Jon “Bowzer” Bauman was a greaser for all holiday seasons Sunday at the Savannah Center.
The former Mr. Bassman of Sha Na Na brought along his current trio of singers – The Stingrays – and they joined with Rocky and the Rollers for a holiday party.
Bauman sang his favorite doo-wop Christmas song, The Drifters’ version of “White Christmas.” Then he put on a yarmulke and took a page from Adam Sandler’s songbook with “The Chanukah Song.”
“I’m probably the only one in this room – and in The Villages – who is actually in the song,” Bowzer said while at the piano. The lyrics go like this: “Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli/Bowzer from Sha Na Na and Arthur Fonzerelli.”
Bowzer got a kick from the name dropping but was in a much more serious mood when he sat down at the piano to play a work by Chopin.
“This was my mother’s favorite,” he said in an emotional, soft voice.
After he was done playing it, he seemed to wipe away a tear.
“I really felt that, and that’s why I love coming here and playing for you in The Villages,” he said.
The Stingrays, featuring Monty Arnold, Anthony Moore and Jon Peters, provided a powerful spiritual lift with a couple of gospel numbers. Johnny Contardo, Bowzer’s old bandmate from Sha Na Na, showed up as a guest performer to sing a deeply moving “O Holy Night.”
Contardo and Sha Na Na were in the movie “Grease” and he sang “Those Magic Changes” from the landmark film.
“That song has been recorded dozens of times but I think Johnny does it better than anyone else,” Bowzer said.
He then moved to the electric keyboards to provide some rocking backing for Contardo on the Del Shannon classic, “Runaway.”
Bowzer was backed by Rocky and the Rollers on a glorious oldies trip for much of the night. He supplied the big bass sound on a cover of The Marcels’ “Blue Moon,” turning the number into an aerobics class by inviting the audience to move their arms up and down with him.
Then came the rocking Phil Spector version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Another highlight was Bowzer and the Rollers ripping into the hard-banging piano sound of “Bumble Boogie.”
Rocky and the Rollers were also in a festive mood. They opened the show singing “Jingle Bells.” Then they paid homage to Chuck Berry with a scorching version of “Run Rudolph Run.”
Lead singer Al Morse was in vintage form performing Nat King Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song.”
It was a night for holiday celebration and rock and roll and that’s the way Jack and Casey Adams wanted it. They were dressed in holiday garb.
“This is great music and real rock and roll,” Jack Adams said. “We’ve always liked Bowzer and it’s great to see him here.”
Tony Violanti is a veteran journalist and writes for Villages-News.com.