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As Long As He's Singing
Music from the Heart, Children's Heart Foundation Benefit Concert
May 17, 2009 ~ Reviewed by Reina Riley

It was a finger-snapping, swinging Dennis Tufano who stepped on to Las Vegas’ South Point Casino stage for the occasion of a Bobby Darin Tribute Concert to benefit the Children’s Heart Foundation of Nevada.  Bill McCubbin and Terry Kellman, both former Bobby Darin band members, led a rocking band of the best musicians Las Vegas has to offer.  Darin’s original big band arrangements were the inspired backing for Tufano’s excellent performance.  Dressed to the nines, Tufano came out swinging with the Darin penned “As Long As I’m Singing.”  Using a combination of trademark Darin moves and Tufano’s own, it was easy to see that Bobby Darin’s legacy was in good hands. 

For the past three years, Dennis Tufano, former lead singer of the great 60’s band The Buckinghams, has paid musical tribute to the late, great Bobby Darin as part of his act.  Fans and critics have all received his efforts with praise.  Totally comfortable in rocker mode, Tufano next chose to do another Darin original as well as a big hit, the royal “Queen of the Hop.”  Dennis has fun with it giving a high energy performance and entertaining dance moves.

Introducing Tufano as a great guy from Chicago, Billy Mc Cubbin moved to a big band sound to back Dennis’ next selection, another big Darin hit, “Lazy River.”  His first chorus is whisper soft, and then he ups the excitement with a rollicking second chorus.  Darin was famous for adding tag lines to his early recordings and this one had a good one.  Supposedly aimed at Frank Sinatra, Dennis repeats the Darin challenge by ending the song with, “I ain’t going your way.  Stay outta my way.”

The segment ended with one of Darin’s most admired vocals, “The Curtain Falls.”  Dennis introduced the song as “an old show-biz tune,” and he proceeded to give a beautiful rendition of this moving ballad.  The band provided gorgeous harmonies to move the song along its sentimental way.  Dennis said that he found everything about Bobby Darin to be inspiring.  “The Curtain Falls” was a memorable example of that inspiration.

Later in the program, Dennis pleased the audience by singing a trio of Buckingham hits that made it high on the charts.  “Don’t You Care,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” and “Kind of Drag” were all great fun and zestfully sung.  This reviewer remembers buying all of them when they were new hits back in the day.  I was a jazz fan in those days, and I liked the brassy, swing/rock approach, and the Buckingham harmonies were always musical, tight and in-tune.

Tufano returned to the stage to do one more solo number, the much-loved, eternally popular, still commercial after all these years, “Beyond The Sea.”  In this song, the pianist gave Dennis a sparkling accompaniment, while Tufano sang in an easy swing mode that was punctuated by the famous Darin percussive ho’s and grunts.  The tribute concert came to an end when all singers returned to the stage to perform a rousing rendition of one of the twentieth century’s greatest and most enduring hits, the ever-popular “Mack The Knife.”

It was a pleasure for me to see and enjoy the talented Dennis Tufano on stage.  I wish him well in the future and continued success with his career choices.  In his mature years he has evolved into a singer who is successful in all genres and styles.  Should he ever come to the Boston area, I will definitely be there in the audience.  As I said earlier, in Dennis Tufano’s hands the music of Bobby Darin is well served indeed.


See photos from this concert.

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