Tommy James Live at Casino Rama

Tommy James Live

Submitted by Sandy Graham

Watching Tommy James and The Shondells is like buying a personal ticket to your memories through music. With a crowd of close to 5,000 people filling the theatre venue at Casino Rama, TJ came out to a thunderous applause to ‘Draggin’ the Line’ and it only went up from there.

Taking you through a series of his hit records; ‘Hanky Panky’, ‘It’s Only Love’,’Getting Together’,’Crimson & Clover’,‘Sweet Cherry Wine’, ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’, and using ‘Mony, Mony’ as a huge crowd pleaser by coming down off stage and walking through the audience, stopping to sign autographs and let people take photos with him on their phones and cameras. I saw TJ do this last year at the CNE and it really works. Although security gets overwhelmed walking beside him, with everyone wanting to touch, hug and shake his hand. While TJ does the ‘walkaround’ his band vamps and waits for him to return to the stage. What is so refreshing to see is the current rendition of The Shondells enjoy singing and performing the hits as much as Tommy James does, and there is a great chemistry on stage as well as strong three part harmonies from  John Golden (lead guitar and music director) Owen Yost (bass guitar) and Jonathan Ashe (acoustic guitar). Keeping it all together are the rest of The Shondells; Glen Wyka on drums, Bennie Harrison on Hammond B3, and Mike De Maeo on synthesizer.

The concert started out with lots of applause and cheers every time a song was played, then out of nowhere people started to come down to the front of stage, waving their hands in the air and dancing to the music. The interesting part was the age demographic was 20-60 year olds all loving the show.

One fact that I didn’t know was the hit song Tighter and Tighter  by Alive ‘N Kickin’ was written by Tommy James and he produced the hit single as well for the Brooklyn band. When he sang it in concert, it all made sense as it has his trademark sound all over it. The highlight was seeing John Golden and Jonathan Ashe along with Tommy James pull out acoustic guitars to do the slow version of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, proving once again a great song is timeless.

With over 32 albums available on his website, a new Nissan commercial featuring Billy Idol’s version of ‘Mony, Mony’, touring and the promotion of his bestseller book, ‘Me The Mob & The Music’, it doesn’t look like the career of Tommy James is slowing down.

Me The Mob and The Music is currently in pre-production of a feature film, produced by  Barbara De Fina, the American film producer whose credits list as well known films such as GoodFellas, Casino, The Color of Money, Kundun, Cape Fear, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Grifters to name a few.

The movie will tell the story of the tumultuous professional and personal relationship that Tommy James had with Morris Levy, owner operator of Roulette Records. The closing scene features a haunting, slow version of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’; chosen to depict Tommy James hearing the news that Morris Levy had passed away.

All this proves that a great artist combined with great songs truly stands the test of time.

I Think We’re Alone Now

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