Reminiscing with popular oldies band’s lead singer
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Marlborough – As lead singer of the Reminisants, Marlborough resident Mike Joyal performs over 150 engagements annually throughout New England, and a weeklong cruise to Bermuda on Norwegian Cruise Lines. After 12 years entertaining at Hampton Beach, N.H., they were among the first bands selected for multiple bookings this debut season of the shoreline’s new Seashell Stage. While Joyal enjoys travelling to gigs, he also welcomes opportunities to work locally.
The Reminisants returned this summer to the Westborough July 4th Family Block Party, and concert series at Union Common in Marlborough and Southgate at Shrewsbury. And once again, Joyal and the band boarded a float to bring golden oldies to the route of the Marlborough Labor Day Parade.
“It’s lots of fun because we actually do our show while riding on a flatbed,” said Joyal, who moved to Marlborough from Waltham 23 years ago.
It was at Waltham High School that Joyal discovered an interest in singing with classmate Dom Viscione.
“We sang together informally in high school,” Joyal said.
After graduating in 1967, each served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. They co-founded the Reminisants in 1973.
Since then, they’ve added four band members, and worked alongside many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHF) inductees at New England venues. At Indian Ranch in Webster, the band performed with RRHF inductees Charlie Thomas and the Drifters, and Shirley Alston Reeves and the Shirelles in 2007.
As the highlight of nearly 40 years performing, Joyal cites working with a particular RRHF inductee. In 2008, the Reminisants shared the stage twice with Mike Love and the Beach Boys, first at the Meadowbrook Arena in Gilford, N.H., and later at the 10th annual Wellesley’s Wonderful Weekend.
“Growing up in high school, the Beach Boys were our biggest idols,” he said.
In 2006, Joyal offered a suggestion to Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy.
“We approached her and asked if she’d be interested in presenting a doo-wop show in Waltham if we could bring major acts,” he said.
The mayor was very interested. The show is now an annual event at Waltham Common. This year, Joyal returned to his hometown Aug. 18 for the seventh annual Doo-Wop Concert. The Reminisants took the stage with the Flamingos, a RRHF inductee, and the Chiffons.
For each of its seven years, the concert featured the Reminisants and a popular country act, the John Penny Band. Among many other special guests they helped bring to the show over the years were the Belmonts, the Crickets, the Crystals and the Del Vikings.
The Reminisants also appeared at various venues with Jay Siegel and the Tokens, a group with a unique claim to fame.
“The Tokens told us they were the only group that reached number one with the same song twice: ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight,’” Joyal said. “It was first released in 1961, and then re-released when it was used in the movie ‘The Lion King.’ It became number one again.”
Joyal believes intergenerational audiences identify with the Reminisants because their repertoire includes songs heard in film soundtracks.
“The oldies we perform have been in movies kids have seen,” he said. “The theme song for ‘Shrek’ was ‘I’m A Believer’ by the Monkees, and the theme song for ‘Ghost’ was ‘Unchained Melody’ by the Righteous Brothers.”
In November, Joyal will return to Waltham with the Reminisants to perform at his 45th high school reunion.
“We never thought it would last this long,” he said of the band’s longevity.
When not rocking and rolling, Joyal works as a police officer in Weston.
For a listing of the band’s concert schedule, go to www.reminisants.com.
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