The Casino File: AC's Ocean rides waves of Boomer nostalgia with ‘Summer of Love;' Pauly D re-ups at Harrah’s
We have but two criticisms of Summer of Love Concert, the just-launched resident revusical at Ocean Casino Resort: The 75-minute run-time is way too short, and ‘60s chart-topper The Association is not represented.
Beyond that, Summer of Love is pretty much perfect gaming-hall entertainment: Engaging, breezy and wisely focused on a crucial demographic group. And loads of fun to boot.
The brainchild of singer-songwriter Glen Burtnik, a mainstay of the Asbury Park music scene, Summer of Love is not specific to 1967—the year in which the so-called “Summer of Love” kicked off a societal earthquake via the “drugs, sex and rock & roll” ethos. While ’67 tuneage is represented by the likes of “Happy Together” and “To Sir with Love,” the show’s sonic palette reaches into the early 1970s. And despite the psychedelic connotations of the program’s title, Summer of Love smartly blends multiple pop genres from folk-rock (“Green Tambourine,” “California Dreaming”), to blues (“Piece O’ My Heart”), to R&B and soul (“Dance To the Music,” “What’s Going On”).
One of the show’s many strengths is that its large, crackerjack band doesn’t just clone the songs. All are rendered with fealty to the originals, but some arrangements are given more creative leeway resulting in memorable moments.
One is a wonderful version of “Woodstock” that begins with Emily Grove offering the first couple of minutes in a deliberate, hymn-like manner before the Burtnik-led band kicks in with a chugging format more in line with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s familiar rendering. Another is Christine Martucci’s strong turn on “Me & Bobby McGee” which is taken to a whole different level by Taylor Hope’s fiery fiddle work.
Regardless of the song or style, the vocalists shine throughout the presentation. Burtnik is solid on the more rock-oriented material and Brielle Van Hugel nails “To Sir with Love.” But it is two other male singers with unusual first names—Remember Jones and Freedom Bremner who steal the show.
Jones rips it up both musically and showmanship-wise with a Joe Cocker tribute segment (“Delta Lady,” “With A Little Help From My Friends”) while Bremner is equally electrifying handling the R&B end of things. It should be noted that Jones wisely doesn’t attempt to mimic Cocker’s signature spastic stage moves.
The proceedings are further enhanced by Burtnik’s sure-handed work as the show’s emcee (he throws in a few jokes including describing the time period in focus as one when “we took acid instead of antacid”) and Pig Video’s digital version of the kind of psychedelic light show that was de rigeur at rock concerts of the era.
But, as noted at the beginning of this piece, there are a couple serious flaws. One is the 75-minute run time (which zoomed by as if it were 25 minutes). Another 35 minutes would definitely have been welcome as there are so many other great songs that could have been included.
Which brings us to criticism number two:
Yo Glen! How can “Windy,” “Along Comes Mary,” “Cherish” or “Never My Love” not be included? All of these Association hits absolutely epitomized the pop-rock side of the late-‘60s; the omission is egregious.
Oh well, guess we’ll just have to wait for Another Summer of Love.
For ticket info, click here.
Pauly D, who became a pop-culture avatar via membership in the original cast of Jersey Shore, is resuming his affiliation with the Pool After Dark, the disco-under-glass at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.
D, whose real name is Paul D. DelVecchio Jr., has signed on to guest DJ at The Pool on six non-consecutive nights beginning Sept. 4 (other dates are TBA). He is no stranger to the danceteria, having appeared there regularly since 2006.
Tickets, which go on sale July 30, can be purchased here.