July 19, 2012 —
What a week! The entire Upper Delaware valley is thrumming with activity and for every event that I attended, it seems there were two or three that I missed! My first stop last Wednesday was the Forestburgh Playhouse (www.FBplayhouse.org ) and its smashing production of “The Rocky Horror Show.” There’s a full-scale review at www.riverreporteronline.com  in Arts & Leisure, but here’s a preview: it’s an incredibly entertaining show.
On Thursday, I made a pit stop at the Thunder 102 radio station in Liberty, NY (www.thunder102.com ) and chatted with the Ciliberto & Friends team, as we leafed through the new issue of The River Reporter and discussed highlights just as the newspaper hit the stands for the week. Before leaving the studio, I made plans to chat with musical phenom Jay Siegel (the Tokens) who was making his way to Bethel Woods to take part in the third annual Doo Wop Extravaganza, alongside dozens of legendary vocalists from the golden age of bobby sox and poodle skirts.
Having heard that the Tokens still perform their vocals (“The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Earth Angel,” “In the Still of the Night”) in the original key written, I asked if that was accurate. “I don’t know how I do it,” Siegel responded “but yes, it’s true. As long as I can still hit the high notes, Jay Siegel’s Tokens will continue to tour.” Admitting that the group had observed many “one hit wonders,” striking while the iron was hot, he and his friends decided “to learn everything there was to know about the music business,” and Siegel went on to produce many American pop classics, including The Chiffons (“One Fine Day”), Tony Orlando and Dawn (“Knock Three Times”) and The Happenings (“See You in September”).
When asked if there was a secret to the longevity of his career, Siegel sat back and thought for a moment. “Honestly, I think it’s simple clean living” he informed. “My wife and I are celebrating our 50th anniversary, and although I’m on the road a lot, I always go straight home. Will people remember Fifty Cent in years to come? Maybe, maybe not—but I’m pretty sure they’ll remember Doo Wop.”
Later that evening, as the Pavillion filled, the sounds of the ‘60s filled the night air. Among those hitting the stage along with headliners The Duprees were Linda Jansen and the Angels (“My Boyfriend’s Back”), The Marcels (“Blue Moon”) and The Tymes (“So Much in Love”). Hit after hit washed over the audience and standing ovations ensued.
The same day, in Lake Huntington, there was a major party going on, as the Town of Cochecton celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Volunteer Fire Dept. and Ambulance Corps. Raffles, vendors, pet adoptions and a fabulous parade, which included scads of fire engines from miles around (some dating back to antiquity), lined the streets with classic cars, flags and families, all of whom turned out in droves to thank those who serve. I strolled the grounds, visited with friends and neighbors, taking time to tour the new engines and acknowledge those who give so generously of their time. I couldn’t help but notice the waves of appreciation from the bystanders as the volunteers marched and drove through the streets, waving to the crowd and tossing goodies for the kids. These events (IMHO) help shape our communities and make it possible for guys like me to get out there and personally thank those who make it all possible. Visit The River Reporter’s Facebook page for an album of photos.
Since Dharma (the wonder dog) was slated to judge the “cutest dog contest” being held in Bethel, I drove her to the festival grounds (www.catskilldistilling.com ) and snapped a few pics of the vendors, live entertainment and all ‘round good time being had by hundreds, who all “came out” to revive the Day to be Gay celebration, originally spearheaded by our own “Trash Queen” Kathy Reiser (www.thetrashqueen.blogspot.com ), without whom the popular event would never have existed. The Catskills’ chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA) director, Jim Lomax, has taken up the baton- and with help from the folks at www.thegaysofsullivan  county.com, Lomax hosted the event, raising dollars for a few causes, raising awareness for a few more, but apparently not raising eyebrows anywhere, since both organizations (along with a few others) are welcomed with open arms (and pocketbooks) wherever they show up.
With another fun-filled week under my belt, I’m ready to catch up with my cohorts at The River Reporter and get their take on the events that I missed, check out the pictures on our Facebook page and prepare for the onslaught of more summer fun coming up. Taking a moment to breathe, I find myself in the hammock (in the still of the night) and realize that those Doo Wop lyrics still hold true. For those of us fortunate to call this glorious landscape home, sometimes...life is but a dream.