The Shirelles headlined a music-studded weekend at Monterey Rock and Rod Festival.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Shirelles, featuring original member Beverly Lee, performed at the "shell" stage at Monterey County Fairgrounds from 8:30-10pm Saturday as part of the weekend-long Monterey Rock and Rod Festival.
Backed by able musicians on keys, guitar, piano, drums and sax, before a capacity audience bundled up and swaying in their seats, The Shirelles ran through a sterling set of original songs from the '60s, including their iconic "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Soldier Boy," and covers of classics from Ray Charles ("Baby What'd I Say"), Tina Turner ("Proud Mary"), Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin.
They punctuated the set list with free-spirited and gracious chats with the audience, imploring them to support the festival's organizers, the nonprofit Gateway Center, which helps people with disabilities like mental retardation, cerebral palsy and autism participate more fully in the community.
At one point the three women, decked out in classy red matching dresses, invited several audience members to join them on stage and share verses on a rendition of "I Met Him on a Sunday." A tricky proposition that turned unexpectedly entertaining when they got to the "Saturday" verse, handled with aplomb and spirit by Bob Verwold, 62, of Monterey, who hollered and danced and improvised, crooning "Me and that girl...we talked...for three hours...Oh!"
"Do you believe him?" Lee asked the audience, who replied skeptically.
Another time the stage lights went down as a pre-recorded '60s musical radio spot for Coca Cola played over the speakers. A young woman walked on stage with a tray of the soft drink and gave one to Lee, who then told the audience that the Shirelles were the first black music group to do a radio spot for Coca Cola.
In a more serious homage, Lee thanked soldiers, especially those who served in Vietnam, and asked the women in the audience if they had themselves a soldier boy, then saluted as they sang the stirring harmonies of "Soldier Boy."
After bidding the crowd good night, The Shirelles returned, to enthusiastic applause, for an encore of a spirited "Love Train," which they ended by forming a train and shimmying off stage as the crowd drew near the stage and danced. Lee, who told the audience she's been doing music for 51 years, autographed posters after the show for dozens of waiting fans.
The Monterey Rock and Rod Festival continues Sunday with entertainment by Yard Dogs, Chicano All Stars, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, and wraps with award presentations for the copious classic cars that blanket the lawn and a raffle.
(See the story on The Shirelles.)