Rockin’ oldies roll into Silverthorne
SILVERTHORNE – The term “groupies” usually doesn’t conjure a picture of people 50 and older dancing in a frenzy.But Dennis Foley, aka DooWop Denny, has a huge following in both Summit County and Florida, where he plays seasonally. He packs the Blue Spruce Inn in Frisco every Sunday night with crowds that flood the dance floor with the Lindy or the Twist.Fans such as 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.”
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.”I draw people that are in their 50s and 60s back to their teenage years,” Denny said. “I use the same lingo I did playing sock hops, and people tell me the songs sound like the original singers.”I mimic different voices,” he added. “A couple I hit square on, and a couple I have to reach for. I just act like the class clown, and if I can get a reaction out of people, I’m a happy camper.”As a kid, Denny soaked up the sounds of Motown in suburban Detroit. He settled in on basic licks and three-chord blues progressions inspired by rockabilly pioneers Carl Perkins and Buddy Holly and started bands.
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 lamé jackets performing nostalgia shows.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.Now his 250-song hit parade keeps people dancing week after week. And every summer, he comes to Summit with about 10 new cover songs and his usual energy that spreads like great balls of fire.
“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.”Not only is it paying off; it’s cruising. This January, DooWop Denny’s Rockin’ Oldies Cruise sails the Western Caribbean for seven days. Already, 200 people from throughout the nation have registered to hop aboard.DooWop Denny kicks off the Silverthorne Pavilion’s summer lineup with a rockin’ oldies dance party at 7 p.m. Friday, June 24. Tickets are $10 in advance, and his show often sells out.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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