The word “Vintage” has become ubiquitous. Traced to its origin, in wine culture, it refers to a specific time and place where a high-quality wine was born, but the word’s use has expanded far beyond the cask, bottle and glass. In Music, for example. One of the greatest “Vintages” was 1965 to 1970 in Chicago, Illinois, where 5 groups wrote and recorded indelible hits that remain Gold standards all over the planet. The Buckinghams, the Cryan’ Shames, the Ides Of March, the Shadows of Knight and the New Colony Six each distilled the wide variety of emerging and classic styles of the era into unique voices as vibrant and diverse as the Windy City itself.
The Cornerstones Of Rock show features the core members of these groups performing the songs first heard on WLS and WCFL, Chicago’s powerhouse radio stations. The popularity of these tunes spread quickly throughout the U.S., becoming “forever favorites” for millions.
The Buckinghams’ string of hits began in 1966 with “Kind Of A Drag”, followed closely by “Don’t You Care”. Continuing with “Mercy Mercy Mercy” and “Hey Baby They’re Playing Our Song”, their Gold Record run earned the Bucks multiple national TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand. By the time “Susan” topped the charts, their legacy was secure. Original members CARL GIAMMARESE and NICK FORTUNA bring these hits and more to the Cornerstone Stage.
The Cryan’ Shames cheerful 1966 debut “Sugar And Spice” was as infectious a pop nugget as could be, but beneath the confection, a deeper tone emerged. Adept at casting sophisticated arrangements as easy-to-dig pop songs, “I Wanna Meet You” and “It Could Be We’re In Love” hit the spot for music lovers everywhere. When asked which version of her immortal “Up On The Roof” was her favorite, Carole King replied “The Cryan’ Shames”. Original members TOM “TOAD” DOODY, JIM “J.C. HOOKE” PILSTER and JAMES FAIRS perform together once again.
The New Colony Six embodied the free spirit of the day. Their early hits “I Confess” and “Love You So Much” bridged the gap between 50’s-style Rock and British influence, filling dance floors immediately with every spin. Their next three blockbusters “I Will Always Think About You”, “Can’t You See Me Cry”, and “Things I’d Like To Say” were heartfelt ballads 180° from the early offerings. Their versatility is brought by Original Members RAY GRAFFIA, RONNIE RICE, and BRUCE MATTEY.
A convincing argument can be made that Chicago’s Shadows Of Knight is one of the progenitors of Punk and New Wave music, although no one called it that when the group debuted in 1965. If they never sang another note after their raw and rocking version of Van Morrison’s “Gloria”, their place in Rock and Roll History would be assured, but the hits kept coming with rockers such as “Shake” and the bluesy “Oh Yeah”. The Shadow’s one and only Frontman JIMY SOHNS’ energy has never diminished, clearly evident in his driving segment of the Cornerstones show.
The Ides Of March, too, had a few different personalities throughout their long career. Their 1966 hit “You Wouldn’t Listen” invoked the vocal styles heard in much of the R&B music of the times, but by 1970, the band added Brass, and “Vehicle” became the fastest selling single in Warner Brother’s History. Switching up again, 1971’s “L.A. Goodbye” swapped out Brass swagger for sweet country vocal harmonies. The Ides are the Cornerstone’s “House Band” and all four of the original Ides appear onstage: LARRY MILLAS, BOB BERGLAND, MIKE BORCH and JIM PETERIK. Jim’s personal career has brought International Acclaim as a Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated songwriter, performer and producer with millions of albums sold, such as “The Eye Of The Tiger” which Jim co-wrote for the film “Rocky III”.
The Cornerstones Of Rock show is a living breathing slice of American Musical History performed by those who created it. Although this music is nearly a half century old, the songs and the Artists responsible for them are vital and at the top of their game. Great songs and great singers never go out of style; the continued demand for each of these bands in concert demonstrates that convincingly. To see and hear this stellar collection of talent in one show is a rare treat indeed.
This is Rock and Roll Chicago-Style. And a fine, fine, vintage it is!