SPOTLIGHT 29: The '60s still shine for Gary Lewis and the Playboys


“This Diamond Ring” band plays the Happy Together tour at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella on Saturday, March 26.

Years ago, Gary Lewis was enrolled at a theater arts college in Pasadena, wondering what he should do for a career when he heard The Beatles.

“The first time I heard about them was early 1963 and my first thoughts were, ‘Oh my gosh, this is great,” he said in a recent interview.

A year later, Lewis and his band the Playboys had their own hit at the top of the charts, “This Diamond Ring.”

The group will perform Saturday, March 26, at Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella as part of the Happy Together tour, which also includes The Turtles, The Buckinghams and The Grass Roots. Lewis was part of the first Happy Together tour in 1985, which featured the same lineup as this year’s event.

Lewis, the son of comedian and actor Jerry Lewis, started to play the drums when he was 5 years old. He formed The Playboys from classmates at school. Fortunately, his mother helped fund the band because he did not want his dad to know.

“Even though I was into show business, it was at the other end of it, so it was cool because no one could say by getting into the business was just nepotism,” he said. “My dad actually didn’t know I had a band until ‘This Diamond Ring.’ Mom financed everything for us but she said we couldn’t tell my dad because if it fails then we’d have to come up with an excuse. She financed it for a year, and she was like our manager and she did it out of love. Mom was great.”

Once “This Diamond Ring,” was a smash, he was free to tell his father.

“He was shooting a movie on the Paramount lot, and I walked in with my first gold record of it and he was cool that way,” he said. “Any time any of his sons came to see him on the set he would shut down everything and devote his time to us. And I brought it to him and gave it to him. He was surprised. He asked, ‘When did this happen?’ so I told him the story.”

The younger Lewis was riding high but he was given a little bit of caution by his producer, Snuff Garrett.

“He didn’t want us to get too excited because there were so many one-hit artists,” he said. “He said we have to concentrate on number two, and if we get that one then we are good to go. As it turned out, our first seven singles all went Top 10.”

Among those top hits were “Count Me In,” “She’s Just My Style” and “Save Your Heart for Me.”

“I was so blessed to be listening to and making music in the ‘60s,” he said. “It was just such a terrific time. It wasn’t just years but it was an event.”

And that’s what he looks for when he gets on stage.

“It’s still just a good time to be out there,” he said.


Maxi Priest to headline the Annual Nile Gold Jazz and Soul Safari


When contacted to confirm the Maxi Priest whirlwind, Tshaka Mayanja, the event's co-founder, asked everyone to wait for official communication. He only opened up on the event's change of titles. "The event now is The Annual Nile Gold Jazz and Soul Safari," he said.

British reggae vocalist of Jamaican descent Maxi Priest could be the main act at the Annual Nile Gold Jazz and Soul Safari. 

According to one insider, Maxi Priest renowned for songs like "Wild World" "Just A Little Longer" and "Close To You" will be making his second appearance on Ugandan soil, 20 years since he last performed here, as he graces the annual event that has since changed officially from just being "The Annual Nile Gold Jazz Safari" to "Nile Gold Jazz And Soul Safari." 

When contacted to confirm the Maxi Priest whirlwind, Tshaka Mayanja, the event's co-founder, asked everyone to wait for official communication. He only opened up on the event's change of titles. "The event now is The Annual Nile Gold Jazz and Soul Safari," he said. 

"We have followed the Jamaican annual one. Theirs is called Jamaica Jazz and Blues. It fuses jazz inspired genres.

"In other words, we will continue having jazz and soul acts, and the title of the event now represents that." 

But all signs show Maxi Priest will be the headline act on the ninth edition alongside jazz players Jackiem Joyner and Lin 'Soul-Trumpeter' Rountree. 

Priest does reggae music sprinkled with R&B influence, a craft that has put him in the pantheon of reggae fusion artistes of all time.

The event has hosted several artistes of pedigree in jazz and soul the past editions like Gerald Albright, Norman Brown, Kirk Whalum, Chuck Loeb, Keith Sweat, Reginna Belle, Jonathan Butler, Joe Thomas and Eric Marienthal among others.


Up Close adds Nichols, the Commodores


Up Close Concerts owner and promoter Bob Cannella has added two more shows to his 10th anniversary season in Branson with country hitmaker Joe Nichols Sept. 2, and 70s and 80s soul funk group the Commodores on Sept. 16 Both acts will perform at the Welk resort Theatre.

Nichols, a Rodgers, Arkansas native, grew up in a musical family, and found work as a member of a local rock band, as well as a DJ. After recording his first album for an independent label, Nichols’ second album, “Man with a Memory,” spawned the No. 3 hit “The Impossible.”

That album went platinum and snagged Nichols a Top New Male Vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music, as well as three Grammy Award nominations and the Country Music Association’s Horizon Award. The album’s second single, “Brokenheartsville,” became his first No. 1 hit on the Billboard country charts. Follow-up tunes “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” and “Cool to Be a Fool” hit the Top 20.

Nichols’ next album yielded the hits “If Nobody Believed in You” and “What’s a Guy Gotta Do,” but his fourth album, “III,” saw the release of his most popular tune, the No. 1 hit “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” Both the single and the album went Gold. The album also produced the Top Ten hits “Size Matters (Someday),” and “I’ll Wait for You.”

In all, Nichols’ albums have produced 14 Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, including “Gimmie That Girl,” and the 2014 tunes “Sunny and 75,” and the Gold single “Yeah.”

Tickets for the Joe Nichols show go on sale March 24.

Later in September, the Welk Resort Theatre will host the Commodores, featuring original member William “Wak” King, co-lead singer Walter “Clyde” Orange, who was the voice behind “Night Shift” and “Brick House,” and former Heatwave singer James Dean “J.D.” Nicholas, who took over as co-lead singer in 1984.

The Commodores were formed in 1968 while all the members were in college at Tuskeegee University. After snagging a gig as the opening act for the Jackson 5, the group was signed by Motown producer and owner Berry Gordy in 1972. The group blended soul, funk and R&B with the vocals of Orange and Lionel Richie, and saw massive success with hits like “Easy,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Fancy Dancer,” “Sail On” and “Lady (You Bring Me Up).”

In 1978, the Commodores made a cameo in the 1978 film “Thank God It’s Friday, performing “Too Hot ta Trot” during the dance contest. “Brick House” and “Easy” were also played during the movie. Following the release of several more hits, Richie left the group in 1982 to pursue a solo career.

The band weathered the storm of replacing the iconic Richie, snagging their first Grammy award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for the 1985 hit “Nightshift.” The tune is a tribute to fallen R&B artists Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye.

Overall, the Commodores sold more than 60 million records, and now consist of Orange, Nicholas, and King, along with their five-piece band, known as the “Mean Machine.” The group continues to perform, playing at arenas, theaters, and festivals around the world.

Tickets for the Commodores go on sale March 22.

Cannella also hinted he’d be announcing a Branson date for another iconic group later this month.

“A group celebrating 50 years of good times will be on the Up Close Concerts stage at Welk Resort Theatre Oct. 3,” Cannella teased. “Whether you fell in love with them on TV or have a stack of their many hit records, fans of all ages will be having a lot of fun on this special night.”

In addition to Nichols and the Commodores, Cannella has also announced several other shows set for this season at both the Welk Resort Theatre, as well as the Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater.

First up at the Welk Resort Theatre is Trace Adkins April 22, Barrett Baber on May 6,Engelbert Humperdink will perform May 14, the “Roots & Boots Tour” starring Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw and Collin Ray May 27, Diamond Rio June 10, Huey Lewis & the News June 15, and Peter Noone Oct. 28, also at the Welk Resort Theatre. Crystal “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” Gayle and T.G. Sheppard will perform at the Welk Resort Theatre July 1.

The Welk will also the “Happy Together Tour,” starring the Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie, former Three Dog Night lead singer Chuck Negron, former Paul Revere and the Raiders lead singer Mark Lindsay, the Cowsills, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, and the Spencer Davis Group starring Spencer Davis Aug. 5, as well as Lee Greenwood and Lacy J. Dalton Oct. 7. Ronnie Milsap and Johnny Rodriguez are set to take the stage at the Welk Resort Theatre Oct. 14.

At Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, Taylor Hicks will perform May 4, Terri Clark will take the stage May 11, followed by Moe Bandy and Johnny Lee May 18. Chubby Checker, the man responsible for ‘The Twist,” will perform at the venue May 25.

Restless Heart will take the Bandstand stage Sept. 16. Bandy and his longtime partner Joe Stampley Oct. 5, followed by entertainers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, Ricky Nelson’s twin sons, who will perform “Ricky Nelson Remembered” Oct. 12. The following week, Bandstand hosts a triple-header with T.G. Sheppard, David Frizell and Jeannie Seely on Oct. 19, followed by Gary Lewis and the Playboys Nov. 2.

After performing several dates in Branson the last few years, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theatre will host the lone Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers date in Branson Nov. 9, and Chubby Checker again Nov. 16.

Tickets for all Welk resort Theatre shows are available by calling 417-337-7469, or visiting

For shows at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater, call 417-339-3003, visit the theater’s box office, or

Donny Osmond, Christopher Cross highlight market entertainment

To perform in ‘Stars Under the Stars’ series

Furniture Today Staff -- Furniture Today, March 16, 2016

HIGH POINT — Donny Osmond and Christopher Cross will entertain marketgoers as part of High Point Market’s “Stars Under the Stars” entertainment series.

The High Point Market Authority announced that Cross will perform on Saturday, April 16 and Osmond will take the stage the following night. Both shows begin at 7:30 p.m. at the market’s Center Stage between Showplace and the Transportation Terminal.

Cross, a winner of five Grammy awards and one Oscar, first burst onto the scene in 1980 with the song of the year, “Sailing.” As the decade unfolded, Cross continued to top the charts with tunes such as “Ride Like the Wind,” “Say You’ll Be Mine,” “Never Be the Same,” “All Right,” “No Time for Talk,” and “Think of Laura.” Plus, his collaboration with Burt Bacharach, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You can Do)” earned an Academy Award in 1982 as Best Song from a Film.

Through the years, Cross has remained a unique artist whose nine albums comprise a body of work that reveals a sophisticated sensitivity, and a steady, focused dedication to artistic growth. He currently plays close to 100 live shows per year. On April 17, Osmond steps up to deliver an evening of entertainment. Starting as the original teen idol in a boy band with his brothers, Osmond has enjoyed a 50-plus year career as a singer, actor, television series host, best-selling author, motivational speaker, and Season 9 champion of “Dancing with the Stars.” He has earned 33 gold records and sold more than 100 million albums. Today, he performs at the Flamingo Las Vegas with his sister, Marie. Their show is so popular that its venue was recently renamed “The Donny & Marie Showroom.” Plus, they have enjoyed a five-year run in “Best of Las Vegas,” by the Las Vegas Journal Review.

Donny and wife, Debbie, recently launched Donny Osmond Home. Sponsors of this event include the Donny Osmond Home Brand, Coaster Fine Furniture, Sagebrook Home and KAS Rugs. Doors open for all events at 7:00 p.m. at Center Stage (6:45 pm for market-goers who have been issued a buyer’s pass). Food and drinks are provided to all marketgoers with a current spring market pass and photo ID. No one under the age of 15 will be admitted.