Singer impersonators are this year's showy flowers at Towson Gardens Day

A Lady Francis begonia greets visitors at a past Towson Gardens Day. This year, gardens day will take place April 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A Lady Francis begonia greets visitors at a past Towson Gardens Day. This year, gardens day will take place April 30, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.(File photo)

There will be plants and flowers, as always. Live music and food, of course. The Master Gardeners will answer questions and the musicians of Towson High School Jazz Band will toot their horns.

But this year at the Towson Gardens Day, set for Thursday, April 30, pop music royalty — or a darn good impersonation of it — will grace the stage on the corner of Washington and Pennsylvania avenues.


Eileen Chaffee, as Barbra Streisand, and Allan James, as Neil Diamond will perform at 1 p.m., as part of the 29th annual Towson Gardens Day. Gardens Day precedes the annual Towsontown Spring Festival, which takes place May 2-3 in downtown.

Chaffee, 65, has been at Gardens Day before, as a member of the Hampton Garden Club when the group distributed seedlings. But this year is different.


Chaffee will don a wig and an elegant gown, and belt out Streisand favorites, like "Don't Rain on My Parade" or "Sam You Made the Pants Too Long," one of her favorites.

She'll be joined by Allan James, a silver-haired Dundalk man whose deep, raspy voice resembles Diamond's renditions of "Sweet Caroline" and "Cracklin' Rosie."

A soprano, Chaffee began singing with her then-husband Frank Chase more than 30 years ago as part of a band, The Final Touch.

"They were big around town, did a lot of weddings," Chaffee said. They performed at a lot of hotels and could be out five or six nights of the week.

When Streisand's "Evergreen" was a big hit — and Chaffee sang it — someone suggested she try a Barbra Streisand tribute show.

"I just started doing it," said Chaffee, a retired paralegal. And she's been in demand ever since for parties, fundraisers and groups. "I never thought I'd do it professionally, but I did."

Chaffee said she was attending a Towson Chamber of Commerce meeting, representing her garden club, when Executive Director Nancy Hafford asked for suggestions for entertainment.

"I was like, 'Why not?" Chaffee said, and she offered to bring her Barbra tribute. And she roped in James, with whom she has shared a stage on other occasions. "Just close your eyes," she said. "He sounds exactly like Neil Diamond."

James said a DJ suggested he try Neil Diamond during karaoke. "You're dead on," the DJ said. "It's in your register."

A retired engineer who teaches at TESST college, James has performed his Neil Diamond revue for 15 years.

Towson Gardens Day, sponsored by the Towson Chamber of Commerce, stretches along Pennsylvania between Washington and Bosley to upper Baltimore Avenue and is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event features vendors selling flowers, food and crafts who line the streets in the 400 block of Washington Avenue. "You can buy a new roof. You can redo your kitchen and everything in between," said Hafford.


The stage area will be busy from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Trinity Episcopal Children's Center Chorus, the Towson High School Jazz Band — which will play twice — and the Anna Appicella School of Dance are all scheduled to appear, along with the Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond tribute show.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will speak at noon, followed by awards for the best gardens in Towson, both residential and commercial, Hafford said.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Towsontown Spring Festival, also sponsored by the Towson Chamber of Commerce will take place downtown, in and around the Historic Courthouse. The festival is slated for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1-6 p.m. For events, band line-up, vendors and more, go to http://www.towsontownfestival.com.

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