The other night Richard and I went to Cerritos to hear a concert by Kenny Vance and the Planotones. Both from Brooklyn, Richard and Kenny have been friends since Richard graduated from University of Michigan and Kenny launched his long career as a doo wop artist with many popular hits. They were both in the iconic music movie, American Hot Wax. Before the Planotones, Kenny’s band was Jay and the Americans and their hits included “Only in America,” “Come a Little bit Closer” and “Cara Mia.” Kenny’s voice remains pure and strong and quite amazing in its range. Over time he has lost none of his charisma or vocal uniqueness. And he’s rangy and funny as he quips and plays between songs. The audience loved him and the band. We will see him again when I narrate the one-night-only performance of the Opera “Grapes of Wrath” at Carnegie Hall March 22nd. I am doing this as a way to honor my father and his Tom Joad. Kenny will attend with us.

Richard, me and Kenny

With Kenny and the Planotones

With Kenny, his granddaughter and son

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  1. Saw The Grapes of Wrath movie in a high school history class 1953 and to this day can see your father in that role of Tom Joad! Just learned that the title of the movie was taken from a line in The Battle Hymn of the Republic!!

  2. P.S. Your father’s Ox-Bow Incident movie was also shown in my 1953 history class!

  3. Good use of time by hearing concert which enthralls you.Jane is expert in time management.

  4. Greetings Kids!
    I thank you for the info on Kenny Vance! If I ever escape from the original (official) middle of nowhere, I will be sure to look for those lads, because I do not expect to see them anywhere near Spread Eagle, WI USA !! heh heh
    Jane, I like Richard more now, (and not just because you do) since I found he spent some time in Michigan. I was born in Grand Haven. There was a musical fountain there when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. Imagine Led Zepplin playing as background music to a shower of water sweeping this way and that… That is only one thing that I remember about my childhood there. I have had such a weird life since then that I think I need to write it all down before I start to forget! heh heh I already have enough songs written for the movie score, but enough about me for now…
    Jane, I blame my digression on the fact that Shack-Wacky Season is in full swing here now only to be followed by Spring Fever! YIKES! Hahaha!
    THANKS for being my internet friend Jane! I thank you and God for giving me something to do today because I can only write so many songs in one week! I am sure Richard knows what I mean… anyway, I send love to you kids and to all the kids you love! Please be careful when you have more fun later!
    a little more later!

  5. Jane,

    Glad to see that you and everyone had such a good time! I can’t wait to hear about you narrating the Grapes of Wrath too! Thats going to be awesome Jane! Thanks for sharing this with us! God Bless! 🙂

  6. Hey Jane, I’ve always felt that Kenny’s music is the secret to youthening, joyful aging, I watch his audiences and when he’s singing, they don’t have wrinkles, paunches, white, or NO hair, they’re 16 again! I thought you might like to see this great doo wop moment I caught with Kenny and Frankie Lymon’s Original Teenagers we’ve gotten almost 10,000 YouTube views! I’m on Medicare now but I’m a teenager again every time I watch it.
    You look amazing!

  7. I can top all of these stories. My 11th grade humanities class watched “The Ox Bow Incident.” One the questions the teacher asked during a discussion was “Who might have been cast in any of these roles instead of the actors in the film?” I said you should be cast as Ma Greer, that nasty-as-any-lincher revolting female who is confronted in the end with some line like “You, a woman, involved in this.” I don’t remember what gave me the idea. The teacher was amused. I guess I was just convinced that you were versatile. I still am. You have been there at so many states of my life to be the TV reporter, the space cartoon babe, the office worker who makes things happen, the prostitute with complexity and tragedy…

  8. OMG! Jay and the Americans were amazing! I love their music. Very good.

  9. Jane, it’s a long shot but can you get tickets for the Carnegie Hall reading? I live in the area and would be interested to come see this. Thanks.

  10. I love the pink scarf! It stands out….very attractive with what you are wearing! These are very good pics of you especially the style and color of your hair! It sounds like you all had a great time!!

  11. Dear Ms. Jane,

    I lived in Mountain View, Arkansas for a short time while going to Arkansas College, and got to meet Jimmy & Cleda Driftwood. Such gracious, loving people, now passed away.

    Did you ever visit them at their home in Timbo? Somehow I got it in my head that you stayed at their farm while preparing for your role in The Dollmaker…

    I know that Jimmy Carter visited them, and for some reason I thought you did.

    Thank you for your writings — you are still SO beautiful!!!


    Mary Ann Howard
    Pontotoc, Mississippi

  12. Jane,
    I’m so happy that you were able to experience the talents of Kenny Vance and his guys. Not only is he one of the most talented singers to ever grace a stage but he is truly one of the finest “gentle” men I have ever met. I am a singer and have been a friend of Kenny’s for about 5 years or so.My singing with the band “DRIVETIME” is more along the Smooth Jazz genre than Doo Wop but throughout the years I have done all of the DooWop that I could. I have appeared on stage with him and the Planotones just for the kick of doing a gig with him. He has taught me things vocally and , believe it or not, some guitar chords as we were jamming backstage. I started in Doo Wop 40 years ago with Daryl Hall in The Temptones and Kenny was one of my singing heroes.I wish I could introduce them and their music to everyone I know that ever liked that genre. You have truly met one of the nicest guys around in show biz.Whenever you’re down , put on Kenny’s album and you will be happily cheered up.

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