Doo Wop – Why They Keep Going

Doo Wop singerMost of the entries in the Favorite Concerts page are classical music concerts, but last night at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was a different kind of “classical” music. The NY Doo Wop Extravaganza featured The Mystics (“Hushabye”), The Passions (“Just To Be With You”), The Classics (“Till Then”), Buddy Holly’s Crickets (“Peggy Sue”), Charlie Thomas & The Drifters (“Under The Boardwalk”), Kenny Vance & The Planotones (“Looking For An Echo”), The Chantels (“Maybe”), and The Fireflies (“You Were Mine”). The Doo Wop spectacular featured these and many more classics of the 50s & 60s. It was a real trip down memory lane.

The Origins of Doo Wop are debated but most would agree that it evolved from a merging of pop, gospel, blues, jazz and swing elements in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. Some call it vocal group harmonizing at it’s best. It would be hard to disagree that Doo Wop music is, innocent, joyous, romantic and, almost spiritual.

Watching these performing groups on stage is always inspiring. A little arithmetic from the fifties to now can quickly show that most of the performers were well past 60. Charlie Thomas was 74 in April, Kenny Vance will be 68 in December. Some looked their age, some did not. All of them had great voices and rhythm. If you look at their concert schedules on the web sites you can see that they are performing almost constantly — one group claimed 208 concerts last year. Why are they doing this? Why don’t they stop and retire? It is possible some lived past their means or did not invest in their future during the hay days and now need the money. Others may do it out of loyalty to other members of their group. Some may not know what else to do. Most however, are probably doing it because they love it. You could see the sparkle in their eyes and the spring in their step. As the audience raved, the performers were inspired, and the cycle continued. It was a great night and a nice trike ride to arrive back at the Lake at midnight.