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Surf Ballroom’s Annual Winter Dance Party 🎷🎸
February 1 - February 3$50 – $135
CLEAR LAKE, IA – Plans for the 2024 Winter Dance Party®, scheduled for February 1st – 3rd at the legendary Surf Ballroom® in Clear Lake, are well underway. Event organizers announced today a jam packed lineup that features a number of fan favorite artists, as well as a multitude of musicians influenced by the late rock and roll pioneers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Surf Ballroom & Museum Board President Jeff Nicholas said, “Celebrating and honoring the musical legacies of three of the greatest rock ‘n roll pioneers in history is a large part of our organization’s mission, and we continue to be so humbled by all who have energetically agreed to be a part of it.”
The event kicks off on Thursday night (February 1st) with Chris Montez, The Chiffons, Dodie Stevens & The Killer Vees taking the stage.
Chris Montez was influenced by Hispanic culture and the rock ‘n roll success of Ritchie Valens. Music was an integral part of his family life, and Montez began singing rancheras with his older brothers as a kid. They taught him to play the guitar; and while he began singing backup his voice eventually matured and began take the lead. Montez formed a band and recorded original songs that gained the interest of Monogram Records. “All You Had to Do was Tell Me” became a local hit. In 1962, Montez’s single “Let’s Dance” hit the Top 10 and he was well on his way. He has toured with Clyde McPhatter, Sam Cooke, The Platters and Smokey Robinson. Today, Montez is just hitting his stride. Born into a bi-cultural city with a rich heritage, Los Angeles, he emerged as an energetic performer with a history and cultural relevance that is unique. His well-known hits and heritage are certainly part of Ritchie Valens’ legacy.
The Chiffons originated from the Bronx area of New York in 1960. Their sassy flair made them one of the top Girl Groups of the early ’60s. With their trademark tight harmonies, high-stepping confidence and the hit machine of Goffin and King writing songs like “One Fine Day,” the Chiffons made music that helped define the Girl Group sound of the era. Their hit pop singles “One Fine Day” and “Sweet Talkin’ Guy,” are still staples of oldies radio today.
The group had already recorded a handful of singles when they hit the Number One spot in the United States with the song “He’s So Fine.” Their first hit was followed by other notable tunes such as “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” and “I Have a Boyfriend,” although many of their recordings were derivative of the period. The group also released material under the title The Four Pennies.
Best known for her international hit “Pink Shoe Laces” in 1959, Dodie Stevens is a music legend from the 50’s and 60’s. Dodie received a gold record for the hit at the young age of thirteen. She followed with “Yes, I’m Lonesome Tonight”, “No” and “Merry, Merry Christmas Baby”, which all hit the Billboard charts in the early 60’s. While still in high school, Dodie’s career skyrocketed. She appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and starred with Fabian in her first film, “Hound Dog Man”, followed by “Convicts Four”, starring Ben Gazzara. She also co-starred with Frankie Avalon in “Alakazam The Great”, an animated feature film. She continued to record a string of singles and albums, and more television guest appearances followed, including The Bob Hope Show, and Pat Boone’s Chevy Showroom. Dodie also toured worldwide with Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Paul Anka, Bobby Rydell and many more teen idols from that era. Dodie performed at the Surf Ballroom in 2009 as a part of the 50th anniversary memorial concert on February 2nd, Fifty Winters Later.
Known in the music business as the “rhythm section to the stars,” Jeff and Tommy Vee have been playing drums and doghouse bass respectively for almost 40 years with a resume far too long to list. They have performed, recorded and/or toured with a virtual who’s who of Rock and Roll Royalty including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul McCartney, Ronnie Wood, Brian Setzer, Chuck Berry, Bill Medley, Sam Moore, Peter Noone, Nelson and of course their father Bobby Vee… just to name a few. In 2008 Jeff & Tommy joined forces with their cousin Matt Vee and his talented wife Julie Velline to form The Killer Vees. Matt, an accomplished performer in his own right also toured nationally and internationally with Bobby Vee and others from the ‘50s & ‘60s era.
Rock and roll fans are sure to dig Friday night’s (February 2nd) lineup featuring Rocky & The Rollers with special guests La La Brooks (the voice of The Crystals) and Vito Picone & The Elegants. Richie Lee & The Fabulous 50’s round out the evening.
Rocky & The Rollers are best known as the touring band for Bowzer’s Rock and Roll Party with Jon “Bowzer” Bauman former leader of Sha Na Na. Rocky and the Rollers Doo Wop N’ Rock show takes audiences back in time to the great sound of Doo Wop and Rock and Roll from the 1950’s.
La La Brooks’ list of singing accomplishments puts her in rare air in the history of rock and roll. As the lead singer of the 60s girls group The Crystals, Ms. Brooks was the voice on hits Rolling Stone Magazine once declared as two of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” – “Then He Kissed Me” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.” In addition, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has declared “Da Doo Ron Ron” as one of the songs that shaped rock and roll. Ms. Brooks also sang lead on three songs on the album A Christmas Gift for You, one of only two Christmas albums inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s self-proclaimed favorite album of all time.
The Elegants were formed in 1956 by Vito Picone, who co-wrote their No. 1 single, “Little Star.” The group was named the No. 1 R&B and No. 1 Pop artist of the year in 1958 and was the first doo-wop group to perform at the Lincoln Center. The song sold 80,000 copies in New York within the first week becoming #1 almost immediately, and spent 19 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100. After their success with “Little Star”, the band, still in their teens, toured with artists such as Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. Vito Picone & The Elegants performed during the 2018 Winter Dance Party event.
A star-studded Saturday night (February 3rd) lineup features a special tribute in honor of legendary guitarist Albert Lee as he celebrates his 80th birthday. No stranger to the Surf Ballroom’s Winter Dance Party, Lee has performed at every Winter Dance Party since 2013. Albert Lee is a Grammy Award-winning British guitarist and multiple recipient of Guitar Player Magazine’s “Best Country Guitarist” who is celebrated by fans and musicians the world over for his fingerstyle and hybrid picking technique. Lee joined the Crickets for three albums in the 1970’s and joined Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band in 1976. Additionally, he has worked both in the studio and on tour with many notable musicians from a wide range of genres including Eric Clapton, The Everly Brothers, Bill Wyman, Joe Cocker, Jackson Browne and Roseanne Cash.
Kicking off the night will be The Holy Rocka Rollaz who became instant Winter Dance Party favorites several years ago when they thrilled a Winter Dance Party luncheon. The high-energy trio performs classics from the 1950s and ‘60s, and have become a main-stage favorite at the annual event.
Also in the heart of the billing will be The Lettermen, known for their soft, romantic, harmonic blend of music which is as popular with their fans today as it was in 1961 when they recorded their first hit, “The Way You Look Tonight.” To their credit, The Lettermen have over 75 albums— numerous certified gold – and a myriad of hits including “When I Fall In Love”, “Come Back Silly Girl”, “Theme From A Summer Place”, “Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder”, “Hurt So Bad”, and “Shangri-La.”
A special highlight of the show will be Albert Lee’s 80th Birthday Jam featuring special guests from around the globe. “Albert has become synonymous with the Surf Ballroom’s Winter Dance Party,” stated Shane Cooney, Winter Dance Party Executive Producer. “This year, we received so many inquiries from his contemporaries wanting to come to Clear Lake to help celebrate Albert’s birthday while making a pilgrimage to share their music from the Surf Ballroom stage. Prominently featured guests include
Marshall Crenshaw, making his second Winter Dance party appearance, and Blondie Chaplain who’s resume includes work with the Beach Boys and Rolling Stones,” Cooney added.
The capstone of the weekend will be Slim Jim Phantom’s All Star Finale on Saturday night. Slim Jim Phantom helped introduce a generation to rockabilly alongside Brian Setzer and Lee Rocker as the drummer with The Stray Cats. With a love for 50’s Rock and Roll, the Stray Cats took inspiration from that bygone era and mixed with their youthful energy and aggression to produce the updated hard-edged rockabilly sound that saw them conquer London, Europe and later the U.S., gaining fans among the likes of Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Robert Plant along the way.
The finale will combine the stars of the evening with additional special guests to blend the birthday celebration with a refocus upon the Three Stars that have brought them all together. Joining the others will be additional guests Glen Matlock, Gilby Clarke, Jennie Vee, Austin Allsup and Chris Montez.
“Our much-anticipated All Star Finale on Saturday night promises energetic performances, moments of reflection, and a continued celebration of rock ‘n roll history that our annual Winter Dance Party event has become well known for,” stated Surf Ballroom Executive Director Laurie Lietz. “We are absolutely thrilled to have so many modern-day artists on the bill who want to be part of our 45-year-old tradition and to honor their guitar hero Albert Lee,” she continued. “This year’s lineup truly illustrates not only how much of an impact Buddy (Holly), Ritchie (Valens) and The Bopper made on music history but also highlights how the music has lived-on through the work of Albert Lee.
Scheduled to make special guest appearances include:
Marshall Crenshaw is a beloved American musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist who has made an indelible mark on the world of rock and roll. Crenshaw began his musical career playing in local bands, but quickly made a name for himself as a solo artist. His self-titled debut album, released in 1982, was an instant classic and contained hit songs such as “Someday, Someway” and “Cynical Girl.” Crenshaw’s career has spanned three decades, produced 13 albums and earned Grammy and Golden Globe nominations for his songwriting. He has also appeared in film and TV, most notably playing John Lennon in “Beatlemania” in 1978 and later playing Buddy Holly in “La Bamba.”
Blondie Chaplin has played key roles in some of the biggest bands in rock & roll, with a decades-long résumé that includes work with the Beach Boys (Chaplin sang lead on at least three Beach Boys songs, “Sail On, Sailor,” “Leaving This Town” and “Funky Pretty,” all from the 1973 album Holland), The Band, Bonnie Raitt, David Johansen, Elliott Murphy and 15 years as a backing vocalist and guitar player for the Rolling Stones.
Glen Matlock, musician, singer and songwriter, was one of the founding members and original bass guitarist of punk rock band The Sex Pistols. Although many think of Matlock primarily as the writer of iconic punk songs such as “God Save the Queen”, he has also traveled the world as bass guitarist with Iggy Pop, Blondie, Primal Scream and David Bowie.
Gilby Clarke is a musician, singer, songwriter and record producer best known for a 3-year tenure as the rhythm guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, replacing Izzy Stradlin in 1991 during the Use Your Illusion Tour. Following his departure from the group, Clarke went on to forge a solo career playing guitar with Slash’s Snakepit, Kat Men, Heart, Nancy Sinatra, Kathy Valentine (of the Go-Go’s), MC5 and forming his own group Rock Star Supernova with members of Metallica and Mötley Crüe.
Jennie Vee is a songwriter, guitarist and bassist from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. Vee grew up listening to Hole, The Cure and Jane’s Addiction and taught herself guitar. She quit high school and relocated to Southsea, England, where she recorded her first demo with her musical mentor Jim Shaw from the band Cranes. She returned to Canada and formed a band, Tuuli, who released an EP on Sympathy for the Record Industry, an LP on Linus and her songs were featured on Comedy Central and Degrassi: The Next Generation. She released her solo EP Die Alone in 2014 and was subsequently discovered by Love who recruited her to play bass for the Endless Summer tour with Lana Del Rey. Her first full-length album, Spying, was released the following year. She played bass with Courtney Love and is currently a touring member of Eagles of Death Metal.
Austin Allsup rose to fame in 2016 as a top-10 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.” His father, Tommy Allsup, played guitar with Buddy Holly during the 1959 Winter Dance Party Tour and was a regular performer at the Surf Ballroom until his death in 2017. After performing in his father’s place that year, Austin instantly became a part of the Winter Dance Party list of fan favorites and has returned to the Surf every year since!
All tickets for the event are non-refundable and the entertainment lineup is subject to change. Tickets and seating reservations may be purchased online at the Surf Ballroom’s website (www.surfballroom.com) or by calling the Surf’s box office at (641) 357-6151.
For the most current information about the event, please visit: winterdanceparty.surfballroom.com. All inquiries regarding this event should be directed to the Surf Ballroom & Museum by calling (641) 357- 6151 or by email at [email protected]. Ticket orders and seating reservations are not accepted through the mail or fax.