Formed in Ferndale, Michigan, a Detroit suburb in 1954, the Spinners have continued their legacy tour for the past eight decades.
On Friday, Sept. 2, the quintet, minus the last remaining founding member, Henry Fambrough, brought the house down for more than two hours at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland, located just outside of D.C.
Many of those in attendance would be surprised when the group took to the stage with just four uniformed members. After all, longtime Spinners fans know the group has always been a vocally brilliant quintet. With Fambrough’s absence, the group lacked any of its original members for the show. Nonetheless, the younger brothers deserve credit for having the fortitude and talent to pull of an amazing show.
Lead singer C.J. Jefferson held his own when it came to spearheading all of the many hit-parade tunes recorded by the Detroit-based Spinners over the years.
While Jefferson delivered the goods in formidable fashion, it’s difficult to compare him with his many predecessors, including George “GC” Cameron, Jonathan Edwards, Frank Washington and, of course, Phillipe Wynn. e.
But credit Jefferson with his physical prowess as a dancer. In fact, all four of the singers accepted their roles as adequate vocalists but dynamite entertainers. Bass singer Jessie Robert Peck was a splendid vocal replacement for Pervis “12:45” Jackson and also served as group spokesman onstage and offstage. Along with Ronnie Moss and Marvin Taylor,
this version of the Spinners delighted the audience.
In observing those who attended the show when the house lights rose, it was refreshing to note a nearly 50-50 split between Black and white patrons – all of whom stood throughout the concert to party as if back in the 80s once more.
On a critical note, the four-piece band also played in exemplary style. However, given the Spinners’ earlier years during which they were supported by a multi-layered band, there were just too many parts missing, especially strings and horns. Perhaps in the future, the group will consider inviting a trio of horns from the city in which they’re performing to join them. It will certainly provide more flavor and texture to the musical menu.
Needless to say, Fambrough was sorely missed as he was “under the weather.”
“Prayerfully, he’ll be just fine,” said Peck, who counts as a 14-year member of the legendary vocal group.
One caveat: it’s time for Bethesda Blues & Jazz’s owners to consider purchasing a high-quality spotlight similar to the kind which other area theaters have for their performances. Far too frequently, as the lead singer moved across the stage, he would disappear into the darkness.