Talk to a Baby Boomer about music of the 50s, 60s, 70s and into the 80s and you’ll find that not soon after was “the day the music died.” What’s a poor boy from Memphis to do? According to Shirley Viola and Alicia Winkelmann of the Hermann Area District Hospital Auxiliary, come on out to the Clara Eitmann-Messmer Amphitheater on Saturday, Sept. 14 for an evening of music from the pop music archives of these decades.
The Advertiser-Courier spoke with St. Louis resident Gene Ackmann, the band leader of Butch Wax and the Hollywoods, whose story started 35 years ago.
“I was a huge Chuck Berry fan, Johnny Rivers, Elvis Presley and that kind of music,” said Gene.
He played in local bands in the St. Charles area and decided he wanted to play the music of his rock-and-roll idols, so Butch Wax and the Hollywoods became a reality in the mid-80s. It just so happens, this music is high energy party music and opportunities for gigs were everywhere.
The eight band members are responsible for capturing their interpretations of classic rock-and-roll hits through the traditional drum/bass/guitar/keyboards, as well as horns and two backup/lead vocalists. Actually, Gene says everybody in the band sings.
“That’s one of the neat things about this group and everybody lends their own style,” he added. “It’s what brings interest to the group because everybody’s influences are a little bit different.”
This band stays planted firmly in the pocket of “great dance music from the 60s” and that’s a plethora of styles from which to choose, such as Motown, Surf, British Invasion, Volt-Stax Soul, Pop and pop crooners, etc. It fits the bill for the fairs, festivals and corporate events that is the meat and potatoes of their business as entertainers.
“We do a lot of the great old Motown music,” he explained. “With the girls, we do the Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. We’ll do the 4 Tops, the Temptations, and Smokey Robinson.”
Gene says you can also expect to hear some songs from the Beatles, Frankie Valle and the 4 Seasons, Tina Turner, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and the two Stevies—Stevie Winwood and Stevie Wonder.
Gene has scored most of the music they play to include the horn section to give a really full sound to the band.
“The music at this time was just fantastic and I’ve always been a big fan, so we stuck with that since this particular group has been together,” he explained. “It’s a special kind of music that brings back great memories.”
Butch Wax and the Hollywoods will be performing from 6 to 9 p.m., so bring a blanket or lawn chairs.
“We’re looking forward to coming out to Hermann and doing this show,” said Gene. “I know it’s for a great cause.”
For ticket information, call Shirley Viola at 573-486-2019 or Alicia Winkelmann at 573-486-2098.