The Real Paul Jones

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My Brush with Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow is coming to the Triangle soon. David Menconi tells of people who love Barry. I’m not one but I have seen Barry under unusual circumstances.

In the early 70s, I was renting a room in a big house on Park Avenue in Raleigh. I think I was the only student in the house. The rest of us were folks testing out lives as female taxi drivers, cooks and waterbed salesmen.

One day the Delamars, a couple who were cooking at a jazz club called the Frog and Nightgown, came up to the communal kitchen and started ranting about the show that was on at the Frog. The extremely vivacious curly haired woman and her band of gay guys were doing their first set of gigs outside of NYC and outside of the Baths.

The Delamars couldn’t get enough of the show. It was booked for about a week, a kind of woodshedding for the singer and band. The band had a short music director, or maybe he only looked short behind the organ. He ran the show or so it seemed.

I went over to the Frog and came in through the kitchen and maybe helped prep salads. The band was jamming along with 40s songs getting warm.

I wasn’t ready for what was about to happen. The singer was so full of energy and she didn’t look like your standard jazz singer. She could hardly keep her dress on. She was a powerhouse. The band was all agiggle, but the director made them get serious without shaming them. He was good at that somehow.

Bette Midler had a big hit by the end of the week. I think she tried to get out of the Frog a few days early. Barry kept on as her music director for a while then left and then became Barry Manilow.

1 Comment

  1. The Frog & Nightgown in its original form on Medlin Drive off Dixie Trail was a magical place. You were lucky to catch Bette and Barry, but there was an amazing range of talent coming through, from Donovan to Stan Getz, and Raleigh just did not know how lucky it was to have such a place. It also did some great shows in the basement space at Cameron Village.

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