Monday, January 25, 2016

Gary Rue Joins The Travelons and Todd Eckart for This Weekend's Winter Dance Party

This coming Saturday the Armory Arts and Music Center is playing host to another Winter Dance Party. For this special occasion Gary Rue will be joining Lonnie Knight & The Travelons for a special evening of music to move your feet and make you smile. Here are just a few highlights from Gary's very special career:

~ Composer and songwriter for many artists (There are 2 compilations of Rue material, with performances by The Honeydogs, Helen Reddy, Nick Lowe, Butch Thompson, Laura MacKenzie, Maria Jette, The Rose Ensemble, Leslie Ball, Dan Chouinard, Bradley Greenwald, Christina Baldwin, Rio Nido (featuring Prudence Johnson), Jennifer Baldwin Peden, Debbie Duncan, Pat Donohue, Arne Fogel and many others).

~ Founder of the internationally acclaimed pop quartet Rue Nouveau

~ Creator and co-creator of more than 85 music theater scores with over 2000 regional, national and international performances.

And much, much more.

EN: You've had an impressive career. Who are the most interesting people whom you have worked with over the years?
Gary Rue: Gene Pitney, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, the Shirelles, Ben E. King, Dion., the Crickets (yup), Billy Joel's horn section, Curtiss A, ALL of my musician friends, too many to name, but God bless 'em.

EN: What years were you band leader for the Platters, Shirelles, Coasters and Marvelettes? (I ask because I saw them all in a Rock n Roll Revival with Chuck Berry, and Sha Na Na among others at Ohio U in the early 70s)
GR: My first music directing gig was at the DECC in Duluth in 1979 with the Shirelles. No rehearsal, no sound check. The first we saw of the Shirelles was when they were introduced to the stage. 3000 people. I gave a loud 'Ahem!' Doris Jackson turned around and said, "Everything is in (the key of) Bb, honey, just watch me." From there, I guess it was opportunity by association, all the bands that did the circuit, I got passed around. Not working with any of them on a regular basis, but I certainly did meet some great talent. I imagine that's partly how I came to music direct for Gene Pitney on a permanent basis.

EN: What did you learn from this experience?
GR: That I had an innate sense of how to organize and direct, even though I had very limited experience as a music director, per se. My success within this framework was mostly due to having my brain hammered with these songs when I was very young, so I had all the parts, stops and starts burned into my brain.

EN: When did you first realize that music would be your life?
GR: Beatles. Ed Sullivan, 1964. Period.

EN: How did you connect with The Travelons?
GR: I got a call from Mike Boterman (whom I had worked with many years before) of The Smokin' Section. They needed a sub for performance. I said, "Heck yeah, I'll do my best to keep up to Lonnie Knight." (Lonnie was one of my guitar heroes in the 60s. When I was still too young to gain entrance to a Tracy armory concert (my home town), I remember looking at tall, lanky Lonnie through the back door summer screen. Loud and proud, he was. Now, Lonnie and I hope to work together more frequently, and I seem to have secured a somewhat regular slot with that quartet.

EN: Where does your inspiration come from when creating something new?
GR: My career has been mostly based on commissions, so I rarely have the time for my own initial inspiration, but when it does, well, I read a LOT, I love history, especially Paris in the time of Chopin (1840 or so) and the Belle Epoch (again, Paris, 1890 or so). My most recent labor of love is called Chopin's Heart, about a brave little start-up cabaret in Warsaw, Poland, immediately before the Nazi invasion... August, 1939. We received a MN State Arts Board grant to present that show. Oops. Got to finish the review report for the Arts Board the morning I get home from the Winter Dance Party!

* * * *
Gary, Lonnie, The Travelons and Todd Eckert promise to get the joint rockin'. It's the 100th Anniversary Year for the Armory, and 57th anniversary of the original Dance Party. (See yesterday's blog post on that ill-fated tour.)

FWIW, this is a dress up event. That is wear your Fifties Finest.... even if you weren't born yet. There will be prizes for dancing and best costume.

Check out this story from last year's intro to the Dance Party, a little history about the Day the Music Died.

For more details about Gary Rau's career and achievements, visit

As for next week, hope we'll see you on the dance floor.

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