BROOKLYN BUZZ: Doo-wop bands come to Ft. Ham HS

October 14, 2011 Heather Chin
Share this:

Bring your Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst or Coney Islandbaby to this weekend’s Doo-Wop Spectacular at Fort Hamilton HighSchool (FHHS) and enjoy a night of music from classic ‘60s actsJohn Kuse & the Excellents, the Teenagers, the Classmates, theFireflies, and Shirley Alston Reeves of the Shirelles.

In addition to being hosted by DJ Dennis Nardone and backed upby area group the Coda Band, the lineup for the second annual eventon Saturday, October 15, will feature songs like the Excellents’hit Coney Island Baby and Graduation from local-born band, theClassmates, led by original members and FHHS alums Tony Mazza andJoe Cavanna.

Back in 1960, groups sang in storefronts. We did a song called‘Homework,’ sang at the Green Tea Room, did a record and it didvery well, said Cavanna, a retiree who now lives in Dyker Heightswith his family and also sings with The Excellents. Then BobbyVinton did ‘Roses Are Red’ [overshadowing everything else], I gotdrafted and our lives changed.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Now they’re reuniting. This is the first time Mazza and Cavannawill be performing live together since 1962 and their excitementlevel seems directly proportional to how many rehearsals they havehad and how enthusiastic their family members are to see themperform.

I am most looking forward to the performance itself because Ihaven’t done it in so long, said Mazza, who is a retiredlieutenant with the NYPD and now lives in Staten Island with hiswife of over 50 years. Also, to see other guys and gals again onthe lineup, doing live ‘60s band music instead of just singing withsoundtracks.

Even better for Mazza will be seeing his entire family togetheragain.

All of my five children are out of town but coming in, from[Washington,] D.C., Colorado, California, New Jersey, StatenIsland. Four or five of my 10 grandchildren will be there, saidMazza, who will be throwing a big after-party for the family,including his cousins, sister from Florida, and in-laws. Theyfigure it’s a pretty big deal that grandpa’s performing again withthis group. I’m glad Joe took the time and effort to put this thingtogether.

For Cavanna, it’s just part of his ongoing effort to support hisalma mater through organizing fundraising benefits.

Back then, they did a [skills] test and they sent me to work atBlue Cross. I worked there for 47 years, said Cavanna. I wantedto thank the school, so I put together shows… It’s my way ofgiving back.

He is sure that this show will be the best yet. The music hasnever died. The audience is bigger than we’ve ever seen it. Themusic is a good feeling, Cavanna explained. It says something andtouches people’s heart and memories. It’s about boy meets girl andis very uplifting. This is going to be a night people willremember.

The second annual Doo-Wop Spectacular starts at 7:30 p.m. andonly costs $35 for orchestra seating and $25 for mezzanine seatingin the auditorium at FHHS, 8301 Shore Road. Proceeds will go tosupport the FHHS Parent Teachers Association.

Tickets are available at the door, but it doesn’t hurt to make areservation as seats are selling quickly! Call Phyllis Giancola ofVenus Productions at 917-326-1285 to make your reservation. Ticketscan be picked up at the box office.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment