BEST BETS: The Fabulous Hubcaps still rocking at Harrington’s Gold Room

With 43 years under their belt, The Fabulous Hubcaps will perform two shows at Harrington Raceway and Casino’s Gold Room tonight. (Submitted photo)

Denny Cook can’t even imagine how many different songs he’s performed as a member of The Fabulous Hubcaps.

“It’s gotta be at least 1,000,” he said. “I know it’s a lot.”

He can be forgiven for not having an exact count. He’s been with the group from the very beginning — 43 years ago. He’s the last original member still in the band.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know where the time went. I have a lot of great memories. That’s for sure,” said the 68-year-old lead singer and bassist for the group that specializes in the music of the 1950s and ’60s.

The Fabulous Hubcaps play two shows tonight in The Gold Room of Harrington Raceway and Casino for the Live on Stage series.

An area music staple for decades, they have played all over the East Coast and in places as far away as Puerto Rico, California, Arizona and Michigan. They even played at the White House in 1995 for a press corps picnic.

For those who miss them tonight in Harrington, they will have another chance May 4, when the band opens Springfest in Ocean City, Maryland.

The Fabulous Hubcaps is the only band with which Mr. Cook has ever been involved, joining the group in 1974 when it was Harvey Hubcap and the Do Ron Ron. Dover resident Rocky Simon was one of its founding members, later retiring from the group in 2008.

“Sports and music were my two passions and I got into radio as a DJ spinning records. I thought that was the closest to rock ’n’ roll I would ever get,” Mr. Cook said.

“I got off the air and got into sales and didn’t do too well and I got laid off. I discovered this band at the College Park (Maryland) Student Union. There was an opening for a bass player. I had been playing the bass for about six months by then. I auditioned and got the job.”

A year later, he found himself singing lead for the group — a spot he hasn’t given up since.

For a while, Harvey Hubcap and the Do Ron Ron merged with The Moon Band to do a history of rock ’n’ roll show but the ’50s music went over so well, The Moon Band was ditched and the band then became The Southern Maryland Band featuring The Harvey Hubcap Show.

Realizing that name was a bit long to be put on a marquee, The Hubcaps were born.

“I personally got tired of being called Harvey and people kept describing us as ‘fabulous’ so we added ‘The Fabulous Hubcaps.’ But even to this day if anyone asks, I say I play in The Hubcaps.

Today, the band’s company is The Southern Maryland Band Productions, based out of Owings Mill, Maryland, which trades as The Fabulous Hubcaps.

“By the time the band was well established, my dream was for the band to become a business. We’re not weekend warriors. We practice every week. We each get a check bi-weekly. We are a business. This isn’t a game to us,” Mr. Cook said.

“I think that attitude has gone a long way to present a solitary and unified front where we have worked for each other and we’ve been one for all.”

The second-longest tenured performer in the band is 65-year-old drummer Barry Holober, who joined in 1982.

Members, who all hail from the Baltimore-Washington area, also include Tommy Dildy on keyboards and vocals; vocalist and keyboard player Lorraine Allen; guitarist and keyboard player Dean Andrews; guitarist and vocalist Michael Shipley; saxophone player and vocalist Jay Cleaver; and crew chief Bob Linkous, who also adds vocals and keyboards.

“If you took all of the experience in this band, it would add up to about 250 years,” said Mr. Cook, adding that if there is an opening in the group, it’s quickly filled by someone wanting to join because of The Hubcaps’ reputation.

“It’s a nice position to be in.”

Through the years, The Fabulous Hubcaps’ repertoire has grown but it’s still the “oldies” that keep people coming back.

“We tried to do some original stuff in the past but it wasn’t what the audience wanted to hear. They want to hear the good old rock ’n’ roll songs of the ’50s and ’60s. They want to hear the beach music and Motown,” Mr. Cook said.

“We do a few things beyond that. I do a Frank Sinatra bit and sing “New York, New York.” Lorraine will do Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You. But we try to stay with the nostalgia that the 50-, 60- and 70-year-olds want to hear.”

As any Fabulous Hubcap fan can tell you, the group doesn’t just sing the songs, there are costume changes and props galore. One minute Elvis hits the stage and the next minute you might see Willie Nelson.

“Someone who has never seen the show may not know what’s coming. They don’t know what’s going on,” said Mr. Cook with a laugh.

“When I get up there in front of the room, I can sense if we’re playing to a room full of fans or a fresh audience. It’s always fun to play to a fresh audience, especially in a theatrical audience and work hard to make sure they like you and they don’t walk out on you.”

For more than four decades, Mr. Cook has had many more fans stick around and he’s been happy to entertain them.

“We’ve had a lot of members come and go over the years, some have passed away and some have chosen to do something else. But this is where my passion is and I’m going to do it as long as I possibly can,” he said.

“I’ve never thought about doing anything else. This is what I want to do.”

Tonight’s shows at Harrington are at 6 and 8:30. Tickets for the 21-and-over concert are $14 and can be purchased by visiting harringtonraceway.com, stopping by the casino gift shop or calling 888-887-5687 ext. 5246.

11th Sour upon us

Also tonight, Fordham & Dominion Brewery in Dover will introduce the latest in a series of upgrades to their Fordham line. The 11th Sour is the first sour batch brewed by FoDo Brewing.

The ale is a kettle sour that uses lactobacillus, fermented on house ale yeast and then aged on Concord grapes.

“Some of our best work is done at the bitter end. This beer was no exception. A last-minute decision to add to our Fordham seasonal calendar and we nailed it,” said Ryan Telle, head of marketing and graphic design.

The beer release party, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the brewery off Horsepond Road will include the Nothing Better food truck, winner of last weekend’s Harvest Ridge Winery Food Truck Competition and music by Bodhi Woof.

Meatball-Con Saturday

On Saturday, Mispillion River Brewing in Milford will host its third annual Meatball-Con craft beer and meatball convention from noon to 4 p.m.

Last year, Meatball-Con garnered a crowd of over 300 meatball enthusiasts and raised over $600 for the Food Bank of Delaware. The brewery hopes to double that donation this year.

In addition to Crust & Craft, who will be returning to defend their “Number One Baller” title, 13 restaurants will compete in three categories: Traditional Balls, Balls to the Wall and Sweet Balls.

James Beard nominee Hari Cameron will be representing Grandpa Mac and returning for the third time. In previous years, Mr. Cameron has narrowly missed the overall title.

Additionally, Grain Craft Bar and Kitchen, who won the Balls to the Wall category last year with a venison meatball, will be entering a rattlesnake meatball this year.

Other competitors include The Starboard, Restaurant 55, Crooked Hammock, Argilla Brewing, Brick Works Brewing and Eats, Dewey Beer Company, Cantwell’s Tavern, Bethany Blues, Mr. Bar B Que and Dewey Beach Club.

In lieu of charging for tickets, the brewery is asking that attendees bring a can of food or cash donation for the Food Bank of Delaware.

“Beer and meatballs are my two biggest passions. The opportunity to bring them together in an event is my greatest joy in life,” said event organizer Lauren Bigelow.

The brewery is at 255 Mullet Run St. in Milford and meatballs are free to all.

Dover Days car show

It’s not too early to be thinking about Dover Days and definitely not too early to sign up for the car show on May 6.

The cost to participate is $10. Advance registration must be received by April 30 for Featured Club recognition. The show will also allow registrations on the day of the event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The first 50 participants to register will receive a commemorative dash plaque after payment is received. Funds raised from the show will go to the Dover Kiwanis Club, who have partnered with Kent County Tourism Corp. to organize and run the car show.

The car show is a participant judging event. The top 24 cars are awarded trophies by popular vote and Best in Show are awarded by popular vote of registered car owners. The public also selects a winner. Voting by the public will begin at 1 p.m. and end at 2:30. There is no show admission charge for the public to view the vehicles. The awards will be announced at 3:30 p.m. from the main stage the day of the event.

For more information and to preregister, visit www.DoverDaysFestival.com or contact John Doerfler at 734-4888.

Now showing

New this weekend in theaters is the animated “Smurfs: The Lost Village 3D” and a remake of the geriatric comedy “Going in Style.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are the acclaimed films “Hidden Figures” and “Lion” and the animated “Monster Trucks.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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