Richmond, VA – On July 28, 2019, The Lettermen strolled into The Tin Pan bringing 60 years of music with them. We were all in for a show to remember. With the recent retirement of co-founder Tony Butala, no original members of the group are active, however, their sound is as BIG as ever.
Having grown up with The Lettermen, (the first album I was allowed to purchase from the Columbia Record Club as a child was The Lettermen’s, Spin Away), I was interested in seeing how much their sound had changed over the years. I am happy to report, it has not changed all that much. As the group pointed out, the original idea behind The Lettermen was to find three outstanding solo artists who could also pull off three-part harmony. The current members, Donovan Tea, Bobby Poynton, and Rob Gulack delivered a harmonious mix of Lettermen songs that would make any Lettermen fan cheer… and cheer they did.
The Tin Pan is a perfect venue for a performance such as this, where the relationship between group and audience makes for a special show. It was obvious The Lettermen enjoyed the venue too, especially as senior member Donovan Tea pointed out, ‘This is our favorite venue because they feed us when the show is over’.
As the night progressed, The Lettermen not only delivered wonderful music, but several Lettermen stories – some personal, some related to the group, a few serious, and a couple funny. The perfect combination of music and story made for a fun-filled night. One element of the show I found very appealing was the band’s relationship with the audience. About halfway through the performance, the members went down to the floor and invited audience members to pose with them. Sadly, the song ended before all could get their photos taken, however, the band caught up with those who missed out after the show.
Music throughout the evening included many Lettermen hits ranging from, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing” to “Precious and Few”. A few surprising pieces included, “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera and “God Bless the USA”, both of which were performed in true Lettermen style. As expected, they left the stage for a brief moment to don their signature letter sweaters – retaking the stage with their, “Theme to a Summer Place”.
Each member also had the opportunity to perform solo. The first being Bobby Poynton’s, “I’m Already There”, written about life on the road with family back home. Donovan Tea’s “Daddy’s Girl” hit home with this correspondent, as I too have a 16 year old daughter. Newest member, Rob Gulack sang a powerful rendition of “You Raise Me Up”.
As the show wound down, the two supporting band members, Jerry Leoni (drums) and Ken McKenney (keyboards) were introduced.
Before leaving the stage, The Lettermen performed their version of, “God Bless the USA”… as they had promised when the ‘pictures with The Lettermen’ song concluded, they ensured that all who wanted pictures with them were obliged. It was a fitting ending to a great night of music.
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Show Date: July 28, 2019