Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 28, 2010

B.J. Thomas in Concert

Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield
March 27, 2010
by Debra Tinkham

Some of you may recall Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, performed by B.J. Thomas in 1969, when there were no cell phones." (Audience chuckles.) "Well tonight, we urge you to turn off your cell phones." That's how the energized evening began with the SSO, Maestro Kevin Rhodes, and Billy Joe (B.J.) Thomas.
Rhodes began the program, appropriately, with a walk down memory lane. With Thomas being a Houston native, Rhodes narrated each of his western themed choices, beginning with John Williams' The Cowboys. Aaron Copeland's Rodeo, aka The Beef Song was humorously entertaining, as was the short, light Saturday Night Waltz.

Rhodes talked about, "…this Czech guy (Antonin Dvorak) who wanted to write a symphony that sounded American." Voila. The New World Symphony's first movement. It sounded Germanesque, but as Rhodes explained "...the music may be a bit opaque or order to allow freedom of thought." Finally - meaning before B.J. Thomas' entrance - was, "...this Italian dude named Rossini's The Lone Ranger from The William Tell Overture." 

Drum roll. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. B.J. Thomas." Thomas walked his audience through his career and life, beginning in 1965, with All I Want Is You, Baby. Then, A Little Bit of Love, Deep in the Eyes of a New York Woman and Rock-N-Roll Lullaby, to name only a few.

In 1969, Burt Bacharach and Hal David wanted Thomas to sing the now infamous Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head for the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Upon finding Bacharach's home, Thomas rang the bell and Angie Dickinson answered the door, saying, "Burt, your little friend's here to see you." Thomas said, "At the time, I didn't much care for Mr. Bacharach but I had the greatest respect for him being married to Angie Dickinson."

Thomas' narratives were poignant and touching. He has sung and performed with the best. After one song, he said, "I sounded great, but I have the SSO and my band to thank for that. I have been singing that song for 40 years and actually forgot the lyrics." His accolades to Rhodes, the orchestra and his band - who have in excess of 80 combined years with Thomas - were heartfelt and touching.