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
''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
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
"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.
© 1999 THE MORNING CALL Inc.