‘Doo wop-ified:’ the Doo Wop Project brings classic style and modern twist to the ’50s music we all know and love
Most of the members of the Doo Wop Project were on Broadway performing in “Jersey Boys” when they had the idea to start a group.
“We saw the end of our lives coming in that show, and we thought, ‘how can we continue singing together?’ We love this style of music, let’s create something for ourselves. And that’s what we did, seven years later,” said group member Dominic Nolfi.
Now, the six-piece lineup pays homage to the sounds they love by performing renditions of classic doo wop songs, as well as “doo wop-ifying” modern favorites (the bass singer in the group, Dwayne Cooper, came up with that one). Fans who head out to the Doo Wop Project’s show at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Friday, Feb. 7 will hear tunes from genre greats like Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Dion and The Belmonts, The Temptations and of course, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. But they’ll also hear special covers of songs by Jason Mraz, Maroon 5 and Michael Jackson.
“As much as we love singing classic doo wop, and it’s satisfying, it would also be more fun to take some ubiquitous – quote unquote – current songs, and turn them into doo wop songs,” Nolfi said.
For the first three or so years they were active, they played just 10 gigs a year, all within the Greater New York City area. Now, they play 80-90 gigs a year, and travel all across the country. This tour run will take them to several stops in Colorado – after the show in Beaver Creek, they’ll play in Aspen, Telluride, Boulder, Steamboat Springs and Grand Junction. Then, they move to the West Coast and in the spring, they’ll play in western New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan.
And while the group members love a wide variety of music, as an ensemble, they specialize in street-corner doo wop. It was popular in the 1950s and came out of African American experiences in cities like New York, Philadelphia and Detroit, where friends were singing on street corners. Also popular at the time were barbershop quartets, and while they have similar elements, they’re distinct sounds.
“Street doo wop has an edgier sensibility. It’s a different chord progression, too. Doo wop songs are in a major chord scale, and barbershop delves into more of the minor keys, and it just creates a different sound,” Nolfi said. “When you think of our group, we want you to think of leather jackets. When you think of barbershop, you think of straw hats and seersucker suits. We’re about cool jackets and good hair.”
And speaking to the cultural roots of doo wop music, the Doo Wop Project likes that it’s able to combine both sounds and experiences: many groups at the time were comprised of either all African American singers or all Caucasian singers.
“The Del Vikings is one group that we love because they were an integrated group and we have a Jewish guy, two African American guys and two Italian guys. We’re a multicultural experience,” Nolfi said.
The band members also still keep up their Broadway careers, and the members have performed in “Hairspray,” “Grease,” “A Bronx Tale,” “Sister Act,” “Hair” and many more.
The Doo Wop Project plays at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Friday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $45 and are available in a 4-pack for $160. This show is also part of the Pay Your Age program for ages 18-30: present your valid proof of age in person at the Vilar box office and your ticket price is the same as your age. Visit vilarpac.org or call 970-845-8497 for tickets and information.
If you go …
What: The Doo Wop Project
When: Friday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m.
Where: The Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
Cost: Starting at $45, 4-pack available for $160, Pay Your Age program available
More information: Visit vilarpac.org or call 970-845-8497.