Like, I imagine, most people who grew up in the Seventies, I became aware of Sha-Na-Na through their syndicated television show. Either that or their appearance in the movie "Grease". However, unlike, I imagine, most people I am aware that they still tour (actually, I only became aware of that when I started to research the bands that played Woodstock).
After missing several opportunities to catch them in the past year, I found out that they would be playing 4 special holiday shows to kick off their 40th anniversary where it all started in New York City.
They played at the Times Square Arts Center, which opened in the space that The Laugh Factory comedy club used to occupy near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. As I work in Midtown Manhattan, it was easy enough to catch them. So, on a cold, rainy, miserable New York night in December, I went to see Sha-Na-Na.
The club has room for 300 people: however, the place was only 1/3 full. That didn't stop the band, though. They played full of enthusiasm. Although, only three of the members from the classic line-up remain (Donny, Jocko, & Screamin' Scott), it brought me right back to watching their show on WOR.
As previously mentioned, only three familiar names are with the band; however, there are additional musicians. Reggie Batisse is featured on Baritone/Bass vocals. Also in the current touring band is Jim Waldbillig (bass guitar, vocals), Gene Jaramillo (guitar, vocals), Paul Kimbarow (drums, vocals), and Michael Brown (saxophone). During the show, members of the band rotated on and off stage. For example, Paul Kimbarow and Jocko Marcellino traded places on the drums and those who weren't singing on a particular song. However, given that they were playing two sets a night and the stage was small - it was understandable.
Despite this, the members of the band are consummate entertainers. They fully engage the audience. They pull people out of the crowd to perform with them on stage. For example, there were 3 or 4 people doing the Hokey Pokey with the band on the stage. During "Save the Last Dance for Me" several women were asked to dance by the band members. It was great family friendly entertainment. It was a really great show and I highly recommend to all for a night of family friendly entertainment.
Here’s the set list:
We Wish You a Merry Christmas At the Hop Hound Dog The Twist The Stroll Hand Jive Hokey Pokey Save the Last Dance for Me Sixteen Candles A Matter of Time California Sun The Wanderer Lucille Shake, Rattle & Roll Tequilla/Tonk? Sandy Santa Claus is Coming to Town Santa's on a Diet All I Want for Christmas Feliz Navidad Baby, Please Come Home for Christmas The Dreidel song Blue Christmas Silent Night Little Drummer Boy God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen White Christmas Whole Lotta Shakin' going on (with XMAS lyrics) Run, Run, Rudolph Rock & Roll is Here to Stay/See Ya Later Alligator Goodnight Sweetheart
After the show, the band did a meet and greet with their fans and both Jocko and Donny signed my poster.
I had a chance to ask Donny York if when he joined the band when he was attending Columbia University ever thought he'd still be in Sha-Na-Na 40 years after he joined the band. He replied never ever. With autographs in hand and thoroughly entertained, I ventured back out into the rainy night.