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Get ‘doowopified’ with Doo Wop Project

The group The Doo Wop Project has contributed a new word to the English language: “Doowopified.” It was created by the New York City-based band, specifically its bass vocalist Dwayne Cooper, defined by the band as taking a well-known pop song not of the doo wop era or genre, and turning said pop song into a doo wop song.

Maybe it’s a hit from a folkie or rock ’n’ roller, or perhaps it’s a well-known country song that has made its way around new-country radio or drunken karaoke. Those songs then become part of The Doo Wop Project set-list, along with other songs from the doo wop era, then performed by the nine-piece Doo Wop Project.

The Doo Wop Project, made up of five vocalists and four instrumentalists, will perform Friday (March 31) at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

“‘Doowopified’: To convert a contemporary song into a doo wop song,” said Doo Wop Project vocalist Dominic Nolfi. “We try to get songs that are maybe, 10 years old that everyone knows, songs that even Grandma knows.”

The bulk of The Doo Wop Project vocalists had all been part of the award-winning musical “Jersey Boys” in the early aughts. They had been asked to “gig out” on their nights off, which turned out to be a fruitful venture, so much in fact that a dozen years back they turned what was a side project into a full-time show.

If you go

WHAT: The Doo Wop Project performs doo wop music.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday (March 31).

WHERE: Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College, 1000 Rim Drive.

TICKETS: $27-$50. Available online at https://bit.ly/3lGYdnC.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit www.durangoconcerts.com.

“We were putting together material, charts and stuff. And I thought, why don’t we see if there is a market for this stuff, for singing classic doo-wop outside of the New York area,” he said. “I got a booking agent, and the rest is history. It started slowly, like 15 gigs a year. Then we did 20. Then we did 60, and it just keeps growing and growing and growing.”

This is not a throwback, as some of these songs are as popular now as they were when written. They are songs that are part of the everyday music vernacular, songs burned into the brains of anyone that has put an eye or ear toward pop culture over the last five or six decades.

“They are part of our musical fabric,” Nolfi said, as these are songs that still get radio airplay, or put on soundtracks for films. The aforementioned setlist will feature some doo-wop standards from the likes of The Crests, The Four Seasons or The Belmonts, but then those “doowopified” cuts come from Maroon 5, Michael Jackson or Jason Mraz.

It’s a musical offering that also serves as a glimpse into the pop culture of yesteryear, that is also the pop culture of today. There is something for everyone, as these songs are appealing to people who were around when they were first played on the radio, remaining appealing to people who have discovered them decades after their initial release.

“It’s a multigenerational show. A lot of times we have Grandma, Mom and daughter. And maybe Dad’s with them, maybe Grandpa is, too. So, there are people in the audience who grew up listening to this music, and if you’re an American you just know this music,” Nolfi said. “We don’t beat people over the head with historical facts, that gets a little boring. But we reference how we discovered this music, we all have a different avenue as to how we discovered doo-wop.”

These are the early roots of rock music, so it’s necessary that this show be dynamic and lively. Which it is.

“We rock. It’s really good oldies, with a great rhythm section behind us. We do a little a cappella, too,” Nolfi said. “We have a lot of fun, it’s real high energy.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at liggett_b@fortlewis.edu.