Tuesday, March 18, 2014

INSIDE AND OUT OF THE MONKEE CONVENTION 2014

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THE GLORIOUS CORNER

Story By: G.H. Harding
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Micky Dolenz



MONKEE FEST 2014 --- Say what you about nostalgia, but, it has never been bigger. At the invitation of Monkee-Micky Dolenz’s pr-mouthpiece David Salidor, I ventured out to Monkee Convention 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, this past weekend.


The first Monkee-convention last year was such a success, that creators Jodi Blau Ritzen and Phyllis Paganucci, then decided to do it again this year, but with major participation from Monkee-Michael Nesmith, who was absent last year. The Hilton Meadowlands was the location and as I entered one day before, one could immediately sense the palpable energy in the air. We attended a brief pre-production meeting with Dolenz and his aide Chris Kiszka. Salidor had several interviews for Dolenz to accomplish while at the festival; perhaps none more important than ABC News Radio which has an audience of 77 million worldwide. Jersey’s News 12 also appeared during the event. Dolenz had also spoken to Scott Shannon (now at CBS FM); Cousin Brucie on Sirius/XM; and Premiere Radio Network, prior to this event even beginning. In fact, a terrific article on Dolenz appeared this very day in the Asbury Park Press.


One factor that simply energized everyone was the fact that the families of both Dolenz and Nesmith would be attending as well … even Dolenz’s daughters had their own Q&A session which was turned out to be a major highlight. I met them all, Emily, Charlotte, Ami, and Georgia and found them each to be terrifically talented in their various endeavors. 


Georgia started, with Micky, the fine furniture-design company Dolenz and Daughters (www.dolenzanddaughters.com) which has succeeded beyond both their wildest dreams since its inception last year. 


Friday started early with an autograph/photo shoot with Dolenz and Nesmith. I can’t think of another band (heritage or not) that has consistently had so many devoted fans. Young and old (and there were literally dozens and kids!), they came prepared with great questions and often a staggering degree of insight in the group’s wide catalog. Sandwiched in between were Q&A sessions with Nesmith and writer Bobby Hart (Boyce and Hart), who served up so many hits for the foursome.


Dolenz was a special guest at a concert by the Van Halen-tribute band Romeo Delight. He performed several Monkee-numbers (“Last Train To Clarksville,” “Stepping Stone” and “I‘m A Believer”) and said afterwards it was a kick to hear them in a more-meta-ish vein. Funny for sure, but, truth be told, they sounded terrific.


Saturday’s major highlight was the induction of the band into the America’s Pop Music Hall of Fame. Snubbed by Jann Wenner’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, it was left to this foundation, led by the very capable Terry Hazlett, to get this done. Said Hazlett, “The Monkees topped the 2014 hall of fame public balloting.” It was during the acceptance, when Dolenz asked if the other guys wanted to do a tour (Peter Tork had just arrived for the ceremony as well) and with the other two quickly agreeing, formally announced the group would be back on the road in a few months. Dates are still being worked out, but an opening in New Jersey is a very definite rumor.


After that was announced, Salidor’s phone stated buzzing with inquiries from all the major media outlets. As of this writing, there’s no firm itinerary set but, we will announce it as soon as we can.



The reminder of Saturday was additional photo ops for the SRO crowd. A Dolenz Q&A later in the day was just dynamite (handled by Micky and Rhino’s Andrew Sandoval). Micky performed a song with his sister Coco, who was also in attendance. A Nesmith concert in the evening was just sensational as well. Nesmith, very, very reticent in person, is just outstanding on stage.



We also spotted at the show: Dolenz-band members Dave Alexander and his fantastic wife Jen and Rich Dart. Also seen; May Pang; Butch Patrick from The Musters with aide Jacqueline Boyd; comic-actor Larry Storch (F Troop); Utopia's Tyrone Biljian; and, staffers Brit Brashear and Tony Vela.



It was a great event. I'm back in a week.




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