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On The Road with The Flamingos

By Published: January 5, 2008
Evening came and the club began to fill with couples who had come of age when the sounds of doo-wop could be heard on street corners, not from boom-boxes, but from fledgling a capella groups with their eyes on the big time. Frankie Valli, Dion, Danny and the Juniors, sounds of blackness in the white boroughs of the city. We got ready for show time. Opening our suit bags, I was greeted by an off-white tux (slightly yellowing) with huge lapels and black satin borders. It had probably been rented to a pimply faced kid to wear to the prom in 1955.

"You shoulda seen the shit we used to wear," said Glenn looking over the top of his glasses. "This is the new stuff."

We dressed in the "executive lounge" (the stall of the men's room), staying behind as the old timers had gone to the motel to get ready.

David materialized on cue already dressed, bass in hand, a new mystery woman at his side. Jake, E.J. and the Twins entered through alley entrance, waiting "backstage" until they made their grand entrance to the stage from the kitchen door. Glenn, David and I hit the bandstand for our opening set, basically killing time. That's how it was night after night: two or three tunes up front from the band, then it was all about the vocals and rightfully so: Jake, E.J. and the Twins could hold the room spellbound, their haunting harmonies taking people back to an era where in a time of innocence. The soundtrack was both safe yet mysterious. Jake held the bass; E.J. sang lead and the Twins harmonized like they had been there from the beginning. More than once I got the chills listening to them work their magic. It was an all encompassing sound: the emotion of gospel, the harmonies of Jazz, the soul of R&B.

Whether in a bar in Brooklyn, a casino in Vegas or at the county fairgrounds they had the aura of neon, art deco, drive-thru's, sleek automobiles and the early days of television...when all was well with the world, or so we thought.

To be continued...

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