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Love Bubble ripples with fun
Monday, 03 February 2020 12:35

REVIEW: Stellar harmonies fuel trio’s dreamy toast to 1960s-70s

HENDERSONVILLE — Love Bubble, billing itself as “the freshest harmony-driven trio in WNC” and as “a quintessentail musical menagé trois,” finished with a bang — or pop — in its second-ever show Jan. 3  at Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville.

The evening ended on a surprising note, as Love Bubble — with gusto and no hint of what was to come — launched into The Patridge Family’s rollicking hit, “I Think I Love You.” Some in the audience appeared virtually ecstatic at the daring selection of the rarely performed, but much-loved, song from their past, coupled with the trio’s super-revved-up performance of it.

Despite much cheering and applause from the crowd, the trio then smiled and waved — and there was no encore. 

About 70 people attended the Jan. 3 show featuring two 50-minute sets, split by a 20-minute intermission. (The trio’s debut show was Dec. 22 at a — reportedly —  sold-out Grey Eagle Music Hall & Pub in Asheville’s River Arts Distict.)

Meanwhile, a first-set pinnacle was Paula Hanke’s superb lead vocals — backed by her trio-mates — on Dionne Warwick’s “Do You Know the Way to San José?” and “I Say a Little Prayer” (the latter song also was recorded, famously, by Aretha Franklin.)

However, overall, the highlight moment of the show had to be midway through the second set with Love Bubble’s rendition of the Beach Boys’ classic introspective ballad, “In My Room,” with lush harmony that made one wonder if heaven’s choir was short of three angels.

Before the enthusiastic applause ended, the trio launched almost deliriously into the Cowsill’s “The Rain, the Park and Other Things.” The trio’s fun with — and love for — the great tribute song to the 1960s’ iconic “flower girl” was unquestionable. The crowd grooved along, with some singing and clapping along.

The trio also cranked it up for spine-tingling harmony on Crosby, Stills and Nash’s ballad “Helpfulessly Hoping” — and, almost without a pause, launched into the joyful Simon & Garfunkel classic “Feelin’ Groovy.”

The night’s next-to-last song — “Edelweis” from the 1959 Rodgers’ and Hammerstein Broadway musical “The Sound of Music”— was a puzzler, as it seemed so out of place. Also, the trio — otherwise a joy to hear throughout the show — sounded, for once, a bit off-key. However, the brewery crowd, some hoisting their steins of beer as they sang along, appeared to absolutely love it, so maybe “Edelweis” did fit in, after all.

By the numbers, Love Bubble’s Jan. 3 setlist included three songs each by the Beatles and the Monkees — and two songs each by Tommy James and the Shondells and soloist Dionne Warwick.

For the Grey Eagle show, an event promotion stated, “Three local powerhouses — Peggy Ratusz, Hank Bones, and Paula Hanke — unite for an evening of holiday harmonies and acoustic ‘60s pop!”

Not to be outdone, a publicity release for the Hendersonville show touted the trio as “three of our area’s finest and most sought-after singers.” All three sing, while Bones also provides guitar accompaniment, and Hanke and Ratusz often played a tamborine or maracas, respectively.

Further, the release stated, “... you’re in for a dreamy, nostalgic, heartwarming and whimsical time! If the fact that they sold out their debut show at the Grey Eagle (in Ashevile) in December 2019 isn’t enough to convince you, certainly hearing them ‘live’ will!”

Bones is referred to in the promotion as “the man with 1,000 songs” and as “a master on guitar, arranging and songwriting,” playing guitar and singing in a number of local groups. Also, for more than 15 years, Bones also has been entertaining guests (weekly) at The Lobster Trap (35 Patton Ave. in Asheville), where, a promotion noted, “he plays the old tunes that have been stuffed away, but never forgotten. He is a composer, an amazing musician, and brings life to songs in any genre from the good ol’ days.”

Flanking him were Ratusz, promoted as a “blues chanteuse;” and Hanke, touted as a “session” singer. Both women are lead singers in local bands. All three sat on tall stools as they performed, and were dressed in ‘60s and ‘‘70s-style attire.

They performed most the songs a bit slower — and dramatically — than the originals. They occasionally told short stories about themselves, or the era or the music between songs.

The first set opened with “I Know a Place” by Petula Clark, followed by “Happy Together” by the Turtles and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles.

Other first-set songs included “Sunday Will Never by the Same” by Spanky & Our Gang, “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals, “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” by the Ink Spots (recorded in 1941 — perhaps oldest song during the night of oldies), “Do You Know the Way to San José?” by Dionne Warwick, “I Say a Little Prayer” by Dionne Warwick and also, famously, by Aretha Franklin, “Because” by the Beatles and “I Only Want to Be With You” by Dusty Springfield

The first set ended with two songs by Tommy James and the Shondells — “Crimson and Clover” and “Draggin’ the Line.”

Following a break, the group opened the second set with “Goodbye” (written by Paul McCartney and performed in 1969 by Mary Hopkin), “A Groovy Kind of Love” by the Mindbenders and “Downtown” by Petula Clark.

Other second-set songs included “To Sir With Love” by Lulu and three songs by the Monkees — “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” and “Daydream Believer,”

Also performed in the second set were “In My Room” by the Beach Boys, “The Rain, the Park & Other Things” by the Cowsills, “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Feelin’ Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel, “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles “Edelweis” from the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music,” and “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family.
 — Reviewed by John North




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