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Lee Rocker Gets Pershing's Downtown Stage Concert Series Off and Rolling

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Monday, July 26, 2010, at 05:38PM
rockabilly Ed Fuentes

Stray Cat co-founder Lee Rocker (center) with Buzz Campbell (right) and Brophy Dale (left) and drummer Jimmy Sage performing at Pershing Square's summer concert series.

If Pershing Square's summer music series hoped to rock Downtown, it could hardly have found a better act for opening weekend than the man who powered an anthem on the shoulders of a stand-up bass.

By the time Lee Rocker and his merry band of rock-a-billies ended their Saturday night set with “Rock This Town”, the 1982 hit scored with former band The Stray Cats, those on the packed lawn at Pershing Square had made plenty of room up front for those who wanted to dance out the night with music about recovering from lost love or running from the law.

Rocker lifted, danced, stood on, and hand slapped his bass––taking on a solo career that is still not afraid to warm up a crowd with "Stray Cat Strut." With vintage-style microphones, Rocker and new band mates Buzz Campbell (guitar), Brophy Dale (slide guitar) and Jimmy Sage (drums) showed how Hank Williams and Elvis must have once ruled the roost with two guitars, a bass and drums.

Opening for Rocker was Flashback Heart Attack, the self-billed “ultimate New Wave 80s cover band” who wore full red leathers and wigs with retro hair. The running gag in between songs was the claim that the group are brilliant musicians who wrote hits for every major artist in the 80s, but fame eluded them since they had no understanding of copyright laws.

Despite their simulated bitterness, they covered the 80s and were asked for an encore. After an original song “Children” they ended the night dipping into 1976 with The Ramone’s "Blitzkrieg Bop.”

While Saturday night's Downtown Stage series is focused on the 80s, lineups on Wednesdays and Thursdays focus on new indie acts. The first of those nights began Wednesday with BETA Records' showcase of unsigned artists. Terra Naomi's intimate set gently opened the night, which picked up speed with alternative rock from Theory of Flight. Both artists gave the new Wednesday night partnership a strong introduction.

And partnerships are needed. The summer concert series, put together by recreational director Louise Capone, has grown in the last few years despite budgets being sliced.

While Lee Rocker may have been speaking for himself and his band mates, he also thumped out a decry for Pershing Square's concert movement. This ain’t no fluke, daddy-o; It’s the real McCoy.

Pershing Square - Downtown Stage / Next Saturday Night: The Tubes and Zolar X


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