Rock ‘N Soul Revue revisits ’50s, ’60s hits

Kenyata "Tech" Landry
August 14, 2009
Aug. 18
August 18, 2009
Kenyata "Tech" Landry
August 14, 2009
Aug. 18
August 18, 2009

Ray. Aretha. Otis. Fats. Janice. Tina. Jerry Lee.

No last names needed.

Rock ‘N Soul Revue ’09 is bringing its roster of local singers and musicians to the Holiday Inn in Houma this month for seven shows of hits from the big names of the 1950s and ’60s. Performances include dinner.

“There are so many who look forward to hearing this fabulous music,” said Lorna Farrar, producer with South Louisiana Casting & Production Company, which is staging the show for the sixth consecutive year in the Houma-Thibodaux area.

Rock ‘N Soul Revue has vocalists Shannon Rhodes, Debbie Womack, Ayanni Diggs, Dana Guidry, Sadie Pierce, David Rhodes, Errol Bourgeois, Errol Trosclair and Hugh Watson singing nearly 40 hits for two hours backed by a band of veteran musicians.

Some of the tunes covered include The Four Seasons’ “Sherry,” Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say,” Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” Otis Redding’s “Mr. Pitiful,” and Bobby Darin’s “Beyond the Sea.”

“David Rhodes, you name it, he can sing it, everybody from Sam Cooke to Percy Sledge to Otis Redding,” Farrar said.

His wife Shannon has a voice that would do Aretha Franklin proud, she said, and Womack performs soft ballads that melt the heart.

“Dana Guidry has the most interesting, powerful voice,” Farrar said. Guidry will cover Janice Joplin’s version of “Summertime.”

“Hugh does an incredible version of ‘In the Midnight Hour’ by Wilson Pickett that brings the house down,” Farrar said.

She and coproducer Bernadette Dugas work hard to get the performances right, Farrar said. They pay special attention to the harmonizing background singers, who can be as strong as the lead vocalists.

Rock ‘N Soul Revue has no emcee because Farrar and Dugas want to pack in the songs and keep things moving. The show has plenty of choreography.

The idea for Rock ‘N Soul Revue sprang from a show that South Louisiana Casting & Production Company staged called “Pink Thunderbird.” During intermission, “Thunderbird” played music from the 1950s that the audience seemed to like as much as the show, said Farrar, a Napoleonville native who owns a clothing store in Houma.

“We thought we’d do a show with 50s and 60s music,” she said. “People out there love this music. The musicians look forward to getting together. You can’t find venues with rock ‘n’ roll anymore.”

Nearly all the singers are veteran performers. Trosclair and Guidry have had CDs out. Womack has sung in television commercials.

Two singers in the lineup who are performing in the show for the first time have extensive singing experience with church choirs.

“I believe in continuous rehearsal,” Farrar said. “We teach a lot of discipline. They need to cut it right away. They have to go from performance to performance.

“They have to know volume, so many different elements. It requires complete discipline. If people spend money on an evening like this they should get their money’s worth.”

The musicians are Clyde Pellegrin, Pershing Wells, Jimmy George, Mark Dufrene, Jack Bunn, Roy Knight and Mike Vice.

Farrar called keyboardist Pellegrin and guitarist Wells “geniuses.” Pellegrin will cover Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles and Fats Domino. George is in the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Vice, Dufrene and Wells have been members of the Blue Eyed Soul Revue.

“This show gives them the opportunity to play great old music,” Farrar said. “The vocalists are precise. It’s a lot of fun for these musicians, to play with such fine vocalists.”

Rock ‘N Soul revue will be at the prestigious Blue Room at the Roosevelt New Orleans hotel later this year. An earlier engagement to play the Blue Room was cancelled by Hurricane Katrina.

South Louisiana Casting & Production Company has also produced musicals and plays, including “Steel Magnolias.”

But Rock ‘N Soul revue is only about great music-and nostalgia and romance.

“When Debbie Womack sings ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ you’ll think of your first love,” Farrar said. “‘Heat Wave’ will remind you of the College Inn in Thibodaux.”

“‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ makes you want to dance slow,” she said. “Nobody does that anymore. When Errol Bourgeois sings ‘Shake Your Tail Feather’ it makes you think of the Mashed Potato. You’re back in the ’50s and ’60s.”

Rock ‘N Soul Revue will be staged Thursday, Aug. 20 through Sunday, Aug. 23. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. and shows start at 8 p.m., except Sundays. Lunch on the Sunday dates begins at 1 p.m. and shows begin at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $60. The Holiday Inn in Houma is located at 1800 Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Call (985) 223-2003 for reservations.