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Three Dog Night rocks Havre de Grace Seafood Festival

Visitors to the 34th annual Havre de Grace Seafood Festival had an opportunity to travel back to the 1970s Friday night with a live show from the classic rock hitmakers Three Dog Night.

"How many people remember 1974, raise your hands," lead vocalist Cory Wells asked the crowd gathered in the swale of the City Yacht Basin at Millard Tydings Memorial Park.

Hands and cheers rose among the fans sitting on the lawn and below in front of the stage as the band launched into its cover of the Randy Newman-penned "You Can Leave Your Hat On."

Wells and his co-lead vocalist – and fellow founding member of the band – Danny Hutton entertained the crowd with jokes and stories from their more than 40-year career in rock 'n' roll that has produced 21 Top 40 songs, according to the band's website.

Three of those songs, "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)," "Joy to The World" and "Black and White," were Billboard No. 1 hits.

Hutton and Wells met in 1968, and the band released its first album, "One," in 1969. The most recent, "Greatest Hits Live," was released in 2008.

Havre de Grace was the latest stop on a multi-city tour in the U.S. and New Zealand that continues through March, according to the site.

Audience members danced and sang along with the hits during Friday night's concert, as well as lesser-known Three Dog Night songs, cover tunes and country and blues songs.

"Every one had potential, always," Wells said of each song the band recorded.

Wells and his bandmates even jokingly put on a hip hop/electronic version of "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" to update the 1970s hit for the 21st century.

Most of the crowd did not go for it, and they wrapped up with the rock version the audience grew up with.

Audience members held up their lighters and cellular phones in tribute as Three Dog Night played "Celebrate" toward the end of the show.

The show took a more serious turn as the band played their song "Prayer of the Children," in honor of the children around the world living in violent conditions.

"Can you feel the hearts of the children?/Aching for home, for something of their very own," they sang. "Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to/But hope for a better day, a better day."

The band ended with the light-hearted "Joy to the World," with the signature opening line "Jeremiah was a bullfrog."

"God bless you, God bless Maryland, God bless America!" Wells told the crowd.

Hutton added: "Thank you for letting us entertain you tonight!"

The show drew people from around the Mid-Atlantic region.

Mark A. Osman, his wife, father and extended family traveled from Newark, Del.

"It was great!" he exclaimed. "It was great!"

He said he had not seen Three Dog Night live before, but he grew up listening to the band's records with his father.

Osman said he contacted his father immediately when he found out the band was playing in Havre de Grace.

"I said, 'Get the tickets, I don't care how you do it," an ecstatic Mark J. Osman recalled telling his son.

"It was worth every cent," the elder Osman continued. "It was absolutely awesome. What's better than seafood and beer? Seafood, beer and Three Dog Night."

Three generations of the Scott family traveled from Stewartstown, in York County, Pa.

"We've never seen them live before, but we thought they were great," Kara Scott said.

Kara came with her sister Kristin, mother Kathy and niece Paige.

The family also enjoyed the food and beer for sale at the Seafood Festival.

"It was amazing," Kara said. "They had alligator, and conch and all the things we haven't tried before."

Kristin added: "Everyone was so nice."

The younger Scotts knew the music of Three Dog Night through movies and television commercials.

Kristin said she enjoyed the joke rap version of "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)."

"It was totally cool," she said. "It was totally unexpected."

The band played for about 90 minutes. Seafood Festival organizer Lori Maslin estimated about 3,500 tickets had been sold.

"We came darn close to selling every ticket," she said as volunteers broke down the stage and seating areas.

Maslin said this year was the fourth with a concert featuring a nationally-known act at the Seafood Festival, and the tradition is expected to continue next year.

Festival organizers announced before Three Dog Night came on that Ronnie Milsap, known for his country, rock and R&B-style hits, will be the headliner for the 2015 concert.

"He's one of the last old-time country acts," Maslin said of Milsap, who has worked with music legends such as Ray Charles and Elvis Presley.

Tickets are already on sale online seafoodfestival.ticketleap.com.

The youth band Baltimore School of Rock and country singer Mallary Hope of Nashville opened for Three Dog Night Friday.

"Havre De Grace you are amazing!" Hope wrote on her Facebook page after the show. "Thanks for having fun with me ;-)."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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