By Tammy Scileppi
The solar eclipse may have brought folks together for a couple of weeks, but a divided, jaded country can really benefit from a hefty dose of common sense – served up with a dollop of wholesome, every now and then. Wouldn’t you agree?
Seems there’s been a collective yearning for yesteryear and simpler times, partly reflected in a growing trend toward retro and vintage. Take for instance, TV commercials that have been featuring pop tunes from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. And, how about those boho chic fashion styles, as well as mid-century modern home décor offerings to which many millennials are drawn?
Even with all the new-fangled gadgets, it’s nice to take a break from technology once in a while, so, if you’re looking for a slice of old-fashioned fun and perhaps, a safe, temporary escape from life’s woes and urban angst, here’s a comforting option: A budget-friendly night out with good friends at one of Queens’ most popular entertainment spots.
This fall and beyond, there’s a lot going on at QED Astoria. Come watch America’s Sweethearts do their thing every third Monday of the month at 8:30 p.m., during their ongoing residency there, and you’ll leave wanting more.
Bestowed with superb voices, this super-talented group of singing ladies will take you on a musical journey back to happier and more wholesome eras, through a variety of retro/vintage shows.
OK, it may all sound a bit corny, but don’t judge till you’ve heard these lovely young gals belt out tunes and watched them boogie woogie like nobody’s business.
Alternating trios celebrate history through harmony, as they wow audiences with lots of singin’ and swingin’ through the decades, and a huge repertoire from 1860-1980. From victory rolls and red lipstick to jumpsuits and disco balls, these performers deliver top-notch entertainment that’s chock-full of toe-tappin’ tunes, vintage costumes, fun choreography, and educational and witty dialogue.
Traveling the states, they hail from all over, including Queens, and perform in trios to pay homage to their musical inspiration – the legendary Andrews Sisters, Patty, Maxene and LaVerne – who were popular during the patriotic WWII era and nicknamed “The Sweethearts of the Armed Forces,” for their numerous USO appearances.
On a recent Monday evening at QED, a feeling of nostalgia swept over the room, during a tribute show to that iconic group, as a trio of marvelous millennials (two from Astoria), dolled up in ’40s-style in red dresses, channeled the Andrews Sisters to a tee with jazzy renditions of tunes from the ’30s and ’40s, sung in precise three-part harmony – along with perfectly syncopated, flirty dance moves.
The Sweethearts proved they were the “bee’s knees” when they managed to bring back the swinging big-band vibe so authentically. You felt as if you were back in the ’40s, watching the original Sweethearts perform for the troops at an Army canteen, along with Bing Crosby.
Did you know that the Andrews Sisters incorporated a diversity of ethnic musical styles into their popular songs, many of which were based on melodies originating in Israel, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, Russia, Sweden, Mexico and Trinidad?
And few music fans know that today’s pop idols, like Bette Midler, The Pointer Sisters, Barry Manilow, The Manhattan Transfer and Christina Aguilera have all reinvented themselves in Andrews Sisters’ style, at one time or another.
Even if you’re not into ’40s music, you’ll never get bored, because the Sweethearts change up their numbers and routines each time. On a different Monday night, you can watch another trio of glammed up singers perform well-known ’80s-style songs. And if you’re in the mood for some disco or Motown, etc., just check out upcoming show dates.
“Something I really love about this opportunity is that it will always be a different show,” said fellow singer Carly Kincannon, who founded the vintage entertainment trio out of Astoria and also lives in the area. “Every one of the women in this group is so gifted, so unique. … So you could hear a new story every time you see the show. A new interpretation of song. A silly moment. An interaction with an audience member. It also helps that we have an enormous repertoire at our fingertips.
“Sometimes it’s our ’50s and ’60s show, Goin’ Steady. We have a set of ’70s music, as well, featuring some disco favorites. We also have a show featuring the full span of our repertoire called ‘A Century of Sweetness.’ ”
That Monday evening (Aug. 21), the solar eclipse was the talk of the town, even at QED, where it became the topic of conversation; the Sweethearts quipped about the event on stage, before doing their routine, which included a nostalgic lineup of memorable tunes like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me),” “Hold Tight,” “Bei Mir Bist du Schon,” and, of course, “Sing Sing Sing.” The evening came to a close with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B).”
The trios perform at a wide variety of events – regional theaters, air shows, private parties, cocktail hours – you name it. And their show can cater to any audience, according to Kincannon, who said the group would be singing at LaGuardia Airport in honor of Labor Day.
“The Sweethearts came together out of pure love of vintage music and of each other. Nine of us started this journey together. We’ve now expanded to 12,” said Kincannon.
“While we are individually from all over the States (Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma…), the girls now reside all over New York, with three of us in Queens, a handful in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and one that commutes in from Jersey. Each of them has extensive training in music, whether it’s jazz, opera, musical theater, pop/rock, or a combination.”
According to Sweetheart Annemarie Rosano, who lives down the street from QED, every girl just sings one part, so there’s alto, soprano and soprano 2. “I sing mostly in the middle, but we have some voice crossing as well. We have sheet music and learning tracks, and we study and have rehearsals,” she said. “The Andrews Sisters, since there were only three of them, could make it up on the spot…they didn’t have to teach it to anybody else.”
Kincannon said one of their goals (and, they feel, responsibilities) as America’s Sweethearts, is to bring people together, no matter their differences. “If we don’t bridge the gap that is occurring between our people, there’s no telling what kind of peril awaits.”
She added: “For our WWII show, specifically, we like to be certain we make time to thank those men and women who have served our country. We, as The Sweethearts, are eternally grateful for the sacrifices they made, and the trust they placed in future generations to carry each other through dark times … like this one.”