Homegrown Harmonies

The Riverside Resort introduced a new show to its tribute lineup about four years ago as homage to some of the biggest acts of Motown Records. The idea was, “if one tribute to the Temptations is good, then how about tying them to two other Motown groups, like say, the Four Tops and the Marvelettes”. Well, that’s what producer Rudolph Peters did with his “Legends of Motown,” a show returning to the Riverside, Wed-Sun, Oct 4-8.
“These folks will be singing harmony all night long,” Peters told us about the cast members. “They don’t look like the originals but they create the same ambience—from the choreography to the vocals. And they dress to the max. And this year we’re bringing two more acts Alonzo Fuller performing as Stevie Wonder, and we’re bringing the ‘maestro of love’ especially for the ladies, we’ll have Kenny King Smith performing as Barry White, so we’re gonna have a little something for everybody.
“Like anything else we do, you’ll swear that’s the same people up there,” he said. “I got blessed again finding somebody with the quality of entertainment I’ve been trying to bring to the show the last four years to Laughlin.
In addition to the Wonder and White characters, those doing the choreographed dancing, harmonizing and razor sharp dressing are:
•Temptations—Karl Bracy, Douglas Stepney, Carl Douglas, Stan Lockwood and Vincent Taylor;
•Four Tops—Marion Brewer, James Hill, David Lige and John Black;
•Marvelettes—Lolita Sweet, Ocie Parks, Neecey Robinson and Dewanna Slaughter.
Leading the groups through the paces of the show is emcee Nick Harper.
“I couldn’t leave out our world-renowned emcee Nick Harper who has been on the radio for 30 years,” Peters said. “We’re blessed that he’s the original emcee in our show. He brings a lot of knowledge and a lot of energy to his introduction, just like he did when he introduced the originals.”
Backing up all the performers are real players.
“We always have the fabulous Motown Band with us,” Peters said, “They’re a fantastic six-piece band that plays behind the show. Each of the musicians has credentials playing in groups like Earth, Wind and Fire and with some great blues players.”
The band members are: Harvey Hughes (drums); Richard Cravalho (lead guitar; Darrell Broadnax (bass); Ernest Nation (keyboards); and Archie White (keyboards).
“Unfortunately, our percussionist Glen Austin passed away about two months ago, and we’ll be dedicating the show to him.”
According to Peters, the show focuses on the music from Motown, from the early years to the late ’90s.
“We’re bringing the same energy people expect to experience at a Motown show where you know you’ll see something you’re really familiar with.
“We’re just blessed to be able to do it on a level that people like to hear it and like to see it in this current time,” he said. “That’s what has kept us coming back the last four years.
“Motown was when music was real,” Peters said. “They had real notes, real musicians playing it, and real people singing it. The musicians didn’t have to say, ‘Well, we left the computer at home so it may sound a little different tonight.’ We play music the way it is supposed to be played.
“We’re just trying to make sure that R&B stays alive because if it weren’t for R&B, there’d be no rock and roll. Gospel and R&B are the two of the greatest mixes of music that has ever come on the scene.
“It’s home-grown American music. That’s why the ‘Legends of Motown’ is out here going strong for 15 years—and hopefully we’ll be blessed with another 15.”
According to Peters, his group has opened for everybody from Ben E. King to Jeffrey Osborne, playing Vegas, Palm Springs and casinos throughout California and Nevada.
Peters pointed out that his show isn’t a “pretender” show.
“We’re not like groups who are trying to pass themselves off as the originals,” he states. “I have too much respect for the real people, because I’ve worked with the real people. All we’re doing is giving homage to these great entertainers and the music they put out there. We want people to remember and enjoy what they built for the last 50 or 60 years.
“The main priority is to pay tribute to the phenomenal writers and artists from Detroit, Michigan, who were pioneers and helped pave the way for even more writers, artists and musicians alike. For those who long for this era and genre of music that has an overall uplifting message delivered via catchy melodies and sweet harmonies, it still can be heard live at this show. Even if you’re too young to remember the power of the Motown sound, this show will be entertaining. It’s not just about nostalgia, it’s about good music.
“Everywhere you go, no matter ages or languages, people love this music. Motown was a phenomenal sound and we’re blessed to have some very talented performers who can recreate that sound and take people back to a historical time in music.
So, expect to hear all the big hits by each of these groups like “My Girl,” “Baby, I Need Your Loving,” and “Please Mr. Postman, as well as a few more obscure tunes.
“We add some more songs that were not hits, but that people do enjoy, so they not only enjoy the tunes they remember, and probably danced to but they will hum along when they hear something new.
“We say ‘thank you’ to the art, the Motown listener and the Motown fans for embracing us and making us feel likewe’re doing it the right way…and they’ll let you know when you’re not.
“Not only that, they’ll let the people who employ you know that you’re not doing it the right way. It’s funny, but it’s true. You do not mess up Motown.”


LEGENDS OF MOTOWN

Don’s Celebrity Theatre within the Riverside

Wed-Sun, October 4-8 (8 p.m.)

See Showtimes for tickets