Steve Murray

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Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. @ Feinstein’s at the Nikko

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, August 17, 2017

The Bay Area has been celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love with exhibits at the DeYoung Museum, the touring production of A Night with Janis, and psychedelic projections to light up the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Feinstein’s at the Nikko is doing their part with a recent show by The Monkees lead singer Micky Dolenz,  and now presents 7-time Grammy Award-winning duo Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., lead singers for the world-renowned vocal group the 5th Dimension. The husband and wife duo have been performing for over 45 years and the synergy between these two is magic, making for an unforgettable evening of nostalgia.

From their most recent Grammy winner “You Don’t Have to Be a Star” (1976) to their first, 1968’s “Up, Up and Away”, the duo were part of one of the most successful pop groups of the era. They’ve earned 15 gold and 3 platinum records and are still going strong. Their set featured the big hits: “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Last Night,” and “One Less Bell to Answer”, with their trademark harmonies showcasing Marilyn’s sultry alto and Davis’ high tenor. A lovely 4-part harmony included longtime musical director/arranger/pianist Darryl Austin and guitarist Major Black on Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”. Derrick Murdock (bass) and Bo Lamar (drums0 laid down a funky rhythm for the duo to ride.

The duo traded solos; Marilyn on “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” (Jerome Kern / Oscar Hammerstein III) and “One Less Bell”, while Billy was featured on the bluesy “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” (Duke Ellington / Mack David) and “ a  smoking cover of “Someone Else is Steppin In” (Denise Lasalle). Of course the perfect Summer of Love finale was their smash hit “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” from the rock musical Hair, which peaked at #1 and earned two Grammy’s (Record of the Year, Best Pop Performance). Their encore of “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” was a loving tribute to their longevity and a beautiful statement of their love and commitment.

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