STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — It’ll be like stepping back in time when the folk-rock group The Association entertains in the intimate setting of Lorenzo’s cabaret room next month — and it’s a journey the band is looking forward to taking.
“It’s our favorite kind of crowd,” said Jim Yester, singer and guitarist for the band, which has rocked major concert halls and football stadiums all over the country during more than 40 years of touring. “It’s very nice to be back in a small venue. That’s how we stared out — playing in coffee houses. We love that intimacy — People right at your feet. It’s so cool. You get an energy from the audience.”
The Association is one of the most popular and successful bands to have come out of the 1960s and their No. 1 hits, “Never My Love,” “Windy,” and “Cherish,” continue to receive nearly as much radio airplay today as they ever have.
They got their start in California in 1965, and have sold more than 80 million records, tapes, CDs and DVD, earning six gold records and two platinum. Their album, “The Association Greatest Hits” continues to be one of the longest best-selling albums in the history of the Warner Brothers record label.
Tickets for the Friday, Sept. 19, performance may be purchased by calling Lorenzo’s at 718-477-2400, ext. 5, or vising LorenzosDining.com. Dinner seating is 7:30 p.m. The show begins at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 or $55 for premium seats. The dinner cost is additional. Overnight packages start at $185 per couple.
Carefully crafted vocals and intricately woven instrumentation are the signatures of The Association, which was nominated for seven Grammy Awards. Current band members include originals Yester and Jules Alexander. Bruce Pictor on drums, Jordan Cole on keyboards and guitar and Del Ramos on bass Guitar round out today’s band. Together, they’ve been working on the band’s sound lately and are thrilled with the results.
“It sounds like it did back in the ’60s,” Yester said. “People who’ve seen us through the years, they saw us in this incarnation and were blown away.” A few changes to the performance promise something new, he added. “We’re really bringing personalities out and everyone is out front now. And the sound is just incredible.”
Hilton Garden Inn owner Richard Nicotra can’t wait to experience the show in Lorenzo’s, a bar, restaurant and cabaret room that seats 225 people and of which he is clearly proud.
“We’re keeping an art form alive that is dying all over the U.S. — even in Manhattan, said Nicotra, referring to the cozy cabaret setting that keeps performances up close and personal. “We’re keeping the art form of live music in a small venue accessible.”
It’s an art form Nicotra has a special connection to. “My wife (Lois) and I used to be regulars at the Algonquin (in Manhattan), which had the famous Oak Room. We just loved that intimate setting, where you can come and see an act up close. Unfortunately, a lot of these places are gone.”
And he’s made it his mission to recreate that experience for Staten Islanders.
“Whenever you can go see live music in a Copacabana kind of setting — where you can sit at a table that’s large enough to have dinner in a chair that’s comfortable — it’s special. ”
The Association has the perfect sound and appeal to fill the venue, Nicotra said. “They take people back to a time in their lives when things were simpler,” he said. “When they had fewer responsibilities, fewer worries.”
So what’s the secret to their songs’ long-standing popularity among two generations of listeners?
“They can understand the words, for one thing,” Yester mused. “And the music does take you back. It was a kinder, gentler time during the ’60s and ’70s, even though there was a lot of upheaval socially. People say, ‘I can remember where I was when I first heard this song. Well, we’re the same way.”
Nicotra couldn’t help but boast about the room, and how perfect it’ll be for this performance.
“It’s the best room in New York City and people like Rita Moreno and Lucie Arnaz have confirmed that,” he said, noting that the steel construction of the ceilings allowed the room to be built with no support columns blocking patrons’ views of the act.
Yester said he and the band will definitely enjoy it. “It’s kind of like returning to our roots,” said the singer and songwriter. “(Lately) we mostly play to 2,500 people, so two to three hundred is just wonderful.”