Put on a Slick Show in New Jersey
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Grease was the word back in 1978. This romantic musical comedy was a box office smash. Its soundtrack album was the second best selling record in the U.S. that year. Sha Na Na is a classic 1950's rock & roll outfit who appeared in that popular film. Today, Sha Na Na still tours delighting crowds with their nostalgic concerts. On January 23, 2015, Sha Na Na performed music from the movie Grease and more at the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey.

The Legendary Sha Na Na Put on a Slick Show in New Jersey
Sha Na Na present the music of Grease at the bergenPAC.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Quinones)

In the 1960's Sha Na Na started out as a glee club ensemble. Their a-cappella versions of 1950's rock songs were popular but it was an appearance at the 1969 Woodstock Festival that brought them nationwide notoriety. Since then Sha Na Na has sold millions of records. They also hosted a TV show from 1977-1981 that still has worldwide syndication, which is why we spotted a number of young fans in the crowd at the bergenPAC.

"Good evening music lovers," greeted Sha Na Na. The seven-piece group took the stage promptly at 8 p.m. They were all decked out in colorful clothes. Sha Na Na opened with a giddy "Let's Go to the Hop" that featured their signature multi-part harmonies and coordinated dance moves including a few kicks.

The Legendary Sha Na Na Put on a Slick Show in New Jersey
"Screamin'" Scott Simon was a fan favorite. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Quinones)

Although Sha Na Na is old school rock utilizing a basic stage set up they easily engaged the audience. During the snappy "Born to Hand Jive" they went out into the crowd and picked a lady to assist them with the hand moves. They chose well as she was very coordinated. Next, they asked fans to stand up to do the "Hokey Pokey", which was a slight challenge in a seated theater but folks had fun trying. Another women was on stage for "Save The Last Dance For Me". Piano player Scott Simon had a big star on his behind that added humor to the slower tune.

The sweet "Sixteen Candles" was another crowd pleaser. They mentioned some of the major highlights of their long career such as the movie Grease - a good lead in to the tracks from the soundtrack including "Hound Dog" and "Those Magic Changes" where they hit the high notes on that 1950's style song. Sha Na Na's version of "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" was comical. "Wooly Bully" showcased a sassy sax solo and more fine multi-part vocals paired with coordinated dance steps.

The Legendary Sha Na Na Put on a Slick Show in New Jersey
Newer member "Downtown Michael Brown" was a revelation.
(Photo courtesy of Dennis Quinones)

For the second set a street light and a trash can was added to their simple set. Sha Na Na served up a lively "Love Potion No. 9" using the receptacle as a prop to stir the potent brew. Echoes of a storm combined with keys to sound like rain drops set the tone for "Rhythm of the Rain" with the guys spinning umbrellas for an effect. Props were used as additional tools but the focus of the concert was the music and the doo-wop styled vocals. They were also impressive on a number of instrumentals including the surf inspired "Wipe Out".

Sha Na Na shared that they wrote "Sandy" for the movie Grease but John Travolta got to sing it. They jested that John, himself a native of Englewood, could not be here tonight but he texted the band stating that the guy who wrote it should sing it. So, Scott took care of the vocals. Next the men handled "Hopelessly Devoted to You" another hit from the film. A montage of some of the other big songs from the movie kept the mood high before they presented a lively "Greased Lightnin'" followed by the rockabilly classic "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On'".

The Legendary Sha Na Na Put on a Slick Show in New Jersey
More scenes from Sha Na Na.

"Best place in town; who needs to go across the river," stated Sha Na Na referring to the Bergen County venue. They also made it a point to thank the sound and lighting people along with the fans. After band introductions they sang and waved goodnight to close the set. By the time we were in the lobby Sha Na Na was already there to sign autographs. Sha Na Na were seasoned professional presenting a fun show for fans of all ages to enjoy.

The bergenPAC - centrally located in Englewood, NJ continues to hosts a wide range of shows such as Sha Na Na. Upcoming events at the theater include Kashmir, Sid the Science Kid, Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett, Spank, Mummenschanz, Turtle Dance Music, Judy Collins, Laugh All Night and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico.

The Legendary Sha Na Na Put on a Slick Show in New Jersey
More scenes from Sha Na Na.

Related Links: For more information on SHA NA NA and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Sha Na Na | bergenPAC

(Originally Published on January 27, 2015)




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