Were you born to hand-jive? Perhaps you've thrown on a pair of blue suede shoes and are rocking out to the sounds of Lisa Loeb or Smashmouth. Either way, you'll fit right in at the Luzerne County Fair this weekend.
The entertainment set for tonight through Sunday varies, allowing fair-goers to travel from the 1950s to the '90s and everywhere in-between and beyond.
The entertainment kicks off at 7:30 tonight with well-known central Pennsylvania rockers The Badlees. Pete Palladino (vocals), Bret Alexander (guitar), Paul Smith (bass) and Ron Simasek (drums) teamed up in 1990 and have offered fresh tunes throughout the years, even as the sounds of the industry have changed. The group is at it again this year.
"There's a lot of new music coming down the pipe," Alexander said of the Badlees hitting the studio to work on a new album that will be released in 2013. "We just released our greatest hits in the spring, and now we're working on something new."
How has the band succeeded during the past 22 years?
"We just keep making new music," Alexander said. "We try to keep it fresh. Like anything, if you do the same thing over and over again it's boring, for us and the fans."
Plenty of bands in the area pay homage to the '80s, but a certain group is pushing it up a decade by focusing on all that was the 1990s. That '90s Band plays at the fairgrounds tonight as well.
"Nineties music is just a lot of fun, and it's what we grew up listening to," bassist Jeremy Carsman said. "It's also still relevant today. We felt there was just a lack of a 1990s presence in the local scene, so we wanted to create a group dedicated solely to that music."
The 32-year-old Dallas resident is joined by Scott Wasik, 35, of Mountain top on lead vocals and guitar, Gerard Demarco, 29, of Taylor on keyboard, Shaun Walsh, 34, of Hanover Township on guitar, and Tim Rixner, 28, of Scranton on drums.
Rewind about 40 years and you have the act for Saturday night. Fifties-style rock-'n'-roll will roar into the fairgrounds with Bowzer's Rock-'n'-Roll Party.
Front man Jon Bauman is better known as Bowzer, the lead singer of Sha Na Na for 14 years. Since the early days of his career, Bauman has taken on various roles: producer, writer, musician, and actor among them. He's VJed for VH-1, appeared on "Super Password," hosted "Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour," and, in one of his most notable roles, appeared in the 1978 hit movie "Grease" along with Sha Na Na as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, performing "Born to Hand Jive."
"It's the most remarkable thing, how every generation has a fan base with that movie," Bauman said.
That appeal also goes for the '50s-style of music he and his act strive to preserve in present times.
"I think it's pretty clear that the music of the '50s has never really gone away," he said. "It's something that sticks around and keeps coming back, as in things like ‘Grease.' Younger people listen to it and say, ‘OK, that's a little different than what I'm used to, but I can relate to it, and I like it.' It's very upbeat, fun, a wonderful sort of street corner music that's very accessible for everybody."
Bauman's alter-ego, Bowzer, is a stereotypical greaser, both a hero and aggravator to the crowd. Bauman created him in the Sha Na Na days.
"He was really the first look at the greaser of the '50s through the eyes of the late '60s and early '70s. He's not always the noblest of characters; sometimes he could be, but most times he wasn't. Creating him was an amazingly fun thing to do with a lot of freedom."
"Some of my memories in the '50s were being terrorized by the greasers when I was going to school to study classic piano," Bauman said. "Greasers weren't really so nice to me at the bus stop, but now I turned all those guys into my fans, which is kind of funny."
Sunday's sounds go to Rick K and the Allnighters, a group that covers rock's greatest hits from the 1950s and beyond. The Sweet Inspirations bring a soulful sound to the fair along with Pittston native Shawn Klush and his ever-present and popular Elvis Tribute.
What: Luzerne County Fair
Where: Luzerne County Fairgrounds, 3605 Route 118, Dallas. 675-3247.
Admission: $8, $4 senior citizens
Weekend music schedule:
• 7 to 8:30 p.m.: The Badlees, That '90s Band
• 7:30 p.m.: Bowzer's Rock-n-Roll Party
• 3 to 4:30 p.m.: Rick K and the Allnighters
• 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Shawn Klush Elvis Tribute and the Sweet Inspirations