The seats in H Ric. Luhrs Performing Arts Center were packed to capacity Friday night. The reason? Fans sat buzzing in their seats with anticipation to listen to classic pop music displayed by the performances of Jay and the Americans, The Happenings and Dennis Tufano.
The evening’s soundtrack reeked of the 1960s, a particular sound of music backup singer Sandy Deanne of Jay and the Americans said “kept him young.”
The first pop group, The Happenings, opened the show with a powerful presence. A pop music group formed in the 1960s, hailing from Paterson, New Jersey, The Happenings is comprised of Bob Miranda, George Rizzi, Bob Kulik and Bob Payne. The group sang hits like “See You in September,” “Til” and other hits they described on their website as worldwide favorites.
With its tremendous energy and powerful synchronicity, The Happenings sang “God Bless the USA,” a tribute song to the veterans attending the show. The ending song earned the pop group a standing ovation and applause that followed them off the stage.
Dennis Tufano is the original lead singer for the 1960’s rock group The Buckinghams. Since the 1980s, Tufano has been performing solo. On Friday, he performed many hits of Bobby Darrin such as “Dream Lover” and “Beyond the Sea” with vocals that echoed the classical voice of the original singer. Tufano also had a charismatic stage presence, resembling the dancing style of a young James Brown.
When Jay and the Americans took the stage, they were sporting matching leather blazers, red slacks and red shoes. Jay and the Americans is an American pop group founded in late 1950s and held together by three original band members: Howie Kane, Marty Sanders and Sandy Deanne. The fourth member and the newest Jay of Jay and the Americans, Jay Reincke, is the third Jay to sing lead vocals for the pop group.
The band frequently acknowledges the newest Jay as “Jay #3” and refers to him as the best of the three Jays. Marty Sanders performed backup vocals and played acoustic guitar, while Howie Kane and Sandy Deanne assisted with cymbals and backup vocals. They performed many of their top hits, such as “Cara Mia,” “She Cried,” and “Up and Over.” The band also covered iconic songs of the time like “Pretty Woman” and “Splish Splash.”
“We were born at the best time in music,” Deanne said to the audience Friday night, which responded with cheering applause.
The event on Friday drew a crowd with its timeless appeal. The three acts together on one stage shows the long lasting appeal of pop music from the ’60s and ’70s.
Each opening show had the help of The USA Band, a musical ensemble including a three-piece horn section, drums, bass, guitar and electric piano. Friday night’s lineup of pop musicians brought a taste of the 1960s to the campus of Shippensburg University, and the fanbase of this group does not seem to be diminished by any means.