Rocky and the Rollers got de-greased just in time for Christmas.
It all happened Wednesday night at Savannah Center during a “Rocky and the Rollers Unplugged” performance.
Watch video of their performance here:
Gerry “Rocky” Seader and his band of greasers usually rock the oldies in loud and proud fashion. But for this show, the guys turned down the amps and turned up the energy and musical versatility.
The band has been playing in The Villages for 19 years and it’s easy to take Rocky and the Rollers for granted. But when they go unplugged, it reveals the depth and talent of these musicians.
Like when Steve Falkner on trumpet combined with singer/guitarist Bruce Wallace on a riveting version of Chuck Mangione’s “Feel So Good.” It had a jazzy sound and feel that the Rollers rarely get to display during an oldies show.
“Tonight we’re playing the songs we like,” Seader said. “We’re not plugging in our amplifiers, and we’re going to play all kinds of music.”
Wallace did that on the opening number, covering Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” Next, the fellas had some fun by mashing up a couple of CCR songs: “Down On the Corner” which turned into a rollicking version of “Proud Mary,” with Rocky on the vocals.
Then came a revelatory moment. Mr. Bass Man – Jimmy Miller – took a shot at a Van Halen tune. Before you could say David Lee Roth, there was Miller rocking out like the ghost of 1978, with a bluesy version of “Ice Cream Man.”
Miller and Rocky then combined for a unique version of Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” Seader played percussion using a couple of spatulas and a cardboard box. Miller, meanwhile, toted out his own creation – a wash basin bass, and rocked along with Rocky.
Seader then walked on the wild side with jumping version of Louis Prima’s “Just A Gigolo.” Miller came back with another hot Prima classic, “Jump, Jive and Wail.”
And what would any Rocky and Rollers show be without Al Morse. The dynamic singer was oozing with holiday soul as he covered the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around.”
Then Morse decided to flip the country hit, “Ode to Billie Joe” upside down. Morse gave the number a Wilson Pickett shot of soul and brought the house down.
“This is the first time I sang that song on stage, and I’m glad you liked it,” Morse said.
Al Layton played piano with a solo from Charlie Brown’s “Christmas Is Coming” and somehow managed to morph that number into Billy Joel’s “It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me.”
“I bet you guys never saw Charlie Brown turn into Billy Joel before,” Rocky said.
The guys added some punch to the holidays. Rick Abbott performed an original Christmas song he wrote, and Bruce Nardi on sax, added power to the other numbers.
Morse captured the spirit of the season, with a gorgeous version of Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.”
All the Rollers gathered in front of the stage to close out the show in style, singing “Jingle Bells.”
“These guys are great,” said Villager Bill Connor, who attended the concert with his wife, Yvonne.
“I’ve seen them many times in The Villages, but I never get tired of them.”
Yvonne Connor said the Rollers have a way of making memories come alive. “I grew up in the ‘50s,” she said. “My favorite song was ‘Rock Around the Clock.’ When I see Rocky and the band, it takes me back.”