In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Reunion was formed in the spring of 1981, when members of two disbanded street-corner groups, (the Chime-Times and the Memo's) joined together to drink some beer and sing some songs. It all started when two old friends were reminiscing about their teen-age years, and singing in a street-corner group, in Brick, NJ. The two, Dennis Chervenak and Ron Meyer, wondered if there were others who still enjoyed singing the doowop songs they grew up with. They put a classified ad in a local paper, and waited to see if there was any response.
The first call they had was from a guy who said that he sang lead in a group when he was a teen-ager in Brick, and the group was called the Chime-Times. Ron said,"Is this Steve Schmidt", he answered yes, who's this! The next day another phone call brought us "Singin Eddie" Velasquez, and two fellow members of the Memo's, Lou Spinelli and Steve D'Onofrio.
So, we started out as six-man group, with Steve Schmidt, and Steve D'Onofrio doing most of the leads. We never intended to perform for anything other than friends and family, but soon found ourselves singing in a Talent Show. A friend of Lou and Ed's, got us our first paying job, singing in a bowling alley bar in Union, NJ. We were the opening act for the main groups, Mixed Company and The Emery's.
The emcee for that show was Ronnie I (Italiano), the president and founder of the United in Group Harmony Association (UGHA). Ronnie liked our sound, and invited us to perform at a meeting. Steve D'Onofrio left the group just after that job, so it wasn't til the fall of 82' that we sang at UGHA. What a great experience that was! Because we were new, we were the last group to perform, and didn't get onstage until well after 11:00 PM. Again, we were well received, sang our six songs, and were called back for an encore. Those were the days when the UGHA audience would boo groups off the stage if they didn't like them.
We went back a couple of months later, and after singing, were approached by Mr. Bob Kretchmer of Starlite Records. He wanted to record us! We recorded 4 songs for Starlite, which they released on two 45's. Singin' Eddie left after those sessions, and was replaced by Frank Resola. We began a pretty active period of 15 years singing in Clubs, Concerts and Shows in the North Jersey area.
Those releases led to the first of two albums (A Cool Change, 1985, and Another night With the Boys', 1988) recorded for Clifton Records. Frank Resola left the group after the first session, and was replaced by Jack Simcsak. Frank's voice can be heard on 4 of the Cool Change tracks, Man Oh Man, Cool Change, Wonderful Tonight, and Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home.Jack made his public debut with us in 1988 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, when we appeared on NBC-TV's SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO.
1989, 1990, and 1991 we were voted winners of the "Sonnie Till Award" (Best Veteran Acappella Group) by the membership of the UGHA. We also won several acappella competitions during those years, and were a part of the "live" recording "Acappella comes to Broadway" on Clifton. We also made a connection with Mr. Randy Bergen, Long Island's "Mr. Acappella". We've been asked many times to perform at Randy's shows, which are held 2-3 times per year at Molloy College, in Rockville Center.
Around the same time, noted Philadelphia Radio personality Jerry Blavatt (The Geator With the Heater) began playing our version of "Wonderful Tonight" to great response, which led to our Philadelphia area popularity. We sang at many Philly clubs, and that led to our meeting another great Philly radio personality, Harvey Holiday. We sang live on Harvey's Sunday night WOGL radio show (Streetcorner Sunday), and have been featured several times on his annual "Superbowl of Acapella" shows.
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Review: Reunion is a solid East Coast a cappella doo-wop group who have now recorded their second record on Collectables Records. This one is different. They have a guest artist joining them. Willie Winfield is the legendary singer of the Harptones who enjoyed an illustrious recording and stage career in the fifties and sixties, and still are in demand on the oldies circuit. When Willie joins the members of Reunion a true singing spirit of the street corner is invoked. He sings lead on five of the eighteen tunes, 'On Sunday Afternoon,' 'My Memories Of You,' 'A Sunday Kind Of Love,' 'I Almost Lost My Mind' and 'That's The Way It Goes.' Let Willie Winfield and Reunion transport you back to that New Jersey street corner of yesteryear.
Songlist: So Much In Love, Island Of Love, On Sunday Afternoon, Here I Am Broken Hearted, Let It Please Be You, My Memories Of You, Old Man River, You Can Have Her, A Sunday Kind Of Love, Diamonds & Pearls, Don't Let Go, I Almost Lost My Mind, Pledging My Love, Let Me Come Back, That's The Way It Goes, Don't Look Back, One Summer Night, Keeping The Faith
Review: Three-time UGHA winners Reunion - no other group has had that distinction - have been singing together in various incarnations since the 1960's. They also competed in and won the 'Acappella Showdown' in 1990 and 1991. This experience has resulted in a smooth fluid sound and crisp delivery; they avoid harshness. Their strong suit is the roundness and fullness of their tone. Their set list comprises the contemporary - Otis Redding's 'Drift Away' or Van Morrison's 'Brown Eyed Girl' - and the classic: the plaintive 'I Believe' and uptempo 'Where Are You Tonight?'
Songlist: Where Are You Tonight?, Wonderful Tonight, Lean On Me, I Believe, Heart of Saturday Night, At This Moment, Cool Change, That's My Desire, Drift Away, What's Your Name?, Brown Eyed Girl, Tears In Heaven, The Boys Are Back In Town, The Sun, Bring Me Li'l Water Silvy, It's Growing, Buffalo Soldier, Lookin' For An Echo