DPO presents Disco Ball featuring Jeans ‘N Classics
It was the last mass popular music movement driven by the post-World-War-Two baby boom generation. It was Disco, a genre of dance music influenced by Latin, funk, and soul music with a steady four-on-the-floor beat and a heavy, syncopated bass line.
Those of you who lived through it need no history lesson; you lived (and danced it). For those of you who didn’t, here’s a quick primer.
Songs – Rock The Boat, Kung Fu Fighting, Walking in Rhythm, Rock Your Baby, Love’s Theme, TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia), Get Down Tonight, That’s the Way (I Like It), (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty, I’m Your Boogie Man, Keep It Comin’ Love, Love Is the Message, Bla Bla Diddly, Shaft, Never Can Say Goodbye, Billie Jean, You’re Gonna Miss My Lovin, Hot Stuff, Grease, Disco Inferno, You Sexy Thing, Dancing Queen,You Keep Me Hangin’ On, Only the Strong Survive, Message to Love, Soul Makossa, Keep on Truckin’, The Love I Lost, Dance Dance Dance, You Should Be Dancing, Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, More Than A Woman, I Just Want to Be Your Everything,(Love Is) Thicker Than Water, Shadow Dancing, The Hustle, Love to Love You Baby, Could It Be Magic, Dancing Machine, You’re the First the Last My Everything, Fly Robin Fly, Le Freak, Good Times, Everybody Dance, Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough, and A Fifth of Beethoven.
Artists – Donna Summer, The Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, The Trammps, Van McCoy, Gloria Gaynor, The Village People, Chic, The Jacksons, the Chambers Brothers. Sly and The Family Stone, Isaac Hayes, Willie Hutch and the Philadelphia Sound, M.F.S.B, Giorgio Moroder, The Supremes, Jerry Butler, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Manu Dibango, Eddie Kendricks, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Hues Corporation, Carl Douglas, The Blackbyrds, George McCrae, Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra, The Three Degrees, Van McCoy, LaBelle, Silver Convention, Chic, and Michael Jackson.
Films – Saturday Night Fever, Thank God It’s Friday
TV shows – Soul Train, Disco Step-by-Step Television Show, Disco Magic/Disco 77, Soap Factory, Dance Fever
Disco clubs (“Discotheques”) – Studio One (L.A.), Leviticus (New York), and The Library (Atlanta).
Dances – the Bump, Penguin, Boogaloo, Watergate, Robot, and The Hustle (in three flavors: Brooklyn, New York, and Latin).
Fashion – Expensive and extravagant: for the girls sheer, flowing Halston dresses; for the guys shiny polyester pointy-collared Qiana shirts (open at the chest), double-knit polyester shirt jackets with matching trousers (leisure suits); and necklaces and medallions (guys and gals).
Disco TV Theme Songs – S.W.A.T. , Charlie’s Angels, NBC Saturday Night At The Movies , The Love Boat, The Donahue Show, CHiPs, The Professionals, Dallas, Kojak, 20/20, and The A-Team.
Whether you missed – or made – the original 70s Disco scene, you can experience it anew on Saturday, April 28 at 8 pm in the Schuster Center, when Assistant Conductor Patrick Reynolds and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra present Disco Ball Featuring Jeans ‘N Classics, the final concert in this season’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series. They will recapture the mood and feel of the Disco “Daze” with twenty huge chartbusters and lots more.
Peter Brennan’s Jeans ‘n Classics is a winner. Since its inception, it has been a star performer in the arts and entertainment scene. Its concept of combining rock musicians and headlining stars with world-class symphony orchestras has drawn record-setting capacity crowds.
I asked Peter Brennan, founder of the rock ensemble Jeans ‘N Classics, why disco – a remnant of our musical past – is more influential than we might think. Here’s his reply:
“What a terrific question this is. When Disco came out, I was a guitarist in a rock band, immersed in the likes of Queen, Yes, Pink Floyd and, of course, was appalled at this unsophisticated drivel (just like all the other self respecting ‘rockers’)! This threatened everything we’d come to know and love…our world so to speak. Also – the very notion of dancing – well that simply wasn’t something one did.
“We weathered the storm, so to speak, and in came the ’80s, and a glorious era of ‘pop’ erupted the likes of which we haven’t seen since.
“All these years later, after having written a Disco show for orchestra, I am almost bemused at the naiveté of my opinion of that era and its music; it has totally changed over the years, because I’ve changed.
“Hindsight is always 20/20, and I think Disco had such strong Euro Beat and Latin influences, especially initially (before the Bee Gees had their mega moment) that such current house music, club music trends owe their roots to it.
“The last ten years of pop divas and dance acts – Kylie Minogue, Brittany Spears, even Katie Perry – have certainly come out of that genre’s influence. And I suspect, while not as sophisticated, a lot of hip-hop rhythms being Afro – Cuban have done their homework on the Disco days. But enough of the armchair musicologist.
“What really hits me on a pure gut level is the great rhythm section work – drummers (real ones) and fabulous bass players laying it down so brilliantly.
“Some fantastic big sounds – sort of Motown and R&B, but more electric and eclectic. And some of the acts that initially I didn’t want to hear, but now am so impressed by. Earth Wind and Fire; The Trammps; Giorgio Moroder; The O Jays, and yes The Jacksons. Michael was a part of the style and carried it with him.
“There was also a mood, a vibe, and the music made people happy – not a bad thing at all really.
“We all feel great, when we play the Disco show with Jeans ‘n Classics. It is, I guess, our ultimate ‘Guilty Pleasure’.”
Mine, too, Peter.
Now where did I put my old white-with-chocolate-striped open-collared shirt, dark brown polyester bell-bottom pants, 2-inch high white plastic belt, coffee-with-cream-colored sports jacket, and gold chains….