Take it hip to hip and rocket through the wilderness, folks. The B-52s are coming to town.
The iconic alternative dance-pop group who blasted its way to commercial fame in 1989 with smash hits like "Love Shack," "Roam" and "Deadbeat Club" is getting set to perform at the Railroaders Memorial Museum at 8 p.m. Tuesday as part of the city's Alive@Five summer concert series.
Alternative rock band One Lone Car from St. Louis, Mo., will open the show at 6:30 p.m.
The B-52s (from left, Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland and Cindy Wilson) will perform Tuesday in Altoona.
"It's party time, Altoona!" said Scott Stuttard, president of In2it Productions, the Hollidaysburg-based live arts and entertainment production and promoting firm responsible for bringing series' live acts to Altoona. "When the Bs hit the stage, it's going to be a non-stop party from start to finish. They put on an amazing show that will make it hard not to get up and dance. I am so thrilled that we can bring them to town. This is one of two dates in Pennsylvania on their current tour, and we are extremely fortunate to have them here in Altoona."
The group, named for the tall bouffant hairdos worn onstage by the two female members, formed in 1977 in the college town of Athens, Ga, according to the Rolling Stone Encylopedia for Rock and Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). The group pressed 2,000 copies of their single "Rock Lobster," which sold out rapidly, before signing a record deal in early 1979 with Warner Bros. Subsequent appearances at CBGB brought them to the attention of the New York press, and in 1979, they issued their self-titled debut, which sold 500,000 copies despite minimal airplay. The following year, they issued "Wild Planet," which reached the Top 20 on the U.S. album charts.
"We got together in a very organic way in Athens, Ga.," vocalist Cindy Wilson, 52, who co-founded the group with her guitarist brother Ricky Wilson (who died of AIDS in 1985 at age 32), singer Fred Schneider, 58, drummer Keith Strickland, 55, and singer Kate Pierson, 61, said in a phone interview from her home in Athens. "It's all just a showing of being ridiculous to the sublime - a place to be creative. It's like a group painting where we're all adding our own colors and textures."
If you go
What: The B-52s, with special guest One Lone Car
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; doors open at 5 p.m.
Where: Railroaders Memorial Museum, 1300 Ninth Ave., Altoona
Admission: Tickets are $25 and can be purchased from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the museum store.
More information: Call the museum at 946-0834 or visit www.railroadcity.com.
Wilson said she once described the band as "a tacky little dance band from Athens, Ga." - a description stemming from the band's penchant for wearing flamboyant, thrift-store clothing onstage.
"That's where we came from - that hodgepodge of taking something unused and re-using it," she said. "But we were never hacks. We're true creative artists who love what we do."
After enjoying moderate success through the early-to mid 1980s with albums such as 1982's "Mesopotamia" (produced by the Talking Heads' David Byrne) and the next year's "Whammy," the B-52s hit commercial paydirt with 1989's "Cosmic Thing," which yielded "Love Shack" and "Roam."
"That was totally unexpected," Wilson said. "We had really written that album as a healing thing (from the death of Ricky Wilson). We had no idea it would become such a hit on major radio all over the world. So out of the darkness came some of our happiest songs."
In 1990, Wilson retired from active duty, leaving the remainder of the group to soldier on for 1992's "Good Stuff." A year later, dubbed the BC-52s, the group performed the theme song for Steven Spielberg's live-action feature film "The Flintstones."
Wilson returned to the group for a tour supporting the release of 1998's hits collection "Time Capsule." In 2008, the band returned with a new album titled "Funplex" - their first new album in 16 years.
"To me, it comes from the same creative place as our past albums," Wilson said." "But we had more technology with 'Funplex,' which enabled a lot of the songwriting to come quicker and smoother."
Wilson said she's looking forward to playing at the museum, adding she's "pretty sure we've been through Altoona before."
"We'll be doing our classics, from the first album on up," she said. "We're up there having a good time every night, just living for the moment. B-52s audiences are really interesting - it's a multi-generational and very diverse audience, and that makes for a really great energy. Everyone has a good time."
Her advice to would-be comers?
"Be there or be square," she said. "And don't forget your dancing shoes."
As testament to the broad-based appeal of the group, Rep. Rick Geist, R-Altoona, chimed in with his own view of what he called "legends of rock and roll."
"They're liked by all ages - they're not just a cult band," he said. "I just hope I'm home for this one."
His favorite B-52s songs?
"I like all of them," he said. "I really enjoy the group's music. It's happy music. It's American music. You move your feet when you hear this stuff."
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.