Let’s twist again
SILVERTHORNE – Though bar-hoppers younger than 30 might not think so, the retro scene reaches further than bellbottoms and polyester shirts of the disco era. Just ask DooWop Denny.Dennis Foley, aka DooWop Denny, packs the Blue Spruce in Frisco every Sunday night with crowds that flood the dance floor with the Lindy or the Twist.Tonight, he kicks off the Silverthorne Pavilion’s summer lineup with a rockin’ oldies dance party.His cover tunes include doowop favorites ranging from “At the Hop” to “Teenager in Love,” rockin’ oldies with some “Peepin’ & Hidin'” and “Tossin’ and Turnin'” thrown in, island tunes that cause “Changes in Attitudes,” rockabilly that makes you wish you still had “Blue Suede Shoes” and goofy hits that’ll test how many drinks you’ve had as you do the hand jive.
“He sings a variety of tunes,” said Silverthorne resident Bob Guthrie, who hired him to play for his wedding last August. “And he’s a very personable guy.”Fans like the Guthries and Breckenridge residents Nancy and Bob Swett have been boppin’ with Denny almost since he started spending summers in Summit County six years ago.”He’s very much a fun-loving person,” Nancy Swett said. “He gets us up dancing. The songs are all familiar to those in our age group – 40- to 70-year-olds. (He attracts) active people who love to get up and dance. Everybody’s guaranteed to have a great time.””It’s not that I have any great talent,” Denny said. “I think it’s that I draw people that are in their 50s and 60s back to their teenage years. I use the same lingo I did playing sock hops, and people tell me the songs sound like the original singers. I can make my voice sound like Buddy Holly (and others).”As a kid, Denny soaked up the sounds of Motown in suburban Detroit. He started playing piano, then switched to drums and finally settled on basic licks and three-chord blues progressions inspired by rockabilly pioneers Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly.
He played his Danelectro, black and white electric guitar in a high school band in 1959. After a quick detour through acoustic folk sing-a-longs, he returned to the adrenaline rush of rock and formed a band that played the college circuit around Michigan.In 1966, his love for music competed with true love. He married a girl named Mary Alice and traded in amps and sound gear for living room furniture.By 1971, his family and daytime career were on track, but the rock beat kept bubbling to the surface. He started jamming the oldies with anyone who could carry a tune and eventually formed an oldies group of 30-somethings. The 1980s saw five middle-aged guys dressed in gold lame’ jackets performing a nostalgia show.After 12 years, the golden group disbanded, and Denny retired from the business world and moved to Sarasota, Fla., with his wife. But man does not live by tennis racquet and golf club alone, the doowopper said. The beat wouldn’t stop, so Denny began tinkering with computers and music, creating midi sequences of songs to simulate a live band. When he debuted his electronic accompaniment at a neighborhood party in 1996, the thrill of performing rushed back, and DooWop Denny emerged.
Every winter, he plays a couple shows a week in Sarasota, Fla., then returns to Summit County in the summer. His 250-song hit parade keeps people dancing week after week.”Maybe my brain is just locked in the ’50s,” Denny said. “My children always say, ‘Dad, you’re lost in the ’50s,’ but now it’s paying off, I guess.”Call (970) 262-7370 for more information.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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