I think I'll go see them either in Reno or Vegas, depending on their schedule. Seeing the Four Coins appearing with the Four Aces and Four Lads should be a great time.
|Sunday, April 8, 2007|
|4/9/2007||Email this article • Print this article|
Four Coins bringing 'Shangri-La' to Roadhouse one last time
Here's a question to toss at those smug kids on "Are Your Smarter than a Fifth Grader?"
What number is common to the following words: aces, coins, freshmen, lads, preps, seasons and tops.
The kids won't have a clue, but those of a certain age will know immediately that it's "four."
In the '50s and early '60s, it was common practice for singing quartets to lead off their nom de plume with "Four." Three of those vintage "Four" acts - the Four Lads, Four Aces and Four Coins, will headline a concert at the Pepsi Roadhouse next month. And even though they had fewer hits than their co-stars, the Four Coins are at the top of the bill. It might have something to do with the fact that the members are all Canonsburg natives. Or that, unlike the other quartets, the Coins are still intact. Which means that the four friends, who gave the world "Shangri-La" in 1957, are more "mature" than even the Rolling Stones.
"Yeh, we're not spring chickens anymore," George Mantalis, one of the original Coins, said with a laugh. "Back in the day, I remember doing 'The Ed Sullivan Show' live on a Sunday night, and then performing in Sacramento (Calif.), the following day. We certainly can't do that anymore."
"I've got a better one," Coin Jim Gregorakis chipped in. "There was one time we were on a bill with Tony Bennett and Larry Storch at the Copacabana. Well, back then, that was the most prestigious place in the country to be booked. We were supposed to perform there on a Saturday and then again the following week, beginning on a Monday. Well, we had previously booked a Sunday show in Denver, so we flew to Denver late Saturday night, did the performance and were back in New York for the Monday show. We won't be trying that again anytime soon."
Nonetheless, the group has an upcoming tour lined up for the Poconos and Johnstown in Pennsylvania and Columbus, Youngstown and Cleveland in Ohio.
"We're driving," Gregorakis said, "so you can bet won't be doing the shows on consecutive nights. We don't have that much energy."
The mere fact that the Coins are performing at all is amazing. After sitting out the '70s, '80s and '90s - Gregorakis came home for, among other things, a long stint on Canonsburg Borough Council - the group reunited a few years ago, mostly at the urging of friends, to give a farewell performance at the Roadhouse. That turned into two sold-out shows, and favorable reviews led to a stint in Nevada, as well as a spot on a PBS special that was filmed last year at Mountaineer Casino in West Virginia.
"That was a long night for the audience," Gregorakis recalled, "with a lot of performers doing multiple takes just to get certain camera angles and stuff like that. I don't think we went on until after midnight. Then, after it was all over, we were called back to dub in vocals for some of the other groups, because the sound quality wasn't there (on the recording)."
Both Gregorakis and Mantalis insist this will be the final farewell show, at least at the Roadhouse. "We're going with the Four Lads and Four Aces for a package show in Reno and Las Vegas, and that's gonna be about it," they said, nodding their heads for emphasis.
"Make sure you mention their hits, too" Mantalis said, hoping that readers would remember the Aces' "Three Coins in the Fountain," "Tell Me Why" and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing" and the Lads' "Istanbul," "Standing on the Corner" and "Moments to Remember."
The Coins' favorite moment to remember?
"That would be the tour of the Far East in the early '60s," Mantalis said. "We were out with Nat King Cole - what a nice guy - for what was to be his last performances. He died shortly after we got back to the States."
"One thing I'll never forget," Gregorakis added. "After one show, Nat said, 'You guys sure can do anything. I heard you singing that one song in Spanish from my dressing room.'
"I don't remember if we told him, but that was another group on stage at the time."
Tickets for the May 12 concert are available at www.pepsiroadhouse.com or by calling 724-947-1900. A discount combo package, that includes bus transportation, dinner and the show, is available for $55 by calling 724-746-3472.