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with Charlie Thomas and the Drifters and Charlie Gracie
May. 25 • 7:30 pm
Among today's great vocal pop musicians, Kenny Vance and The Planotones have voices of original and inviting dimension. The group, Kenny Vance, Johnny Gale, Kurt "Frenchy" Yahjian, Jimmy Bense, keyboardist Chip Degaard, and Tony Gallino on Drums, redefine oldies with vocal authority and freshness. As exemplified by their signature song "Looking For An Echo", their material is influenced by the music of the 50's and 60's, but they consistently bring a unique and musically sophisticated point of view. In this sense they are classicists, opening the eyes of a new generation to a rich historical musical style. With their cool and sultry musical approach, they give a gift to those who are discovering them for the first time.
The Drifters served to link Fifties rhythm & blues with Sixties soul music. They epitomized the vocal group sound of New York City. Theirs was the sweet but streetwise sound of R&B suffused with gospel influences. The material the Drifters recorded came from a variety of sources, including the songwriting teams of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, and Gerry Goffin and Carole King. All were New York-based songwriters who wrote evocatively of romance and everyday life in the big city, and the Drifters made an ideal vehicle for the convincing delivery of such scenarios. The records they cut with Leiber and Stoller (who doubled as producers) introduced the sound of strings and Latin-tinged rhythms into the vocabulary of popular music.
The name "Drifters" was chosen by Clyde McPhatter, the honey-voiced singer who was the first in a long line of lead voices. He could not have chosen a better name, as members drifted in and out of the band from the very beginning. The Hall of Fame inductees span the group's history: McPhatter, Ben E. King, Rudy Lewis, Johnny Moore, Bill Pinkney, Gerhart Thrasher and Charlie Thomas. All the same, a consistent high standard was maintained throughout the Drifters' recording career on Atlantic Records, which lasted from late 1953 to early 1966. During that time, they cut numerous records that stand as milestones of sweet soul music.
Charlie Gracie (born Charles Anthony Graci, May 14, 1936, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American rock pioneer and singer. He was born the same day as another rock and roll singer, Bobby Darin. His father encouraged him to play the guitar. Gracie's musical career started at the age of 14 when he appeared on the Paul Whiteman television show. Gracie performed at weddings, local restaurants, and parties, and on local radio and television. He also won regional talent contests. The owner of Cadillac Records, Graham Prince, heard one of Gracie's early radio performances, contacted the young musician and signed him to a recording contract. This association yielded the single "Boogie Woogie Blues" backed with "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter". The record led to Charlie's first appearance on Bob Horn's American Bandstand television program. (This was four years before Dick Clark became the host). After cutting two more singles for Cadillac, including one called "Rockin' 'n' Rollin'" in 1952, Charlie moved on to 20th Century Records, where he put out another four sides.