First Night music in Ocean City

Yesterday evening Ellen and I enjoyed a variety of live music in Ocean City at their First Night celebration. We arrived in town about 4:30 PM and began with a pretty good dinner at the High School Cafeteria. Then we caught the Barbershop Quartets show also in the High School. There were two quartets, above is Sea Chord. Both groups were good, singing not only traditional Barbershop songs like Rosie, but also newer material from the fifties, sixties and seventies in pretty good arrangements.

Next we walked a few blocks to the Tabernacle church where the Harmony Show Choir put on a fine show. This was “Glee” with real high-school age kids. There were some shaky moments, a few performers were visibly nervous, but on the whole the group was quite good, and a few of the soloists were excellent and seemed ready for the big time. All the numbers included some dancing, and that was often quite good as well. The repertoire was mostly from the 1960s and 70s, with a few broadway numbers. One favorite of ours was a charming arrangement of “Feelin’ Groovy” by Simon and Garfunkel, where the word “groovy,” perhaps considered too corny for today, was omitted until the very last word. It worked.

Another short walk to St. Peter’s church brought us to “Broadway by Request,” where the audience were given numbered tickets and a program with a list of about 100 Broadway songs from about 50 different shows. The performers drew numbers, and the audience member with the matching ticket got to choose the song. A nice idea, but each singer was assigned certain songs, and in this performance, one guy was chosen about six times while others not at all. The singing was great, the piano accompaniment was also excellent.

Next we took a longer walk to the Music Pier on the boardwalk to hear “Peter Tork and Shoe Suede Blues.” This was a crowded venue, and we were pretty far back, so my pictures were blurrier than usual, but Ellen and I both thought we would not have recognized Peter from his “Monkees” days anyway. As a blues band, the four were pretty good. Peter and another guitarist switched off playing lead and rhythm, and there was a drummer and bassist. They did some fifties and sixties pop songs, as well as more traditional blues like “Wild About My Lovin’.” Peter was mildly entertaining as a speaker between numbers, and no doubt to satisfy his audience, they did two Monkees songs, “I’m a Believer,” and “Daydream Believer,” and Tork played keyboard on both of those.

That show ended around 10 PM, and we oldsters decided it was time to go home, and we were asleep before midnight. More acts we might have caught included Jim Albertson storytelling, Doo Wop, a Gospel Choir, Carl Howell folk music, a String Band, several magic shows, Zydeco, songs from “Annie”, “Trout Fishing in America,” rock bands, and the Ocean City Pops Orchestra, among others. And fireworks at midnight. Pretty good event, it was our first time there, but I’d certainly go again.

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