Northeast Times

Geator’s rockin’ the Kimmel

There will be plenty of blasts from the past when Jerry Blav­at hosts a Sat­urday night con­cert to help cel­eb­rate the ven­ue’s 10th an­niversary.

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When the Kim­mel Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts opened a dec­ade ago, Jerry Blav­at was sit­ting with croon­er Paul Anka and phil­an­throp­ists Sid­ney and Car­oline Kim­mel.

Sid­ney Kim­mel told Blav­at — who en­ter­tained at his wed­ding — that he should em­cee a rock ’n’ roll show at the spec­tac­u­lar new ven­ue at Broad and Spruce streets.

“We sold it out,” Blav­at said of that ini­tial show. “The first year, we had three sold-out shows. Now we do two a year.”

The Kim­mel Cen­ter is cel­eb­rat­ing its 10th an­niversary, and the ra­dio icon known as the “Geat­or with the Heat­er” and the “Boss with the Hot Sauce” will host his 23rd show on Sat­urday at 8 p.m.

“It’s a mag­ni­fi­cent fa­cil­ity,” Blav­at said. “The Kim­mel Cen­ter is a state-of-the-art con­cert hall. It’s the only place to do a show of this nature. Every seat is prime.”

Sat­urday night’s con­cert will show­case mu­sic from the late 1950s to the ’70s. The lineup con­sists of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Ben E. King and Dar­lene Love; Shir­ley Al­ston Reeves of the Shirelles; The Tram­mps, a Phil­adelphia disco group; bal­ladeer Lenny Welch; Edna Wright & The Hon­ey­cone; and Chris Mon­tez.

“We sur­round them with a twenty-two piece or­ches­tra,” Blav­at said.

Blav­at, 71, has been de­scribed as someone as much a part of Phil­adelphia as the Liberty Bell, the Mum­mers, the Phil­lie Phanat­ic and cheesesteaks.

On Sat­urday, he’ll of­fer “greet­ings and sa­luta­tions” to audi­ence mem­bers, who like to sing and dance dur­ing the show. He loves see­ing smiles on their faces.

“I take them down memory lane,” he said.

Over the last 10 years, some of the pop­u­lar fig­ures at Blav­at’s Kim­mel shows have been Jay Black and the late Johnny Maes­tro.

Blav­at ad­ded that Love has been an audi­ence fa­vor­ite. He’s ex­cited to wel­come King and Welch back to Phil­adelphia after long ab­sences and Mon­tez for his de­but in the city.

Blav­at, a South Phil­adelphia nat­ive, first burst onto the loc­al scene at age 13 as a dan­cer on Band­stand. He’s been on the ra­dio since 1960 and, like King and Love, is a mem­ber of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s played to live audi­ences as big as 40,000 strong at the Robin Hood Dell East.

On the ra­dio and at live gigs, he plays doo-wop, oldies, a cap­pella, rhythm and blues, Mo­town and the Phil­adelphia Sound.

Each week­day, he can be heard on Cruis­in’ 92.1 from 5 to 7 p.m. and Kool 98.3 from 7 to 9 p.m. On Sat­urdays, he’s on WX­PN (88.5 FM) from 6 to 7 p.m.

Long­time Geat­or fans — he calls them his “yon teens” — can see him in per­son.

On Wed­nes­days, he’s at the Sug­ar House Casino from 5 to 7 p.m. On Thursdays, he’s at the Buck Hotel in Feasterville at 8 p.m.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, he moves most of his live shows to Jer­sey shore loc­ales such as Mar­gate, Wild­wood Crest, Sea Isle City and Egg Har­bor Town­ship.

Blav­at is also a fre­quent guest on PBS pledge drives, which raise money dur­ing oldies broad­casts.

The Geat­or’s book, You Only Live Once: My Life in Mu­sic, was pub­lished last Ju­ly and has spent 19 weeks on Amazon.com’s top 10 list. He’s even held a sign­ing at the Ves­per Club, a pres­ti­gi­ous private din­ing club in Cen­ter City.

“The book has just been amaz­ing. It’s on the third print­ing,” he said.

The Geat­or, who re­jects hip-hop, rap and much of today’s mu­sic be­cause of its derog­at­ory lyr­ics, said the mu­sic he plays will live forever.

“It’s the lyr­ics. It’s a happy sound. The beat gets you. You can dance to it. When something is good, it nev­er really dies,” he said. ••

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Join Jerry…

Jerry Blav­at will mark the 10th an­niversary of the Kim­mel Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts by host­ing a rock-and-roll con­cert this Sat­urday at 8 p.m. in Ve­r­i­zon Hall.

Tick­ets range from $41 to $81.

Mark the Spark will host a pre- and post-show Geat­or Dance Party at Com­mon­wealth Plaza. The party is free and open to the pub­lic.

The Kim­mel is loc­ated at Broad and Spruce streets. Call 215-893-1999 or vis­it kim­mel­cen­ter.org

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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