Cruisin' in My Wagon: A Journey through Doo Wop, Pop and Swing

Also read a Tribute to Caryl and Earl Haring

Take some great Doo Wop, Pop & Swing classics, mix in a few engaging originals, bring in some talented young singers from Tampa Bay, top it off with special guest appearances by Steve Horne (Doo Wop Mob), Richie Merritt (Marcels), Bobby Hendricks (the Drifters), and you have the magical combination for a wonderful music creation.  The CD, Cruisin’ in My Wagon: A Journey through Doo Wop, Pop & Swing, produced by Cynthia Haring with assistance from Katia Valdeos, was released on May 11, 2013. It includes 18 songs, including several originals, and features a group of young singers, ages 5-19 known as the Tampa Bay World Nation (TBWN) singers.

Haring says Doo Wop can be a challenge, but it was Richie Merritt and Bobby Hendricks - with the help of Steve Horne and his Doo Wop Mob - that made it possible for the group to hear and sing all of the parts on the Doo Wop songs.  For the first song on the CD, Merritt joins the kids on the Marcels’ Doo Wop classic “Blue Moon.”  Seventh grader Mikaela Mulch of Spring Hill, FL and fourth grader Janilyn Mascorro of Hudson, FL were chosen to sing the rapid-fire, entangled background vocals that give “Blue Moon” its signature sound because, “frankly, no one else could really do it right,” says Haring. 

For the second song on the CD, “Up on the Roof,” Bobby Hendricks taught TBWN singer Aditya Shah the backup parts. “It was a beautiful moment to see Bobby coach Aditya on those beautiful four-part vocal harmonies for “Up on the Roof,” says Haring.  Aditya, a student at Gulf High School in Pasco County at the time, adds: “It was a really great opportunity for me to sing with Bobby.  I had never done that kind of harmony singing before.  I learned a lot from him.”  Aditya studies classical Indian vocals at the Pandit Jasraj School of Music in Tampa, where he and Haring met in 2007.  He also sings a duet with Haring on “Come Softly to Me” later on the album.

Dakota Ruiz, Lyndsey RuizMatthew Romeo, Michael Mekus, Katie Meisner and Tad Andris, who frequently perform at Stage West in Spring Hill, FL and the Show Palace in Hudson, FL, are joined by six other TBWN singers on track 3, “Oh You Beautiful Doll,” and track 12, Johnny Maestro’s “Pretty Little Angel.” They are among the second wave of singers who joined the group four months before the CD was released.

“Mister Sandman” was always my mother’s favorite song,” says Haring, who dedicated the CD to her parents, Caryl and Earl Haring.  She was joined by three other vocalists - Bela Aquino, Heather Krueger, and Sami Fousek - for World Nation’s rendition, supported by Bill Norman’s vocal arrangements. 

“I Don’t Know Why (I Just Do)” features Cynthia’s father, Earl, on the song that won his wife’s heart back in 1952.  Annika Sly, age 8, says her favorite song is the Chordettes’ classic, “Lollipop,” because she loves lollipops and “the song has good words.”  The group recently welcomed their youngest singers Leilana Hadsell, 5, and Celeste Orellana, age 7.

Haring wrote the CD theme song, “Cruisin’ in My Wagon” for her niece Natalie’s son Pierce, a “miracle baby” born at only two pounds who is now a thriving two-year-old.  It features nice guitar work by Tommy Girvin of the Eddie Money Band.  Girvin also plays on “Mountain of Love,” a southern rock version with a country feel where Haring sings multiple intertwining lead and harmony tracks.  Accompanying Haring on this song and several others (“Summer Place” and “Venus in Blue Jeans”) is Crimson Leavitt, who Haring refers to as “an extremely talented singer/songwriter.” Crimson has two CDs of her own out - On My Way (2007) and Just Fine (2009) – and “everyone is waiting for the next one,” says Haring.

Caitlin Matthews, who performs an impressive version of the Japanese song, “Sukiyaki” during live World Nation shows, and her brother, Shane Matthews, also sing on the CD.  Caitlin, now in high school, and Shane, now in college, have performed with Haring since childhood, as has percussionist Justin Bacchi who met Haring when he was four years old.  “Caitlin, Shane and Justin are my veteran World Nation performers, very talented kids,” says Haring.  Shane is also an accomplished guitar player, and it was through Shane that Haring met Tommy Girvin, his guitar teacher, a few years ago.  Justin plays congas, drums, and hand percussion, but since working with World Nation, he has also been featured on the Peruvian box drum, el cajon, which he plays on “Pretty Little Angel.”

Haring credits part of the CD’s success to the great Doo Wop singer Steve Horne and his Doo Wop Mob from Boca Raton, FL.  Steve’s is the signature bass voice on “Pretty Little Angel” as well as the Doo Wop classic, “Papa Oom Mow Mow,” where Haring was joined by Tad Andris, age 11, on the verses.  “I had already recorded the song, but changed its direction when I heard Tad sing it,” says Haring.  “I decided to use his tracks and then go back and blend with him.  This way we could feature him as much as possible.”  

 Haring speaks highly of Steve Horne and his Doo Wop Mob. “We had a goal of keeping this great music alive while giving kids a chance to sing a rich, harmonic style of music,” says Haring. “Steve and his Mob helped make this possible.”  Haring and assistant producer Katia Valdeos went to Boca Raton in February, just three months before the CD was released.  “Steve and the guys came through in the 11th hour and gave us the vocal details needed to make many of these songs authentic and vibrant,” says Haring. “We are extremely grateful to them for their contribution to our music.”

Joined by 11 TBWN singers, Bobby Hendricks returns on track 17 with “Under the Boardwalk.”  Bobby’s rich voice gives a sense of cool romance to the song. Pollyanna Garcia flavors the song with castanets while Howard Helm provides keyboards and a Caribbean-flavored steel drum solo, all of which contributes to making this a unique and special rendition.

Eighth graders Ashley Giron and Samantha Gee agree that the final song on the CD, an original entitled “Sweetie Pie,” is their favorite.  Says Giron: “I have always loved singing, and that song has a good melody.”  Samantha had such a feel for the song that she joined Haring in the studio to sing the version that appears on this CD. 

What’s it like working in a first class recording studio like Morrisound with a veteran engineer like Tom Morris?  Seventh grader James Kuntz sums it up best: “Awesome!”