About six months ago, my husband told me he wanted to take this cruise called a Malt Shop Cruise. It's a week in the Caribbean and every day there are different artists performing: Neil Sedaka, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker, and Darlene Love, to name a few. I am always over the moon to see Neil Sedaka. He never gets old. Okay, so I said yes. We were lucky to even get on this cruise and get a cabin. The day finally arrived. I had no idea what to expect, but from the get go, I could tell we were part of something special. All the passengers were here to have fun, relive their youth, dance, sing, and party.
Seriously, people, I don't think I can do this justice. This was one of the most fantastic experiences I've ever had. There were people from all over, many that had taken all 6 of these chartered cruises. Many couples were high school sweethearts and still together. Many women travelled together so they could have fun, fun, fun 'til their Daddy took the T-Bird away. There were theme nights: prom night, pajama night, sock hop night, costume night, and more. Everything went. All that mattered was the fun. And boy howdy, everyone was having fun. It was as if time had stopped and everyone was back in high school again for just that one week. They may have wrinkles, grey hair, and more weight, but you really couldn't tell by all the festivities.
Unlike most cruises, this cruise had activities all around and about music. Trivia games were music oriented. And the concerts...oh my goodness, the concerts. First night up, Chubby Checker. He put on a very entertaining show. Full of energy and twists. Wouldn't say he was ever a great singer, but his performance level was high. The audience ate it up. Screaming, singing along, and twisting. Night 2: one of my all time favorites, Neil Sedaka. I have been seeing him in concert for some 40 years. He still sounds amazing and you can't go wrong with his songs. He played for 90 minutes and had the whole room singing and clapping. Night 3: Darlene Love. She looks and sounds fantastic. She sang many of her hits, though you may not realize that they are her hits. In the early years, Darlene Love sang the tracks and others got the credit. Ah, that Phil Spector, what a guy. Anyway, thanks to the documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom, she finally gets the credit she so richly deserves. Night 4: The Brooklyn Reunion which is a combination of three Doo-Wop groups, The Mystics, The Passions, and The Classics. The audience ate it all up. Took them back. Night 5: Does the name Frankie Avalon mean anything to you? He looks gorgeous. It is his own hair and a full head of hair it is. He sang great, told stories, honored Annette Funicello, Elvis Presley, and more. Night 6: Bobby Rydell and Sonny Turner the lead singer from The Platters. First of all, though I knew many of Bobby Rydell's songs, I had zero idea how well he sang. Gorgeous voice. He honored Bobby Darrin for a segment, told stories and jokes, sang, and took the audience to its heights. Lucky for Sonny Turner that he was up first. As great as he was, I wouldn't want to follow Bobby Rydell. (Dawned on me, if that's why the high school in Grease is Rydell High. Anyone know?). Night 7 and the last night: Little Anthony and the Imperials. Sigh. Well, they were good, not great. They are entertaining, but Anthony has lost a step. We saw him at Feinstein's in NYC a few years ago and it was basically the same everything. Okay, so that touches on all the shows at night.
Every day there were Q&A's with the talent. The room overflowed with people trying to be there in person. Fortunately they were taped and were shown on closed circuit television all week. They had special concerts with The Toys, Lou Christie, and Jay and the Americans during the day. I completely missed Jay and the Americans appeal, but the rest of the passengers flipped and were over the top about them. The Toys and Lou Christie much more my speed. Frankie Avalon and the great DJ/Host/Emcee, Jerry Blavat, did a cooking segment to sell Frankie's new Italian cookbook.
There was so much more than all of this, but to capture the feeling that filled the air is impossible to convey. These people were there for the music. Relive their high school days. Make new friends. One woman brought her sister on the cruise because this was her last hurrah, literally. They had a great time. And did I mention that all the singers, now just think about this for one second, all of the singers are in their 70's!!!!!!!!!!! It is astonishing to me how incredible they sounded and how well they looked and moved. There was some very fancy footwork going on during the concerts. Jimmy Maddox was the king of the Piano Bar. People were fighting to find seats in the small bar to hear him play rock and roll, drink, and sing along. A hugely talented piano player. Another great way to meet people.
To say that this is just a Malt Shop Cruise, is not doing it justice. This is a very special fairy dusted cruise on the seas to celebrate life and music. I don't care what age you are, if you like this period of music, 50's-60's pre British-invasion, this is a cruise not to be missed. How many more times can you see these singers? Already signed up for next year: Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons, Dionne Warwick, Ronnie Spector, The Letterman, and many, many more next time. Come on, people, let's do the twist.
Sidebars: Well, just think about any other time in music that could bring so many people together. I think that our children could never have an opportunity like this. Music today will never live on in the annals of history. Don't think in 30-40 years, Time-Life could ever put together a Kanye West, Drake, Demi Lovato cruise. Don't think anything like that could ever happen. Music today is so processed and synthesized that I don't think in the long view it will last or have the same place in music history. Now, before you start yelling at me, this name or that name, there will be exceptions, but very few. Couldn't put together a disco era cruise. First of all, too many are dead, but it wouldn't be the same. Currently there are Country, Soul, Broadway, and Malt Shop cruises. There may be others, but that's what I gleaned from others on the ship. Broadway cruises were the only ones I'd ever heard of before this, and that seemed dull to me. Rather see the music in context on a Broadway stage. -- Happy to see that the Gloria Estefan musical, On Your Feet, opened to good/great reviews. Brava. Loved seeing my former client, Alma Cuervo, getting her due in the reviews as Gloria's Abuela! This week, catching up on everything I missed last week. Seeing King Charles III Wednesday matinee. Many movies to see still, too. Dying to see Spotlight. Hope everyone is doing well. NYC is really having Fall for the first time in years. Enjoy!
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