The Mighty Weasels--Bob Kenison, left, and Al Craven, The White Raven
The Mighty Weasels finished their latest Wisconsin tour last Saturday night (July 14) at the Fox Lake Golf Club, an hour or so drive from Madison, where acoustic guitarists/vocalists Al Craven and Bob Kenison got their start some 50 years ago in the immensely popular Dr. Bop & The Headliners rock ‘n’ roll show band--in which Kenison found lasting fame under the name Troy Charmell, Craven as Al Craven, The White Raven.
Craven was that band’s frontman, and still handles most of the vocal leads in the Weasels—not to mention the clowning that made the Headliners so huge. Taking a moment to thank their nonexistent road crew, he barreled into “Blue Velvet” and a rapid-fire set of other oldies but greaties from the 1950s and ‘60s, covering everything from “Summertime Blues” and “My Special Angel” to “Secet Agent Man” and “Down in the Boondocks” while switching from artists like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly to Jimmie Rodgers and Jay & The Americans--all seamlessly and always with good humor and all due respect.
Craven got his mostly age-appropriate outdoor crowd—the stage overlooking the 18th green—to clap along on “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” sing along to the chorus of teen tragedy classic “Last Kiss,” mouth the words to “Return to Sender,” join in the falsetto “wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder” of “Runaway,” yell out the answer to who sang “I Fought the Law” (answer: The Bobby Fuller Four) and got all concerned in the mood with “That’s Amore.”
If there was a sole showstopper it had to be “Teen Angel,” another immortal teen tragedy/death rock masterwork, for which the White Raven pulled out all the shtick stops, reaching out to heaven in overwrought supplication. The song, incidentally, was long a Headliners staple, same with the set’s “The Book of Love” and “Chantilly Lace,” as well as “The Wanderer,” which Kenison sang.
But the Weasels also threw in a few country crossover hits from the era, Craven varying his adaptable tone in approximating the likes of Conway Twitty on “It’s Only Make Believe” and Roger Miller on “King of the Road.” Kenison likewise held his own on Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” and Miller’s “Dang Me,” and while they slipped in a few more recent crowd-pleasers like “Country Roads” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” no one complained—not even those there who went back all the way to Dr. Bop & The Headliners' late '60s glory days.
Indeed, whether or not rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay, as long as The Mighty Weasels are alive, at least as evidenced at the Fox Lake Golf Club, it will never die.
Snippets of Mighty Weasels songs