Articles from The Morning Call

July 31st, 1999

Photograph Smile

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Julian Lennon draws fans from near and far
Son of Beatles great plays Allentown's newest nightspot. 

By PAUL WILLISTEIN Arts Editor

There were only a few people from Allentown in line early Friday evening for Julian Lennon's concert at the grand opening of Crocodile Rock, the city's latest downtown attraction.

But there were folks from lots of other places: Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

Chalk it up to the Lennon mystique -- and the Web.

For Jeanne Delanoi, 38, and her husband, Mark, of Branchville, N.J., it's the third Lennon show, having seen the son of late Beatles' songwriter John Lennon perform Thursday night in New Haven, Conn., and Tuesday night at the TLA in Philadelphia.

They were waiting with Kim Turner, 36, of Philadelphia. ''He brings people together,'' says Turner.

Latka Thompson, 46, a Web site designer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., was also with them. ''We actually met through his [Lennon's] Internet site [julianlennon.com and fan Web sites heyjules and revolutions],'' she says. The fans drove to Allentown to see Lennon and his group perform as part of his tour promoting his new disc, ''Photograph Smile.''

''At every show I give him a rose,'' says Jeanne Delanoi, displaying photographs of herself standing with Lennon. ''He's straight-forward -- a regular kind of guy,'' says her husband. He and his wife plan to see Lennon's upcoming concerts in Boston and at Irving Plaza in New York City.

Fans of the opening act, Capitol Records recording artists the Push Stars, were there too. Amy Wilson, 20, of Phillipsburg, a junior at MIT, brought three of her friends, all MIT students

''The Push Stars are great,'' exclaims MIT junior Abby Pelcyger, who's seen the band perform many times in Boston.

Lennon's fans were out in force -- some 1,600-plus for the sold-out show inaugurating the multilevel nightclub Allentown entrepreneur Joe Clark fashioned from the former Eastern Light furniture and appliance store on Hamilton Street between 5th and 6th streets.

''Isn't the facade great? I like the art deco look. It looks like Miami's South Beach,'' observes Rosemary Geseck, the well-known area pop artist taking a dinner break from the bright, 30-foot, rock star mural she's completing in the restaurant.

Indeed, with neon, tile trim and potted palms, the building looks a lot different.

Melissa Sterner, Crocodile Rock manager and a daughter of Clark, pointed to evidence of the transformation: an indoor fountain designed by Dan Friedman and Julie Diamond of Allentown; the Club Down Under, where disc jockey Tom Taylor spins and rock group Mere Mortals performed Friday night; a sound system installed by J&S Music of Emmaus, supervised by Josh Levine, and the blackpainted stage and concert room.

''We wanted the Lennon show, so we opened a week early,'' explains Clark, who kept the $7 ticket price low for a performer of Lennon's renown. ''Allentown has been absolutely tremendous and we wanted to start off by showing our appreciation,'' says Clark.

Clark says double the number of tickets could have been sold, but he wanted to keep the numbers down since not all areas of the club, including a billiard room and banquet hall, are finished. ''The VIP room and restaurant will be open next Friday,'' Clark says.

Valley cabaret rock band Zen for Primates is to perform next Saturday night. Clark notes that a jukebox in the club will feature music by Valley rock bands.

That pleases rock guitarist Rob Toulomelis, 43, of Allentown, who sees Crocodile Rock as a showcase club for his band. ''We don't want to go out and do cover tunes anymore,'' says Toulomelis, who writes songs with singer-drummer Pete Hartman of Northampton, and keyboardist Gene Gehrlach and bass player Dale Yoder, both of Whitehall Township.

Dale Seip, 39, of Allentown was seeing Lennon in concert for the first time. Standing along Hamilton Street, hoping for a Lennon autograph, he says, ''I think it's a great idea. Allentown needs more clubs with good bands coming in.''

Adds Melinda Goodwin of Allentown, ''I think it's going to be quite the hot spot.''


EARLY OPENING IS BLAMED FOR MINOR SNAGS
 * SOUND, SPRINKLER TESTS CAUSE DELAYS AT NEW CITY CLUB. 

by DAN HARTZELL, The Morning Call

Allentown's newest nightclub survived a case of opening-night jitters Friday, overcoming a 90-minute delayed opening, weak air-conditioning and other minor problems before bringing headliner Julian Lennon to the stage.

Crocodile Rock owner Joe Clark attributed the problems to the fact that the club in the former Eastern Light building on Hamilton Street opened a week early to accommodate the show by the son of a rock-music legend.

"This is opening day, and I had a lot of things I had to do," said Clark, a city landlord and restaurateur. "There's no one to blame but myself" for any last-minute problems.

At about 10:15 p.m., 15 minutes after Lennon was to have taken the stage following an opening act, dozens of people milled about outside the club, awaiting entry to the new business.

Some patrons said they'd heard Clark ran into problems with city building codes, and that's why they weren't being allowed inside. There was displeasure, but no one was demanding a refund.

Clark said later there was no code problems. "We meet the codes," he said, while allowing that testing the sprinkler system hours before the opening added to the delay, as did sound-system testing.

By 11:45, though Lennon had not yet gone on, Clark said the troubles had pretty much been licked. "All's well; the band is playing," he said of the opening band.

Allentown police Sgt. Victor Markowitz said there were few problems with crowd control. "I have no complaints," he said, though he told Clark they'd have to discuss keeping the alley on the west side of the club clear in the future. Lines at a door there blocked the alley, he said.

Lennon finally started his show at 12:58 a.m. in a sweltering club.