On May 29, Midwest music icon, Marvin Junior died of complications from longtime kidney and heart ailments. He was 77.
For over a half century Junior’s baritone voice was the cornerstone of The Dells, the hit-making rhythm-and-blues vocal group from Harvey, Ill. formed in the early 1950s when its members were students at Thornton Township High School. The group honed their famous harmonies by singing under the local highway overpass.
The Dells found international success and were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 after recording over two dozen albums and enjoying a string of radio hits including “Oh What A Night,” “Stay In My Corner,” “I Touched A Dream,” “Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation,” and others. Junior was co-author of the #1 hit “Oh What A Night.”
The Dells consisted of harmony singers Verne Allison, Mickey McGill and Chuck Barksdale, baritone Junior and falsetto singer Johnny Carter, a former member of the Flamingos, who replaced original falsetto singer Johnny Funches in 1960. The group never had any break-ups and the members remained close friends throughout their career.
Here’s a “Did You Know?” fun fact about The Dells: The group were the inspiration for Robert Townsend’s 1991 film, “The Five Heartbeats.”
WOLFFGANG WAS HOWLING GOOD:
It was a delight having Hobart High School's female vocal ensemble "WOLFFGANG" live on my “Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” radio show last Tuesday on 89.1FM-The Lakeshore. Musical Director Dean Wolff does an excellent job with the young ladies who performed a series of “girl group” medleys for the listeners and talked about why the group was an important part of their high school experience.
Although a bit out of their element singing live on radio while squeezed into a very tiny studio, the eight ladies -- Kristen Kennedy, Abigail Purcell, Zoe Kietzman, Kaylee Rodriguez, May Hickman, Alexis Jenkins, Erika Ward and Jessica Hunt -- were amazing. Missing from the event was Wolffgang’s ninth member, Savannah Ehrlich.
The Hobart Brickies may be renowned for their sports teams, but they also have much to be proud of with Wolffgang in an era when "the arts" are shamefully being squeezed out of so many public school systems. If you missed the program, listen to the podcast online at: www.lakeshorepublicmedia.org/radio.
The public can enjoy free Wolffgang performances at 7 p.m. June 14 at Hobart Relay for Life at Mundell Field (Old Ridge Road and Wisconsin Street) in Hobart; at noon on June 22 at Festival Park in downtown Hobart at the “Water Festival”; or at 6 p.m. on July 9 for “Music in the Park” at Woodland Park in Portage. Organizations can have Wolffgang perform by contacting Dean Wolff at (219) 942-8521 ext. 8171 or emailing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Valparaiso-based blues rock group, Planetary Blues Band, celebrate the release of their new album, “Once Upon A Time In The South Loop" with a hometown CD release party tonight at The Franklin House (58 South Campbell St.) in Valparaiso. The group’s Chicago release party on May 15 at Buddy Guy’s Legends night club gave the group’s four members -- Martin Schaefer-Murray (guitar/vocals), Michael Schaefer-Murray (guitar/vocals), Bobby Schaefer-Murray (bass), and Nick Evans (drums) – a lifetime memory when the venue’s iconic owner Buddy Guy stepped up to join the four Hoosier bluesmen on stage to jam. There is no cover for the 21 and older 9 p.m. event. More: (219) 707-5468 or www.planetaryblues.com.
• Blues on the radio will be heard June 11 when The Chicago Kingsnakes and Billy King invade the radio studio of 89.1FM-The Lakeshore to chat and perform live from 6-7 p.m. on “The Midwest BEAT with Tom Lounges” in support of their free 7 p.m. concert at Munster’s Centennial Park band shell on June 14 with The Wayne Baker Brooks Blues Band. More: www.munster.org
• The Blues can also be found in Joliet on Saturday as veteran quartet Howard & The White Boys (www.howardandthewhiteboys.net) kick out seasoned blues covers and music from their own albums in a free 21 and over, 8 p.m. concert at Hollywood Casino (777 Hollywood Blvd.). More: (888) 436-7737 or www.facebook.com/HollywoodJoliet.