Life on the Road: Female Chick Singers Life

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When you are the only girl in the band, all of your life, as I was, and am, there were some pretty lonely times. The first few years of the road, I read all of  books I could find,  the Thornbirds. and  started with Wuthering Heights and any classic or bio about George Sand, etc.,.

Trying to educate myself, since I never paid too much attention in school. I was already singing at 12 and knew  that’s what I was, and why did I need science, math, or physical education. I did love English and history though.

The first band story I will talk about is not the FIRST band, but it was the BEST band, and the funniest, in hind sight. I was performing at the Las Vegas Union Plaza lounge with a show group called “The Sunshine Company”. I wasn’t happy in this band, I had been taken advantage of by the costume designer and they would never rehearse new material. You should NEVER be alone in a room being measured for a costume, and you should never trust a man who touched you in places where the costume does Not need fitting!  Remember that and you will survive.

It was a “show” group because we had two go go dancers. This one night, an  international band  was cruising the lounges, looking for a girl singer. They were called The New Zealand Trading Co.

Union Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas

Union Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas

The band was comprised of an Englishman, a Cuban, and the rest Australians and New Zealanders. They said they almost walked past me, and wasn’t impressed until I started singing Stevie Wonder’s “Sunshine Of My Life”. That stopped them in their tracks, and they waited for my break.

It was just the Cuban, Jorge Casas, and the Englishman, Maurice Moore that were looking. The group was re-banding, and renaming themselves “Commonwealth”.    I was in a rush, we did 45 on and 15 minutes off.  it was either talk to these guys or go to the bathroom! I chose to hear them out.

I had a hunch about these guys. I liked them.  We met in my folks garage and they played me some, Manhattan Transfer-like music. This was before Manhattan Transfer came to prominence.

My dad had worked with the Hi Lo’s and I lovedLambert Hendricks and Ross So this 5 part harmony was a knockout for me. It was sealed. I gave notice, we rehearsed a lot, all harmonies were written out, and we had to nail every phrase.   Jorge, the cuban bass player did the voacl arrangements and Maurice did the arranging. Jorge also arranged, and it was the best music I had ever done. We sang the horn parts, and scatted . I was so excited to be part of this collaboration. We got Alan lee’s son Larry Lee, then a stage hand, to come to my garage and audition us. Later, he took over for his dad, of the Tropicana entertainment department. Larry flipped over us.

Tropicana, Las Vegas

Tropicana, Las Vegas

We opened in the Blue Room at the Tropicana, and worked there on and off for years, opposite, Mary Kaye Trio, Dick Contino, Buddy Greco, among many others. When not there, we were at the Lion’s Den showroom at the MGM for Henri Rose, Entertainment Director. There, we were opposite, Lou Rawls, Carmen McCrae, and many others. When not in Las Vegas, Commonwealth toured the Playboy Clubs for talent agent, Irving Arthur. Touring with the band was quite a wild ride and I have many posts about that!

We were living the life. But, on the road a lot, it was quite lonely. I had been considered an “American silly girl” by these worldly musicians. I really was on my own. I had a volatile relationship with Jorge, who thought I was a typical materialistic American.

This all changed when we were in Chicago, I had a friend, married to a Playboy bunny in Los Angeles. who was a musician in “The Mob”; a great band in the 70’s. He was in for a one nighter and I had a couch in my room at the hotel, he crashed with me, very innocent.

When I went to dinner downstairs, Jorge gave me such a hard time about having a married man with me in my room, I left the dining room in tears and didn’t eat. Crying upstairs, my friend said, “Man you guys are really in love.”

I said “WHAT? I can’t stand him.” He replied, “If this guy didn’t care about you, why would he care what you do. And, why do you care what he thinks?” I looked at Jorge very differently after that. In fact, shortly after when we were in the Great Gorge PLAYBOY CLUB, we actually started to talk about our feelings. It changed life on the road, being in love , and made it so much more calm and fun.

I was lonely no more. It was magical. We lasted a few years, and I just don’t know why, when Jorge went to Miami, I stayed in Vegas, I was working and doing well. I was frightened to leave, but we still had feelings for each other. We were young and it all worked out the way it was supposed too.  We are still great friends. He will be here soon in Vegas as he is touring with the Musical ‘Get On Your Feet’. 

Great Gorge Playboy Club

Great Gorge Playboy Club

We were working the Great Gorge Playboy Club, way out in the boonies in New Jersey.  Maurice had now picked up a Cinncinatti Bunny Jane,   This was one of the craziest times I remember. Jorge  said, Maurice is outside in the bushes naked, Jane through him out!  We had to get him a robe or towel, and keep him safe! I think she was going to kill him!.

When we worked the Club in Ohio, Jane was just 21 or so, her parents Freaked out that she was going on the road with a Much older man. Maurice also had a beautiful lady at home, Iris, Poor thing,, We came back to Vegas with Jane!!  Iris actually Put them UP! We are always friendly with our ex’s, a different breed I suppose.

This was there most incredible road life I ever had, of all the bands I was in.  Wonderful and horrible memories… Hearing Gino Vanneli on the car radio in Chicago,, racing to the store, getting the album and bringing it back to the pad, for Jorge to hear !

Writing about this, brings back a flood of great time, great food, Music I was proud of.

Jersey Turnpike

J

 


 

Where are they today?

 

Maurice Moore

Maurice Moore

Maurice is living in his hometown, London, and playing cruise ships and writing his second Broadway show.. He is quite a guy,,still going and living life to the fullest

 

Jorge Casas

Jorge Casas

Jorge has been with Gloria Estefan since 1985, and is her musical director, also has produced Jon Secada and many others, and is a Grammy award winning songwriter. He resides when not on tour in Illinois, where he is also a music professor.   Now , in 2017, Jorge is the Musical Director and bassist On Broadway Tour, of  Gloria Estefan, bio, ‘Get on your Feet  a Big Broadway Hit!  Good going Cak…

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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