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At Wildwood: A California Boy's Tribute to Doo-Wop’s Rock n’ Roll Era

Ernie Lewis performing at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace

Ernie Lewis has seen the Fudgy-Wudgy man, and you can find him in Wildwood.

Those are just some of the memorable and feel-good lyrics in Lewis’ original Wildwood-inspired song, “At Wildwood,” which he penned as a Rock n’ Roll tribute to the resort city’s Doo-Wop era of crooners like Bobby Rydell.

The Missouri-born instrumentalist, singer and songwriter said he was first introduced to Wildwood through his wife, who spent her childhood vacations in the doo-wop city by the sea.

Ernie and his wife, Marge "staying salty" on the beach in Wildwood

“At Wildwood” came to me in the summer of 2018, during a Wildwood vacation,” Lewis said. “My wife Marge and I were walking the boards and listening to Bobby Rydell over the loudspeakers. The more we walked, the more I felt thrown back to yesteryear. To be honest, it was almost as if the song hit me out of nowhere. I was compelled to write it and later record it, and that I did.”

Lewis, a junior high school science teacher in Bakersfield, California, has been immersed in the music world his entire life.

“I started playing guitar at the age of five,” Lewis said. “My brother, Bobby, was a guitarist and singer. I wanted to be just like him. It was my brother who taught me my first chords.”

Throughout the years, Lewis added the fiddle, banjo, mandolin, slide resophonic guitar, harmonica, bass, ukulele and more to his long list of instruments.

Ernie on the fiddle

An active member in the Bakersfield music scene for more than 40 years, Lewis has played in a number of bands including The Honeybee Ridge Gang, Kenny Walters and the Moosehead Band, The Oak Creek Band, Highway 65, Damn Near Country, and The Fruit Tramps. He currently plays the fiddle, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, and banjo in Johnny Owens and the Buck Fever Band.

Although Lewis calls Bakersfield home, it’s Wildwood that has captured his heart.

Ernie. his brothers-in-law, Jim and John Owens, and Marge on the boards in Wildwood. Watch out for the Tram Car!

“Summertime means Wildwood time to Marge and me because during summer we love visiting our family members in Wildwood,” he said. “There, we spend our days riding waves, enjoying the sights, relaxing in the sand, riding bikes, and walking on the boards, and eating a variety of foods.”

And you can hear his love of Wildwood, with Lewis’ song dotted with iconic references like concerts at Morey’s Pier, “a slice at Mack’s” and “a cone at Kohr’s.”

Wildwood's Doo-Wop Hotel signs

Wildwood’s rich history of Rock ’n Roll, which dates back to the introduction of Bill Haley and the Comets, Chubby Checker, and Bobby Rydell is the inspiration behind the song’s iconic sounds of the golden era of Rock n’ Roll.

“During the recording session, I determined that “At Wildwood” needed harmonies to fully capture the Doo-Wop sound,” said Lewis. “So I called upon two very good friends, David Zent and Jim Reed, who had no problem belting out pure vocal lines.”

Lewis said his brother-in-law, Jim Owens, helped him pen the song by teaching him some “east coast terminology.”

Lewis’ video of the song was presented at the Fabulous 50's and Beyond Weekend at the Wildwoods Convention Center & Fox Park, in October 2018.

Ernie and his mandolin

“That was made possible by the fine folks at the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce, and I truly appreciate their support” Lewis said. “During the event, Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker, and Frankie Avalon, wowed the crowd with their hits. I was over the moon to have my song and video included in the show.”

“‘At Wildwood’” has received a lot of social media attention by individuals who love Wildwood,” he said. “It’s my tribute to the early Rock ’n Roll era in Wildwood, and to what Wildwood is today--an amazing Jersey Shore vacation spot for anybody seeking fun in the sun. It has been fun reading about their fond memories of the boards, the tramcars, games, food, and more. I am happy that the song has brought back so many good thoughts of the shore to so many people.”

Lewis’ albums and singles are available online at iTunes, Amazon, and CDBaby.com Watch "At Wildwood" and put your toes in the sand!

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