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Legends of Doo-Wop to perform at The Maryland Theatre

July 22, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • The Charlie Thomas Drifters
Submitted photo,

The guys and gals who provided the soundtrack to your first dance or first kiss -- or first breakup -- will croon at a doo-wop concert Saturday night in downtown Hagerstown.

The Summer Oldies Concert is being billed as a nod to the voices of doo-wop's past and will take place at The Maryland Theatre.

Four acts will perform, including the Charlie Thomas' Drifters, of the same ilk as the 1950s band The Drifters, who performed "Save the Last Dance for Me" and "Under the Boardwalk."

Tommy Mara, the new lead singer of The Crests (remember the song "Sixteen Candles"?), will join Tony Passa the original lead of The Fascinators, Steve Horn of The Five Sharks and Frank Mancuso of The Imaginations in a tribute ensemble they're calling The Legends of Doo Wop.

Barbara Harris of The Toys, as well as the girl-group The Cookies, will round out the retro roster.

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Even though this was the pop music from the 1950s and the teen fans of the time would now be their 60s and 70s, concert promoters and venues say there's been a large demand for revivalist pop and rock.

"These stories are still true today -- the story of love, the story of life," said promoter Deborah Nader, president of Richard Nader Entertainment, which has staged this and other oldies shows nationwide.

In 2008, The Temptations performed to a sold-out crowd at The Maryland Theatre. The Temptations will perform with The Four Tops on Saturday, Sept. 11, as part of the theater's 95th anniversary celebration.

Tommy Mara -- who's real name is Thomas Marasciullo -- said the reason that groups like The Temptations and The Four Tops continue to have a following is their universal appeal. He said it's what got him hooked. Mara said he's been singing doo-wop since the 1980s, performing 80 to 90 shows a year.

"I have a passion for this sort of thing," said Mara, 55.

But some performers say there might be too much demand.

Charlie Thomas, of Charlie Thomas' Drifters, has been fighting copycat performers who play under the name The Drifters.

In Maryland, the Truth in Music Advertising Act prohibits people from advertising or conducting a live performance under a false or misleading association between the performing group and the recording group. Violators face fines between $5,000 and $15,000 according to the law.

Thomas has been part of a campaign known as Truth in Music, lobbying states to pass laws similar to Maryland's.

In a recent phone interview with The Herald-Mail, Thomas recalled being featured on "20/20" segment in which he attended a Drifters concert. He is shown approaching the performers' trailer seeking an autograph from "Charles Thomas." A couple of the performers signed the record, according to the footage, then they realized who he was.

"They're impostors, stealing my applause," said Thomas from his home in Washington.

Who has the legal right to be called The Drifters has been the subject of decades-long legal debate among individuals and groups claiming to have legitimate ties to the group, according to court documents.

According to court records, The Drifters formed in the early 1950s and had a manager who hired and paid performers as individual employees, cause for several membership changes within The Drifters.

"I've been a Drifter since I was 16," said Thomas.

Thomas, 73, joined The Drifters in 1958. His debut performance was at The Apollo Theater in Harlem. He said he plans to perform Drifters songs when he comes to Hagerstown.

"They say rock 'n' roll never dies," Thomas said. "I don't want to give it up."




If you go ...



WHAT: Summer Oldies Concert, doo-wop show featuring Charlie Thomas' Drifters, The Cookies, Barbara Harris of the Toys, and The Legends of Doo Wop -- a tribute ensemble featuring Tommy Mara of the Crests, Tony Passa of the Fascinators, Steve Horn of the Five Sharks, and Frank Mancuso of the Imaginations

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, July 24

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown

COST: $45 and $25 plus processing fees

MORE: Call the theater's box office at 301-790-2000 or go to http://www.mdtheatre.org .

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