Ahoy! Guys, Dolls, and Rock’n’Roll Aboard the Little Rock

On August 29 the Erie County Naval Museum concluded their summer concert series on the fan tail of the USS Little Rock with a performance by The Buffalo Dolls and Richie and Debbie Derwald.

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The performance was befitting an appearance on the ship, reminiscent of the days when the USO sponsored tours of entertainers who performed for thousands of sailors aboard ships during World War II. It is especially appropriate since the USS Little Rock, the USS The Sullivans, and the USS Croaker – the three ships on display at the Naval Museum – were all commissioned during WWII.

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Performing the music from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, the Buffalo Dolls got the night started off with “Sentimental Journey”.

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The Dolls – Donna, Rusty, and Debbie – routinely perform for the troops and veterans in the hospital. Upholding the traditions of those early girl groups, the Buffalo Dolls also performed “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Rum and Coca-Cola”, “Bei Mir Bist du Schon”, “Shoo Shoo Baby”, “Apple Blossom Time”, a tribute to service members with a performance of each branch’s song, “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, “Route 66”, “Almost Like Being in Love”, “L O V E”, “Hey Mambo”, and concluding the set with a medley of girl group song from the 60’s – “Stop in the Name of Love”, “Baby Love”, “Mr. Postman”, “My Guy”, and “Chapel of Love”.

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Continuing the tradition of stars performing for the troops, showman Richie Derwald and his wife Debbie presented a cavalcade of stars including Judy Garland, Roy Orbison, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Sir Tom Jones, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride, Elvis Presley, and Cher.

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But before the parade of stars took the stage, Richie and Debbie began the set with a performance of “God Bless America’.

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Richie got the show started with a rousing rendition of “Minnie the Moocher” by Cab Callaway that got the audience moving…and joining in on the song. In a Who’s Who of chart topping stars the duo performed “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart”, Swanee”, “Pretty Woman”, “That’s Life”, “New York, New York”, “Rocky Top”, “Here You Come Again”, “Walking After Midnight”, “Love Me Tonight”, “I Who Have Nothing”, “Delilah”, “Independence Day”, “I’ll Be Seeing You”, “America” from “The Jazz Singer”, “Sweet Caroline”, “Return to Sender”, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes”, My Way”, “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves”, and “I Got You Babe”.

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Before ending the show with the whole family waving flags and singing “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood, Richie performed a rock and roll medley that had the crowd dancing to “Long Tall Sally”, “Shake Rattle and Roll”, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On”, “You Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock and Roll”,”Flip Flop and Fly”, and “Roll Over Beethoven”.

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The Derwald children also got in on the musical production with girls Summer and Jada performing “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” from “Annie Get Your Gun” and six year old twins Hunter and Sawyer donned in white jumpsuits joined Dad for a little Elvis with “Teddy Bear” and “Jailhouse Rock”. The boys also performed “This Little Light of Mine”.

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While for some a musical performance on board a ship may have seemed a bit odd,the summer concerts on the fan tail of the USS Little Rock upheld along standing tradition of stars entertaining the troops on board a ship and with the Buffalo Dolls and Richie and Debbie Derwald performing the music of the stars of yesteryear it was the most appropriate way to end the season.

All photos by Sherrill Fulghum


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