Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Getting Underway: The Malt Shop Memories Cruise

Gary Lewis
Here on board Holland America Line’s Eurodam we’re getting into the groove of the music we grew up listening and dancing to.

To open the Malt Shop Memories Cruise with a bang, Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon—who’s been making music since 1959—was the first artist on the main stage in the show lounge. He took us on a musical tour, starting with a song he wrote with his mother—Tallahassee Lassie—and continued with another southern favorite Way Down Yonder in New Orleans. Then we traveled in time and up north to Palisades Park.

In an unusual move, and in order to better interact with (and see) the audience, Cannon kept the house lights on. We were dancing in the aisles to Shake Rattle and Roll as Eurodam rocked and rolled in some rough seas. Freddy also paid tribute to other great artists like Joe Turner and Chuck Berry and received a standing ovation as he concluded his set with Roll Over Beethoven.

Next up Gary U.S. Bonds, whose lovely back-up singers are his wife and daughter. He also took us on a musical journey Down the Mississippi Down to New Orleans and relived the good old days with a ‘60s medley—Twist, Twist Senora, School is Out—and urged us to get up out of our chairs with the Dear Lady Twist. A special treat was his song Caught in a ‘50s Kind of Mood, which he wrote after visiting a club he hadn’t been to for twenty-five years. He never recorded that song, but he should have. Something I didn’t know is that Gary performed with Bruce Springsteen in the early ‘80s and Springsteen wrote This Little Girl Of Mine for him. After he urged us to Dance ‘Till Quarter of Three, he received the second standing ovation of the night and came back on stage for an encore—Chuck Berry’s Johnny Be Good and Hound Dog.

The Malt Shop Memories Cruise was off to a great start, but the evening was still young so we headed to the Queen’s Lounge for a set featuring Gary Lewis and the Playboys. You may know that Gary’s father is an icon of comedy, Jerry Lewis. A few songs into his set, Gary shared with us that he wrote a “novelty” song for his father—Everybody Loves A Clown. Naturally he performed it, in addition to some of his biggest hits—Count Me In, This Diamond Ring, I’m Sure Gonna Miss Her, and She’s Just My Style. That last one was written for him by Leon Russell. After appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show to sing This Diamond Ring, he got great pleasure in hitting number one on the charts—as well as bumping a Beatles hit from that spot. Multi-talented, Gary also plays the drums and took the sticks for Wooly Bully and another standing ovation.

Unlike a lot of today’s music, you can understand the words to the tunes we grew up with and most of us remember them. In fact, most of us were singing along and looking forward to more as the week progresses.

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