ELKHART — Don’t call it a comeback.
Every once in a while when Tony Butala, founding member of The Lettermen, is chatting with fans after a concert, he’ll run into someone who says they’re happy to see the group getting back together for shows.
“But we’ve been here all along,” Butala tells them.
The Lettermen have been touring every year for more than five decades, wooing crowds with a repertoire of pop hits found on more than 70 albums since 1962. The vocal trio will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 15, at the Lerner Theatre in downtown Elkhart.
Butala attributes the group’s longevity to its dedication to entertaining.
“The concept of The Lettermen is much different than the groups that come along and accidently get a hit record and start playing showrooms and they don’t have an inkling of how to entertain,” the 73-year-old singer said. “They stand on stage and sing songs, and that’s all they do. The Lettermen don’t do that. We are a 2014 package entertainment entity that just happens to have hit records in the ’60s and ’70s.”
The Grammy-nominated group, known for its cleancut style and crisp harmonizations, has recorded 11 gold albums and 16 top 10 singles, including “When I Fall in Love,” “Theme from a Summer Place” and a medley that combined “Goin’ Out of my Head” and “Can’t Take my Eyes Off You.”
The Lettermen’s current lineup features Butala with singers Donovan Tea and Bobby Poynton.
“The three of us really get along well,” Butala said. “There’s a mutual admiration amongst us. When we go on that stage, that’s the only place we want to be, entertaining with each other and entertaining our audiences.”
Butala hopes the group’s concerts are an experience like no other. He encourages concertgoers to bring cameras for photos and albums for the trio to sign after the show.
“We come out on that stage, and we make them forget about all the problems -- Afghanistan, the war, taxes, health care and all that stuff,” Butala said. “The reason why people go out to a performing arts center is to have a diversion from the troubles and cares of everyday life, and it’s our job to come in there and give those people something they didn’t come in with.”
Tickets for The Lettermen’s appearance at the Lerner Theatre are $28.50 to $49.50 online at thelerner.com, by phone at 574-293-4469 or at the box office, 410 S. Main St.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.