From his role of Moondoggie in the 50’s and 60’s “Gidget” movies to playing a cop on the TV series “T,J, Hooker,” to being hologram singer Vic Fontaine in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” among many other roles, coupled with 12 years of directing. James Darren has had a very lucrative career in the TV and film industry. But these days, he has a different passion. And he’s doing it for a song.
Darren, who has sung throughout his career, has discovered that what is wants to do now more than anything is to perform for live audiences. In his show at the South Point this coming weekend, Friday and Saturday August 16 and 17, he will be giving a voice to that passion with a show that includes songs from his brand-new album released 10 days ago called “James Darren Live for the First Time.”
“I was going through some digital tapes of my son’s and I found this tape of mine that I did four years ago,” Darren enthuses. “The 17-piece band was unbelievable and my voice was good. There wasn’t one bad note on it. It was one show, one take, one track. I decided to release it because the songs that I sang on it, I’ve never released before. This show was for a convention I did in Philadelphia for 2,500 people. It is truly live and unedited, except that I took some of the talk out.”
In his South Point show, Darren will perform some of the songs from the new CD, which is available at jamesdarren.com as well as on CD Baby and iTunes and will be available on Amazon soon. The CD’s selections include “Summer Wind,” “I Only Have ‘Eyes For You,” “You Made Me Love You,” “That’s Life,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” I Get a Kick Out of You,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” It also contains a never-before-released version of the tune “Gidget,” a samba version of “Our Day Will Come” and also a Blues medley that Darren often performs live in his shows.
Despite the fact that Darren loves acting and received accolades for a movie he appeared in last year called “Lucky” about the life of Harry Dean Stanton – Variety even called it the finest film performance of Darren’s career – it is being in the moment with a live audience that he gets a kick out of. He used to work Vegas 20 weeks a year at the Sahara on a bill with Buddy Hackett and travel 20 weeks a year with him and says he learned the most about live performance from the master comedian.
“Acting has a lot of down time -- you spend a lot of time sitting around on the set,” Darren. explains. “You’re on the set 11 hours a day and you work an hour. And with directing, you are responsible for everything that happens on the set from where the actors stand to camera angles, where the furniture is situated, where the bowls are placed on the table, and even to where the trucks are parked when you are on location so that they aren’t in the way when the camera pans. I was getting up at 2:30 a.m. to be on the set at 4:45 a.m. and not getting home until between 10:30 p.m. and midnight. I aged 10 years with every episode I did.”
“I have such fun with a live audience – it’s the highlight of my life,” he sums up. “It’s torture preparing for it and getting myself in shape. I work out my voice every day. When you get older, you have to sing every day and if I miss a week, it’s torture getting back. I do vocal exercises for 30 minutes then I practice my show for two hours. If your voice gets tired, you should quit and try again a couple of hours later. You have to keep in shape physically, too, and I walk three miles on the treadmill every day. To be able to sing is one of the greatest gifts in the world. It’s a great joy to be able to create a mood.”