The Crests featuring the voice of Tommy Mara

Tuesday, Mar 9, 2021
at 7:00pm
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As a kid, Tommy Marascuillo grew up singing Italian songs and as a teen, he discovered rock. Then while working in his father’s pizza parlor in Queens, he discovered doo wop. He joined a group called Bubba and the Bubbles and a career was born. “I learned harmony and I feel in love with it, with the tones,” he said. “The voices were like an instrument, with four or five voices to make a chord.”

Tommy Marascuillo moved to Florida and decided his last name was a mouthful. He became Tommy Mara and started a band called Tommy and the Saints. One night, at a concert in Ruth Eckerd Hall, he met a singer named Johnny Maestro, the original lead singer of the Crests. “We hit it off,” Mara said. “He was introverted and he was a short, skinny Italian guy and I was a short, fat Italian guy. We just hit it off. We’d sit for hours mixing records and talking. He told me I was the most well-known un-hit record guy in the business, He was a very dear friend mine and I miss him.”

Mara had joined the group and after Maestro’s death in 2010, and with his blessing, Mara became the lead singer for the group. “I will never be able to sing like Johnny but I will do whatever I can to keep his music alive,” he said. Fans may beg to differ; they have named Mara “The Pavarotti of Doo Wop.”

The Crests, which formed in 1956, was the first integrated doo wop band, featuring Patty Vandross, the sister of singer Luther Vandross. They quickly became doo wop powerhouses with hits like “Step by Step,” “The Angels Listened In,” “My Juanita,” and “Sixteen Candles.” They were known for their high energy, great harmonies and outstanding musical arrangements. They remain true to the group’s original sound, while adding a touch of “now.”

Mara is known for both his vocal prowess and his sense of humor. The shows are what you’d imagine it would be like if several hundred or thousand people were in his living room and he decided to entertain for a while. Jay Siegel of The Tokens has said that “Mara is as comfortable on stage as he is in his own living room. He’s always positive, always makes us laugh and, most importantly he delivers on stage.”

Although Mara brings humor to his shows, he is very serious about the music. “There will be powerhouse vocals and a great band,” he said. “There is professionalism. There are no schmos on the stage.”

Mara has no intention of retiring any time soon. “If you don’t love music and have the heart for it, you shouldn’t do it,” he said, “Music is all about the love. My logo is ‘Touched by Tommy.’ I touch everybody. I answer every person that writes me.”

That’s why he has one of the most loyal fan bases in the business. They know that he’s doing this just for them.