Arcata Eye Scene

A-town art, music, theatre. Mostly music. Updated Wednesdays.

Ross Rowley: 1970s icons inspire

APRIL 1, 2009

Everything old is new again. Pop culture in America is cyclical. Nowhere is that seen more than in music. We’ve seen fashions cycle back again 20 or 30 years later to be enjoyed by a whole new audience. Here in Arcata, with the cycle of college students bringing the latest craze from Southern California, never rule out the unexpected.
I never would have guessed the music of The Captain & Tennille would click with today’s twenty-somethings. Supposedly, in Long Beach and surrounding communities, Captain & Tennille nights at nightclubs are all the rage. I guess Abba has had a huge resurgence within the last few years. Enough to inspire the film, Mamma Mia to be produced with great success. That opened up the music of the 1970s Swedish pop sensations for a new generation.

Even Neil Diamond is somewhat hip among young people. You can hear the songs “Sweet Caroline” and “Cherry, Cherry” on an awful lot of iPod playlists these days. Look at the comeback of Johnny Cash. Even posthumously, here’s another musical icon who found a new young audience. Why? Because of the depth of material these aforementioned artists possess. With Abba, their sing-songy style spoke to millions the first time around, so why would the daughters of the women who attend high school in the 1970’s feel any different?

Neil Diamond regaining popularity makes perfect sense. He perfected his songwriting craft on the streets of New York during the 1960s Brill Building explosion of hits. That era brought us the music of Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Ellie Greewich & Jeff Barry and Neil Sedaka. Hits like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” “The Loco-Motion,” “Sugar Sugar” and “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” will forever be trapped in our minds. The songs are that good.

I’m guessing most folks don’t realize Daryl Dragon (The Captain) is the son of Carmen Dragon, the esteemed former conductor/arranger of the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra. On an educational goodwill visit to Trinity Valley Elementary School in Willow Creek, Maestro Dragon came to our little rural school to the stress the importance of music education. Even then he spoke of his son Daryl performing as a Beach Boy in that time-period. That’s Daryl Dragon playing the organ solo on the Beach Boys song, “Fun-Fun-Fun/till her daddy took the T-Bird away.”

So when recent Southern California high school graduates brought their iPods filled with the music of The Captain & Tennille, why should we be surprised? “Love Will Keep Us Together,” “The Way I Want To Touch You,” “Lonely Nights (Angel Face)” and their version of the Beach Boy’s “Disney Girls” not only spoke to my generation of the late 1970s high school graduates, but to our kids as well.

My teenage daughter and I used to spend many a Sunday afternoon driving the back roads of our area singing “Muskrat Love” and their version of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles hit, “Shop Around.” It’s no surprise she took my vinyl copies of The Captain & Tennille with her when she moved to Portland. She tells me they have theme nights in some of the downtown Portland nightclubs.

But I’ll tell you what caught me most by surprise was when I heard of not one, but two Captain & Tennille tribute bands forming in Arcata. Fred Neighbor and Joyce Hough have formed Song of Joy, (titled after C&T’s second album) with Danny Montgomery on drums, Gary Davidson on bass and newcomer keyboard wizard, Mike Kapitan. Mike actually performed with C&T during the 1993-1994 summer fair circuit around California and Arizona. Mike has Daryl Dragon’s iconic keyboard parts down cold. But, most impressive is to hear Joyce Hough sing, “Do That To Me One More Time.” It’s as if she is almost channeling Toni Tennille.

If you close your eyes, you’ll swear Joyce is Toni Tennille.

The second tribute band from Arcata is called Susie & Sam (based upon the characters from the song “Muskrat Love” and features Magnum guitarist Deric Mendes, (this time on a stack of vintage keyboards and synthesizers) and folk sensation Sarafae leading an all-star line-up with former Hitch drummer Steve Bohner and former Cutter guitarist and third district Humboldt Bay Recreation and Conservation District representative Mike Wilson on bass guitar.  Deric Mendes has even gone so far as to purchase one of Daryl Dragon’s actual captain hats off of an online charity auction to complete the look. That’s dedication.

All of the members of Susie & Sam say this is just another project band aside from their regular gigs. But, who knows, I’ve seen the popularity of projects bands far surpass a member’s regular band.

To experience the 1970s and the music of The Captain & Tennille yourself, catch Song of Joy with Fred & Joyce at the Jambalaya (their old haunt) on Saturday, April 4 which happens to be Toni Tennille’s birthday.

A week later, on Saturday, April 11, Susie & Sam will be at the Alibi with Magnum and Dynamite Sweater.

Deric says having all three bands play on the same night makes set up and tear down and costume changes sooooo much easier.  Personally, I’m really glad to see the music of my youth come back. Maybe, I should start a Bay City Rollers tribute band. C’mon, you know the words: “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y…Night!”

Please note: This is from the Eye’s April 1 edition. Please do not show up at either the Jambalaya or the Alibi expecting a Captain & Tennille cover band.
We do encourage the musicians mentioned to form such bands, however, and will keep you, dear readers, informed as to our, and their, progress, as always.

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1 Comment»

  Steve wrote @

Hey, The Separators live on! Ross, if that’s you, gimme a jingle.


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