By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT LUDLOW — Mando Fonseca teaches via doo-wop.
He croons his way through musical history, taking his listeners by the hand and heart back to a time when suddenly, hit songs were everywhere.
The 1950s brought affordable automobiles — with radios — plus television shows like “American Bandstand,” explained Fonseca, a singer and a former schoolteacher.
With TV and radio all around us, he said, a new era of popular music rushed in. Music went with people to work, to school and home at night. And this soundtrack would last, thanks to singers like Fonseca and his doo-wop group the Alley Cats.
The California-born a cappella quartet, together 26 years now, got a break in 1992 on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” then performed in 2000 at President Bill Clinton's White House.
They've covered 43 states since, and their next stop is rural Jefferson County.
The Alley Cats are headed here for a concert at Port Ludlow's Bay Club tonight and two presentations for students in the Chimacum High School auditorium during the day.
The Port Ludlow Arts Council is hosting the Alley Cats at the Bay Club, 120 Spinnaker Place, with doors to open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 show tonight.
Tickets are $24 via www.portludlowartscouncil.com. To check availability, phone the Bay Club at 360-437-2208.
The Cats' repertoire is wide, probably 100 songs, Fonseca said.
High on the list for Friday are “Come Go with Me,” “Under the Boardwalk,” “Only You” and “Stand by Me.” There's “Duke of Earl” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” too, along with other classics from the Beach Boys, the Platters, the Diamonds and the Drifters.
Fonseca and Royce Reynolds founded the Alley Cats back in 1987, when they got a gig in the Blast to the Past show at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
Fonseca had started out as a college student who liked to sing songs like Billy Joel's “The Longest Time,” mostly “to meet girls,” he said.
These days, to keep things fresh, “we infuse a lot of comedy into the show and the songs,” Fonseca promised.
The four men come out in bowling shirts — no suits for these cats — and use song to melt the wall between stage and audience.
“We usually make fun of their age,” said Fonseca, 46.
“Then somebody will yell something back to us, and that really gets it going. We do some politically incorrect stuff, and the baby boomer audience seems to be able to handle that.”
The Alley Cats do a different thing at schools, however.
Their 50-minute presentations today will start at 12:45 p.m. for fifth- through eighth-graders and at 1:35 p.m. for high school students in Chimacum High's auditorium, 91 West Valley Road.
In their program, the men discuss post-World War II pop music history; the mechanics of harmony, pitch and tempo; and how to stir comedy into a show.
Then tonight, the Alley Cats — Fonseca with Reynolds, John O'Campo and Michael Washington — will show the Bay Club audience how it's done.
Those who come to this concert, Fonseca said, “are going to be able to sing along and laugh the whole night.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.