Since he began his post-Stray Cats career, Lee Rocker has been turning out solid albums that have continued to demonstrate his prowess with the double bass and his skills as a singer. In 2014, he was inducted into the Bass Player Hall of Fame; he has also been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, and was given the Visionary Artist Award by the City of Laguna Beach. Beyond that, Rocker performed in the Broadway show Million Dollar Quartet — an experience which influenced the structure of his recent show at Laguna Playhouse.
This weekend, in El Dorado Park, the New Blues Festival will return to Long Beach for a weekend of blues and rock performances. Lee Rocker is headlining the Sunday line-up, and in advance of that, he spoke with the Weekly about some of his experiences in the world of Rockabilly and about his upcoming performance at New Blues Festival III.
OC Weekly (Scott Feinblatt): How have your Laguna Playhouse shows been going?
Lee Rocker: The Laguna Playhouse dates have been awesome! It's a new type of concert that incorporates film, photos, and of course the music — cherry picked from my 35 plus years on the road and in the business. Also I'm sharing the stories behind the songs and really how the Stray Cats began along with tales of touring and recording with a lot of people I've worked with, from Keith Richards to Carl Perkins to George Harrison and so many others. I'm just back from Nashville where we also did this show and hoping to hit Orange County again with it soon.
Are we going to see any of the theatricality of those shows during your performance at New Blues Festival III?
I'm actually going to make some changes and do something special for the blues fest! it's such a different thing being outdoors and part of a day long music event
How does Southern California fare in terms of Rockabilly fans compared to those of New York or other places?
I’m so glad I have awesome supporters and fans in LA and OC. Some of them are new and others been with me for years. Real music rules here!
You are one of the biggest revivalists and ongoing champions of Rockabilly music. What is it about Rockabilly that speaks to you?
I don't think of myself as a revivalist, but I surely love everything about it, from the rumble of the upright bass to the twang of the guitar and the echo of the vocals, it just gets me.
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There are several subgenres of Rockabilly that maintain a pretty large following, especially Psychobilly. What is your attitude toward these spin-off movements?
Well........I think musicians certainly should be creative and go in different directions and styles. To simply recreate what has been done without putting something new or different is not really exciting, so I'm fine with all ways of bending and changing all styles and genres. With that said, I don't think it's great to keep making up sub-groupings of rockabilly or anything, it's all rock and roll.
Do you have anything you’d like to say about the upcoming New Blues Festival or any other thoughts to share with our readers about your experiences?
I love what I do, and I'm looking forward to the Long Beach New Blues Festival. There's something great about playing outdoors in California! Can't beat it! Come on down; it will be a blast, and check leerocker.com for concerts as well as “thestraycatleerocker” on Facebook.