The Grass Roots
North Tonawanda, NY
Saturday December 7, 2019
Review/Photos: Joseph Suto
The Grass Roots made another successful return to Western New York as they rocked the Riviera on a night when nostalgia was in the air. Also on the bill were a pair of bands that had some ties to music history with The Shades of Blue and The Cyrkle.
The Shades of Blue got the ball rolling first. They were a group out of Motown who hit the charts with “Oh How Happy” which climbed to number 12 on thew Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1966. They scored two other minor hits but by 1970 they disbanded. Today’s version featured Stuart Avig, Donald Revels, Charles Valverde and Charles Davis.
Up next were The Cyrkle who have some unique ties to rock and roll. The band was formed in Easton, PA and were discovered and managed by Brian Epstein. Yes the same Brian Epstein who managed the Beatles. John Lennon actually provided the unique spelling of the name once Epstein renamed the band. The band also opened 14 shows for the Beatles on their 1966 tour. To top everything off the band landed two songs on the Billboard singles chart. The biggest one was “Red Rubber Ball” which peaked at numner 2 only to be held off the top spot by the Beatles own “Paperback Writer”. “Turn-Down Day” peaked at number 16. The band still boasts original members Don Dannemann and Michael Losekamp.
The Grass Roots took to the stage after a brief intermission. Led by bassist, vocalist Mark Dawson, they tore through a pleasant set which featured all of the band’s hits from their glory days as well as some cool covers. Guitarist Dusty Hanvey and keyboardist Larry Nelson are the longest tenured members having joined in 1984. Drummer Joe Dougherty came aboard in 1989. Dawson was handpicked by The Grass Roots leader Rob Grill who wanted the band to continue to perform after he was unable to do so. Sadly Grill left us in 2011 but the legacy of the band lives on like he envisioned.
The band shined through on “Heaven Knows”, “Two Divided By Love” and the top-10 smash “Sooner Or Later”. The band mixed in some interesting covers as well most notably the Edison Lighthouse track “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” and the Hamilton Joe Frank & Reynolds gem “Don’t Pull Your Love”.
It was a great night of timeless music that at least for a few hours took one back to when times were simple and carefree.
I’d Wait A Million Years
Don’t Pull Your Love
Sooner Or Later
Things I Should Have Said
Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes
Let’s Live For Today
Where Were You When I Needed You
The River Is Wide
Come On And Say It
Two Divided By Love