Crescents celebrate 30th anniversary with rock 'n' roll gala in September
By Debbie Gardner
GREATER SPRINGFIELD Like most groups, this one started with a bunch of teenagers and a dream.
And nearly half a century after "The Spydelles" cut their first 45, "The Victorians" decided to give performing a rest and the reformed group, " The Crescents" rode the "Happy Days" wave of nostalgia back to the bandshell. Founding members Bobby Boutin, Bob Lagimonier, Gil Rock and Jimmy Taylor plus the rest of the 10-piece show band are gearing up to once again take us back to the days of poodle skirts, car hops and chrome tailfins.
You can catch this groups' classic harmonies at "The Crescents" 30th Anniversary Gala Sept. 27 at the Castle of Nights on Memorial Drive in Chicopee. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.; the show begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets available at The Castle of Knights, Jennifer's Kitchen or by calling 532-3999 are $15 for the show only, $32 with an optional dinner buffet.
"It's the 30th anniversary, and we're putting on a show with eight different acts [joining us]," Crescents spokesman Ted Hammel told Reminder Publications. "What we're trying to do is give people a big bang for their bucks."
Among those acts will be Donna Lee, who will open the show performing a tribute to Patsy Cline, an all-female dance band called The Glamour Girls, and singers Ruth Carney, Marian Karpells Somers, Richie "Do-wop" Steben, Lou Provost and Diane Steben.
"They're going to do two songs each between the bands," Hammel said of the singers, adding that Carney might be familiar to locals from radio station WARE, and Marian Somers has performed with a group called Route 66.
Richie "Do Wop" Stebin, he noted, will perform both solo and in a duet with his sister, Diane.
A lifetime love affair with music
Hammel said all of the Crescents are local guys, and not a one ever made music their career.
"One was an electrician, one worked for a wire company in South Hadley. I'm not sure what Jimmy Taylor did," he said. "The love of the music has propelled them through the years."
Capitalizing on the popularity of the television program. "Happy Days" when the group reinvented itself in 1979, Hammel said The Crescents rode the nostalgia wave to steady gigs in the late '70s and '80s.
"They played a lot of places, the Eastern States Exposition, Spec Pond in Wilbraham, the Kielbasa Festival in Chicopee . the Taste of West Springfield . the did the Camping Show for a number of years," he said.
They even did a couple of cruises to Bermuda.
Back then, Hammel wasn't a regular, but a guest singer with the group.
"I used to do guest spots. I'd slick back my hair, roll a pack of cigarettes in my sleeve and do 'Duke of Earl'," he said.
When one member, Danny Lopes moved to Florida, Hammel joined The Crescents as a regular,
At 62, he's also the baby of the group.
And after all these years together, Hammel said rehearsing for a show is, well, not really a production.
"We get together about four weeks before a show. At the first practice we run through the first set. At the second, we rehearse the second set," he said.
When they're not prepping for a performance, he said the guys "just go to somebody's house and sing."
After all, he said, the kind of music The Crescent do is all about the harmonies.
"You can make a mistake on the lead vocals, especially if people don't know us," Hammel said. "But if you screw up the harmonies ."
It's music, he said, that never seems to get old, or lose its appeal. In fact, he said the group is starting to notice people in their early 20s at their shows.
And it never gets old for The Crescents, either.
"Do you get tired of eating steak," Hammel said when asked if he ever gets tired of singing the same songs.
"I can honestly say if I was getting tired [of the music], I wouldn't be doing this."
To hear a clip of The Crescents performing, visit their Web site, www.thecrescents.org
Or Click Here for Sample Sound Bites