Valentine’s Day isn’t until next Saturday, but February 8 might be declared “Valentine’s Sunday” by virtue of it being the date for a special matinee concert at the Middletown Arts Center, one that puts an intriguingly local spin on some of the most romantic records of the 1960s and 70s.
Running from 2 to 4 pm, the concert stars a set of Garden State favorites with a multi-generational fanbase: Jersey City’s own Duprees (“My Own True Love,” “Have You Heard” and the sublime “You Belong to Me”) paired with a Jersey Shore guy whose smooth brand of vocal soul took him to the top of the pops, years before the Boss ever set his hungry heart on the Billboard charts.
Best known for his tenure with the Moments (“Love on a Two-Way Street”) and the later incarnation known as Ray, Goodman and Brown (“Special Lady”), Asbury Park native Billy Brown honed his chops with several groups based in and around the city’s once-thriving Springwood Avenue scene — including the Broadways, themselves briefly signed to a national label in the mid 60s. His career is among the subjects examined in a great exhibit of photos and memorabilia currently on display at Monmouth University, Springwood Avenue Harmony – Celebrating The West Side’s Unique Musical Legacy — a February-long installation curated by the folks at ClassicUrbanHarmony.net (and spotlighting, among many others, the crucial contributions of Red Bank’s Stormin’ Norman Seldin).
Brown will be performing his own best known records (as well as “Tributes to the Motown Legends and 70s R&B Hits”) as opening act to the Duprees, during the show for which tickets ($50 general admission, $60 up-front VIP seating) can be reserved by calling (732) 244-4058.