Music is a force that strengthens families, unites cultures and bonds generations.
So it was Saturday when the Cowsills, and the Magic Moments — Glenn Leonard of The Temptations, Joe Coleman of The Platters and Joe Blunt of The Drifters – played Savannah Center. The show benefited It Takes A Village.
This concert was filled with glossy pop tunes; hippie anthems and lots of soulful R&B and Motown classics. The set list included “My Girl,” “Hair,” “You Were On My Mind,” “Indian Lake,” “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” “This Magic Moment” and “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”
Put it all together and you have a taste of the variety and power of the music that made the ‘60s so special.
The songs, performances and emotionally-charged atmosphere seemed to transform the past into the present. The years may have taken a toll; we’re all older, and many friends and relatives are gone.
But the memories – like the music – endures.
“This music is a part of us; this music is us,” Bob Cowsill said before he, his sister Susan and brother Paul took the stage for the opening act.
The Cowsill family band – featuring Susan’s husband Russ Broussard on drums and Paul’s son Brendon on guitar – kicked things off with their first big hit, “The Rain, The Park and Other Things.”
“Susan was 7 years old when she joined the act 50 years ago,” Paul Cowsill said. “I remember when she was a baby and I used to change her diaper.”
“You’re getting older, Paul, pretty soon I’ll be changing yours,” Susan cracked.
“Indian Lake” was a lilting pop-rocker that captured the summer mood of eating a hot dog and drinking cola on a warm, sunny day by the beach.
“Hair,” seemed a bit out of place for the clean-cut Cowsills back in the day, but on SaturdaySusan, Bob and Paul Cowsill seemed right at home, singing about flowing locks, and going “ga-ga at the go-go.”
Life hasn’t been easy for the Cowsills. Three family members – Bill, Barry and Richard –have died during the past decade.
But the band carries on the Cowsill legacy with a kind of joyful determination.
“It’s a joy to keep playing this music,” Bob Cowsill said. “If you asked me 50 years ago if we would still be playing this music, I would have said no. We thought we were too cool to play this music. But now it’s different; we’re older but the music is still cool.”
The same can be said for Motown and R&B.
Joe Coleman sang with the latter-day Platters and captured the smooth, silky sound of the group on such numbers as “Only You” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.” Coleman had a glorious way of stretching out a high note to end a song.
Joe Blunt, although not an original, was a member of the Drifters. He brought the essence of the Drifters’ sound to such numbers as “This Magic Moment” “Save the Last Dance For Me” and “Under the Boardwalk.
“He dedicated “Stand By Me,” to the late Drifters’ lead singer, Ben E. King. “I toured with Ben and he was a good man. We sing this tonight for him,” Blunt said.
Glenn Leonard spent nearly a decade with The Temptations, though not an original member. He made the Tempts sound come alive on romantic numbers such as “My Girl,” and “Just My Imagination.”
All three singers joined together and flashed some Motown choreography and harmony on rollicking versions of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Can’t Get Next to You.”
The crowd rose to its feet for a standing ovation when the three singers returned for an encore of “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”
“This was a good show with great memories,” said Villager Mary Anderson, who attended with her husband Bob. “These songs take us back to another time but when you hear them now, they still sound great. They last.”
Just like the Cowsills.
“This is the first time I’ve seen them and it was great,” said Villager Bob Koroncai, who was with his wife Pat. “It was a fun, upbeat show.”
Singer Glenn Leonard summed things up when he talked about performing with Coleman and Blunt.
“We all kind of started out together,” Leonard said. “Now, we’ve come full circle and we’re back together again. I’m happy to be singing with my friends.”
Music has a way of keeping families and friends together.