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Published February 20, 2009, 12:20 AM

Hello, Baby! It’s the 'Winter Dance Party'

Show pays tribute to three music greats.
For the fun and nostalgia of classic rock, it’s hard to top the 1950s hits of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens or the voice of the Big Bopper, growling “Hello, BAAAYYY-bee!”, on his sexy and danceable “Chantilly Lace.”

By: Paulette Tobin, Grand Forks Herald

For the fun and nostalgia of classic rock, it’s hard to top the 1950s hits of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens or the voice of the Big Bopper, growling “Hello, BAAAYYY-bee!”, on his sexy and danceable “Chantilly Lace.”

John Mueller’s “Winter Dance Party,” coming at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to UND’s Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks, recaptures all of that in a tribute show for audiences all ages, focusing on the excitement and exuberance of early rock ’n’ roll.

The show is the official re-creation of the final tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson). It’s the only show endorsed by both the Holly and Valens estates and features among its performers the Big Bopper’s son, a news release said.

Each live concert is more than two hours of hit songs of the 1950s era: “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Oh, Boy,” “Rave on” and more by Holly, Valens’ “LaBamba” and the Big Bopper classic “Chantilly Lace,” among others.

Tickets range from $10 to $25 and are on sale at the Chester Fritz box office.

Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper died Feb. 3, 1959, in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, an event often referred to as “The Day the Music Died.”

Some rock historians will tell you the late 1950s was almost the demise of rock ’n’ roll, as some of its greatest stars fell, and critics attacked it as an art form. Jerry Lee Lewis was banished for marrying his 13-year-old cousin, Little Richard retired and returned to preaching. Elvis got drafted into the Army, and Chuck Berry got arrested for bringing a minor over state lines.

Many DJs at this time were breaking rock ’n’ roll records live on the air, riots were breaking out at some concerts, and civic leaders proclaimed rock ’n’ roll as a precursor to juvenile delinquency, a news release said.

Then, of course, there was that fatal plane crash in that snowy Iowa field.

But their deaths couldn’t diminish their influence. Holly and his contemporaries went on to inspire generations that followed. Their continued popularity, and the regard of old and new fans keep “Winter Dance Party” going. Between live shows and TV, it’s been seen by millions. It’s returning to the Fritz after a February 2007 show.

John Mueller, who portrays Buddy Holly, is the former star of the U.S. touring version of the London/Broadway hit musical “Buddy … the Buddy Holly Story,” a news release said.

J. P. Richardson Jr., the son of the Big Bopper, fills his legendary father’s footsteps. Ray Anthony performs as Ritchie Valens and is a star of the “Legends of Rock and Roll” show at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.

The show’s four piece band includes Grammy award-winning Mike Acosta on saxophone.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com.

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