The songs of the Coasters, the Drifters, the Swallows and the Platters still get the doo wop dreams a hummin’ for myriad music minded individuals across the country, including local resident Jan “Deke” Detanna, lead singer for Deke and The Blazers.
The group includes Detanna — using his old high school nickname of Deke — his longtime friend, Rick Budd, of Portland, OR, Larry D’Angelo, of Detroit, MI, and Lenny Blasso of Baltimore, MD.
Deke and The Blazers will perform live at 7 p.m., Valentine’s Day at Segerstrom Hall in the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, as part of Canterbury Productions’ Ultimate Doo Wop Show.
This will be the first local major performance for the group, which took second-place in its first performance two years ago at a doo wop convention in Las Vegas.
“This has been a lot of fun,” Detanna said of his part-time career, which took off with a slew of performance invitations for the group after that initial premiere.
Detanna, a graphic designer, dad to three grown children, and a grandfather, lives in La Crescenta with wife, Nancy. He has loved doo wop music since he was a child, listening to an older brother’s music choices — Harvey and the Moonglows, Eugene Pitt and the Jive Five, and the Harptones — played on classic LP record albums.
Detanna said he was surrounded by music as a child, growing up in Rochester, PA, including from his mom, who used to go around the house singing. He formed a rock ‘n’ roll band in high school and did the same in college.
Through the years, when he and Budd got together, the two would enjoy creating harmonies. Two years ago, the two decided to attend the Cool Bobby B Doo Wop Convention in Las Vegas, where they heard about the amateur doo wop competition which was to be part of the convention.
They found another convention attendee, D’Angelo, and started singing together at about 11 p.m. one night on a street corner.
“We started singing, Larry on bass and Rick singing tenor, and this other guy [Blasso] came along and wanted to sing with us. It turned out [Blasso] was a baritone. So, here we were singing harmonies late at night, under a street lamp,” Detanna recalled with a laugh.
The next night the foursome placed second in the competition.
“We left the competition saying we’d try it again the next year,” Detanna said, adding that fate interrupted and the group started getting together in various states as the invitations to perform started pouring in.
Although they have played at sock hops and as an opening act at amphitheaters and recently got together at a studio in Tujunga to record eight songs, this will be their first “big gig,” Detanna said, of the upcoming Feb. 14 performance.
About 50 of his friends and family members plan to attend the show, and he’s hoping more Crescenta Valley residents will make the trip down south to hear his group.
“This is just a hobby for me,” Detanna said, adding, “but I’m living the dream.”