Ray Graffia Jr. is the lead singer of the New Colony Six and he will perform Saturday at Krapil's with the band Ambidextrous. (Supplied photo)

Ray Graffia Jr. is the lead singer of the New Colony Six and he will perform Saturday at Krapil's with the band Ambidextrous. (Supplied photo)

Chicago rock legend to perform at Krapil’s

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By Bob Bong

Krapil’s Steakhouse in Worth offers live music on weekends in the summer and when Ambidextrous takes the stage Saturday night they will be joined by a Chicago rock legend.

Taking the stage with Ambidextrous will be Ray Graffia Jr., one of the founding members of the New Colony Six.

Graffia is making his first guest appearance with Ambidextrous thanks to his friendship with the band’s Scott Sodara, of Orland Park.

It’s a fitting pairing. Ambidextrous plays rock classics from the 1960s and 1970s and Graffia’s New Colony Six was the original Chicago Garage Band to make it big with a string of hits including “I Confess,” “I Will Always Think About You,” and their biggest hit “Things I’d Like to Say.”

The band was made up of classmates from St. Patrick High School.

“We started out covering the Beatles’ ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ We played at parties and decided to see what we could beyond that.”

“We honed our skills playing at Wine & Roses. The owner said we had to play whether there was anyone in the bar. So, we played whatever we wanted. It allowed us to get better.”

After a fruitless trip to California to win a record contract and “to become rock-n-roll stars,” the group hit the local airwaves in November 1965 and the Cash Box charts on February 2, 1966.

Upon the return home without a record contract, Graffia’s dad jumped in and persuaded the other parents to come up with the money to start their own record label – Centaur, later Sentaur and eventually Sentar.

“We had 19 top 20 records,” Graffia said. “We had four Number One songs.”

There were some close encounters with other musicians in the early years, Graffia recalled.

“When we were in California, we were staying a motel in Hollywood and there was another band staying there at the time,” he said.

The bands met when they were both heading to an audition for Dick Clark’s “Where the Action Is” show.

“We were both wearing the same kind of Colonial costumes,” Graffia said with a laugh. The other band was Paul Revere and the Raiders, and they got the gig as the show band of “Where the Action Is.”

“We were at Milwaukee County Stadium and the Monkees were doing the same show,” Graffia said. “At first, they didn’t want to talk to us. After we did our set and the 30,000 fans were screaming, they agreed to talk to us.”

Unlike a lot of garage bands, which covered songs by other artists, the New Colony Six members wrote their own music.

“We wrote all of our own songs with one exception,” Graffia said. “’I’m Still Waiting’ was co-written by Tony Orlando. We also did a cover of ‘Cadillac.’ Otherwise, we wrote all of our songs.”

Graffia moved on from the band in 1969. He became a Catholic school teacher, moved to Florida, and later moved back to the Chicago area and founded his own pollution prevention company, Arbortech.

A lifelong practicing Catholic, he even spent 15 years as an ordained deacon at St. Edna Parish.

In 1988, after numerous requests, Graffia agreed to perform at a New Colony Six reunion concert.

“It was like I never left,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since.”

The reconstituted New Colony Six is part of the Cornerstones of Rock tour that plays throughout the Chicago area.

Other bands in the tour are Chicago-area favorites the Ides of March, the Buckinghams, and the Cryan Shames.

Graffia said fans who come out to Krapil’s on Saturday will get a healthy dose of the New Colony Six as well as plenty of other hits from the era.

2 Comments

  1. Jean Mikota on July 30, 2023 at 2:02 pm

    What date is he playing? I run the NC6 fan club..



    • Bob Bong on July 30, 2023 at 2:36 pm

      He appeared with the band last night at Krapil’s.



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