MARCH 22, 2018 – In addition to being the first band to record a hit song by then rookie writer Neil Diamond (“Sunday and Me”), Jay and the Americans also sold the most copies of any version of “Some Enchanted Evening.”
Their show on April 6 at The Cabot in Beverly is sure to be another enchanting evening, featuring such 1960s’ chart-toppers as “Only in America,” “Come a Little Bit Closer,” “This Magic Moment,” and the multilingual “Cara Mia.”
“Audiences love to hear all the hits,” said founding member Sandy Yaguda, “and that is exactly what they get!”
Having started his performing career as a roadie for his singing and dancing sister, Yaguda recalled being taken from Brooklyn to New York City many times a week in the back of his mother’s car. And though it sometimes meant missing out on his first love – the Brooklyn Dodgers – Yaguda eventually fell for music.
“My older sister took singing lessons,” Yaguda recalled, “and I learned from her to sing harmony.”
Inspired by such stars as Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers, and Elvis Presley, Yaguda eventually got a guitar and started writing songs.
“We started a group just for the love of singing and the incredible feeling of hearing four guys singing harmony,” said Yaguda, whose stage name is Sandy Deanne, of his early arrangement with fellow Brooklynites John “Jay” Traynor, Howard Kane (né Kirschenbaum), and Kenny Vance (né Rosenberg).
Speaking of religion, all four of the original band members were Jewish, as was Traynor’s replacement as lead singer, Jay Black (David Blatt).
“I think hearing the music in temple in the minor chord structure definitely influenced us,” Yaguda said, “as did all the music on the radio in New York from Latin to Broadway and soul to country. We used it all to form our own individual sound.”
Though he admitted his family was “dead set against” his becoming a professional musician (hoping instead for a doctor in the house), Yaguda recalled that as soon as he had recorded a hit tune, their tune changed as well.
Despite occasional lineup changes, the band has always had a “Jay.” Even so, the original name that was bestowed upon them by the legendary songwriting and producing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller did not use any of the band members’ names.
“We were first named ‘Binky Jones and The Americans,’” Yaguda recalled. “But we rebelled. “Nobody wanted to be ‘Binky!’”
With a string of hits and lots of great stories behind them, a Jay and the Americans show is a great night out for music fans of all ages.
“We are keeping the music alive,” said Yaguda, who recently turned 75, “and actually I think the music is keeping us alive. What a blessing to still be performing these songs after all this time!”
Jay and the Americans perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 6, at The Cabot, 286 Cabot St., Beverly. Tickets are $32.50 to $52.50. To purchase, call 866-811-4111 or visit thecabot.org.