Ever-popular Rockola ready to rock Humphreys in duo gigs
by Bart Mendoza
Jun 27, 2012 | 2851 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The ever-popular Rockola is set to headline at Humphreys Backstage Lounge on June 29 and July 11.                                        Courtesy photo
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There are plenty of great cover bands in San Diego, but none approach the sound with such meticulous care as Rockola. Though known as one of the top combos of the annual summer festival circuit, the band is also one of the top draws on Southland stages. Few bands could headline a venue twice within two weeks, as Rockola does on June 29 and July 11 at Humphreys Backstage Lounge.

Led by guitarist and singer Bob Tedde, Rockola includes guitarist Mark DeCerbo, bassist Doug Booth and a rotating cast of drummers. The secret to the band’s success is its adaptability. Though its forte is 1960s and ’70s classic rock, the sheer breadth of what the band can cover is astounding. Whether it’s a set of note-perfect Beatles covers, dance-oriented material like “Mony Mony” or more ethereal tunes like David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” the quartet delivers a fun show that’s perfect for singing along or hitting the dance floor.

Tedde said the band rarely plans its music out ahead.

“We almost never work from a set list, so in a way, we adapt every set we play to each individual show we do,” he said.

Tedde said he considers outdoor shows to be more “bombastic” than club dates.

“The fun for us is that the external factors like weather, audience attitude, audience flow, etc., will more or less dictate which material gets called. We don’t have to adhere to any hard-and-fast agenda,” Tedde said. “So we can get as caught up in the magic as much as everyone else.”

He lists songs like “Twist and Shout” as perennial crowd pleasers.

“They are great songs that people are happy to hear and sing along to,” Tedde said. “That one has some nice audience participation in the buildup before the chorus. There is a reason why songs like that have stood the test of time. They’re fun, easy to dance to and have song hooks aplenty.”

DeCerbo agrees, but has his own reasons for citing Humphreys as one of his favorite places to play.

“It has so much going for it,” DeCerbo said. “Fair enough, there is good parking, but the sound system is also great and it’s hard to beat the view or location. Add in the wonderful food and it’s a perfect spot to take a date.”

While all that would be enough to make a night at the Backstage Lounge special, DeCerbo said the venue’s proximity to the larger concert stage across the courtyard has also been a major perk over the years.

“There is so much I like about the Backstage Lounge,” DeCerbo said. “In the decades we’ve played at this nightspot, we’ve built up a really good rapport with everyone who works there. But what I love the most is that every once in awhile, some of the headliners on the main stage make their way over to where we’re playing and join in.”

Among those who have joined Rockola onstage are Jack Bruce (Cream) and Alan Parsons, with DeCerbo singling out Creedence Clearwater Revival’s rhythm section of Stu Cook and Doug Clifford as the biggest thrill to date.

“The band and the crowd loved it when they joined us unannounced for a set of their classics,” DeCerbo said. “Playing a song like ‘Proud Mary’ with the guys who played on the original hit recording is a career high point and something that could really only happen at Humphreys.”

• Rockola performs at 9 p.m. on June 29 and July 11 at Humphreys Backstage Lounge, 2241 Shelter Island Drive. For more information, visit www.humphreysbackstagelive.com.

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