Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chicago Daily Herald Previews Salute to the 60s Concert Weekend, Jan. 29, 30-Genesee Theatre/Star Plaza, w/Herman's Hermits, Grass Roots

Story in Today's Chicago Daily Herald is a concert preview for two shows this coming weekend. Full story link at:

Herman's Hermits, Buckinghams set to salute the '60s
By Gregory Harutunian | Daily Herald Correspondent

The Buckinghams still draw fans to hear "Kind of a Drag" and other hits from the '60s.
Peter Noone says Herman's Hermits will tailor its Waukegan show to the audience.
Published: 1/28/2010 12:01 AM

Sparked by Beatlemania, 1964 marked the start of the "British Invasion" on the American music scene, and prompted the formation of many stateside bands to meet the challenge.

Prime examples of that period hit Waukegan's Genesee Theatre stage at 8 p.m. Friday for a "Salute to the '60s."

The lineup includes British band Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone, The Grass Roots with Rob Gill, and The Buckinghams with Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortunato. Far from being classed as nostalgia, it's a rekindling of happy memories for older fans and a showcase for curious youngsters of what it was all about.

"It's not really nostalgia because it keeps renewing itself - I represent a generation, and at my age, there's only a few others left still performing like Mick Jagger, and Paul McCartney," said Peter Noone, during a phone conversation. "Iconic? To a younger generation, I try to point out that you can do the same, make the music that's upbeat, enthusiastic, and be different."

Noone maintains an astute global viewpoint on music, and knows why Herman's Hermits racked up numerous top 10 hits in the mid-1960s - among them "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" and "I'm Into Something Good."

The competition "to make it" during that time still has relevancy today.

"The bands that were successful were different from their peers, and identifiable - we chose to be the first British band with songs in our natural accent," said Noone. "The Beatles and Stones were using American accents, when they sang, which is what separated us. You hear Billy Joel on the radio, you immediately know it's Billy Joel; no one sounded like Elton John before him - it's a singular style."

The band will play all its big hits. But with a bag of more than 300 songs, even Noone will be surprised. "We don't have a setlist, and (we) tailor it to the audience, and Waukegan is special. I love the Genesee, the promenade in front - it reminds me of the little English towns and venues we used to play like the London Palladium or the Liverpool Empire."

While British bands were making themselves known across the world, Chicago became a hotbed for regional and national acts with AM radio stations like WLS, WMAQ and WCFL playing and pushing the songs of local acts. The Buckinghams rode the crest, and the early touring days also hold memories of Waukegan for Carl Giammarese, its lead singer and guitarist.

"We played a lot of the clubs there like Dex Card's Wild Goose - " said Giammarese. "I really see myself as blessed, more than 40 years later, to make a living doing something that I love. Never had a real job, just staying in the music business, and with the longevity, I thank God and feel like I'm 40, not 62."

With their own handful of top 10 hits, Giammarese still gets a charge when "Kind of a Drag" comes on the radio. "It's that same excitement from when we heard it on the radio for the first time. I remember times of rehearsing with the band in the basement of our house, and my Dad would say 'your song is on the radio' and we'd all stand around, listening.

"We were pretty busy, basically a covers band, we'd appear on WGN-TV's All Time Hits, and rehearse a lot," he said. "The 'Kind of a Drag' album was our stage act, and (we) recorded all the music in two days and came back to do the vocals. It has that crude garage sound, which added to the charm of it."

The horns on the record were an afterthought "to sweeten the pot," but the fact that Al Kooper claims it inspired him to form his band Blood, Sweat, and Tears is a true legend.

"We still play about 70 dates around the country and our fans make the pilgrimage," Giammarese said. "Each of the bands, on the bill tonight, have their own sound and bring back memories of good times and good people - it's appropriate to call that a blessing."

Salute to the '60s

When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29

Where: Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan

Tickets: $45 and $75; call (847) 358-9150 or go to