Those with a penchant for poodle skirts and leather jackets will delight in Wildwood’s Fabulous ’50s & Beyond Celebration. This annual event, held this year at the Wildwood Convention Center on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 13 and 14, resurrects the days of old with a massive dance party, classic cars, swingin’ performers and more.
Your hand jive and jitterbug skills that lay dormant the rest of the year will take center stage 6:30 p.m. on Friday, when The Cameos lead the Nifty ’50s Dance Party. One of the most active bands of its kind in South Jersey, The Cameos have been jiving since the oldies weren’t old.
“The Cameo name has been around since 1957,” says Paul Stuart, drummer and band leader of The Cameos. “I worked with one of the originators for about seven years, Mr. Roger DelRusso. I played drums with him, and before he passed he turned the Cameo name over to me. I’ve had the group for 11 years now.”
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The current lineup of Cameos, including vocalists John Basilone, Chris Cerullo and Dan Ugarte, saxophonist Cathy Carbone, keyboardist Arno Petronzio, and lead rhythm guitar Jamie Bannon, are “like a family,” according to Stuart, having devoted their musical careers to songs from “back-when” for over a decade.
Stuart got his start drumming when he was only 9 years old, noting influences like Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich and, more recently, Max Weinberg, and has been performing in bands since 16. The Cameos, however, is by far his favorite band he’s worked with.
“I love all of the harmonies. You can understand all of the lyrics. It’s just great music, and there are still people around who love it,” he says of the oldies covers he performs with The Cameos, like “Buzz Buzz Buzz” from the Hollywood Flames and “Heat Wave” by Martha & the Vandellas.
And for those who don’t love it, Stuart and company still manage to get apathetic crowds on their feet.
“We’re an Oldies group but we do have a lot of energy,” he explains. “We work this place down the shore over the summer, Donovan’s Reef, and there were a lot of college kids there. But they were into the music. It’s something different for them, something they’re not used to hearing unless they grew up listening to it.”
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That said, disinterested listeners will likely not be an issue on Friday at the Nifty ’50s Dance Party.
“Last year we did the Wildwood ’50s weekend and it was a blast. They had like 2,500 people there,” Stuart says. “The dance floor was packed, and people were really into the oldies. We had a ball. We’re really honored that they asked us back again.”
Shakin’ on Saturday
Nursing sore feet from Friday’s dance party, ‘50s fans should also check out the Fabulous ‘50s & Beyond concert, taking place 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Wildwood Convention Center.
Among the talent there will be former teen heartthrob Frankie Avalon, who released songs like “Venus,” “I’ll Wait for You” and “Beauty School Dropout,” 1960s doo-wop group The Duprees, ‘50s Philly band Danny & the Juniors and The Ladies of Shake, Rattle & Roll, a group made up of women dedicated to performing the music of the ‘50s and ‘60s.