Cellphone photo buttons were popping like champagne bubbles for a horde of Lennon Sisters fans in the Savannah Center lobby Monday. For those fans, seeing the sisters up close and personal could be described in one word:wunnerful.
You can see a clip from their show at here:
At least that’s how Lawrence Welk might say it with his band of champagne music makers.
Hundreds of fans jammed the lobby after the first of two Lennon Sisters concerts. Kathy, Janet and Mimi Lennon came out to meet and greet the fans and the throng of admirers pushed, jostled and kept clicking their cellphones.
“We don’t mind, we love our fans; they grew up with us and they remember us – it’s wonderful,” Kathy Lennon said during a break in the action. “We love singing together and we love seeing our fans,” Janet Lennon added. “This is our fourth time in The Villages and we’re honored to be here.”
The sisters are celebrating their 60th year in show business. They started performing on “The Lawrence Welk Show” Christmas week of 1955.
They stayed for 13 years and in that time influenced a generation of baby boomers who came of age with the sweet harmony of the Lennons.
Two of the original family act – Dianne and Peggy – have retired. But Mimi Lennon stepped in and the show goes on.
The sisters showed some jitterbug moves and swing sounds on “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The also brought back some ‘60s’ girl groups sounds with upbeat takes on “Tell Him” and the Dusty Springfield song, “Wishin’ and Hopin.’”
“I loved listening to rock and roll on my old transistor radio,” Janet said from the stage. “We wanted to sing some of those songs on the show, but Mr. Welk said it wasn’t for our viewers.”
Welk knew what the people wanted, and so do the Lennon sisters. Much of the concert was filled with nostalgic video clips of the Lennons appearing on Welk’s show and also with singer Andy Williams. A highlight was the then young girls turning up on “The Mickey Mouse Club.”
Also, there were photographs and home movies of the Lennon family at home in the 1950s, right to the present.
“We do a lot of shows in Branson (MO.) and all over the country,” Janet Lennon said after the performance. “But we never tired of singing and showing the old movies. This is our family and it means so much to us. I still get emotional watching it.”
So do the fans.
“I love the Lennon sisters, like everybody else, I grew up with them,” said Villager Linda Hingtgen, who attended the show with her husband Jay. “Every Saturday our family sat in the living room and watched the Lawrence Welk program.
“He always hired the best people to perform. And the Lennon Sisters had the best harmony.”
They displayed their vocal chops on a couple of stirring a cappella numbers: “Danny Boy” and a heartfelt “I Remember Mama.”
A surprise guest was in the audience and made her way on stage. Sally Flynn appeared on the Welk show during the 1970s as part of the singing duo, “Sally and Sandi.”
“I know you all remember Sally and we want to bring her up here to sing with us,” Kathy Lennon said. “She’s part of the Welk family and we stick together.”
A somewhat surprised Flynn left her seat in the first row and walked on stage. She turned the trio into a quartet for a lively version of “Sugar Time.”
“I never expected to on stage tonight,” an excited Flynn said after the show. She lives in Cocoa Beach and drove down for the concert.
“Next thing you know, I’m up there singing,” Flynn said. “I didn’t know the words, but it was fun.”
The whole night seemed like a family reunion, filled with music, memories and three women who touched so many lives over nearly seven decades.
You could almost feel the bond with the audience when the Lennon Sisters brought that famed family harmony to a number called “Home.”
They closed with one of the Lennons’ most memorable songs: “May You Always.” They used to sing it regularly on the Welk show, and on Monday night, it was the Lennons’ way of saying thanks and goodbye to all those kids in The Villages who grew up with them.