Bennett Dunn keeps four pairs of horn-rimmed glasses locked and loaded. A few black bow ties are kept on standby, too.
For the past eight years the Wilmington actor and musician has toured the country portraying rock ’n’ roll icon Buddy Holly.
First, there was the jukebox musical “The Buddy Holly Story,” which toured for 10 months. Dunn donned the famous spectacles again in February for “The Night the Music Lived: A Live Musical Performance Tribute to Buddy Holly” at Media Theatre for the Performing Arts, a show that smashed the theater’s box office records. Encore performances are scheduled for August 20-22.
But Dunn, 32, is no simple look-alike. The theater veteran recently wrapped on some big-screen action in M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film “The Last Airbender,” a live-action adaptation of the animated Nickelodeon series. Dunn plays a soldier for the warring Northern Water Tribe, a gig that involved a lot of choreographed martial arts.
“It is the most epic film that I’ve ever worked on. To even have a small part in it is an honor,” says Dunn, who describes the movie as a “Lord of the Rings”-style saga blended with the artful, high-end special effects of movies like “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
“The Last Airbender” comes out next summer. In the meantime, Dunn, who honed his acting and singing chops at Salesianum School, is trekking to Los Angeles for TV’s pilot season. He’s already appeared in episodes of CBS’s “CSI: Miami” and NBC’s “Crossing Jordan.”
His blend of talents—singing and playing the guitar, as well as bagpiping, rappelling, shooting and more—could make him quite the commodity.
If not, he still does a mean Buddy Holly. Holly’s widow, María Elena Holly, met Dunn just before a show in Fort Worth, Texas. “She looked me up and down and said, ‘You’re better looking than Buddy Holly,’” Dunn says. A hug from the widow Holly followed, as well as a quick pat on the backside. —Matt Amis
Page 2: Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy | Club Phred passes a fundraising milestone with a little help from some famous friends.
Club Phred passes a fundraising milestone with a little help from some famous friends.
Fred Dawson is working feverishly to make another rock ’n’ roll slam dunk.
His band, Club Phred, jammed with the horn section of the “The Late Night with David Letterman Show” band at the Baby Grand last October, which put the band past the million-dollar mark in cash raised for charity.
Club Phred, in fact, has raised more than $1.2 million for organizations such as The Wellness Community and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition since it formed in 2002, just by rockin’.
Dawson, a financial planner and organist, met “Late Night” band trombonist Tom “Bones” Malone in 1994. Malone, who arranged music for “Saturday Night Live” from 1975 to 1985, wrote the chart for the skit that turned John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd into The Blues Brothers and started a phenomenon.
Dawson met Malone again two years ago while recording “Gimme Some Lovin’” with Spencer Davis, the guy who co-wrote the classic, during a rock ’n’ roll fantasy camp. When Malone and the “Late Night” horn section popped into the studio unannounced, they decided to accompany Dawson. “You could see the wallpaper peeling,” Dawson says. “We all came unglued.” Dawson was so juiced he swore he’d get the guys to Delaware. Now he wants to get them back again. Malone thinks it’s a possibility.
“Jamming with Club Phred is really fun,” Malone says. “They play all of my favorite tunes, they’re all great players, and they collectively have a vibe.”
Meanwhile, Club Phred will rock your house.
“We’re available for certain private parties,” says Dawson. “But we don’t know ‘The Chicken Dance’ or ‘The Macarena.’”
Check out www.clubphred.com. —Maria Hess
Page 3: Declaration of Independents | When it comes to building custom choppers, Jeff Shelton tips his welding mask to the spirit of the original bikers.
When it comes to building custom choppers, Jeff Shelton tips his welding mask to the spirit of the original bikers.
Like a blacksmith or a sculptor, Jeff Shelton is able to create an original work of art from mere chunks of metal. Who but a true artist would attach Corona and Miller High Life bottle caps to the end of a motorcyle’s foot pegs and handlebars?
It’s this sort of creativity, along with a stubborn independence, that’s kept Shelton in the custom bike-building business for nearly a decade. In fact, he named his business Independents Choppers to honor the folks who started the biker movement.
“These guys were independent,” Shelton says. “They got on their bike and they took off and they lived the way they wanted to. I don’t like being told what to do.”
Shelton’s Newark-area shop is filled with works in progress. The business resembles an indoor parking lot for bikes of all styles. “It’s definitely a shop, not a showroom,” he says.
Shelton, 42, does most of the building in-house, including fabrication of fuel tanks and exhaust pipes, but he ships out the paint, chrome and powder coat work. He also handles repairs.
Customers include state cops and senior citizens. They bring photos and ideas and Shelton takes it from there. Variables such as the size of the tires and motor, the type of finish and frame choice factor into the price, which typically ranges from $25,000 to $50,000. “It can basically be as much as you want to spend,” he says. “It depends on what you want. We charge by the hour and keep track of our time.”
Shelton is currently building a number of custom bikes, including a special trike for a handicapped youngster. Shelton warns that customers must be patient. “It’s not TV, ” he says. “It’s not going to be built in two or three months.” —Drew Ostroski
Page 4: Biden Time | A monthly review of the veep.
A monthly review of the veep.
The veep’s official residence in D.C. has, over time, hosted countless genteel guests. The Bidens’ puppy is not one of them. Champ has reportedly had a few accidents. Guess Joe needs a new rug.
The day after his boss tried to calm citizens’ fears over the swine flu, Biden said he told family members to stay off planes and subways. Joe should know that, in politics, pork is always a touchy subject.
Speaking of swine flu comments, Biden had some folks squealing when he suggested people should avoid closed spaces such as those on airplanes and subways. Did you notice he didn’t mention trains?