Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Jim Peterik and Carl Giammarese Unplugged at the Genesee Theatre - Two New Videos

With everyone ready to return to entertainment as part of their "normal" lives each weekend in Chicago, the Genesee Street Cabaret offered trial programming to gauge the popularity of a safe, new way to enjoy live music. On May 1, 2021, they'd planned for a 6pm show for audiences to enjoy an acoustic evening with two classic rock favorites, Jim Peterik and Carl Giammarese, who are multifaceted professionals.

Peterik, of course, is a founding member of The Ides of March, a talented songwriter, as well as a jingle composer. His 1970 song, “Vehicle” found its way up to #2 on the Billboard charts as just one example.

Jim continues to be the pride of Berwyn, where he grew up. Beyond their legendary band of guys (The Ides) who’ve been as close as brothers through the years, Jim has also achieved national distinction and acclaim. He cowrote songs such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “High on You” with Frankie Sullivan for the band Survivor and “Hold on Loosely” with Don Barnes and Jeff Carlisi for 38 Special. Those are just a few of his hits.

Peterik has performed these songs in concert with these bands as well as in concert in his other musical collaborations. Jim is also noted for finding and showcasing new talent for audiences in presentations such as Pride of Lions, a “melodic rock” band; Jim Peterik’s Lifeforce, a “smooth-jazz project” and “an all-star cast” as World Stage.

Giammarese is a founding member of The Buckinghams, who broke out of Chicago basements into the #1 spot of the Billboard charts with “Kind of a Drag,” written by Chicago native, James Holvay. Holvay would go on to find national acclaim with his band “The MOB” and his compositions with Gary Beisbier would help propel The Buckinghams into positions as Billboard's "Most Listened to Band in America" for 1967. Similarly, they were named "Most Promising Vocal Group of 1967" by CashBox Magazine. Songs and their arrangements are the means by which a good musical group becomes a legendary musical icon.

After the first version of The Buckinghams concluded after reigning at the top of the Billboard charts, 1965–1970 they’d amassed 15 singles, 8 albums, and songs that are still in demand in concert today. For four decades since reforming, The Buckinghams continue to expand their national presence on tours including the Happy Together Tour, the Flower Power Cruise, Concerts at Sea, and other package shows. Meanwhile, contemporary band members are woodshedding in their garages or basements, hoping to get a song on the radio. The competition for audiences is tough today, and classic rock will draw a crowd, even when younger audiences seem to be following a different interest path. You'll often find three generations of fans.

From 1970-1977, Carl Giammarese and Dennis Tufano, former lead singer of The Buckinghams, were a contemporary rock duo, hoping to catch the same wind of good fortune as other duos, such as Simon and Garfunkel, Loggins & Messina, England Dan & John Ford Coley, or Seals & Crofts, but it was not to be. After 3 albums, the duo went their own ways.

In 1982, after 2 years of successful, occasional reunion concerts with Tufano, two founding members of The Buckinghams, Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna, hired three great musicians and have been touring nonstop for 39 years now, bringing classic rock to audiences with the same joy for performing that Jim Peterik and team have.

Today, the Ides of March continue with Jim Peterik, Guitar; Larry Millas, Guitar; Bob Bergland, Bass; and Mike Borch, Drums — the originals have remained together plus Scott May, Keyboards; Tim Bales, Trumpet; Henry Salgado, Trombone; and Steve Eisen, Saxophone.

Chicago folks can recite all this history by heart of course, but when you put these two performers onstage, their experience and versatility become magic when mixed together. They often perform concerts together, each with their full bands.

But thanks to COVID-19, all full-band events went on hiatus for over a year and are finally opening back up at a very gradual pace. A wise producer saw the success of unplugged concerts, with the principal voices coming together for a wonderful acoustic evening of stories and songs, first presented as two separate acts and then joining together at the end for a rousing encore. A stage-based slideshow by John Dykas complimented the stories the singers told.

Carl was most ably accompanied by longtime Buckinghams’ keyboardist Bruce Soboroff and Jim was accompanied by skilled multi-instrumentalist, Colin Peterik. Chicago music writer and reviewer Kent Kotal noted “great trade-off vocals between Carl and Jim), on “Kind of a Drag,” “Eye of the Tiger,” and “Vehicle.” He also said “’Susan,’ my all-time favorite song by The Bucks….and quite a complicated one at that when it comes to effects and vocals sounded great, even in its stripped down form.”

Kotal added: "I got the impression that Carl and Jim may do a few more of these “up close and personal” shows in the future … (I swear, Peterik would put every bit as much effort into performing a private show for two in your living room … the guy just LIVES to entertain!)" To read Kent Kotal’s full review, visit here.

The Genesee Street Cabaret has proved to be an innovative new venue, perfect for welcoming small crowds to allow social distancing. When the 6pm May 1 show with Peterik and Giammarese was announced, it sold out the first day. A second show at 8:30pm was added and promptly sold out as well. If you missed their first concert evening, perhaps more will be added in the future.

In the meantime, here are two YouTubes to enjoy from their performances that night. They are great arrangements and two songs you might never have guessed you’d hear this way. Thanks to John Dykas for graphics and video contributions.

First, here is "Eye of the Tiger" with dual voices and guitars by Jim and Carl, with Colin Peterik on keys.

And here are Carl and Jim on "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" with Bruce Soboroff on keys.

As much as we love our classic rock songs the way we first heard them on the radio, it is also wonderful to hear them in new ways as envisioned by those who love the songs the most. Stay tuned to social media to learn if new intimate gatherings concerts are being scheduled.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

New Official Video from Carl Giammarese & Lisa McClowry -- Don't You Care

Are you ready for the brand new video to the Buckinghams' classic hit, "Don't You Care"? Thanks to writer Kent Kotal for his premiere of the video early this morning in his Forgotten Hits blog, subscribers saw this video of Carl Giammarese and Lisa McClowry performing a new take on the 1967 hit song. The single, written by James Holvay and Gary Beisbier, was released across all digital streaming services last week.

Initial response has been very enthusiastic. If you like what you see and hear, please consider clicking Like, directly on the YouTube video itself, and if you'd like to add a comment with your opinion, please leave that comment directly on the YouTube video as well so Carl and Lisa can see them.

For more on Lisa McClowry, please visit her official website or follow her on Facebook here.

Special thanks to the following individuals, involved in production across the miles:

Carl Giammarese & Lisa McClowry perform “Don’t You Care” (OFFICIAL VIDEO) Writers: James Holvay/Gary Beisbier

Spirit Publishing

Arranger & Producer: Lisa McClowry

Mixing: Lavant Coppock

Guitar: Mike Aquino

Cover Art: Tom Scheckel, Bugaloo Design

Publicity: Dawn Lee Wakefield, TCV Media

Video Colorist: Greg Bizzaro, Jaffe Films

If you'd like to add this single to your music library, you can purchase on Apple Music, iTunes, or from any of the digital download streaming services, wherever you listen, including Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, Deezer, and many other music services.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Happy Together Tour 2021 includes The Buckinghams in Four Concerts

Since the 2020 Happy Together Tour had to be put on hold for COVID-19 safety precautions, audiences are doubly ready for the popular concert tour to once again return to many of the towns where they were in 2019.

The Buckinghams were slated to join the tour on four concerts in 2020, so they are slated to appear on those same four concerts in 2021. The primary artists this year are The Turtles (Mark Volman and Ron Dante), The Cowsills, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, The Vogues, The Association, The Classics IV, and on all the concerts except the ones The Buckinghams are on, the great Chuck Negron is appearing.

Mark Lindsay announced earlier this Spring that he is taking the summer of 2021 off to rest, as touring schedules can be pretty rough.

One of the best resources you can find for the full roster of concert dates and tickets is frequently Ticketmaster.

Checking this link, you’ll see that the summer tour begins on July 18 in Costa Mesa, CA and goes on to Connecticut, Tennessee, the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, Michigan, Missouri, Effingham, IL, two dates in Colorado, South Dakota, Florida, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New Hampshire.

You can often get tickets from the venue themselves, so here are the venues where you will hear Carl and Nick (remember the Happy Together Tour has the same band for all acts. Click the links for ticket information.

July 30, 2021 Palace Theatre Greensburg, PA

Aug. 7, 2021 Genesee Theatre Waukegan, IL

Aug. 27, 2021 Paramount Theatre Denver, CO

Aug. 28, 2021 Amphitheater at Las Colonias Park Grand Junction, CO

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Carl Giammarese and Lisa McClowry Debut New Version of Buckinghams’ Classic

Music lovers don’t always have time to reflect on this, but if they have fallen in love to, or with, a song, chances are good that all over the country, thousands of others have too. In the spring and summer of love, 1967, songs by The Buckinghams filled the airwaves and the Billboard charts. The renewal of Classic Rock via package tour vehicles such as Happy Together, Flower Power Cruises, Concerts at Sea, and others have kept the bands playing their signature hits all these years as well.

As of 2021, “Don’t You Care” has been heard all over the world regularly since 1967, over 2,000,000 times. Every teenager listening to 50,000 Watts of power broadcast from superstations to their transistor radios across the country has heard this one song that many times…in the past 54 years.

Thanks to Chicago-born vocalist and guitarist (and founding member of The Buckinghams) Carl Giammarese and Lisa McClowry, the popular versatile vocalist whose talents range from power-driven 80s ballads to sultry 60s song stylings, there’s a new version of “Don’t You Care” that is already generating quite a buzz among those who have loved the song for years!

The pair had known each other for years, but as Carl said, “I’d admired her beautiful voice more from a distance.” Mutual friends had recently been encouraging the two to combine their gifts on a song together and out of the blue, an opportunity arose.

Carl had been writing several new songs during the stay-at-home pandemic we’ve all been on. He had one song in mind that he suggested would be a cool duet, but Lisa shared that a different arrangement of “Don’t You Care” had been on her mind. She had a new arrangement in mind. Trusting that, Carl agreed, and Lisa introduced acoustic guitarist Mike Aquino’s great playing to serve as backing.

The track came together quickly, and the pair had an instant blend that usually only comes with longevity as a duo. Rave reviews are already being shared with Giammarese and McClowry. Who knows? There could well be more where this song came from. Carl said, “Lisa is quite the gifted professional.” As you hear the song, it will sound like they’ve been singing together for many years.

The Giammarese/McClowry duet is now out for digital streaming and downloads. If you’d like to hear it on Spotify, click here: https://open.spotify.com/album/5qjyQDX5ztdRdx3Uew06EU?si=8OFrHNiMTOS9wFqlPAQ4gA&nd=1

If you’d like to hear it on Pandora, click here: https://open.spotify.com/album/5qjyQDX5ztdRdx3Uew06EU?si=8OFrHNiMTOS9wFqlPAQ4gA&nd=1

Please share your feedback (Follow, Heart, Like) wherever you listen on digital streaming, and perhaps share this story to tell your friends about how everything old is new again! Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Join The Buckinghams in Sending Prayers and Love to Archie Bell

Who doesn’t know and love the 1968 hit “Tighten Up,” made famous by Houston, Texas, native Archie Bell? Together with his band, The Drells, the look and sound of the popular R&B group gave American teenagers a chance to dance and move along to the groove they shared in their songs.

A special announcement was made today on Sirius/XM 60s on 6 channel today that just a few weeks ago, Archie Bell had suffered a light stroke and has an excellent prognosis for recovery. Presently Archie is back in the hospital again from a small infection but he needs to be there a while longer.

Throughout the day, Sirius/XM 60s on 6 channel Deejays shared their best wishes, beginning with morning man, Phlash Phelps, and continuing with Dave Hoeffel, Pat St. John, and Shotgun Tom Kelly tonight: Archie would LOVE to hear from his fans. So let's join them, shall we?

Longtime Buckinghams friend and fan Phyllis Spizziri also shared a Facebook post that carried the message from Archie’s friend Randy Overton, Archie's longtime manager and friend since 1973, that anyone who’d like to send get-well wishes and prayers for a fast healing and recovery should do so c/o:

Mr. Archie Bell

P.O. Box 24334

Houston, Texas 77229

Word is spreading quickly. Imagine the joy that a mail bag full of your messages of thanks for the music and prayers will mean to our longtime friend who we enjoyed performing alongside in the late 60s when we did package tour shows!

Back in 2006, Bell told Greg Beets in an interview in the Austin Chronicle that the song America fell in love with “was recorded in Houston with the Texas Southern University Tornadoes, an instrumental soul band” before he was drafted into the U.S. Army.

The song went gold while Archie was in a military hospital in Germany recovering from an accident! After he completed his service, the Philadelphia hit team of Gamble and Huff signed him and made sure there were several follow-up hits to his career.

Of course, Buckinghams fans love Nick Fortuna singing “Domino” and in the middle of the song, Carl Giammarese playing the beloved bass line on “Tighten Up,” and the rest of the band joins in.

Please join Carl Giammarese, Nick Fortuna and the entire Buckinghams’ extended family in sending love and prayers for a complete healing and fast recovery to Mr. Archie Bell. Fill his mailbox with your kind memories of all his songs.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Celebrating Our Nick Fortuna Through The Years – Happy Birthday!

When Nick Fortuna was in high school in Chicago, life in the 1960s was pretty much standard. Guys wore blue jeans and t-shirts and worked about 30 minutes to get their hair just right. Shades of “Happy Days,” right? Well, not exactly. You were known by what side of town you were from, what your neighborhood was, where you went to high school, and what kind of music you liked.

So, looking at the 1963 photo above, how long did it take you to find Nick Fortuna? Not too much has changed, except the biceps, from back in the day at Niles West High School.

In the early 1960s, you’d find a little of everything on the airwaves of WLS-AM and WCFL-AM Radio stations and on WGN-TV. And, in February 1964, when The Beatles landed in America, everything changed. Every teenage guy wanted to play in a band, or have a band, or be seen in a band—one of those—that was having just as much fun making music as The Beatles were having back then.

Here's Nick in his first band, The Centuries, having been invited by Carl's cousin, Gerald Elarde, to join him and Gerald's friend, Curtis Bachman, and Carl, ca. 1963/1964. Originally, they were known as The Kingsmen, and they were managed by the one and only Screamin' Wildman himself, Carl Bonafede, but that's another story for another time.

There was one band, among several competing bands that played the various teen hops and ballrooms in the day, and they were known as The Pulsations. Curtis Bachman was invited to join them, so that left The Centuries needing a bass player, so Nick went from guitar to bass. He'd only been playing bass a little while when The Pulsations (John Poulos, Dennis Tufano, and others) invited Carl to play guitar with them. As life turned out, that ended The Centuries, but Gerald went on to have a lifelong career performing music in Chicago. Eventually when Curtis Bachman left The Pulsations for a rock band with a harder sound beyond The Beatles, Carl suggested Nick to John Poulos. He and Dennis and original lead singer, George LeGros, agreed. By week 4 of "All Time Hits" Nick was a Pulsation, for about one minute.

At first The Pulsations had this look:

The show's producers decided they wanted a band name for their group that sounded more British. John Opager, a security guard at WGN suggested several names to the guys and they chose The Buckinghams. However, The first thing The Buckinghams needed to do was to transform their “greaser looks” of having all their hair piled on top of their heads to the simple mop-top look of The Beatles.

The band lucked out because after Nick had graduated from high school, his parents encouraged him (strongly) to learn a trade just in case “this music thing didn’t work out”), so he went to beauty school and became a licensed barber in between playing music.

He cut all the guys’ hair for them so they didn’t have the hassle of trying to maintain that Liverpool look while on the road. Never asked him whether they tipped him or not for doing such a great job on their hair. What do you think they did?

Now jump forward to 1985, and the nation was being rocked by a conglomeration of bands known as The Happy Together Tour.

On the Happy Together Tour in 1985, it’s hard to say who had the longest hair but we know the answer today.

In the soon-to-be-completed “Dick Biondi Film,” the documentary created and directed by Pam Pulice has a great segment with Nick talking about Chicago’s most beloved DJ, Dick Biondi (aka “The Wild Itralian”).

As of early July, you will be able to see Nick and the rest of the band in person as live concerts are “almost back” for good. Stay tuned to Facebook Events for The Buckinghams or visit their website at www.thebuckinghams.com/schedule

Feel free to wish Nick a happy birthday in the Comments section of this post.