All Hail Doc Pomus!

Roomful of Blues celebrates the music of Doc Pomus at Lincoln Center!

Roomful of Blues celebrates the music of Doc Pomus at Lincoln Center!

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus has been asked to DJ at Lincoln Center’s fabulous Midsummer Nights’ Swing series of concerts and dance events for about ten years now—maybe more. Each time it is a gas. Except when it gets rained out. Last year’s event was rained out; it poured like it was the end of the world, thunder echoed through and lightning reflected off the glass and iron skyscrapers of Midtown—an awesome display of nature but the night was cancelled. Billed as “Save the Last Dance for Me: Roomful of Blues plays the Music of Doc Pomus,” it was rescheduled for June 27 of this year.

It rained on this night, also, but not nearly like last year. An abbreviated version of the show took place, but with the dance floor closed off, and everyone who showed up was allowed into the tented V.I.P. area, where the friends, fans and family of Doc Pomus were determined to celebrate the accomplishments of the great man on this evening, which would have been Mr. Pomus’ ninetieth birthday!

Due to the rain, the dance instruction portion of the show was not performed; The Boog only played one set of records, for about an hour; and Roomful of Blues played one long ninety minute set. But the songwriter was definitely given a fine tribute and those who attended were very pleased with it.

Doc Pomus is one of the finest songwriters of the last half of the Twentieth Century. To list all the songs he wrote may take up the whole internets, but check the song titles in The Boog’s set list and note that the band performed a whole hour of Pomus’ songs without playing any of the songs in the list (well, maybe one.). Also, the Boogaloo Bag reader is strongly urged to see AKA Doc Pomus, a documentary about him. (Also, click on the link every time his name is mentioned for more information on him.)

Roomful of Blues is quite simply the premier practitioner of jump blues in the country—perhaps the world—and has been such almost since it’s inception in 1967. The group, with it’s honkin’ horns and hot rhythm section, can swing with the best of them, lay down a funky soul beat and play a bop that just won’t stop. Although its personnel changes from time to time, it maintains an extraordinary high level of playing. It can only be described as an American institution dedicated to playing a style of music that must not die. In the past it has often acted as a most excellent backing band for such legends of jump blues as Big Joe Turner, Eddie Cleanhead Vinson and Earl King. Today it is a proud carrier of the torch.

Jenni Muldaur swings with Roomful of Blues at Lincoln Center.

Jenni Muldaur swings with Roomful of Blues at Lincoln Center.

The group was a most excellent choice to be part of this celebration of Pomus’ music, as The Roomfuls have cut several of his songs, and the songwriter was instrumental in the group getting its initial recording contract back in the Seventies. This is a clear example of the best possible act being involved with a most worthy tribute. Plus, Jenni Muldaur, a woman whose fame has never caught up with the power of her voice, was on hand, along with a trio of women backup singers, to sing Dion & the Belmonts’ hit “Why Must I Be a Teenager in Love” and “I’m Gonna Cry Til My Tears Run Dry,” first cut by the great Irma Thomas. These people were obviously prepared and delivered the goods. No doubt Doc Pomus was looking down from heaven with a great big smile on his face!

Here’s a list of the songs—all written or co-written (mostly with Mort Shuman) by Doc Pomus—played by DJ Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus at Midsummer Nights’ Swing:

None of these records are for sale

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swings at Lincoln Center!

Phast Phreddie the Boogaloo Omnibus swings at Lincoln Center!

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