Cavaliere still groovin’ with The Rascals

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Felix Cavaliere will bring his Rascals to Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Felix Cavaliere will bring his Rascals to Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. (Submitted photo)

Even 50 years later, Felix Cavaliere is still amazed at his musical legacy and the people he has touched along the way.

Co-founder of The Young Rascals, who later became The Rascals, the singer-songwriter is responsible for some of the biggest hits of the 1960s, including “Groovin’,” “People Got to Be Free,” “How Can I Be Sure?” and “A Beautiful Morning.”

The group burst on the scene with their 1966 hit “Good Lovin’,” which went straight to No. 1.

“I was recently in Japan and they know every song. I’ve been there before but it still blew me away,” he said last month in a phone interview from Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife.

“On this last trip, a couple from Peru came up to me and the guy said ‘Hey man, I recorded one of your songs and I’d like to send it to you.’ You just can’t imagine folks listening to your music in the Andes Mountains.”

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals will play Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Exhibit Hall Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. as part of the On Stage — Harrington series.

The songs he wrote and performed with The Rascals have stood the test of time in terms of popular and critical success, noted for their diversity with shades of rock, pop, soul, jazz and Latin influences.

Mr. Cavaliere says the eclectic nature of their music is a product of the times in which they were written.

“That period in the music business was wonderfully productive for all different kinds of music,” he said.

“We were trading songs with The Beatles. They didn’t repeat themselves with the same grooves or orchestration. They really pushed us and it made for great competition.

Mr. Cavaliere, 73, said the lads from Liverpool were responsible for making The Rascals even better.

“People don’t realize just how big an influence they were on other bands,” he said.

“Radio stations, back then, didn’t have to play anything they didn’t want to play. But if it was a Beatles record, they had to play it. So when ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Michelle’ came out, that opened the door for us to get ‘How Can I Be Sure?’ on the radio.

“They broke down so many barriers in the business that it was a great honor to be in the same world with them musically.”

A pre-med student at Syracuse University, Mr. Cavaliere formed a band in college called The Escorts, which put him on a different course than he expected.

“I came from a medical family. There were no musicians anywhere. Everyone was in the medical profession. But I formed a band in college and it took off. It was pretty overwhelming,” he said.

“I then joined Joey Dee and the Starliters. And actually we went to Europe and who was on the same bill with us but The Beatles. This was before anyone knew who they were in the U.S.”

Early in 1965, Mr. Cavaliere formed The Young Rascals with Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish. That October, they caught the attention of promoter/manager Sid Bernstein who signed them to Atlantic Records.

Mr. Cavaliere said Atlantic helped them form their unique sound, giving them the leeway to produce their own music.

“We were signed as young guys and I took all of my 5-foot-8 frame and demanded they let us produce it ourselves. To their credit, they were the only company who allowed us to do that,” he said.

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“We were lucky in that we had talented guys to guide us in Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd and Atlantic was highly respectful of our work. We started out with a cover record because that’s what they told us to do but then we broke out with ‘Good Lovin’’ and I felt 7 feet, 2 inches tall and it went from ‘Hey, you kids’ to ‘Yes, sir.’”

With The Rascals getting creative freedom, Mr. Cavaliere said there were “constant battles to say the least.”

“On ‘Groovin’’ they were asking us why we weren’t using drums. We were a rock ‘n’ roll band. They fought us on ‘How Can I Be Sure?’ On ‘People Got to Be Free,’ they were asking why we wanted to get into controversial issues,” Mr. Cavliere said of the 1968 hit, which served as a plea for tolerance and freedom.

A resident of Nashville for the past 16 years, Mr. Cavaliere’s current version of The Rascals is made up of musicians who have migrated to Music City from other areas.

“They are not only great musicians but great husbands and people. And they enjoy playing as much as I do. That comes across on stage. People can tell if you don’t,” he said.

Tickets, at $34, can be purchased at harringtonraceway.com, by calling (888) 887-5687, ext. 5246, or stopping by the casino gift shop.

A member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll, Songwriters, Grammy and Vocal Group halls of fame, Mr. Cavaliere says he still loves performing.

“How can you not? When you look out over all those smiling people, it’s still a thrill. It keeps balance with the other part of your life when your wife bugs you about taking the garbage out. It’s still a treat to perform and I’m lucky that I’m still doing it,” he said.

Beginnings plays Chicago

In concert tonight at the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover is Beginnings: A Tribute to the band Chicago at 7:30 p.m.

The Long Island, New York-based band, which has played Harrington’s Exhibit Hall in the past, got its start when a quartet of horn players was searching for a new gig.

“The four guys are a tight-knit group. They’ve been together for 15 or 20 years. After years of playing ’80s music or Van Halen stuff, they were looking for a new niche that other bands weren’t covering,” bassist and vocalist Mason Swearingen told Best Bets in 2014.

“They reached out to our keyboardist Marty Safran, who reached out to me to play bass. I had just finished playing in (a Billy Joel tribute band) Big Shot. There weren’t a whole lot of opportunities for me to sing in that band. It’s turned out with this band, I’m singing quite a bit.”

With a group like Chicago , the self-described “rock and roll band with horns,” a brass section is key.

“Having those guys makes a world of difference. They are the catalyst of the whole thing,” Mr. Swearingen said.

With more than 38 million units sold in the U.S., 22 gold, 18 platinum and eight multi-platinum albums and 21 top-10 singles dating back to 1967, Beginnings, named after one of those early hits, has a lot of material from which to draw.

“For a long time we stayed focused on those early ’60s and ’70s songs that were more politically driven and jam-oriented. But the later ’80s songs became such big hits, they are hard to ignore,” Mr. Swearingen said.

Many of those power ballads of that era are sung in medley form by Beginnings .

Covering a band with the staying power of Chicago does an interesting thing to an audience, Mr. Swearingen said.

“We’ll see the look on their faces, like ‘I remember that one.’ By the end of the night we’ll have people coming up to us saying ‘I forgot they had so many hits.’”

Tickets are $25-$30 and can be purchased at schwartzcenter.com, calling 678-5152 or stopping by the box office at 226 S. State St., Dover.

Trunk show at Biggs

On Saturday, the Biggs Museum and Delaware by Hand artists will hold a fall fair trunk show to coincide with First State Heritage Park’s 18th Century Market. This event features handmade works by local artists who have created items that are geared toward the holiday season.

Participating artists include Carl Forsberg of Lewes, Brenda Williams of Smyrna, Maria Sadler of Milford, Susan Donohoe of Lewes, Hank Rhodes of Camden, Ginny Barney of Lewes, Lesley Campana of Dover, Kathy Lindemer of Lewes, Denise Bendelewski of Magnolia, Lisanne Kane of Lewes and Zia Bowen of Dover.

Plus, there will be a special BIGGS KIDS craft activity all day for children ages 4 to 10. In honor of Thanksgiving, children will make their own “gratitude tree” based on the Biggs’ outdoor sculpture “Aloft” with leaves that are filled with all the things they are grateful for this year.

This event is free. Visitors will also have the opportunity to view the current feature exhibition “Clark Fox: Icon Chains.” Those 21 and older will also be able to enjoy free tastings of Dogfish Head Beer.

The Biggs Museum is at 406 Federal St.

Hammond on display

An exhibit of KM Hammond’s work is on display at the Dover Art League on Loockerman Street through Nov. 30.

Ms. Hammond, 83, was one of the original five artists who started what is now called the Dover Art League. Ms. Hammond’s work can be seen throughout Dover in numerous businesses and offices, including the Legislative Hall in the Capitol.

In 2009, Ms. Hammond expanded her National League of American Pen Women Inc.(www.nlapw.org,) membership to include a Letters category by publishing her first book; “The Life and Times of KM Hammond” which is now in its second printing. A second book, a how-to-paint book of over 280 pages, “Basic Principles of Art, Art Logic Revealed,” (also a full color book), was published in 2014 and illustrates techniques and styles in 18 chapters, including eight different mediums.

For more information, visit www.KMHammondART.com.

Now showing

New in theaters this weekend is “Doctor Strange 3D,” the war movie “Hacksaw Ridge” and the animated “Trolls 3D.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the adult cartoon comedy “Sausage Party.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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