Lounge Singers?

"I hope this group doesn't screw this up!" I thought.

My wife and I would sometimes end our occasional day trips by staying at a hotel overnight. Most had a lounge that offered relatively inexpensive late meals and free entertainment--normally a little-known or local group who were often very good. One night, over 25 years ago, we again chose a Sheraton.

Entering the lounge, we had to squeeze past the obligatory "super-cool" businessman standing in the doorway, trying to make time with two young women who appeared captive--and bored.

As our meals arrived, projection lights above the small stage switched on to the opening chords of "On Broadway."

"I hope this group doesn't screw this up!" I thought.

Then a voice announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Drifters!"

"The Drifters? All right!"

Spotlights brightened, and the Drifters moved onto the stage. Their show--a great mix of their in-line choreography, a few covers, and their standards ("Up on the Roof," "Under the Boardwalk," etc.)--ended too soon.

When they left the stage, I knew I had to catch them. "I love your music!" I announced. Maybe they felt obliged to tolerate a fan, or (more likely) they were just being courteous. In any case, they stopped and turned to us. A little surprised that a crowd hadn't gathered, I joked, "So who's 'Adorable'?" referring to one of their 1955 hits.

One of the band members started chatting with my wife. In what was too short a time, we talked about their dance steps, their views on contemporary music, and the memories they provided.

These guys seemed a tad young to be the original Drifters (I later learned that the Drifters is a "brand group" and that, over time, it has had many different members). Still, they were authentic, and I was hanging with them. I asked for their autographs but had nothing on which to put them. One Drifter reached over the bar, grabbed a Jacquin's memo pad, signed it, and passed it on to the others. (One signer, Rick Sheppard, went on to gain the Canadian rights to the Drifters trademark).

Soon, however, they had to say goodbye and, well...drifted away.

My wife and I, while walking toward the exit, passed a table at which sat the two young women who had been "captive" earlier. The apparently more outgoing of the two stood and asked, "Are you and the Drifters friends?"

Had my wife not been with me, I may have been tempted to lie. "Sure," I said, "and I also hang out with the Four Tops. Want to meet them?"

All I got out was a smile when my wife took my hand and gently led me away. "Come on, Drifty," she said. "Our room awaits."


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