Last night's concert at Wolf Trap was billed as the "sensational singers of the '60s," featuring the Kingston Trio, Jan and Dean, Ben E. King and Freda Payne.
If that doesn't quite match your list of favorites, don't worry. After all, it doesn't really matter that Freda Payne's first hits came in the '70s or that Jan and Dean's comeback is a good deal more sensational than their singing. It's music, not facts, that matter on occasions like these. And the crowd, many of whom spent the early evening huddled under umbrellas out on the lawn, savored every nostalgic moment.
At first, there was little else to savor. King's mediocre band and glib arrangements compromised his strongest materials. Payne delivered everything she sang in the same tired, emotionless manner.
By contrast, Jan and Dean's performance sounded downright exhilarating. Their band, Papa Doo Run Run, helped them immensely by rounding out their harmonies and stretching their repertoire to include several spirited tunes by the Beach Boys.
Finally, the music the Kingston Trio performed was as timeless as the bad jokes that punctuated their set. The quality of musicianship that founding member Bob Shane has maintained over the years transcends the sentimental value attached to songs like "Tom Dooley" and "Greenback Dollar." Sensational isn't to big a word to describe them.