Local one-man band Cowabunga Chris first picked up a guitar in Mr. and Mrs. J.’s guitar class as a freshman at Lower Cape May Regional High School. Now, just a few short years later, Cowabunga Chris and his killer talent grace the entertainment schedules of favorite Cape May County hot spots with total of 117 shows from Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekend.
What keeps the Cowabunga crowds coming back for more? “I’d definitely describe my shows as upbeat, family-friendly. For every performance I look at the crowd and try to figure out what they want to do. I’m usually pretty good at reading a crowd. If they want to dance, sing their favorite sing-alongs, and be engaged, than that’s what we’ll do. If they just want to relax and eat their food, than that’s fine too and I’ll play some easy listening music. I am very courteous of the crowd, if they are talking I try to sing pretty low so they don’t have to talk over me“.
Chris plays sets of what he describes as music that vacationers love. Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”, Tony Orlando & Dawn’s “Knock Three Times”, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”, and Pure Prairie League’s “Amie” are just a few examples of Cowabunga Chris’s go-to songs. Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty, oldies, and hits from the country genre are all fair game for a Cowabunga Chris gig. “I try to make sure the crowd will know almost every song I play,” he assures me. He also sings the “YMCA” and “The Twist” which really gets the crowd up and dancing.
Accompanied by pre-mixed drum and bass tracks, Cowabunga Chris provides original vocals and plays lead guitar. “I also like to do lots of guitar solos,” he explains.
To get listeners out of their seats, Cowabunga Chris incorporates interactive contests into each of his performances. He challenges crowds to show him their best moves or their craziest chicken dance. “If the kids can do the chicken dance faster than I can play it, they win a prize. And P.S., the kids always win,” he added. What exactly does Cowabunga Chris use as prizes? Candy, taffies, and Hawaiian leis, of course. Cowabunga Chris ensures that the parents have just as much fun. “The adults are always invited up to dance, sing a duet with me or do karaoke, and request songs.”
When playing in a late-night atmosphere, Cowabunga Chris likes to switch up his typical set list. With a younger crowd, “I can be more unreserved on the mic.” Chris performs favorites from Nelly, Russell Brand, Shaggy, and more 21st generation top artists.
Catch Cowabunga Chris every Saturday and Sunday at The Crab House in Wildwood. He will begin playing from 2:30-6:30 on Saturday and 2:00-6:00pm on Sunday. Every other Monday you can find him at the Northend American Grill from 3:30 to 7 then again on Tuesdays from 8 to 11 during wing night at the Anglesea Pub. On Wednesday’s he will be performing at the Coconut Cove from 6 to 10, on Fridays he will be at Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grill from 4 to 8pm.
The sky is the limit for the crowd-pleasing Cowabunga Chris.