« A gathering of singers | Main | Not just a nostalgia act »

April 25, 2007

House lawmakers join chorus

Miami Herald (FL):

TALLAHASSEE - Promoting a bill that would make fraudulently impersonating established musical acts a crime, a troupe of state lawmakers on Tuesday committed melodious mischief.

Or perhaps it was a mischievous melody. Either way, it was bad. ''I hope there were no children watching,'' said House Speaker Marco Rubio, a West Miami Republican.

The rock 'n' rolling reps took to the stage -- actually the House floor -- to sing their support for a proposal that would crack down on other musical impostors popping up around Florida.

The bipartisan singing group, led by bill sponsor Rep. Mike Davis, donned sunglasses and opened with Poison Ivy by The Coasters to promote the ''Doo-Wop Bill,'' which passed the House 113-0. ''We had to show you what pretenders sound like, so that the real thing, you'll appreciate,'' said Davis, a Naples Republican who also represents part of Broward County.

In addition to making impersonating an existing band a misdemeanor, the bill also would allow courts to impose a $5,000 fine for each violation. The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Republican Burt Saunders of Naples, was approved unanimously last week.

The harmonious House members -- named The Pretenders -- had several other South Florida legislators singing backup, including Democratic Reps. Luis Garcia of Miami Beach, Matt Meadows of Fort Lauderdale and Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall of Miami. But the real musical talent was up in the House gallery, where Carl Gardner of The Coasters and Jon ''Bowzer'' Bauman of Sha Na Na looked on.

The Truth in Music Committee at the Vocal Group Hall of Fame has been pushing for similar laws around the country, said Bauman, the committee's chairman. The law has been particularly important in Florida, where impostor 1950s bands from the doo-wop era have been especially popular, he said. In recent years, '80s impostors have started popping up as well. In December, Miami club Pawn Shop advertised a New Year's Eve performance by a band performing as Frankie Goes to Hollywood. But the impostor band did not end up performing.

Although the ''Doo-Wop Bill'' has led to a few lighthearted moments during its trip through the Legislature, impostors create serious consequences, supporters say. ''We're not talking about healthcare, and we're not talking about the war in Iraq,'' Bauman said. ``But it has been one of those really unfortunate nagging kinds of problems. It dupes consumers who are spending their hard-earned money, and it leaves the real pioneers at home watching someone else steal their legacy.''

After the bill sailed through with a few more jokes and little debate, lawmakers invited the real deals down to the House floor for a visit before launching into a finale: Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay. ''And by your vote, rock and roll is here to stay,'' Davis said.

Posted by acapnews at April 25, 2007 10:12 PM