Several Maine music icons have volunteered their talents for a special “Tunes in June” concert to benefit Friends of Pettingill and their work to create a city park at the site of the former Pettingill School in Lewiston. Singer-songwriter and standout guitarist Denny Breau has assembled an all-star cast for the second annual show, scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 1 at the Franco Center in Lewiston.
The event will include reunion performances by the popular ’60s group the Royal Knights and local favorites Good ’n Plenty. Slated to appear are Nick Knowlton, Debbie Morin, Phil House, Kathy Haley, Dan Caron, Malinda Liberty, and Ed Boucher, with the rest of the original Royal Knights: Paul Boucher, Guy Mathieu, and Ronnie Morin. World-class drummer Bob Elie will travel from San Diego to round out the ensemble.
Friends of Pettingill is a non-profit association assigned to raise funds and help design the newly chartered Pettingill School Park on College Street in Lewiston. The former Pettingill Elementary School opened in 1926 and operated until 2008, when it was replaced by Geiger Elementary School. The building was demolished earlier this year, leaving behind a two-acre lot with the original playground. Proceeds from the concert will be used to fund landscaping and purchase park benches.
Denny Breau, whose children attended Pettingill School, is producing the annual benefit concert. His vision for this year’s event is to spotlight the rich history of music that has helped define the cities of Lewiston and Auburn. Breau’s song “Acadie” was recently chosen to represent Maine at the Acadian World Congress, which will take place August 8-24 at locations in New Brunswick, Quebec and Maine. He will be part of the lineup for the international cultural event, which takes place only once every five years.
The Royal Knights, who were the premier garage band to emerge from central Maine in the 1960’s, will take the stage to perform some of their original hit songs. Led by Ed Boucher, the Knights released several records, served as the house band for Portland’s WGAN-TV dance show “Club Thirteens,” and were a driving force in the popular Police Athletic League (PAL) dances at Lewiston City Hall in the 1960s, chronicled by filmmaker Bill Maroldo in his recent documentary, “PAL Hop Days.”
Good ’n Plenty started out in the 1970s as the house band at the Ramada Inn, continuing on to entertaining area audiences well into the 1990s. Original members Nick Knowlton, Debbie Morin, Kathy Haley, and Denny Breau will perform some of the songs from the group’s popular repertoire. Knowlton was the lead vocalist for several Maine bands, including Terry & the Telstars, Katahdin, Katfish and Poor Boy. Debbie Morin has reassembled her old band, Cheyenne, and was until recently a member of Girls of L-A. Kathy Haley was also a member of Girls of L-A and in the band Chord Majority. She is currently the organist at Court Street Baptist Church.
Lewiston native Bob Elie originally performed with the Corals and his own group, Fat Cat. In May of 1964, he set a world record for continuous drumming by performing for 30 hours at Lewiston City Hall. In 1972, he joined Peppermint Rainbow, which had already placed two songs on the Billboard Top 40, and toured for several months with Tommy James & the Shondells. He later toured with Natalie Cole in the wake of her hit song, “Jump Start My Heart.”
Pianist Phil House is well-known for his unique arrangements of ragtime, old timey, country and pop tunes. Performing in styles reminiscent of Liberace, Floyd Cramer and Scott Joplin, his recordings on the Outer Green label have been popular throughout New England. He is the long time keyboardist at the First Universalist Church in Auburn.
Malinda Liberty performs frequently in Maine and is well-known for her recording of “The Maine Christmas Song” and her hit single “Working Days,” which charted on the Cash Box Magazine Top 100.
Dan Caron is one of Maine’s premier drummers, starting out with Terry & the Telstars in the 1960s. He was also a member of Oak, which released two albums on the Mercury label and toured nationally with Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band. In 1980, Oak’s hit song, “King of the Hill,” climbed onto the Billboard Top 40 chart.
A special addition to the show will be the official premier of Nick Knowlton’s new music video, a tribute to the former Pettingill Elementary School. Featuring a cover version of Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You,” the video combines footage of student activities at the school with dramatic scenes from its recent demolition. The video’s footage was shot and edited by Bill Maroldo and its music was arranged and mixed by Platinum and Gold Record recipient Harry King.
Doors for the event open at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 1 at the Franco Center in Lewiston. Admission is $15 at the door. All proceeds will benefit the mission of Friends of Pettingill to create a model park for the entire community.
The Friends of Pettingill Committee are Ted Walworth (chair), Bill Maroldo (vice-chair), Rep. Peggy Rotundo, Sen. Margaret Craven, Judy Andrucki, Carolyn Court, Zach Lenhert, Nick Knowlton, Judy Cartmel, Anne Auer, and Joni and Mark Fredericks. To follow their activities, find them on Facebook at “Friends of Pettingill.”