“D” I Remember Penny Callas


When I lived on N. Market Street in Frederick,Maryland my friend and I used to walk around the corner to the clubhouse they practiced at. The band at the time was called “Penny Callas and the Bad Boys”

I was all of Sweet 16 and was crushing big time. He had the reputation of a wild “Bad Boy”

I remember the song “Black Olives” and the flip side was “Love”  He was so handsome, I used to almost fall off the crates we piled up to look through the window when they practiced. They also played often at the Gold Dust Inn Nightclub. Mustang Sally got the crowd in a frenzy.

Flashback to another great band “Damian and the Classics” 



Damian and the Classics originals were:

Tommy Kline, Harry Lebherz, Kenny Runkle, Alan Remsburg, Michael Stup and Dean Runkle.

Alan is the only one that is THE SHADES

Harry Haines – Drums & Male Vocalist

Hi, everyone, my name is Harry Haines and I am the drummer and the lead vocalist for The Shades. I was the lead vocalist with several Baltimore and Washington bands from 1969 to December 1978 such as The Jade Brothers who were produced by Charlie Daniels in 1970, Animal Crackers, The American Star Band, Second Nature, Milk & Honey, and Karnival. I started the original version of The Shades in 1986. In 1997 we reformed “The Shades” with the four original members. We are going strong today and hope to continue this wonderful journey for many years to come.

 Dave Gardiner – Keyboards & Guitar

 My name is David Gardiner and I have been playing for The Shades for over 20 years. I am from Thurmont, Maryland where I still reside. I enjoy playing the keyboard and the guitar.Like my fellow band brothers, I have played in numerous bands. I am playing the keyboard with The Shades and I look forward to seeing you at the next gig.

David “Gabby” Gabaldon – Guitar

I’m Gabby Gabaldon and the Lead Guitarist with The Shades. My first professional job was playing with Jimmy Eller and The Little People, a popular band in D.C. in the 1970’s. While playing with The Eye we were the backup band for touring oldie acts. The Eye formed its own oldies act called the Oldie Goldie All American Redneck Greaser Band. From there I went on to play with the Groups, NewWork, The Shades, The Cutters, and the McCoy Band. During the 1980’s co-produced another project entitled Body Music by Nicolas. I finished the 80’s with The DC Dog and The Sevilles. In 1997 we regrouped as The Shades.

Alan Remsburg – Tenor Saxophone

My name is Alan Remsburg, and I am also referred to as “Big Al”. I grew up in Frederick, Maryland and I have been playing musical instruments for as long as I can remember. My best memories as a young musician are when I played with the great Damian & The Classics. Over the years I have played with many different bands from the Frederick, Baltimore, & Washington DC areas such as Long Time Coming, Jokers Wild, Junior Cline & The Recliners, The Cool Jerks, and The Shades. The current four members of The Shades have played together for a long time and all of our music is the real deal (nothing canned).

Shades Demo 1

“D”Reminded me of “Kiss” Gene Simmons but better looking.

Longtime rocker returns to area for hometown gigs

Once guitarist with The Four Seasons, Frederick’s own Demetri Callas will play local guest shows next week
Originally published June 28, 2012
By Katie Crowe
News-Post Staff

Longtime rocker returns to area for hometown gigs

Courtesy photo

Demetri Callas returns to his hometown for gigs.


Benefit concert for The Patty Pollatos Fund Inc., with Frederick band The Shades, Tuesday, July 3 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the Frederick Elks Lodge #684, 289 Willowdale Drive, Frederick. Tickets are $100 for a table of eight, or can be purchased individually with an assigned table number. For tickets, contact, Sylvia Lucas at sawings@aol.com or Debbie Williams at debbie@ppfine.org.

WFRE Free Country Stage at Baker Park with The Shades at Frederick’s Fourth celebration at noon Wednesday. That event is free. For more information, visit http://www.celebratefrederick.com.

Most people know Frankie Valli as an iconic musician, lead singer of the internationally successful ’60s rock/pop band The Four Seasons and, more recently, one of four lead characters in the Broadway show “Jersey Boys.”

Frederick-born-and-raised musician Demetri Callas, however, knows Valli as a former colleague and close friend.

Callas, 70, joined The Four Seasons (of “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Walk Like a Man” fame) in late 1970, taking the place of founding member and lead guitarist Tommy DeVito, he said in a recent from his home phone interview in Las Vegas.

He toured throughout the U.S. and internationally with the group until 1974, when he voluntarily walked away from the band.

“I was a bad boy,” he said, laughing. “It’s only today in retrospect that I realize how irresponsible I probably was. … I’m not proud of it, but instead of waiting for them to relieve me, I knew it was time for me to walk.”

Callas will return to Frederick next week to play several hometown shows — the first, a benefit concert at the Frederick Elks Lodge #684 on Tuesday night and the next afternoon in Baker Park for a brief, opening gig at the Frederick’s Fourth celebration. Callas will be appearing as a guest artist with Frederick band The Shades, who mostly cover tunes from the 1950s and ’60s. Wednesday evening, he will perform in Hagerstown with a group of local musician friends under the name The Teddy Boys, as part of the city’s Fourth of July celebration. The Hagerstown performance, a set of covers of classic ’50s and ’60s tunes, will be much more impromptu and a bit more “off the cuff” than the other two, he said.

The Frederick  High School grad began his music career early on, having taught himself to play guitar at age 13. He purchased his first acoustic guitar from Cole’s Pawnbroker’s Outlet in Frederick, he said, and it cost him $12.95.

“I recall seeing local bands at carnivals or The Great Frederick Fair and just really enjoying their music,” he said. “I was fascinated by guitar players, mostly.”

Some early influences included guitarists “Punch” Hahn (who impressed Callas because he played a handmade guitar, he said), area country artist Johnny Glaze, Fredericktonians Roy, Ray and Paul Dayton and even Jimmy Dean, musician and, later, founder of Jimmy Dean Sausages, who once played country music events at the former armory downtown, Callas said.

Callas began playing guitar professionally around 1960, and although initially influenced by “hillbilly music,” as he called it, he began playing rock ‘n’ roll from day one.

“I began playing kind of before rock ‘n’ roll hit … but when it did, I was hooked,” he said.

Throughout his career, Callas played with local musicians and bands in the greater Frederick, Baltimore and Washington areas, often as part of “combos” of several musicians, he said. Under the band name Flavor, he did a few recordings for Columbia records, including the single “Sally had a Party” in 1968. Callas also spent a year playing with the group Bill Black’s Combo, named after Elvis Presley’s former bassist, Bill Black, and played briefly with Bill Haley & His Comets (of “Rock Around the Clock” fame).

He was performing with a combo at Baltimore’s Club Venus when a member of The Four Seasons heard him play, he said, and four weeks later, he got a call from the band’s manager asking him if he was interested in joining the act.

In his time with the Seasons, Callas had several interesting experiences, including the group being followed in and out of former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne’s Inaugural Ball (where they were performing) in the ’70s by the FBI because of alleged mafia connections present within the band’s camp, he said.

During his tenure, the group also performed at the Atlanta State Penitentiary to gain access to the personal cell of Angelo “Gyp” DeCarlo, New Jersey mobster and a friend of Valli’s, Callas said. DeCarlo was incarcerated for tax evasion, and was dying of terminal cancer, but Valli wanted to visit him and pay his respects.

“We were up there performing in front of all the inmates in our funny little suits … who were lying back with these looks on their faces, thinking ‘who the hell are these guys?,'” he said, laughing.

“Then going down to Gyp’s cell — if you could call it that, because it was more like a suite — was also nerve-wracking. Frankie and Gyp embraced, and, of course, there were tears. … It was something I’ll never forget.”

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5 comments on ““D” I Remember Penny Callas

  1. I don’t remember ever meeting Harry Haines. Saying he started the original Shades in 1986 just doesn’t make sense to me. The Shades was a band in the 1960s. Some members were Mike Stup, Tink Masser, Van Chow (spelling – sorry Van) Jimmy Atkinson, maybe Allen Remsburg, and a couple names that elude me (it was over 50 years ago after all LOL). But I can still remember attending dances at the South End Civic Assn. (SECA) building in Frederick in the 60s. The Shades was a follow up when the Playboys (of which I was a member) broke up. Penny reformed as the Shades and added horns and turned the band into short of a “show band” Maybe Harry started another band later and used the same name. Just donno. Penny had another band in the later 60s and early 70s originally called The Rascals (Penny, Danny Conway – drums, & Gary St. Clair -keyboard and vocals) but later changed it to The Bad Boys when they started recording.

  2. I net Penny around 1958 or so. I was going to St. John’s and he at FSK. I can’t remember just how we met, but at the time, he had a band called “The Playboys”. They needed a bass player and I had a guitar. First time I played with them was at his sister Maria’s birthday party in the basement of their house on Mt. Olivet Blvd. I pretty much acted like I knew what I was doing while playing a stand up bass fiddle. I later got a real bass guitar and joined the band on a regular basis. We played dances all around Frederick Co. Penny and I became close friends and even double dated together. I had a terrible crush on his girlfriend at the time. Other members of the band were: Pete Storm, Jay Smith & Mike Stup (later of Damien and the Classics). Lots of fun in those days. I remember playing at the Frederick Fairgrounds at a Milt Grant “talent contest”. The headliner of the “show” was Link Wray and the Wraymen. They thought Penny’s rendition of “Rumble” was as close as anybody’s cover of the song. During a break, Link’s bass player “Shorty” (never learned his last name” went over the actual bass run on the record with me. When Penny disbanded the band, I went my own way and got into racing Corvettes and other sports cars in SCCA and IMSA national racing series around the East from NH to Watkins Glen to Daytona. I haven’t seen of heard from Penny since seeing him at a club in Martinsburg, WV in the ’80s. I hope he is well and still playing.

  3. I just seen a great picture of him on “The Shades” Facebook page. He was jamming with Bryant Linthicum
    I heard he was living in Las Vegas,don’t know anything else. He sure could play an electrifying guitar.

  4. I was an exchange student from Sydney Australia when I first met and saw Penny Callas play guitar at the Gold Dust Inn either late in 1971 or early 72, I cant remember. I was introduced to him by Becky Jenkins, a classmate of mine at TJ who for some reason claimed to know him personally. What I do remember is that he is a fabulous musician along with so many others from Frederick like Marlin King and Mike Joye….those were the days…David Reid

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