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‘Ooh-ah, dip di dip ta dip, shoo bop shoo bopty bop....’ Quintet thrills silver-haired fans with golden-era’s doo-wop hits
Tuesday, 06 August 2019 22:20
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FRANKLIN — “Ooh-ah, dip di dip ta dip, shoo bop shoo bopty bop.”

Or so the vocal quintet The Sock Hops, specializing in doo-wop, sang in soaring harmony July 12 at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. 

Besides doo-wop, the group’s repertoire spans 1950, ‘60s and ‘70s pop-rock-soul classics in general, with some of the night’s spine-tingling performance including renditons of The Tokens’ “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” the Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You” and Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”

Judging by the crowd’s enthusiasm throughout the show, as evidenced by applause and cheers and a propensity to sing along, and a rousing standing ovation at the end, the annual summer trip down memory lane was a hit.

The Marietta, Ga-based vocal group, backed by recorded music, specializes in four-part harmonies and, in past yearly shows at the SMCPA featured four members, but this version of the group included five members, including founder-leader Courtney Oliver, Jim Mitchell, Ward Hiss, Scott Cruce, Francois Longeiret.

As usual, Cruce, who is blind, was the standout, leadung the audience to see the light of the era’s musical and — sometimes quirky — vocal splendor, hitting both the upper-register falsetto parts, as well as some of the deep bass sectors, on all cylinders and with relative ease.

Besides Cruce’s lead vocals, other show highlights included the group’s searing harmonies, its excellent selection of songs and all-too-rare efforts at choreography.

The Sock Hops, who have performed for more than 20 years, are talented vocalists and obviously enthused about the songs they sing, but the show is seriously impaired by the use of recorded backing tracks, instead of a a live accompanying band.

However, as usual in such cases, the cost of the vocalists — AND a band — likely would force up ticket prices to a point that would make it too expensive for the fans, and, therefore, make it an unsustainable business proposition. 

So, this reviewer would contend that it is better to see and hear a stellar vocal group like the Sock Hops, with the necessary evil of backing tracks (rather than a live band), than not.

Also, if the group gave a bit more attention to choreography, it would add immeasurably to the power of the show, given that so many of the songs lend themselves to having a bit of fun with some synchronized moves.

The Sock Hops opened the first set with “Tonight Could Be the Night,” followed by, arguably the group’s most popular song, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Other first-set songs included “To Love Somebody,” “California Dreamin’,” “Duke of Earl,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “My Girl,” “Under the Boardwalk,” “With This Ring,” “Happy Together,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Daydream Believer,” “I Saw Her Standing There”  and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” 

The first set closed with “My Special Angel.”

The second set opened wth “Runaround Sue,” followed by “Runaway” and “Since I Don’t Have You.”

Other second-set songs included “Party Doll,” “Kind of a Drag,” “How Deep Is Your Love?” “Sea Cruise,” “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me,” “Little Darlin’,” “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes,” “You Belong to Me,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “California Girls,” “One Summer Night,” “This Magic Moment,” “Silhouettes” and “Breakin’ Up Is Hard. to Do.” 

The second (and last) set concluded with “God Bless the USA.”

As the audience continued standing at the end of the partriotic song, the group performed an encore, “American Trilogy,” triggering yet more applause.



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