Sandy Gennaro

Davy Jones Tribute Show At BB King’s–More Than Just A Tribute To "The World’s Greatest Tambourine Player"!

Photos and text by Anne M. Raso

Last night’s Davy Jones Tribute show at BB King’s Times Square–hosted by legendary New York deejay Cousin Brucie (who’s been with Sirius for over seven years now)–was more than just a tribute to the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest tambourine player”! Yes, he actually liked to be introduced at his solo shows that way and it always evoked tons of laughter from audiences.

Guests were kept under wraps til the last minute. Most songs–from both Jones’ Monkees and solo careers–were performed by the backing bands from both careers, both intact and blended. They joked about being replaced and then brought back into the fold–they loved their boss even though almost all of them got fired at some point!

It was great to see legendary drummer and regular Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp counselor Sandy Gennaro behind the kit (he started with the Monkees on a reunion tour back on 1987 and was with them on and off for 19 years).  He also had some of the best personal Davy stories to tell, including the time Davy put on his work clothes one Sunday after a show at Westbury Music Fair and helped the sticksman build a stone wall in his Long Island backyard! Needless to say, many neighbors came by to take photographs. The oddest moment of the evening was Gennaro singing “Dominique” by The Singing Nun with some sort of T-shirt draped over his head.

On hand to speak was the always eloquent Tommy James as well as Jones’ longtime friend, former Rascal Gene Cornish (who now helms Gene Cornish’s Guitar Club For Men). James had some great Happy Together Tour stories but spoke from the heart about what kind of person he truly felt Jones was and how fun he was to do shows with. Jones most recent band got to share remembrances of him on the road and lots of their “home movies” were shown. There was even footage of Jones singing “Personal Penquin” for a kids’ CD that came out of a few years ago–he even performed the song at the Kennedy Center wearing a penguin suit. Some of the even more unusual footage featured him stripping to one of his most romantic solo ballads–he was nude except for a single black sock at one point!

                          
Deana Martin, who starred in a Monkees’ episode as a Davy love interest and also dated him in real life, told stories about Davy coming to her house and hangin’ with her large family of seven kids–she also performed “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes” and the last song she ever performed with Davy live. (She would pop up and perform at his solo shows when they were in the same town and they had a nearly 50-year friendship.)

The horseman side of Mr. Jones was shown as well. He had a total of 16 horses spread between ranches in Florida, Pennsylvania and California and the evening’s proceeds all went to the Davy Jones Equine Foundation. Daughters Talia and Annabelle were on hand and talked about the various horses that were Jones’ favorites and how he personally cared for them while not out on the road. There was even a touching film from a Pennsylvania neighbor who would give him an update on his horses there and her personal dealings with them after he got back from tours.

The big finale was–not surprisingly–Peter Tork coming out to perform his wonderful Monkees’ classic (originally with lead vocals by Michael Nesmith), “What Am I Doing Hangin’ Round?” Peter’s banjo licks as well as vocal abilities were in top form, but the moment everyone was waiting for was when Micky Dolenz joined him onstage for “Papa Gene’s Blues,” “I’m A Believer” and “Daydream Believer.” It simply doesn’t get better than that for diehard Monkees fans, with the exception of the elusive Mike Nesmith showing up! But no one expected that despite his touching tribute to his late Monkeesmate on his Facebook page shortly after Davy’s passing!

It was nice that all fans could walk up to Annabelle Jones and reminisce about her dad after the show. Last night’s tribute was one we won’t forget easily here at themacwire.com–and we’re not monkeeing around! We have some exclusive clips for you from this magical night below!

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Tommy James: Still Walking In Crimson And Clover! A Quick Update!

Photos And Text By Anne M. Raso

We were lucky enough to catch up with pop legend Tommy James at the recent Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp held at the Gibson Guitar Studios in New York City. We were very impressed with the 60s and 70s pop legend’s day of “guesting” at the camp. TJ was not an official camp counselor, but he came in to do a Q&A session at lunch time with legendary drummer/producer/camp counselor Sandy Gennaro and also to perform many of his hit songs with the different camp groups. Tommy’s throat was not in the best condition that day so he just played guitar on his biggest classics–including a beautiful version of “Crimson And Clover” with The Dicksteins, the camp band spearheaded by counselor Kip Winger which, with Tommy on rhythm guitar, featured a grand total three guitarists and two drummers. Needless to say, the sound in that particular studio was quite riveting and also “Wall Of Sound”-ish!

    Before he started his big day off, we spoke to Tommy about his current goings-on at the R&R camp office that normally belonged to counselor Rudy Sarzo. As we have reported here before, Tommy has been working out the deals for both a play (that will eventually come to Broadway after touring) and movie based on his 2010 autobiography, Me, The Mob & The Music. We know he has spent a lot of the recent past in negotiations with the famous Broadway family The Nederlanders. As for the movie, Martin Scorsese originally expressed interest but he is booked up for three years with other film and TV projects, but we know that a movie announcement is due momentarily.

Tommy, who presently resides in Cedar Grove, NJ, with longtime wife Lynda, a former NYC booking agent, told us the inside scoop on the play and biopic: “The Nederlanders are going to be the big producers on the play, which is wonderful and the lead producer who is going to be very hands on is Jeff Davis, who is now doing ‘Rock Of Ages.’ I am very, very thrilled with them…what is really wonderful is that the Nederlanders are great at putting mammoth deals together–their company actually wants to put the play on first in San Francisco and Singapore.

As for the movie soundtrack, “I am going to of course insist on consulting on the music–and we are going to recreate some of our session very accurately in the film–especially ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, ‘Crimson And Clover’ and ‘Hanky Panky’–I have to show those songs in the films being recorded with the accurate equipment of the time.” Tommy says he is willing to let the lead actor sing: “I think it is necessary for the actor to sing–lip syncing just looks too fake.”

Tommy has also been thrilled with how his book has been doing since its release last year–if you look on amazon.com, you will see that many people that purchase the Keith Richards autobiography, Life, seem to pick up Tommy’s book at the same time. Apparently, this rock legend is rolling still rolling in fields of “crimson and clover”–even though he outed nearly all the mobsters involved with Roulette Records and the music business in general circa the 1960s and 1970s and had to eventually sue for unpaid royalties. He admits that he had to wait for all the dark characters in question to be dead before writing Me, The Mob The Music. The son of a mobster Tommy knew “back in the day” recently met up with him and spoke of the “good old days,” but fortunately, really just wanted to reminisce and get his book signed.

We can’t wait to check out both the TJ play and film–and you can bet that you will hear all the formal details about them once they’re announced right here on themacwire.com!

The Mac Wire’s Anne Raso Goes To Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp


Text And Photos By Anne M. Raso

Have you ever wondered about Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp and whether it is worth the steep price of admission? Well, we here at themacwire.com say to pick one of the camps with your favorite artist as a counselor and invest your hard-earned cash…because you get to spend hours upon hours with them in an intimate setting and learn three songs with them (including an original) and even get to record with them if you select certain package deals for the camp!

   We observed for a couple of days at the recent New York Rock And Roll Fantasy Camp, held at the Gibson Guitar Studios in midtown (this is the former Hit Factory where the likes of Thriller were recorded), and we were lucky enough to roam freely from studio to studio and check out the “counselors” (rock stars) and “campers” (students). Each band named themselves, learned three songs (including a Who song to be performed with visiting superstar Roger Daltrey) and recorded one song in a nearby studio. Bands consisted of six or seven members plus the counselors. Counselors during our visit included Rudy Sarzo, Mark Hudson, Sandy Gennaro, Non Hendryx, Mark Farner, Richie Kotzen and Kip Winger. We have to admire all the patience and knowledge the ccounselors had with their “campers”–and have to extend a special thank you to Mark Hudson for letting yours truly play tambourine on the all-star jam of The Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There” and to Richie Kotzen for letting me play cow bell on The Who’s “Can’t Explain.” 

     Each counselors also gave a “Master Class” where students could request to play anything from the artist’s repertoire. We sat in on Mark Farner’s class last Sunday in the basement of the Gibson Studios and were impressed to learn that Mark can play every part of every Grand Funk song! He took time out to give each camper who came up to the stage a “run down” no matter what instrument they played…and he was also up to having anyone who wanted in the crowd to come up and play tambourine or sing background vocals. Mark did a fierce version of “Mean Mistreater” with the campers and it was something no one else got to hear either privately (as part of his Camp group Red In The Hood or at the BB King’s show all the camp groups performed during their “showdown” at BB King’s).

     Many of the campers were given R&R Fantasy Camp packages as birthday, Christmas and Hanukkah gifts and most of the ones we spoke to worked nine to fives or owned business outside of the music biz. When we checked into drummer/counselor Sandy Gennaro’s room, we found an interesting a friendly group from all over the country whose chosen group name at Camp was The Usual Suspects. Lead singer Donna Travis has a Pat Benataresque vocal style and particularly soared on “I Hate Myself For Loving You”–one of the three songs the band had to learn as part of the R&R Fantasy camp program. Travis, who lives in Milford, CT, is the single mom of twin 14-year-old girls and is an administrative assistant to the head of the legal dept for Subway World Headquaters. Also, to give our readers an idea of diversity in each camp band, The Usual Suspects also featured Jeff Boice on guitar, who in everyday life is one of the owners of Classic Kitchen & Bath in Roslyn, NY, and Lee Stahl, another axeman, and owner of The Renovated Home in Manhattan.
    We also spent time with old acquaintance Rudy Sarzo, who we knew back in his Quiet Riot days and has since gone on to play bass with everyone and anyone–at press time he is with Blue Oyster Cult but was Ronnie James Dio’s bassist (and longtime friend) at the time of his passing last year. Rudy is an excellent counselor because of his easygoing nature and ability to find humor in anything–and because he has played with so many bands, his repertoire is amazing. When Roger Daltrey made the rounds to sing a selected song with each band, he did “Behind blue Eyes” with Rudy’s band (Heart Of Steal) and it was possibly the high point of the entire camp to get such an intimate audience with the Who legend. There were only a dozen people in the room, and Roger not only signed and posed for pics with everyone after singing “Behind Blue Eyes” but also spent some private time and shared hugs with the band’s lead singer. Hearts Of Steal performed an original song called “Seven Year Fog” about this touching subject matter for Roger, who seemed to greatly appreciate it.

    The “grand finale” to camp was the benefit for Jesse Farner at BB King’s on Monday, January 17th. The goal was to raise 100,000 for the Grand Funk legend’s 21-year-old song who is paralyzed as the result of a spinal cord injury. Farner has been busy making his Michigan home disability-friendly and besides having each camp band do ten minutes sets each, there were guest stars popping in and out including Bad Company’s Simon Kirke, AC/DC’s Cliff Williams and an hour long set by Roger Daltrey which included some unusual musical choices on his part (we never expected him to perform “Sweet Little Sixteen” or “Born To Run”)! Other than some technical difficulties during Roger’s set, it was a mind-blowing night and 3 Doors Down flew up all the way from their native Mississippi to do a half hour set. Promoter David Fishof auctioned off seven or eight newer models of Gibson guitars signed by all the rockers participating in the show of the tune of three and four grand each, which definitely helped up the take for the charity show.

    As you may know, VH1 has been televising Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp and there are camps coming up all over the globe. The next one is in late February at the Bahamas’ Atlantis Resorts and features Tommy Lee, Lita Ford, Ritchie Kotzen, Rudy Saro and more, so be sure to go to rockandrollfantasycamp.com to check out the details. We will be keeping an eye on all campers who participated in the future to see if they are able to climb the rock and roll ladder and “go pro”! We were quite impressed with that talented campers, who ranged from sixth graders to 50-something plastic surgeons! We want to see if anyone’s going to be able to give up their “day job”! (One of our camp favorites on vocals was Mark Dickstein of the camp band mentored by counselor Kip Winger called The Dicksteins. Mark actually has a band in the West Palm Beach area named Wild Card–and he’s one of our camp “picks to click”!)

Donna Travis, a Connecticut-based Rock And Roll Fantasy Camper who sang lead in Sandy Gennaro’s group The Unusual Suspects, could not resist planting a big wet one on Roger Daltrey when he came into her group’s studio to both perform and observe. Can any girl blame her?