Micky Dolenz - The City Winery - Atlanta, 4/2/17by Pat and George Betzhold on 04/26/17
Monkee Business in Atlanta
When many Baby Boomers were the teeny boppers in the mid sixties, The Monkees made their debut as a weekly series on television. The show was based on the concept of four young and crazy musicians wanting to make it big and become the new Beatles. While the show focused mainly on their wild and funny antics, it also included their music in the background and included them performing an entire new song every week. Their names were Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and the much beloved Davy Jones.
Last week we had the chance to see Micky at one of our favorite venues in Atlanta, “The City Winery.” How could we pass up seeing a real live Monkee, in person after so many years?
We weren’t sure what to expect from an aging, seventy one year old pop star. As we were waiting to be seated we couldn’t help but notice, first, that there was no one under the age of fifty and, secondly, they were all great fans. Many were wearing their Monkee t-shirts from back in the day. Everyone looked to be very excited and thrilled to be there!
As the music began playing, the screens flanking the stage began showing pictures and clips from the old Monkees TV shows. This continued throughout the entire show. In the clips the boys were wearing flower power bell bottoms, bright silky shirts, and Mike, of course, always wearing his signature beanie. There were guest stars in every episode; Ursula Andress, Annette Funicello, Frank Zappa and Sonny Liston to name a few.
The band walked on the stage; the drummer, bass player, lead guitar, and a keyboard player. Next, an older woman in a flowing blouse came out and took one of the two remaining microphones. The band started playing the Monkees’ theme song, then a voice boomed out - “Here’s the star…Micky Dolenz!” The audience was on their feet as Micky, microphone in hand, walked out singing an old Monkees’ hit, “Mary, Mary.” He had the confidence of a man who has been in the public eye his entire life. At the age of ten, he had the starring role in the fifties television show, “Circus Boy.” He later played in various pop bands and finally as one of the lead singers of the Monkees. Now, here he was sporting a dark blazer and a very dapper fedora. His signature curly mop of hair no longer visible, but his smile was still the same.
We noticed his voice had changed with age, not quite what it once was. That being the case, he still was able to grab hold of the audience, generating much excitement and had them all on their feet cheering.
After the first song, he introduced the woman we had noticed earlier. She turned out to be his older sister, Coco, harmonizing as they had done since childhood. She seemed to have true affection for him as he did for her. They smiled at each other while singing, and made a few sibling jokes throughout the show.
They followed the first song with another big hit of the sixties, “She.” The crowd seemed to know every word and sang along, probably remembering back to those good ole days. There were many of the songs from days past, as well as a few of his recent recordings. We were surprised at how well the audience seemed to know them all…true fans even up to the present.
In between the many songs we were entertained by past memories and anecdotes from when the band was at the top of the charts. One that we all thought was very funny was when Micky told of their first real tour outside the television studio. They needed an opening act. He had decided that a young, almost unknown Jimi Hendrix should do it. When Jimi took the stage the first night, he opened with his now famous “Purple Haze.” The crowd started calling out, “Davy, Davy…we want Davy!” Of course the audience at that time was made up of teeny boppers between the ages of twelve and fourteen. This gave the crowd quite a chuckle. Another fact we all were surprised to hear was that in 1967 The Monkees sold more records than the Beatles and Rolling Stones put together. Who would have thought?
Coco surprised us with her renditions of Linda Ronstadt’s “Different Drum” and Gracie Slicks, “White Rabbit.” She did a great job, showing that she is quite the singer in her own right. She and Micky danced and played around, teasing each other as only a brother and sister would do.
Many more sixties hits were performed;” Last Train to Clarksdale”, “I’m A Believer,” “Give Me Some Lovin” and Carol Kings’ “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” The crowd seemed to know every word and sang along, right to the last song.
Toward the end, as the lights were lowered, the screens next to the stage began showing pictures of Davy Jones as a child and scenes from the show when he sang lead. Davy passed in 2012.
As a tribute to his longtime friend, Micky dedicated his next song, saying “This one belongs to Davy.” The crowd was quiet as “Daydream Believer” began. Coco held a candle above her head while the entire audience slowly waved their arms upward to honor him. Soon everyone was singing and there were tears glistening from many eyes. When the song ended, Micky did a salute towards the sky and the spell was broken. It was an emotional moment for all.
Does a seventy plus former teen idol/pop star still have what it takes to please a room full of people? The answer is yes, he had them all in the palm of his hand. He was able to pull us back in time, when life was simpler and four silly young men entertained us each week.