Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Showroom
Date: Saturday February 9th, 2019
This was my second time to see Tommy James and he still has a great voice. It brings back childhood memories when I did not have to worry about paying bills and listened to music that was just fun. Back in the 60s we would buy 45 singles and not albums to get just the songs we wanted. Today seems to be the same because people just purchase single songs via iTunes or MP3s instead of albums. So, things seem to be reverting back to when I was young.
Tommy James and The Shondells have led a very interesting life. They signed with a little record label called Roulette Records. Roulette Records was run by Morris Levy, but unknown to most of the general public, he had ties to the Genovese crime family in New York. For many years, Tommy James and the Shondells never received any royalties from any of their music and were afraid to speak out for fear for their lives. It has only been a few years since the last of the main members of the crime family have past away and Tommy has been able to publicly talk about it. In 2010, Tommy and co-writer Martin Fitzpatrick, published their story called Me, The Mob, and The Music, One Helluva Ride With Tommy James And The Shondells. At tonight’s performance, Tommy told us that the movie version of their story would be out very soon. They even played the acoustic version of “I Think We’re Alone Now” which he said they recorded to play during the credits at the end of the movie.
The band consists of Tommy James on guitar and lead vocals, Jonathan Ashe who normally plays bass shifted over to guitar since John Golden was ill, Greg Smith stepped in on bass, Glenn Wyka on drums, Mike DiMeo and Bobby Guy on keyboards.
They started the show with one of my personal favorites, “Draggin’ the Line” from Tommy second solo album. It might not be one of his top hits, but the bassline in the song is just outstanding. Then they played probably one of their best-known song, “Crystal Blue Persuasion”. They played all of their hits including “Mony, Mony”, “Crimson & Clover”, “Hanky Panky” and “Sweet Cherry Wine”. It was like a blast from the past, with just fun music, people dancing and singing along to the great hits from my youth.
The last time I saw Tommy, he came out into the crowd and shook hands with the people in the front. For tonight’s concert, Tommy did it even better. The Talking Stick Resort Showroom has two levels and for tonight’s crowd roam, Tommy walked around and through almost the entire lower level shaking everyone’s hands. It made the band play “Mony, Mony” even longer to allow Tommy to wander. At times the band even improvised additional melodies into the song to lengthen it. After the show, Tommy came out to the merchandise booth and signed items you purchased and even took photos with you. As you would expect, the line was very long and probably about 1/3 of the audience. Personally, I got a photo I took of him 3 years ago signed and it now decorates one of the walls in my home. One of the items they sell is the paperback version of his book for $20 (inc tax) and you can get it signed which just a few dollars more than an unsigned copy on Amazon. Personally, I can not wait to see the movie and Tommy, please keep rocking.
If you are into 60s music, I just saw that Tommy James and the Shondells will be traveling and performing on the Flower Power Cruise 2019 (https://flowerpowercruise.com/) out of Florida on March 30th to April 6th. Unfortunately, it is sold out, but you might want to look into next year’s cruise.
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2019, All Rights Reserved
Draggin’ the Line (Christian of the World)
Crystal Blue Persuasion (Crimson & Clover)
Say I Am (Hanky Panky)
Gettin’ Together (Gettin’ Together)
It’s Only Love (It’s Only Love)
I Think We’re Alone Now (acoustic) (Upcoming Movie Trailer)
Ball of Fire (The Best of Tommy James and The Shondells)
Tighter, Tighter (In Touch)
Crimson & Clover (Crimson & Clover)
Hanky Panky (Hanky Panky)
I Think We’re Alone Now (I Think We’re Alone Now)
Do Something to Me (Crimson & Clover)
Mony Mony (Mony Mony)
Sweet Cherry Wine (Cellophane Symphony)
Mirage (I Think We’re Alone Now)