Delfonics ready to bring 50 years of Philadelphia Soul to Park City
When: 8 p.m. from Thursday, Feb. 27, to Saturday, Feb. 29.
Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Cost: Thursday tickets range from $33-$49. Friday’s tickets range from $35-$53 and Saturday’s tickets are $39-$59
Michael Washington, music director of the Delfonics, says there will be something for everyone when the Philadelphia-based R&B vocal group, known for the 1967 hit “La-La (Means I Love You),” performs Thursday through Saturday at the Egyptian Theatre.
“We keep the songs close to the original sound, but we do pump it up a little bit to make it more interesting so the music crosses over generations,” Washington said. “We have a few things we put in the arrangements that feature all aspects of the group — older and new things. We also pay tribute to group members who are no longer with us.”
The Delfonics hit the scene in 1965 and released its first single “He Don’t Really Love You” in 1966. The group continued throughout the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with albums and hits that included “La-La,” “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” and “Alfie.”
“We were just talking about this last night at rehearsal; one of the singers said they were only 17 when they recorded some of these songs,” Washington said. “They had no idea that they would be playing these songs 40 or 50 years later.”
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These songs, Washington said, have become part of pop culture, but also have become something more to fans.
“The beautiful part of it is how people from the older generations who remember when we first started all the way down to the younger generations who were introduced by their parents or grandparents,” he said. “They come up to tell us how they played the music when they were in college. People tell us our music was part of their prom songs or that they played one of our songs at their weddings. That’s a wonderful thing to get that type of reception.”
Washington’s favorite Delfonics song is the 1967 B-side single, “I’m Sorry.”
“There aren’t any that I don’t enjoy, but some songs stand out more than others,” he said. “While there isn’t a song that I don’t enjoy playing, my favorite is ‘I’m Sorry. I’ve always loved the way the song was put together.”
Washington said the reason there isn’t a Delfonics song he doesn’t like is because they are all about love, peace and happiness.
“There was so much emotion involved in the music, and there were also a lot of children made to these songs,” he said with a chuckle. “We take great pride in that we were able to be part of that culture, and to keep the music alive gives the younger generation a taste of what was happening during that time of life and how people felt about each other.”
Washington’s tenure as the group’s music director officially started 20 years ago, when his older brother, Donald, retired from the group.
“My brother, who we lost a couple of years ago, passed the baton down to me, and I’m currently carrying it,” Washington said. “But I was also there when those (hit) songs were being done. I remember the original guys coming to the house for rehearsals, and there was never any question of me joining the group.”
These days, the group, which features original singer William “Poogie” Hart, is more like a family than a musical act, Washington said.
“I think the biggest challenge for us is getting from one show to the next and keeping everyone together,” he said laughing.
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