In 1975 I received a record at WNEW-FM that I immediately fell in love with. It was "Looking For an Echo" by Kenny Vance—a track off his first solo album, Vance 32, which paid tribute to the doo-wop era but with a contemporary sound. I didn't know much about Kenny's background other than he had been part of a very successful '60s group, Jay & The Americans.
The album came and went, but the song always stuck with me. A few years later (1978), I learned that Kenny had been music producer and supervisor for a film I had just seen about the life of the legendary disc jockey Alan Freed, American Hot Wax. Kenny's group, The Planotones, would emerge from a fictional group that was portrayed in the film, but it would take fourteen years for that to happen. During that time he was involved with an assortment of musical projects including Saturday Night Live and the films Eddie and the Cruisers and Animal House.
Today, Kenny and The Planotones maintain a busy touring schedule with a wonderful show that evokes the musical spirit of the '50s and '60s, and brings us up to date on the endless search for that perfect echo. Their new album is called Acapella, and they'll be performing at City Winery this Sunday night. You can learn more about Kenny's story in this Words and Music session and in my personal archives anytime.