It’s the Fabulous Fifties all over again. The Doo Wop Heartbreakers are in the house at Windsor’s famed east end Rockstar Music Hall, Sunday afternoon, March 1, 2020. The music is all 50s all the time with the Doo Wop Heartbreakers playing a wide range of hit tunes, all with the era’s famed three chord rock and roll – is there anything better?
With the first few notes of the opening number, Dion’s Runaround Sue, the area in front of the stage and the six-man band it holds fills with mostly women, swinging to the beat in a way that makes their dresses twirl. A few are even decked out in the traditional sock hop poodle dresses. Then, with a few drum beats, the band moves into Elvis Aaron Presley’s Hound Dog.
It is music that made an era, a time when rock and roll disk jockeys ruled the airwaves spinning platters from the biggest stars. When the Doo Wop Heartbreakers start the slow and smooth Ricky Nelson Fools Rush In, couples take over the dance floor with predetermined moves from a time when dancing had its own set of rules rarely seen these days.
The dancing is slow, up close and personal. Some dancers even talk to each other. Watching it all is The Doo Wop Heartbreakers, who are having the time of their lives. In between songs they even take up the patter between the tunes that made many of the era’s DJs nothing but famous. A lot of it causes chuckles among the audience. It is sophomoric humour, of course, but the audience eats it up, probably having laughed out loud at the jokes many other times over their lifetimes.
There are also sight gags, probably what the DJs were doing which couldn’t be seen by their broadcast audiences. Rest assured, this fun-loving band is no ordinary group. Rockstar Music Hall manager David Michael has culled his group from among the city’s best musicians.
It is, guitarist Denny Bastarache tells Eyes on Windsor, almost a privilege to stand beside or in front of the best musicians around. There’s drummer Vito Flores, keyboard master Joe Trocchi, bassist Darryl Lister, guitarist Dale D’Amore, who also has singing duties on some songs, and the man who holds it all together, lead singer Brian Higgins who expertly manages the various vocal styles of the generation’s most loved stars.
Most of the players are members of various other local groups. In Bastarache’s case, it is Bad Moustache, a band that was named as an easier way to say his own name.
Playing with the Heartbreakers gives him a chance to break away from his band’s current recording sessions to produce a compilation of eight new tunes, including its popular Times Are Hard, a song about the local economy.
But, that is today. Back in the 1950s, the Heartbreakers end the popular slow Santo and Johnny instrumental Sleepwalk with the invitation contained in Bobby Freeman’s unforgetable Do You Wanna Dance. It causes the dance floor to overflow. Smiles are every where, on both the faces of the Doo Wop Heartbreakers and their enraptured audience.
The 50s are nothing but fun, says Bastarache, it was a time when hatred was limited to being nothing more than a word in the dictionary.
And so it goes, the Fifties are alive and well on this Sunday afternoon with Rockstar Music Hall filled with what some will tell you is the best music ever recorded. Others might argue the point, but certainly not those on the dance floor. Most of them, by the way, probably never even lived in the era.
There is something about sock hops and their music that is non-generational and the proof is the dancers moving and grooving or those sitting down rocking and humming.
More exceptional music events are planned at Rockstar Music Hall. On March 17, at 1pm, the Hall will celebrate St Patrick’s Day as a fundraiser for the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Windsor and District Branch. Then on March 29, also at 1pm, the Hall will host the Kids in Concert Food Drive. Details and tickets for these and other events can be found at https://rockstarvenue.com/tickets.php or by calling 519 945 1189
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.