Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Buckinghams Return to the Belfry Theatre!

Just about an hour’s drive from Chicago, this weekend you’ll have two chances to see The Buckinghams in concert at the historic Belfry Theatre, in the gorgeous Geneva Lakes area, October 1 and 2, 2021, starting at 7pm.

The theatre is filled with comfortable seats, it’s cozy yet the perfect way to come together for an evening of amazing music. Arrive early and enjoy one of the great restaurants in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. This is the fourth time The Buckinghams will appear here, one of their favorite venues to play.

Both Friday and Saturday Shows are almost sold out but as of this morning, for Friday, a choice few tickets remain, priced from $52 to $68. On Saturday, a few premier seats are available, as well as a few of the others. They’re expected to sell out before the weekend, so don’t procrastinate. Log on to their website for ticket info here.

The Belfry Music Theatre is located at 3601 State Hwy 67, Delavan, Wisconsin. It’s a historic theatre with a rich history. Recently restored, the theatre is now home to at least four shows a week that entertain audiences of all ages and music preferences. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy an evening with The Buckinghams this weekend! For directions or more info, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Six Degrees of Separation--From The Buckinghams to Kevin Bacon

What are the chances that one Buckinghams concert in 1968 would find itself relevant again in 2017? Relevant, that is, if you find it on the path of the string of people connected to the films of actor Kevin Bacon? Remember that game that “assumed that anyone involved in the Hollywood film industry can be linked through their film roles to Bacon within six steps”?

On August 11, 1968, Dennis Tufano and Carl Giammarese (Bacon number of 6), two of the founding members of the band, The Buckinghams (Bacon number of 5), were in the heyday of their musical careers as a beloved national act. The previous year, Billboard Magazine had named them "The Most Listened to Band in America." Photo top: Carl, Jon-Jon; bottom: Nick, Marty, and Dennis.

Now, The Buckinghams were booked to perform for one week, August 5-11, as the stage band in performances of “Sweet Charity” (Bacon number 4), the play that actress Shirley Maclaine (Bacon number 3) made famous nationwide.

The performance was at the Starlight Theatre, in Kansas City, Missouri, and the actress in this particular stage production was Patti Carr, but just assume for the sake of Bacon’s continuity that we are dealing with Shirley Maclaine.

From the ad, you can see that their performance was a coming attraction amidst stars performing in other shows including Kaye Stevens, Ethel Merman, Arthur Godfrey, and Vikki Carr. And, The Buckinghams were accepted by parents and teens alike when they crossed over to a popular show. Even though they had Beatle haircuts, they were considered sufficiently moderate to be "those nice, clean-cut boys" who play that pop music so nicely.

Carl remembered, “I know we were all so excited to be performing in a play that everyone in the country was talking about. My dad even took a day off of work to take the train from Chicago to Kansas City to see us one night. That was one of my proudest moments back then. I was just about to turn 21 years old, and it meant so much that he would travel to see us in that play.”

As part of the pre-show publicity, Dennis Tufano made a visit to the Metcalf Merchants Mall in Overland Park, KS, for their first birthday celebration. They had a one-hour autograph party wher people could meet The Buckinghams and be encouraged to drive over to the Starlight Theatre the next evenings. Back in the day organizations preplanned events together for cross-promotion well in advance of the actual concerts.

The performance was at the Starlight Theatre, today quite an icon among venues for its amazing outdoor setting.

The booking represented a fresh start for The Buckinghams to showcase their talents and set them apart from all the other popular bands of the 1960s, another bright move by Columbia Records to promote their recording artists. In the August 3, 1968, edition of Billboard Magazine, the promotions team ran an ad with the following claim:

“Twenty years ago, when Columbia introduced the LP, records were a $200,000,000/yr business. Today, they’re a $1,000,000,000/yr industry….Music itself has changed. The significance of lyrics. The new instrumentation. The full range of creative expression. Audiences have changed too. More and more people are listening to a wider variety of music than ever before. Because society’s changed. And the question many people ask is ‘Which has worked more influence upon the other, society or music’?”

Columbia was always thinking ahead, and their promotions and A&R department were clearly the best in the business, and we really were fortunate to be signed with them at the time pop music was at its peak. Of course, times would change again, but The Buckinghams were able to keep pace for 18 months longer. Other factors intervened and the band would go in a different direction in 1969.

For this shining moment, the connections were linked. In 2017, the movie “The Last Word,” the plot stars Shirley Maclaine. Maclaine plays (perfect casting) a somewhat crusty businesswoman, Harrier Lauler, who has attended the funerals of so many of her contemporaries and reading their obituaries in the newspaper infuriates her, as they describe a litany of accomplishments that are (she feels) far less than what she has done in her life. Maclaine walks into the local newspaper’s office and finds obituary writer, Anne Sherman, played by Amanda Seyfried (Bacon number 2). The movie is solid gold, between acting, plot, and nuances that it’s worth renting on Amazon Prime or even owning.

Freeze frame for just a minute and find another reason this magical pathway has relevance. The movie “The Last Word” has a scene where Amanda Seyfried is going through Shirley Maclaine's vinyl collection to select an album to play on the stereo [music and vinyl records are an important subplot] and Seyfried takes an overly long pause in the collection, long enough for the camera to focus on one album of special interest to fans of The Buckinghams (Bacon number 5):

You might be asking, “How did that happen?” It’s all about product placement in movies and one possible explanation for the subliminal sighting of the very first album by The Buckinghams on Columbia, “Time and Charges,” is possibly there because one of the film’s producers might just have a copy around her house. In fact, odds are strong she does.

Anne-Marie Mackay, one of the film’s producers (with a Bacon number 2), who also developed the project to bring it to film, married Dennis Tufano (Bacon number 6), founding member and former lead vocalist for The Buckinghams, in 2015 after many years together.

And, the beauty of producing a film is the right to hide such “Easter eggs” in the program for audiences to spy at their delight. But to be fair, the 60s band that received the most attention and accolades in the film is undeniably The Kinks, "the most underrated band of all time."

In the film industry, Ms. Mackay is renowned for "creating and overseeing the successes of Palomar Pictures (of which she is a cofounder) and Propaganda Films ($40MM in annual revenues by 1990 in just the music division); she's represented directors to the record industry and they've produced "hundreds of videos and concerts for artists including The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Tina Turner, Janet Jackson, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Michael Jackson" and more. She has been nominated for multiple Emmys and Grammys.

Anne-Marie and Dennis have a business together. And wouldn't they be very photogenic if they went in front of the cameras in a film project themselves? But that is still not the pathway to Kevin Bacon.

But wait, there's one more! In "The Last Word,” playing Ronald Odom, third generation heir of a family newspaper for whom Amanda Seyfried is the obituary editor. Scott, as most 60s fans will recall, played “Skitch,” the drummer in the Tom Hanks’ 1996 movie, “That Thing You Do,” that followed the path of the fictional band, The Oneders. In an interview years ago, Dennis Tufano said he heard The Buckinghams were one source of inspiration for Hanks creating the movie.

Really, it’s a generic “insert any successful 60s band here” format, except for the ease with which the band’s promoter, played by Hanks, inserts a new band member on “The Ed Sullivan Show” broadcast almost instantly, to make up for one who left the group virtually overnight to get married. That’s a little closer to home to The Oneders (pronounced Wonders) that The Buckinghams came than the others.

Before “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the original keyboardist (on all the USA Records, including “Kind of a Drag”) left the band to go to college and get married. Enter Marty Grebb (after one other brief substitution) and you had national success because of the formula. Someone would have to ask Tom Hanks, but that is still not the path to the final step, Kevin Bacon. Give up?

In 2020 Amanda Seyfried, aka (Bacon number 2), filmed “You Should Have Left,” described as a “psychological horror film,” together with…and here we are: (Bacon number 1) Kevin Bacon. It’s an interesting journey from Carl and Dennis to Kevin Bacon, but it appears as a "close enough to be correct" six-step pathway. And there you have it!

Now, maybe you can take a few minutes and see how you might connect to Kevin Bacon. You might very likely only six steps away! And....go!

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Last-Minute Discount Tickets as Birthday Gift for Dick Biondi Bash!

If you’ve been on the fence about being able to attend Sunday’s great 89th Birthday Bash for Dick Biondi, Chicagoland’s beloved Radio Hall of Fame and Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame DJ, you’re in luck. The Arcada Theatre is where you want to be at 2pm Sunday, Sept. 19th because that’s when the big show begins!

Get your $49 SALE tickets here!

Pam Pulice, Director of “The Dick Biondi” Film shared, “Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we have a limited amount of $49 seats to Dick Biondi’s Big 89 Birthday Bash! 9 Bands, 1 Show.” She urges, “Get your tickets while they last.”

Naturally The Buckinghams will be one of the nine bands appearing, and their drummer Rocky Penn and guitarist Dave Zane will back Felix Cavaliere, thereby becoming temporary Rascals.

The show lineup also features The Ides of March, the New Colony 6, The Cave Dwellers, Rosie & the Rivets, Hot Rocks Rolling Stones Tribute, Jimy Sohns of The Shadows of Knight, and Hall of Fame Blues Drummer Merle Perkins.

These bands and musicians are sponsored to appear by tremendous Chicagoland businesses and the greatest host of all, Ron Onesti, to raise funds for Pam Pulice to at last complete the final phases of the documentary she began as a tribute to Dick.

Although Biondi has not been able to appear at public appearances in quite some time and won’t be there on Sunday, but there will be a GIANT birthday card that everyone can sign that will find its way to Dick. Join cohosts Ron Onesti and Scott Mackay (95.9, The River). Read Ron’s personal, heartfelt outlook on what this day means to him and why he’s hosting: Click here.

Photo of Ron Onesti, Frankie Avalon, and Dick Biondi courtesy of Pam Pulice from the Daily Herald:

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Official Video Debut of “Little Something” by Carl Giammarese & Lisa McClowry

From the simplest sounds of a solo guitar can come the most powerful of unforgettable songs that stay on your mind long after you’ve heard them in the car, on your phone, or on other electronic delivery means. Just hearing two voices seemingly made to blend together can easily send the listener into creative mode, envisioning the scenes being sung about and adopting the mood that is conveyed by sterling lyrics.

Such is the song, “Little Something,” cowritten by Sting and Dominic Miller. Today marks the release of the Official Video of the song as performed by Chicago-based singer/songwriter Carl Giammarese and Chicago native, Lisa McClowry. Despite the scenes portrayed in the video, the duo was never in person during the making of the song, or of the official video.

However, the “together from far away” method of song and video production, today, is almost routine procedure that artists have taken to share music and be creative during the safe, sure, and confining times of the global pandemic of COVID-19. Fortunately for Carl and Lisa, Greg Bizarro of Jaffe Films was the “third talent” behind the scenes, who created the finished video. The perspective shows the duo together in all the scenes of “movie magic.”

It should be noted, though, that the original version of the song was done by Sting and Melody Gardot in exactly the same way—from two different venues altogether. Melody was in Paris fulfilling her final work on an album. She reached out to several star musicians in Paris who she knew were not working their usual schedules yet, to record the music, in a separate setting of their own, an unexpected blessing for the talented professionals waiting to catch a break.

In the magazine Soul & Jazz & Funk, journalist Charles Waring describes Melody Gardot’s voice as “instantly recognizable,” fitting into the distinctive group of Astrud Gilberto and Sarah Vaughn. Said Gardot of the "working at a distance" process: "Up until that point (when producer Jen Jis brought her Sting's track), I had never met Sting; we only met through the music. It’s quite funny, but beautiful in a way to work like this; all that mattered was the music.” The blend of Gardot and Sting seems made for each other, as does the pairing of McClowry with Giammarese.

It’s all about the blend, and clearly these artists have that same sound, in sync with the right feeling for the song. Carl has been a longtime fan of duos such as Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, Pink with Nate Ruess, and as he says, “anything Tony Bennett did with Lady Gaga.”

A quick listen to a few of these songs readily identifies why we resonate as listeners when two singers blend perfectly:

Marvin & Tammi — “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (written by Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson)

Pink ft. Nate Ruess —“Just Give Me a Reason” (written by Pink, Nate Ruess, * Jeff Bhasker)

Steve & Eydie —“This Could Be The Start of Something Big” (written by Steve Allen)

The song by Carl & Lisa, “Little Something” is the second pairing for the singers. In May this year, they released their remake of the first hit by The Buckinghams on Columbia Records, “Don’t You Care” (watch below)

Lisa has just returned from an extensive tour series with an ensemble group she’s performed with for several years. Carl is only now back on the road again leading The Buckinghams on a new concert tour, the first to emerge after proper planning made it possible to tour again under socially safe conditions and constraints. Music is making its way back into the forefront of entertainment for everyone. In the meantime, enjoy a “Little Something” from Lisa McClowry and Carl Giammarese.

Next Story Coming Soon — The Residual Singers

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Happy Birthday, Dennis Tufano

A Special Message from Carl:

“Today, all of The Buckinghams wish a very special birthday to founding member and original lead singer, Dennis Tufano. But today especially, I’m remembering all the birthdays we celebrated together in the early days, mostly while on the road. Our schedules were so busy it’s not like we could take our special night off. In fact, as I recall, we spent more holidays on the road away from home and families, particularly from 1966-1968 when we were booked for 300 dates a year."

"On August 31, at the actual ceremony for the Inaugural Class at the Rialto Theatre in Joliet, IL, Dennis represented The Buckinghams in accepting the award for our being inducted into the Illinois Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was hard to miss joining him for the event as we were performing in Hillside, IL, that night."

Continuing, he said, "Harder still, though, was it to realize that Jon-Jon and Marty were not present with us physically, but were there in spirit. As Dennis pointed out, they are always with us in our hearts. It’s a profound time for all of us, as we keep celebrating these birthdays. While we still feel very young in our hearts, those of us here continue to give thanks for every day of good health. Still, we have our memories."

After The Buckinghams broke up in 1970, Carl and Dennis joined forces and became a duo, aptly titled “Dennis and Carl”…easy to remember, easy to spell. They wrote songs together and they were strongly encouraged to pursue their performing and recording talents. They played acoustic guitars, had a soft, folk rock sound, and their voices blended well.

Former Buckinghams tour manager Peter Shelton and Bonnie Herman, his wife at the time, helped produce some preliminary demo tracks in hopes of finding them a label to produce an album for Dennis and Carl. That early belief in their talents as individuals and duos was so important back then. Peter, an accomplished photographer, even took promo photos of “Dennis and Carl.”

The duo had a close resemblance to brothers, as photos show. Except that Dennis would be the brother who could grow facial hair (His 5 o'clock shadow would arrive at 2 pm, and Carl couldn't buy chin stubble if he tried). It was also in the heyday of long hair, and while Dennis' grew in length, Carl's grew in height and width.

Above 4 photos and video below by Peter Shelton

During Peter’s retirement years, he returned to the UK and made this video of one of their early tracks along with b/w photographs that he took of the duo back then. Peter Shelton wrote several books, including “Rock-n-Roll Fever.”

When John Poulos got the duo a deal with Lou Adler’s Ode Records, the Grammy-winning producer rebranded the duo as “Tufano & Giammarese” (because it was so Easy to remember? Easy to spell? Easy to pronounce? One of those!) and the duo recorded three albums that were released.

The front and back covers are mirror images as a clever statement. One possible concept for this cover was to capture a similar vibe for Emerson, Lake, & Palmer's 1972 "Trilogy" album.

Sample songs that were popular at the time include: "Here We Are," written by Dennis Tufano

"Communicate," written by Dennis Tufano

"You're the One," written by Carl Giammarese

Dennis and Carl, renamed Tufano & Giammarese, performed on several tours, including opening for soft rock favorites, Bread, then the...unique pairing of Cheech and Chong...and then, they had one of the best and most synchronous pairings as the opening act for the R&B-heavy show band, The MOB. Two of the primary members of The MOB were, in fact, James Holvay and Gary Beisbier, wrote or cowrote six of The Buckinghams' songs that charted first in Chicago, then nationally. For one night only, May 22, 1976, that was history in the making at the club called B. Ginnings, a popular venue in Schaumburg at the time. By 1977, Dennis and Carl would eventually go their own ways to pursue different goals.

Dennis’ songwriting talents continued beyond Tufano & Giammarese. As just one example, he was a cowriter on many songs with Bernie Taupin and others on Bernie’s 1980 release, “He Who Rides The Tiger,” which can be found on YouTube. Watch at the link below:

Today, Dennis continues touring, and his schedule can be found on his official Facebook fan page here:

https://www.facebook.com/Dennistufanosings and on a website especially for fans at: https://www.tufanofans.com

Happy birthday, Dennis, and best wishes for the year ahead.

The Buckinghams Invite You to Support The Dick Biondi Birthday Bash!

On Sunday, September 19, you’re invited to Ron Onesti’s Arcada Theatre, in St. Charles, IL, for an unforgettable special event, all in celebration of Dick Biondi’s 89th birthday. The nationally recognized DJ was on WLS-AM 890 back in the days when Chicago groups were coming to national prominence thanks to 50,000 Watts of broadcast power and the power of his outstanding promotion and that of station executives.

Filmmaker Pam Pulice, founder of The Dick Biondi Documentary, close to completion, is supporting the event, together with host Ron Onesti at the historic Arcada Theatre. Several nationally acclaimed and Chicagoland musicians from our historic concert lineup over the past six decades will be present. Some groups will be participating in a bonus VIP experience as well.

Unfortunately, The Buckinghams will not be able to be part of the VIP experience for this event, so please purchase your VIP tickets for others who indicate they will be present at 12-2 pm, but The Buckinghams are not. They will, however, be part of the full concert experience that begins at 2pm.

To check out Bruce August’s promo video click here (not the image above):

On the performing bill are:

The Buckinghams

The Ides of March

New Colony 6

Jimy Sohns of The Shadows of Knight

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals

Rosie & The Rivets

Hall of Fame Drummer Merle Perkins

Tickets are selling well, so don't delay to get yours today. Click this link here for more info and tickets.

As always thanks to all of you who have supported this film project in the past and we welcome you to help Pam reach her goal to be able to complete the final stages of licensing and clearances for broadcast and distribution.

Happy Birthday, Dennis Tufano!

Photo courtesy of Jack Mongan

Today, all of The Buckinghams wish a very special birthday to founding member and original lead singer, Dennis Tufano. From the beginning of the band in 1965, they ultimately celebrated several birthdays together, mostly while on the road. Their schedules were so busy it’s not like they could take their special night off just because it was their birthday.

The first performances of The Buckinghams found them in matching suits, mostly acquired from "A Man at Ease" and other Chicago favorite men's stores, with Carl Bonafede working great deals for the band to advertise their couturie:

These gold dinner jackets...stylin' and profilin' to be sure, even matched the liner curtains around the stage. At the time, it was true. The matching blue-grey suits were a little more coordinated.

At that time, having "the look" was just as important as having a sound. Suits made the man, as they say, and their hair was just about to be reshaped from the greaser looks of the 60s to the Beatles' styles, courtesy of Nick Fortuna, who went to beauty school after high school, learning to be a barber (the fall-back job in case music didn't work out). Dennis had taken commercial art classes as well.

In the best days of The Buckinghams, they were known for some of the best-looking matching suits. One of their outfits came from the MGM wardrobe group. Perhaps this inspired Dennis to use his strong art talents to design other suits for the band. Ultimately, the suits Dennis designed were the most frequently photographed for PR purposes by Columbia Records.

It was one of those suits that Dennis had saved back and it made a special appearance at the Hall of Fame. Jack Mongan's photo of Dennis and the suit coat, which he donated to the Illinois Rock & Roll Museum in Joliet, Illinois, shows part of the culmination of Ron Romero's dream of many years coming to fruition thanks to numerous sponsors and enthusiastic music fans across the state and nationally. As the museum is nearing construction completion, the event took place at Joliet's beautiful Rialto Square Theatre.

The night of the induction ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jack Mongan took some exceptional photos, which he generously shared:

The Buckinghams were well represented that evening for the inauguration of the first class in the Illinois Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

To express personal messages, reach out to Dennis on his fanpage on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Dennistufanosings. For more information on his touring schedule, check out his official fan website at: https://www.tufanofans.com Happy birthday, Dennis!

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