1999-07-23 / Columnists

Notes From The High C’s

Rockaway Music and Arts Council
by Sharon Gabriel

Last Sunday, under beautiful blue skies the RMAC presented the second concert of the summer season, The Manhattan Brass Quintet. The Quintet performed everything from Bach to Duke Ellington. The five young men who make up the Quintet explained each number before they played so that those of us who are uninformed, would have some background. Of course, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Scott Joplin need little explaining. Bach and Schuman, that’s another story. All in all, it was a lovely evening to enjoy music.

Keyspan has been a major sponsor in this ongoing series.

We hope all the rock and roll fins will come out to the next concert on Sunday, July 25, 6 p.m. at Fort Tilden, to hear two very well known groups from the early days of R&R, the famous Del-Vikings and Lennie Cocco & The Chimes. (If it rains the show will move inside to the Fort Tilden theater).

In 1955 five fellows in the Air Force got together at a piano and wrote a song called "Come Go With Me". The five young men became known as the Del-Vikings and the rest is history. Out of the Air Force by l1957, they recorded such hits as "Whispering Bells" and "Sunday Kind of Love".

The leader of today’s group, Louis (Sweet Lou) Velez, was chosen by founder Clarence E. Quick to become leader and he has continued the sound and style that made the Del-Vikings famous.

Their CD on the BVM Label, entitled "Rock ‘N’ Roll Remembered", released a few years ago, has been high on the music charts.

More than 40 years after beginning, the Del-Vikings, the first inter-racial rock group, is still one of the most sought-after groups in the country. They have performed in such places as the Westbury Music Fair, Carnegie Hall, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and the famed Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

From pool room to pop hits accurately describes the Chimes’ career. A Brooklyn street-corner group formed in 1957, they originally called themselves The Capris until they found out that friends of theirs from Rockaway were using the name and so they became Lenny Cocco and The Chimes.

In 1960 the group went into a studio to do a demo recording of the old standard "Once In A While" which attracted the interest of the sound engineer who immediately called a friend at one of the record companies and had him listen to the demo. Needless to say, the song hit the Billboard national charts, spent 18 weeks there, and sold over a million copies. Because of their sound, many in the early years thought they were a black group and some of their earliest bookings were at The Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Howard in Washington, D.C.

The group has disbanded and regrouped several times over the years but came together again in 1996. They recently released their latest CD and cassette entitled "Songs From The Heart".

For all our R&R fans you don’t want to miss this concert.

Two weeks later, on Sunday, August 8th, there will be a return engagement by the Long Island Pops Orchestra. The "Pops" perform everything from Beethoven to Broadway. It’s a foot-stomping, hand-clapping evening. You won’t find a better concert even if you go to Carnegie Hall, and ours is free.

Just prior to the "Pops" concert, the RMAC will be having a museum trip. Scheduled for Thursday, August 5, a luxury bus will leave Beach 135 street and the Boulevard and head to The Art Museum at Princeton University where our group will tour the very impressive collection at Princeton. The group will meet with sculptor Walter Dusenbery whose monumental marble and travertine works can be seen at the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museums in New York. From ancient to modern, from Greek to Roman. Chinese tomb figurines and wall hangings to remarkable pre-Colombian sculpture. Included will be a marvelous selection of American and Western European paintings and sculpture. The tour is docent-led so that everything is explained and all questions can be answered.

From Princeton it will be on to The Nassau Inn for lunch. The Inn was originally build in 1756 by Judge Thomas Leonard so that he could view the college he helped bring to Princeton. The original Inn was replaced in 1937. Distinguished guests from both the old and new Inn would include George Washington, Paul Revere and James Madison and more recent guests would be Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, Golda Meir, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hillary Clinton. Following a five course lunch it’s back to the bus and on to the 22 acre Contemporary Sculpture Park known as Grounds for Sculpture at Hamilton Township, New Jersey. This arboretum-line setting is home to the works of 44 different artists from The Sculptor’s Guild.

If you are interested in joining the museum trip, be sure to call the RMAC or stop by one of the next concert and make your reservation. If you are a member of the RMAC there is a special discount on the price.

Arrangements for the Fall Festival are moving along at a fast pace. The wonderful flower show will this year be presented by the Breezy Point Garden Club and their theme will be "Fanciful Blooms."

Bye for now, and look forward to seeing you at the next concert.


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