This Saturday’s performing musicians at Boulevard Music are likely to be different than any soloist or group you have encountered. I say this with some measure of confidence because The Mighty Echoes is a quartet that performs a cappella — for the uninitiated, musicians who sing without the accompaniment of musical instruments.
This places the emphasis on vocals and harmony. No hiding behind the power or strength of guitars, wind instruments or drums.
Luckily The Mighty Echoes fills the bill with A Cappella Doo Wop… in perfect harmony. Check out the group’s YouTube videos and see if you agree.
The Mighty Echoes go on stage from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at Boulevard Music, 4316 Sepulveda Blvd., in Culver City. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or by calling 310-398-2583.
Shield gave time to the NEWS this week to share insight into his group and what the Echoes will bring on Saturday.
“The Mighty Echoes began singing together back in 1986 and three of us have now been performing together for over 30 years,” Shield said. “As for myself, I was originally a Rock & Roll drummer back in Swinging ‘60s London, playing in Episode Six with future members of Deep Purple. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced a long and varied life in music ever since.”
Shield said that ironically, the Doo Wop sound the Echoes adopted was not the “in sound” of 1960s Britain.
“I’ve always loved the group harmony sound, even though the doo-wop genre never really resonated with the Brits the way Rockabilly and the Blues did,” he explained. “Nevertheless, Dion and the Belmonts were an early influence as were R&B artists like Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, both of whom I was lucky enough to see as a teenager when they toured the U.K.”
Adopting the Doo Wop sound is one thing, but a cappella…?
“I think the Mighty Echoes have a very full sound, especially since we’re only a quartet,” Shield said. “We are blessed to have four exceptional voices ranging from deep bass to soaring tenor. Our arrangements emphasize harmony, counterpoint, and rhythm. One of the nicest things people say to us is that they ‘didn’t realize there were no instruments!’”
The Echoes are comprised of Harvey Shield, Charlie Davis, Jon Rubin, and John Lathan, who consider themselves “true brother in harmony.”
Being a Los Angeles-based singing group has played an influence on the Echoes in more ways than one.
“We started singing in a now-defunct theatre on Sunset Boulevard in Silverlake. I’ve lived in Echo Park for over forty years, hence the origin of the band’s name,” Shield said.
The Mighty Echoes, Shield said, thrive on making the best of all experiences and performances.
“(There have been) so many great gigs over the years, but of all our TV appearances I particularly enjoyed working with Danny DeVito on “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.” That was a lot of fun and people always ask: “Were you the Yellow Jacket Boys?” I can’t think of the worst gig, probably as I tend to put the few bad ones out of my mind!
Shield said the Echoes are making a return visit to Boulevard Music and have a recording history they are proud of.
“We have five albums out there, including my personal favorite: “Doo Wop Around the Christmas Tree” and expect to be recording again soon,” he said.
So what can audiences expect on Saturday night in Culver City?
“As always, we’ll be singing a program of classic Rock & Roll songs interspersed with stories and antics,” Shield said. “Audiences seem to find us very entertaining. And for this show, we’ll be pulling some seldom-heard material from our repertoire archive.’
As for the rest of 2019 and beyond, Shield said that both individually and with the Echoes, he will have a busy schedule.
“It’s simply to keep singing together for as long as possible,” he said of the recipe for success and longevity. “Singing with the Mighty Echoes is like therapy for me. It always makes me feel good to be on stage and be part of that close-knit sound. Outside of the Mighty Echoes, I’m also busy singing with the non-Acappella “Old Man Dinner Band” and working on a new musical. Jon Rubini’s other band, the Rubinoos, is also experiencing a resurgence right now. They’ve been together for over 40 years!
“(The Mighty Echoes) have been doing this for a long, long time yet it still feels very fulfilling. I can’t see us ever calling it quits.”