Some of the biggest rock and roll hits of the sixties will reverberate within the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center on December 15th and singing them, you’ll find the original artists who recorded them. “There’s something about the music of the 1960s that can transport you instantly,” says producer Scotty Avig who has been presenting similar shows at the Ford for the better part of a decade. “It’s a trip down memory lane for teenagers of the era and a chance to escape to a simpler time.”
Headlining the show is one of the most recognizable names of the era, Jay & the Americans. The group is back by popular demand after wowing the crowd here in 2015. While the group features three original members, some names were changed over the years to protect their sanity.
“My father basically said, ‘I think you guys need stage names,’” recalls founding American Sandy Yaguda. “Fans were getting our family’s phone numbers from the phone book and so I became Sandy Deanne, Howie Kirschenbaum became Howie Kane and Marty Kupersmith became Marty Sanders.”
All of the original group members came from similar backgrounds, born of Jewish immigrants or the grandchildren of Jewish immigrants. They attended Alan Freed rock and roll concerts in Brooklyn and rhythm and blues revues at the Apollo, ultimately forming their own group by emulating the sounds of the vocal groups that dominated the New York airwaves in the late fifties.
In 1962, the group had their first hit with “She Cried,” which they still include in their live concerts 56 years later. In fact, they sing all their hits while weaving together an entertaining mix of music and stories about the people, places and things that propelled their career. The long list includes “Cara Mia”, “Only in America”, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “Let’s Lock the Door (and Throw Away the Key)” and “Come a Little Bit Closer,” which just hit the charts again as part of the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Also included are their biggest hits which came at the unlikeliest of times. “Despite the sustained success throughout the sixties, the record company didn’t know what to do with us. We came up with the idea to take songs that we loved and do them our way,” Sandy recounts. “Everybody made a list of songs and we all helped to arrange them. I did the studio work, recording and mixing the albums.”
The first hit single came at a time when no radio stations were playing anything that predated the Beatles. It was a cover version of The Drifters’ “This Magic Moment”, which became their first Top 10 hit in over 3 years. A year later came “Walkin’ In The Rain,” Sandy’s personal favorite. “Hushabye” and “When You Dance”, covers of 1950s doo wop ditties also hit the national charts, to everyone’s surprise.
“An Evening with Jay and the Americans,” presented by Scotty Productions and Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp, comes to the Michael A. Guido Theater at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center (15801 Michigan Ave.,Dearborn, MI 48126) on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. Motown favorites The Shades of Blue will open the show. Tickets are reasonably priced, starting at $25, with the best seats in the house costing only $65. All of the singers will be available to meet and greet fans and sign autographs in the lobby after the show. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Ford box office, online by visiting www.dearborntheater.com or by calling 313-943-2354.