Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Happy Together Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall was Far Out, Man

 By Ray Shasho

Ruth Eckerd Hall hosted the Happy Together Tour last night in Clearwater to a near capacity crowd. The evening produced nonstop Top 40 hits from an era when the music mattered. Five legendary bands from the psychedelic 60’s embraced an enthusiastic Clearwater crowd with five fantastic performances.

The crowd, many wearing Tie- dye shirts, sandals and jeans appeared like they never left the 60’s. And as Paul Revere & the Raiders frontman Mark Lindsay put it, “I’m reliving the 60’s again in my 60’s.” 

There’s no doubt that the Baby Boomer Generation is where it’s at these days and anyone in the entertainment industry that ignores that fact is making a huge financial mistake. The longevity of these groups is remarkable. I seriously doubt that anyone from the American Idol Generation will maintain a following when they’re 65.

The first band to take the stage last night was Chicago’s own, The Buckinghams with original guitarist/vocalist Carl Giammarese and Bassist Nick Fortuna. Giammarese slipped on a jacket that he wore with the band some 40 years ago and talked about a case for mistaken identity when many thought the band was actually a British group because of their name- The Buckinghams.

The Buckinghams were a genuine crowd pleaser illuminating the audience with their opening hit tune “Don’t You Care,” just the first of a long string of hits from 1967. They followed their set with “Mercy Mercy Me,” “Hey Baby (They’re Playing Our Song),”  “Expressway to Your Heart,” (A cover tune by The Soul Survivors sung soulfully by Fortuna) “Susan,” and then their finale #1 hit single “Kind of a Drag.”

Without missing a beat, The Grassroots walked on stage dedicating the night to original frontman Rob Grill who died in Orlando this month. Grill had been the voice of the band for almost 45 years. The band opened with their 1969 chart- topper, “I’d Wait A Million Years.” Although Vocalist/Bassist Mark Dawson and Guitarist Dusty Hanvey are not original members of the group they played all the classic Grass Roots tunes impeccably.
The bands next selections were “Heaven Knows” and “Sooner or Later” a Top 10 hit in 1971.
The band played “Let’s Live for Today” next; a sorrowful and haunting reminder of Rob Grill’s absence. The Roots continued with “Where Were You When I Needed You,” “Temptation Eyes” and their 1968 finale “Midnight Confessions.”  Dusty Hanvey’s guitar licks were impressive on all the bands classic hits.

The Association graced the Hall stage next with three of their original members. Vocals: Russ Giguere, Vocals/ Guitars: Jim Yester and Vocals/ Guitar: Larry Ramos. The band opened the historic Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The group wasted no time playing; they began their set with their #1 hit from 1967 “Windy,” which the band said played on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
“Windy” was followed by “Everything That Touches You” and “Never My Love,” one of the most requested songs of all-time. Russ Giguere reminded the crowd of all the legendary groups that The Association had toured with in the 60’s- including The Mamas and the Papas. And as a tribute they played “California Dreaming.” Next another #1 in 1966 “Cherish” followed by the electrifying single “Along Comes Mary” which brought the happy peace lovin’ Clearwater crowd to its feet.

Without an intermission or breath to be taken, Paul Revere & the Raiders immortal songster Mark Lindsay energetically danced his way across the stage as if he were still performing with the original Raiders on Dick Clark’s TV program “Where the Action is.” The only thing missing was his American Revolutionary uniform and his (que) or ponytail. Lindsay looked remarkably fit for a 69 year old rock star. After an interview that I did with Mark, I suspected that he would be in exceptional physical condition. Mark revealed to me that he walked six miles a day and he sounded like he was more than half his age on the phone.

Lindsay opened his set with “Steppin’ Out” followed by “Just Like Me” a second chart- topping tune from the same great album Just Like Us!.At this point it was apparent that Mark Lindsay’s voice had improved with age like a fine bottle of wine. Lindsay sang a little bit from the theme song of the TV show that made the Raiders so popular -Where the Action is. The song became a huge hit for Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon in 1965.  Mark followed with a perfect rendition of Raiders classic “Hungry.”

Lindsay continued his set with the Raiders early recording of Richard Berry’s penned rock and roll standard “Louie, Louie” and then electrified the audience with a medley of 60’s classic rock treasures “ Gimme Some Lovin’,” “ Sunshine Of Your Love,” and The Who’s “My Generation.” Lindsay showed the crowd that if his musical direction had taken a Hard Rock course, his extraordinary lead vocals and showmanship would have placed him amongst the elite. Lindsay’s Hard Rockin’ vocals were extremely impressive.
Mark Lindsay followed with his solo hit from 1969 “Arizona” and then another Paul Revere & the Raiders classic “Good Thing” from 1967. Mark commented to the audience that he’s lived all over the U.S.A. but enjoys his new home in Florida the best.
Before playing his next selection “Indian Reservation,” Lindsay told the Clearwater audience that the song was the biggest selling record in CBS’s catalog before Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Mark Lindsay concluded his set with the all-time favorite Paul Revere & the Raiders tune “Kicks,” bringing the crowd to its feet once again.

Then the headliners for the evening appeared, Mark Volman(Flo) and Howard Kaylan(Eddie) of The Turtles, both comically dressed in Lady Gaga’s meat dress and entered the stage to her big hit “Bad Romance.” Then they quickly jumped into an awesome performance of their #3 hit of 1967 “She’d Rather Be With Me.”
The Turtles followed with “You Baby” and their breakthrough Bob Dylan Cover tune “It Aint Me Babe.” The band sounded as they did back in the 60’s with a solid stage performance. I took a hard stare around the Hall to watch the reactions of the Clearwater audience during The Turtles performance. 
The packed house seemed to be in a state of euphoria, perhaps reliving all those wonderful memories from a simpler time when it was all about the music and having fun.
During their set Flo and Eddie would also comically entertain the crowd. Something they did so well over the years. And I was impressed by Mark Volman’s vocals on his segment of Jim Morrison tunes. Their next song was “You Showed Me” and Howard Kaylan Showed me that his magnificent vocal range was still unblemished.
The band announced that it will be playing with Dweezil Zappa soon and jumped into Frank Zappa’s instrumental jazz fusion composition “Peaches en Regalia.”

The Turtles set concluded with a wonderful rendition of “Elanore” another hit from their concept album called The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands.
And then the huge finale for the evening “Happy Together,” bringing the entire Ruth Eckerd Hall crowd to their feet.
All the groups were then brought back on stage one by one to sing their finale hit songs one more time. And then assembled together to take a final bow.
It was a havn’ a good time rockin’ evening at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater last night.

AFTER THE SHOW I was sent on a mission by my sister- in- law Mary from Maryland to deliver her cherished original Paul Revere & the Raiders record albums and Teen magazines featuring Mark Lindsay and deliver them personally to the man himself. During our interview I had mentioned to Mark that Mary was a huge fan. But more importantly she found tranquility in listening to Mark’s voice during troubling times. She and Mark even somewhat resemble each other.
I handed Mary’s Paul Revere & the Raiders collection to Mark Lindsay after the show. Mark was ecstatic; believe it or not, many rock stars do not have most of their original recordings on vinyl. But here’s what a classy guy Mark Lindsay was, he wanted to thank Mary personally over the phone. So from my cell phone, I dialed Mary and then handed it over to Mark. The two of them engaged in high quality and entertaining chat and then Mark Lindsay sang to her on the phone. It was a very special moment indeed for sis-in-law Mary. Thank you Mark!

I’d like to personally thank Jeff from RockStarPR and the entire staff at Ruth Eckerd Hall for their wonderful and gracious hospitality. You’ll always get my vote as the #1 venue in the U.S.A.

Interviews are forthcoming from various artists who are performing at Hippiefest and appearing at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday August 27th.

Order my new book Called Check the GsThe True Story of an Eclectic American Family and their Wacky Family Business. Order today at Baby Boomers will love it!
Contact Ray Shasho at


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