SALEM - This could be the last time, according to Gary Kekel, founding member of The New Breed band from the 1960s and organizer of the big summer party at the Salem Saxon Club on July 28.
The music for the event begins at 8:30 p.m. and advance tickets, on sale at BB Rooners, Consumers National Bank and Kendrick's Corner, sell for $12 and will be $15 at the gate.
Every few years since 1985, the group has been getting together to perform its trademark brand of music to an increasingly appreciative audience.
Jokingly called "The First Annual End-of-the-World Bash" it will mark the 10th time the band has reunited for such an occasion.
"And probably will be the last time," Kekel said.
"(Despite) as much fun as we have doing this, it's become increasingly difficult to get everyone together for these events, with members traveling from as far as Nevada, Missouri and Florida."
Since The New Breed had such a large fan base from all over Columbiana, Mahoning, and Stark counties, Kekel explained that the event is open to the public.
"This is a celebration of the great music of that era, and anyone that appreciates it will have a great time along with us."
The nine-piece band enjoyed immense regional popularity from 1966 -70, Kekel said.
It earned its reputation as the first genuine "blue-eyed soul" band in the area and featured a horn section that stunned its audiences with a dynamic sound that had not been heard before.
It was a sound that brought people to the dance floor with an irresistible rhythm and groove.
In its heyday, The New Breed reached beyond its Mahoning Valley base and performed at teen dances, colleges and nightclubs throughout Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
"We performed soul music of the mid-to-late '60s the Memphis sounds of Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, and Otis Redding, or the Motown hits of The Temptations, the Supremes and Marvin Gaye," Kekel said.
A New Breed performance stuck with you.
Kekel noted people who attended remembered. "You probably remember The New Breed," he said.
This year's ensemble features a thirteen-piece band, consisting of six original members and up to a six-piece horn section along with the the "Breedettes" comprised of Cheryl Kekel, Lori Juhn and Polly Lease.
Kekel said Chuck Alexander, a member of the old "Swinging Pendulums" from the 60s, will make a guest singing appearance and he may perform some piano backup.
The Breed expects to perform three sets.
Kekel said, "But we have a lot of fans who look forward to the evening and if this is truly the 'last dance' for us, then we're going to make it the best one ever."
The musicians get together a week or so before the event to rehearse their music, adding songs to their set list as time allows, Kekel said.
The band will perform a sound check and hold a big rehearsal Friday afternoon at Saxon Club, an event that has drawn an audience of its own.
A big part of getting together is swapping old gig stories and catching up with each others lives since they last met, Kekel said.
Past concerts have drawn over 1,500.
The concession will be provided by Hickory Rib of Salem and refreshments can be purchased at a cash bar.
More information and some history of the band can be found at www.newbreedgroove.com.
Larry Shields can be reached at email@example.com