The Sensational Soul Cruisers will celebrate their 20th year of grooving and crooning along the Jersey Shore this year, with plenty of their uniquely funky shows planned from Atlantic City to North Wildwood.

The 11-piece group has members from all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and they came together for the first time in November 1992.

They were a soulful super-group of sorts, says "Screamin'" Steve Barlotta, the tenor saxophone player.

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"We wanted to put a band together that paid homage to the classic soul sounds of the '60s and '70s," he says.

The result was a band similar in size and spirit to Earth, Wind & Fire that pays tribute to that group as well as artists ranging from The Temptations to Barry White to Michael Jackson.

Today, they play about 200 shows a year, blowing away bar crowds and wowing at weddings with a repertoire of around 300 songs.

"Each vocalist has their own distinct style, and they're all interactive with the audience," Barlotta says. "The singers are doing dance steps to every tune."

You can find the band regularly at several of Atlantic City's casino clubs and lounges, such as Eden Lounge in Harrah's Resort and Night Fever at Resorts Casino Hotel, and they also will continue their 11-year residency at Keenan's Irish Pub in North Wildwood, playing every Monday night this summer.

Upcoming shows:

April 27: Eden Lounge, Harrah's, 8 p.m.

May 18: Night Fever, Resorts, 10 p.m.

May 26: Kix McNutley's, Sea Isle City, 10 p.m.

May 28: Keenan's Irish Pub, North Wildwood, 6:30 p.m.

Members: "Screamin'" Steve Barlotta, tenor saxophone; Stan Tartas, bass guitar; Greg Deppe, keyboards; Matt Curran, drums; Steve Hyde, trumpet; Joe Nappy, guitar and vocals; Will Williams, vocals; Smokey Noble, vocals; Stephon Jones, vocals; Alan Smith, vocals; Pete Maurer, trombone; and Joey Stann, baritone saxophone.

Timeless classics: "We have a following that pretty much transcends different age groups," Barlotta said. "We can't believe it after all these years we'll still have a young crowd come out."

At the time, The Cruisers was the name of Barlotta's band, and when its singer was Eddie Testa in the 1980s they were called Eddie and The Cruisers. When that group broke up, The Cruisers started backing up other singers.

Barlotta said they grew tired of being the secondary attraction, so they started scouting singers from churches and elsewhere to form their own group.


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