Gary Puckett’s bringing his soulful pipes to the Downtown Cabaret Theatre for two shows on March 31. His streak of hits with the Union Gap include Young Girl, Woman Woman, Lady Willpower, Over You and This Girl is a Woman Now. OIB caught up to Gary for a quick Q&A about his career and upcoming shows.
Q. My guitar hero Joe Walsh jokes about asking young fans how they heard about him. “Oh, my granddad turned me on to you.” You, too, have young and old at your shows. Your voice is as soulful today as it was then. How do you keep it in shape?
A. THE VOICE WAS A GIFT OF OUR CREATOR BUT I HAVE A DAILY REGIMEN OF VOCAL EXERCISES THAT HELP ME TO STAY IN GOOD VOICE … ESPECIALLY AS THE YEARS GO BY. HA! WHO SAYS WE’RE GETTING OLDER!
Q. The late 1960s was an era of songs arranged under three minutes, but your current arrangements provide new depth and storyteller’s touch to fill out a full set. Is it fair to say that you’ve evolved into as much performer as singer?
A. WE USED TO JOKE ABOUT HOW RADIO WAS AN ENDLESS STREAM OF COMMERCIALS INTERSPERSED WITH A FEW 3-MINUTE SONGS. FORTUNATELY, I HAD A BUNCH OF GREAT HITS AND I AM ABLE TO BUILD AN ENTIRE SHOW AROUND THE UNION GAP CATALOGUE. BUT, YES, I BELIEVE I HAVE GROWN INTO A GOOD PERFORMER AS WELL.
Q. In addition to your hits, your set list has included several cool cover songs through the years including (Na Na, Hey Hey) Kiss Him Goodbye, a classic written by Bridgeport native Paul Leka who passed away a few months ago. Can you give us a little tease of what we’ll hear?
A.. WE WILL DO ALL THE G.P. AND THE U.G. HITS ALONG WITH MANY OTHER U.G. SONGS THAT THE FANS HAVE GROWN TO LOVE OVER THE YEARS. ALSO IN THE SHOW WILL BE A DION / ROY ORBISON MEDLEY, OUR OWN ARRANGEMENT OF A YOUNGBLOODS SONG, LET’S GET TOGETHER. SOMETHING BY ELVIS AND, OF COURSE, MY TRIBUTE TO THE VETERANS OF THE US MILITARY.
I DIDN’T KNOW THAT PAUL LIVED THERE. I’M SORRY TO HEAR OF HIS PASSING.
Q. It’s fascinating how songs can take on a life of their own. In your early days in the Union Gap you were decked out in Union Army uniforms. Did you expect Home to become an anthem tribute for our service men and women?
A. NO, I DIDN’T! I STARTED PAYING TRIBUTE IN THE EARLY ’80S AND IT HAS BECOME MY DUTY AND MY HONOR. THE EVENING FEELS INCOMPLETE FOR ME WITHOUT IT.
Q. So now for the most important question. Those of us who have been betrayed by hair follicles wonder why so many pop/rock artists manage to keep their hair. Was it really the sex, drugs and Rock & Roll of your youth?
A. YOU KNOW, LENNIE, I DON’T THINK I HAVE EVER BEEN ASKED THAT QUESTION BEFORE. JUST MAYBE … THE ANSWER IS YES! I HAVE KNOWN SOME, HOWEVER WHO HAVE USED HAIR PIECES. AND PRETTY GOOD ONES, TOO. DO YOU THINK STEVEN TYLER’S HAIR IS HIS? HMMM…
For tickets go to dtcab.com