Kid Kyle is 28 going on 1958.
This Kid is caught in a rock and roll time warp. He can’t tell you anything about Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg or The Weekend.
But ask Kid Kyle about Johnny Maestro, Little Anthony, Frankie Lymon or Elvis and he not only knows the history of their music – he can sing it.
Kid Kyle did just that Sunday, teaming with Rocky and the Rollers for a rollicking, vintage doo-wop show in the SeaBreeze Recreation Center. It was all part of Jerry Vicenti’s remarkable concert series for the Paisans Club in The Villages.
From the opening number – “Tonight” by the Velvets—to the closing song – “The Diary” by Neil Sedaka—Kyle was greased up and ready to roll.
“It’s hard to believe but I’ve been playing with Kid for about 18 years,” said Gerry “Rocky” Seader, leader of the Rollers. “He’s got a great voice and he appreciates the history of this music. When it comes to doo-wop and the oldies, Kid Kyle is authentic.”
It all started a couple of decades ago when Kyle Flandrau was growing up in New Jersey. He was 8 years old when he made his national television debut on “American Idol Junior.”
A few years later, in 2008, he was known as Kid Kyle and appeared in a PBS Doo Wop music special. Since then, he has toured the world and developed a national and international following. He keeps the spirit and sound of original doo wop alive.
“I started singing this music when I was little, and I’m never going to stop,” Kyle said before the show on Sunday. “We’re trying to bring back the real music and what it meant back in the 1950s. I’m trying to bring new life to the old songs.”
And he praised Rocky and the Rollers.
“Rocky is the best and I’ve been with him a long time,” Kyle said. “He not only respects this music; he makes it real.”
Kyle has a knack for transforming the sounds of yesterday into today. Somehow, maybe because of his youth, he infuses the old standards with fresh energy.
It was that way when Kid Kyle went deep into the grooveyard for a couple of oldies. He made like Johnny Ace on “Earth Angel,” and did some soulful shaking on the Drifters’ “Drip Drop.”
“I hope you’re having fun,” Kyle told the capacity crowd of Paisans. “I feel like we’re back in 1958.”
This Kid, however, is growing up. “I’m not as young as I used to be,” he said, as the audience of aging Villagers’ roared with laughter. “I recently got married.”
Turns out Kid Kyle married a doo wop fan from England. “She told me, she went to one of our doo wop shows in England. So, this was our wedding song.”
With those words Kid Kyle went into a gorgeous street-corner harmony version of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers’ “Creation of Love.”
It includes these lyrics: “Someday we’ll walk down the isle/And we’ll be wearing a smile/Some people will sing and your mother will cry/As we say I do until the day we die.”
Kyle showcased his vocal range while covering Gene Pitney’s “Every Breath I Take.” Then came another jumping Frankie Lymon number, “Goody, Goody.” That led to Lymon and the Teenagers biggest hit, “Why Do Fools Fall In Love.”
Kyle left the stage during that song and made his way into the audience to lead a sing-a-long and do some dancing.
He came back to the stage to lead the crowd in a slow dance to the Moonglows’ “Sincerely.” A couple of the dancers were Jerry Vicenti and his wife, Annette, who book and produce the Paisans’ shows.
“It’s a lot of work, but we love it,” Vicenti said, noting the club has an entertainment budget of close to $90,000. It consistently brings some of the biggest acts to The Villages. “The members want it that way, and we’re going to keep doing it.”
Kid Kyle closed the show with Neil Sedaka’s “The Diary, and like most of his performance, it came from the heart.
“Johnny Maestro was my mentor, we were close,” Kyle said. The late Johnny Maestro – who sang with the Crests and Brooklyn Bridge — is regarded as one of the greatest doo wop singers in history. “He taught me so much, and helped me understand what this music is all about.”
Little Anthony was another hero for the Kid, who shares a birthday with Elvis Presley. Both were born on January 8 — but 60 years apart.
“Elvis is my idol, and will always be my idol,” he said. They may come from different times, but Kid Kyle and The King have a lot in common: love for the music of rock and roll’s golden age.
Tony Violanti covers arts and music for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into the Buffalo NY Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.