs like “Love American Style”. Who would have thought? They joked that often people would mistake them for The Partridge Family, although the TV show was based on them!
Blue-eyed soul band The Boxtops, from Memphis, Tennessee, were on stage next and played some of their hits like “Cry Like a Baby”, “Soul Deep”, and of course, “The Letter”. This year, The Boxtops are celebrating their 50th Anniversary together. They paid homage to other pals from Memphis by playing a really rocking and soulful version of Booker T and the Mgs hit “Green Onions” and warned the audience they my start tripping while watching the screen during “Neon Rainbow”.
There was an approximately 20 minute intermission before The Association entered the stage. The harmonies were beautiful and sounded just like the records I remembered, with hits like “Cherish”, “Windy”, and “Never My Love”. There were plenty of jokes about being “old” (as many of the bands joked about during the evening). The Association noted there was controversy when they released their song “And Then Along Comes Mary, which by today’s standards would be a non-issue. Kids, “Mary Jane” was a slang term for marijuana back then.
Finally, I was thrilled to see the next performer, Chuck Negron, who was the lead singer during the height of the Three Dog Night era. I had a crush on him back then as a little girl (long hair and a big mustache was the gold standard for me) so it was a thrill to see him. His voice was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing “Eli’s Coming”, “Celebrate”, “Joy to the World”, and “One”. I know Negron had a history of drugs in his early years and he’s been clean for some time. It was his birthday and at age 75 the years of abuse obviously have not taken a toll on his youthful appearance (with the exception of wearing the cool-looking Oxy-View, oxygen therapy eyeglasses).
Last up, Flo and Eddie of The Turtles came on stage dressed as Beauty and Beast, using the humor they are famous for! Flo looked particularly silly wearing a dress and handing Eddie a flower. I stayed to hear them play “Eleanor” and “Happy Together” but left to beat the traffic before the encore, which was to include all of the artists on the stage. Sorry, guys!
I really enjoyed the show—and so did the audience which gave many standing ovations during the evening. It truly is WORTH going to see the Happy Together Tour so I urge people to catch it this summer. Go alone or bring your parents for an evening of sing-along songs and AM radio nostalgia!
HAPPY TOGETHER TOUR
06/09/17 Biloxi, MS – IP Casino, Resort & Spa
06/10/17 Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall
06/11/17 Jacksonville, FL – Florida Theatre
06/13/17 Morristown, NJ – Mayo Performing Arts Center
06/14/17 New Brunswick, NJ – State Theatre New Jersey
06/15/17 Northampton, MA – Calvin Theater
06/16/17 Westbury, NY – NYCB Theatre At Westbury
06/17/17 Albany, NY – Palace Theatre
06/18/17 Tarrytown, NY – The Tarrytown Music Hall
06/20/17 Englewood, NJ – Bergen Performing Arts Ctr.
06/21/17 Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
06/22/17 Jim Thorpe, PA – Penn’s Peak
06/23/17 Williamsport, PA – Community Arts Center
06/24/17 Lancaster, PA – American Music Theatre
06/25/17 Hampton Beach, NH – Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
07/04/17 San Rafael, CA – Marin County Fairgrounds
07/06/17 Modesto, CA – Gallo Center For The Arts
07/07/17 Brooks, CA – Cache Creek Casino Resort
07/08/17 Salem, OR – Historic Elsinore Theatre
07/09/17 Snoqualmie, WA – Snoqualmie Casino
07/12/17 Saratoga, CA – The Mountain Winery
07/13/17 Agoura Hills, CA – Canyon Club
07/14/17 Santa Ynez, CA – Chumash Casino
07/15/17 Beverly Hills, CA – Saban Theatre
07/16/17 Costa Mesa, CA – Pacific Amphitheatre
07/19/17 San Diego, CA – Humphrey’s Concerts By The Bay
07/21/17 Phoenix, AZ – Celebrity Theatre
07/22/17 Las Vegas, NV – Cannery Casino Hotel
08/04/17 Danbury, CT – Ives Concert Park
08/05/17 Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
08/06/17 Boston, MA – The Wilbur
08/07/17 Wilmington, DE – Playhouse Theatre
08/09/17 Hamburg, NY – The Fairgrounds Event Center
08/10/17 Kettering, OH – Fraze Pavilion For The Perf. Arts
08/11/17 New Buffalo, MI – Four Winds Casino
08/12/17 Manistee, MI – Little River Casino Resort
08/13/17 Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion At Nautica
08/14/17 Indianapolis, IN – Indiana State Fairgrounds
08/16/17 Effingham, IL – Effingham Performance Center
08/17/17 Nashville, TN – Ryman Auditorium
08/18/17 Hot Springs, AR – Oaklawn Racing & Gaming
08/20/17 Mayetta, KS – Prairie Band Casino & Resort
08/22/17 Louisville, KY – Kentucky State Fairgrounds
08/23/17 Fort Wayne, IN – Foellinger Outdoor Theatre
08/24/17 Waukegan, IL – Genesee Theatre
08/25/17 Aurora, IL – Paramount Theatre
08/26/17 Mille Lacs, MN – Grand Casino Theatre
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I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse
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