Weekender

Centre County musicians to cruise on stage with the oldies

Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band will perform at “Crusin’ Classics.”
Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band will perform at “Crusin’ Classics.” Photos provided

Following the Last Cruise Car show on Allen Street, downtown State College will host another throwback event, presented by The Last Cruise, WOWY FM and The State Theatre. “Cruisin’ Classics: Music from the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s,” will feature local musicians paying tribute to some of the greatest radio hits from past decades. Ramalama, a Central Pa. doo-wop group, will kick of the Cruisin’ Classics concert July 31 at The State Theatre.

Other oldies style groups will follow, including Centre Region musical legend Tommy Wareham and the Intrigues, performing music from the 1950s and 1960s. Wareham has been entertaining audiences of all ages in Centre County for 25 years.

Following Wareham will be Your Dads Friends, a popular car cruise oldies group performing music from the late ’60s to ’70s. The show will be topped off horn-powered powerhouse group Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band, which performs hits from the ’70s and ’80s.

A portion of the proceeds from the show will be given to the Centre County Youth Services Bureau. Tickets will be available at the door.

Ramalama will perform songs such as “Oh Gee,” a doo-wop classic done by the by the Crows in 1954; the always popular “Blue Moon,” done by the Marcels in 1961, “Ramalama Ding Dong,” by the Edsels and doo-wop classics like “In the Still of the Night” and “At the Hop,” plus more.

The group is comprised of Tom Wilson, Jeff Brown, John Zimmerman, Luke Lorenz, Eric McGinnis and Lisa Lense. Ramalama has only been performing for the past year, but has been involved with performances during State College First Night, The fundraiser for the Palmer Museum of Art, Summers Best Music Fest and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, just to name a few.

Wilson, who is the mayor of Bellefonte, grew up with the music from the ’50s and ’60s, the golden era of rock ’n’ roll. He has played in bands and has sung in groups most of his life. During the early ’80s he became a member of an a capella doo-wop group formed out of a Free U class at Penn State.

“The name of the group was Doo-Wop Inc. and we performed all over the state and locally at bars, corporate parties and festivals,” Wilson said. “About two years ago I decided to try and form a new group as all of the old members had moved to various locations around the country.”

Wilson approached The State Theatre about the idea of doing an oldies show. They picked the date to tie in with an annual event, The Last Cruise, the long standing State College car show.

“We wanted to cover a nice stretch of oldies, so we invited three other bands to join in the effort,” Wilson said.

Your Dad’s Friends started in 2002 and is now in its 15th year of playing music together. YDF band members include Rick Herbster on guitar and vocals, Don Bedell on bass and vocals, Roger Corey on keyboards and vocals and Dave DeCapria on drums and vocals.

Your Dad’s Friends played its first show in July 2002 at a Relay for Life event in Martinsburg. The band has played shows everywhere in central and western Pa., including several in Centre and Blair counties.

“There aren’t many bands out there playing music from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s anymore,” Bedell said. “We’re proud to be part of this lineup of great bands bringing back the music of the golden age of rock ’n’ roll.”

Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band are a nine-piece band with a four-piece horn section and the dynamic female lead singer, Jackie Brown. The group started as “The Hounds of Soul” when its then lead vocalist, Sherri Orlofsky approached bassist Mike Siggins and a few other people about putting together a soul, funk and Motown style band.

“We started as a small nucleus of drums, bass, keyboards and vocals and then quickly added a horn section,” Siggins said. “When Sherri left the group we auditioned for a replacement and found Jackie Brown. It was at that time that we changed the name of the band to Jackie Brown & the Gill Street Band.”

The band will cover songs by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder and more.

“We play tunes that they haven’t heard in a long time but really like, and we also notice that young people not only like the music but know it as well,” Siggins said. “Since most of what we play was popular about 20 years before they were born, it’s refreshing to know that these songs still mean something to new generations.”

“People love to hear music that takes them back to their younger days,” Bedell said. “People come up to us all the time after shows telling us how much they enjoy hearing music from their younger days. We’re looking forward to sharing the stage with three other great bands and taking people back in time — just for a few hours!”

“The people love the doo-wop era oldies as it takes them back to a simpler time in their youth — the days of sock hops, young love, fast cars and hot summer nights,” Wilson said. “We hope you all will join in the fun and sit back or dance to the tunes of a bygone time.”

The Last Cruise Car Show will be held 1-4:30 p.m. July 31 on Allen Street.

IF YOU GO

  • What: “Cruisin’ Classics: Music from the ’50s, ’60s & ’70s”
  • When: 6 p.m. July 31
  • Where: The State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College
  • Info: www.thestatetheatre .org
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