Headliner and host to Wildwood’s 11th Annual Fabulous ’50s & Beyond Concert, Jon “Bowzer” Bauman has “always wanted to be a part of this weekend,” he states. “The culture of the town is perfect for the kind of show that I do and the character I portray.” Bauman is, of course, referring to the rich doo wop and early rock & roll roots of the Wildwoods that coincided with the start of his professional career.
In 1969, Jon joined several of his Columbia classmates in “Sha Na Na”, creating the character of “Bowzer”. With “Bowzer” the dominant character on stage, Jon was a major force in leading the group to their successful TV series. At its peak, “Sha Na Na” was the #1 syndicated show in America, and was also seen in 32 foreign countries. More recently, Jon’s live show, “Bowzer’s Original Doo-Wop Party”, was the most successful production show ever at Atlantic City’s Trop World Hotel and Casino. Today, when not otherwise engaged as a political activist, actor, and host, Jon continues to perform with his band “Bowzer and the Stingrays” at fairs and conventions around the world.
While his schedule is typically teeming during election season, Jon made a conscious effort to clear his weekend in order to perform Oct. 18 at Wildwood’s Oceanfront Arena. “This Wildwood show is the actually the only show I’m doing over the next couple of weeks. But I’m so excited it’s finally happening,” he explains.
“We’ve assembled a line-up of very special guests. The way it worked out is pretty incredible,” stated an excited Bauman. “It’s turned into such a great lineup that features so many different styles from that era, and every performer is really talented.”
Personally, Bauman looks most forward to the performance of the remaining two original members of the Comets, Dick Richards and Joe Ambrose. “Dick Richards is now 91 years old and is the original drummer for The Comets. He does this drum solo and it includes this instrumental that is several minutes long. It’s just amazing. When he performs it, he receives multiple standing ovations during the solo itself. This is what’s so crazy about it – he’s still really, really good,” states Buaman.
The opportunity to see these two perform together is considered quite rare and is certainly not to be missed. “‘Rock Around the Clock’ was the first clearly rock & roll record to become a #1 record. So The Comets deserve a lot of credit for the beginnings of this style that is truly the roots of all the sounds happening today,” finishes Bauman.
Bauman also has big plans for his segments between each headliner’s performances. “I host a dance contest, which the audience usually has a lot of fun with.” He will also give Wildwood audiences a glimpse into his musical beginnings, performing a classical piano routine. A little known fact, Bauman attended Juilliard as a child and is an extremely talented pianist. “We’ll also play ‘Bumble Boogie’ and will most likely incorporate our interactive hula hoop segment,” he continues. And what would a Bowzer appearance be without a lively rendition of the “Hand Jive” as he once performed in “Grease”?
Bowzer promises that Gene Chandler, “The Duke of Earl”, will “bring down the house” with his impressive pipes and supreme talent. “He’s such a great showman, but many people don’t fully realize that he’s also a really great singer. He’s just incredibly talented,” explains Bauman. “And we not only have the Comets who were responsible for the first #1 rock & roll record, but we also have Fred Parris and The Five Satins who produced the absolutely biggest selling Doo Wop record of all time.” The Times are traveling from Philadelphia and are scheduled to perform their “dynamic” show including hit “So Much in Love” among others.
In a few words, “it’s going to be absolutely unique,” assures Bowzer. “It’s the kind of lineup that we may never see again. I guarantee that everyone will be blown away by it. The synergy and nature of the Wildwoods only adds to its awesomeness.” In closing, Bowzer warns all Cape May County residents, “Be there or be square and grease for peace!”
The Fabulous ’50s & Beyond concert will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18 in the Oceanfront Arena at the Wildwoods Convention Center. For additional information or to purchase tickets, visit www.gwcoc.com, or call 609-729-4000.
By Meg Kummer