Washington, DC 6–1–20

In 1969 I was part of a massive anti war demonstration in Washington, DC. The marchers initially gathered on the Mall but then SDS led an offshoot march to the Justice Department. I was a member, so I went. As we neared the Justice Department I noticed that people around me were starting to don helmets and gas masks. It was clear that they were preparing for something that I hadn’t envisioned. Once we reached our destination, yes, a few rocks were thrown and yes, some windows were broken. In response, there was teargas, lots of it.

We scattered into…

Atlantic City Boardwalk in the 1960s

It was a summer night in 1968. If you were a teenager in Atlantic City in those days, there was only one place to be. It was known as Chelsea because it was the one-block stretch of Boardwalk between Chelsea and Morris Avenues. Why that particular block? I can’t tell you with any certainty although the presence of a popular hot dog and birch beer joint called Hi-Hat Joe’s and the adjacent Dick’s Arcade may have had something to do with it. In any event, teenagers had started hanging out at Chelsea years before I reached my teens. …

It was another golden day in an already golden summer. 1968 is most often remembered as a year of tremendous strife and violence, but I remember it as the most exciting time of my life. I sometimes feel that no matter what happens now, the best times are behind me. I think of the proverb that suggests that it is a curse to live in interesting times. I know exactly what that means now, although I didn’t then.

Violence had been close at hand for me that summer. I had narrowly escaped a beating at the hands of a gang…

I first saw the Rolling Stones in 1965. At that point, they had progressed from the small clubs they started in to playing theaters. Arenas and stadiums were still a few years in the future. When they graduated to arenas in the late ’60s, I stuck with them. Even when they moved to stadiums in the 1980s, I was there because, for the most part, the shows remained exciting and at the stadium level, epic. …

Dennis Coffey

Session musicians often toil in obscurity. People hear the hit records and become fans of the artists whose names are on them without ever knowing the names of the musicians who created the sound that they love. In recent years however, session players have finally been getting their due. There have been acclaimed documentaries about the Wrecking Crew — who were behind hundreds of hits recorded in Los Angeles in the ’60s, the Swampers — the crew that played on all the soul hits that came out of Muscle Shoals, and the Funk Brothers — the unsung heroes behind all…

The Masqueraders

If you are a fan of classic soul and you watch America’s Got Talent you might have been surprised to see a singing trio that appeared on the show a few years back. They’re a little older now, but you probably did a double-take when you realized that these three guys were, in fact, the Masqueraders, a group that hadn’t been heard from since 1980 but had sent several hits up the charts in the glory days of Memphis soul.

They weren’t from Memphis originally. Their origins go back to Dallas in 1958. If you take their America’s Got Talent

“You’re going to love this. It’s my favorite ride.” Susan didn’t answer, but the look on her face was response enough. She was putting up with me, but barely. Atlantic City was my place, and she didn’t get it. Given the condition of my beloved city in 1974, it was going to take some work to show her just what it was that I saw in the place.

Atlantic City wasn’t a particularly old city, as old cities go. It had been incorporated in 1854. It didn’t require a great deal of imagination, given its location on an island hugging…

Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes

Alright, I admit it. There’s more Philly Soul covered in this column than music from any other soul capitol. There are a few reasons for that, the primary one being that when I was a kid in Atlantic City it was the music that the Philadelphia kids brought with them to the Jersey shore that made me love soul music in the first place. To this day, across all the years, it remains my favorite music. …

The Beatles enjoy a submarine sandwich from Atlantic City’s legendary White House Sub Shop

This story was first published in NJ Monthly magazine in August 2014

It was the summer of 1964 and the Beatles were coming to town.

That February, the Beatles had changed my 13-year-old world with their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Like all my friends, I was thrilled when I heard the Fab Four were going to play Convention Hall in Atlantic City. I scrounged up the $3.90 for a seat, and on August 30 took my place in the balcony waiting for the invaders from Liverpool.

Suddenly there they were, running onto the stage in their matching…

The Delfonics

Do you remember when you first fell in love with Philly Soul? For me, it was in 1968 because that was the year when the Delfonics’ “La La Means I Love You” came pouring out of radio speakers everywhere to offer a balm in a very troubled time. There had certainly been great Philly Soul records before. Several of the Intruders hits come to mind but there was something so magical about the Delfonics sound that it transcended everything else.

I remember seeing the Delfonics on television around that time. Their stage presence was as unique and special as their…

Ken Shane

I am a writer from Narragansett, RI. My primary focus is on music. I have been writing a weekly column on classic soul music since 2010.

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