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Friday, June 9, 2023

Rocky and the Rollers and Uncle Bob’s Rock Shop pull plug in sold-out show

Pull the plug on Rocky and the Rollers along with Uncle Bob’s Rock Shop and you never know what you might hear.

That was true Tuesday before a packed house in Savannah Center as two of the most popular groups in The Villages turned down the amps and turned up the heat in a rousing performance that featured everything from Dean Martin to Judas Priest.

There was help from guest singers Al Morse and Kathleen Kane. But the musical vibe on this night was a shotgun marriage between Oldies and Classic Rock, with a little metal, soul and pop tossed in for good measure.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’re going to have fun tonight,” Gerry “Rocky” Seader said early on. “I hope you will appreciate the musicianship and experience on this stage.

“We’re going to do what we want, in a way you never heard before. And if it’s bad, that’s OK, because tonight, being bad is being good.”

It didn’t take long to unplug the jams.

Gerry Rocky Seader on drums is joined by guitarists Mack Sanders far right bottom and David Sanders middle from Uncle Bobs Rock Shop
Gerry “Rocky” Seader on drums is joined by guitarists Mack Sanders, far right bottom, and David Sanders, middle, from Uncle Bob’s Rock Shop.

The two bands combined for a riveting version of “Hotel California,” that sounded like Steely Dan meets the Eagles.

There were more Eagles’ sounds as Rollers’ singer Steve Santo offered a soulful version of “Desperado.” Up next came a surprise. Rollers’ piano man and keyboard player Al Layton took a turn behind the mike.

“It’s not all Rocky tonight, everybody gets a song,” said Seader, the Leader of the Rollers Pack. Layton then ripped into a joint-jumping version of Paul Simon’s “Late in the Evening.”

Kathleen Kane offers a swinging version of the Dean Martin song Sway
Kathleen Kane offers a swinging version of the Dean Martin song “Sway.”

Kathleen Kane took the stage wearing a green-velvet dress and knee-high black boots, accented by her flowing blonde hair. She gave the night a cool-jazz flavor, while sashaying around the stage singing an old Dean Martin number, “Sway.”

Then it was Judas Priest time, with “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming.” Uncle’s Bob’s boys, led by David Sanders – with help from Mack Sanders — gave the Heavy Metal track an unplugged twist. There was no need for head banging on this soothing stripped down classic.

“I told you that you’re going to hear something different tonight,” Rocky chimed in after the song. “And you heard Judas Priest.”

Steve Reel of Uncle Bobs Rock Shop sings Solsbury Hill as Al Layton plays keyboards in the background
Steve Reel of Uncle Bob’s Rock Shop sings “Solsbury Hill” as Al Layton plays keyboards in the background.

Uncle Bob’s Rock Shop’s Steve Reel showed his vocal skill with a thumping version of Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.” David Sanders then paid homage to the Dave Clark 5 with a tender version of “Because.”

There were some emotional moments with Kane singing Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” and Santo doing Lionel Richie’s “Lady.” Rocky harked back to the ‘60s, singing the Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.”

Al Morse — who had been with the Rollers on a regular basis until a continuing battle with cancer – just about stole the show.

Al Morse flashes his smile and has some fun with Rocky and the Rollers on the song Tijuana Taxi Tuesday in Savannah Center
Al Morse flashes his smile and has some fun with Rocky and the Rollers on the song “Tijuana Taxi.”

Morse played one of his favorite parts with the Rollers as a taxi driver for the song “Tijuana Taxi.” The horn section, featuring Steve Falkner, Rick Abbott and Doug Spoonamore – romped through the Herb Alpert instrumental. Morse, dressed in shades and a colorful serape draped over his shoulders with an oversized hat came in disguise. But once he stepped to the microphone, he received a loud and long ovation as he flashed his trademark smile.

“I grew up in Central Florida, and my idol was Otis Redding,” Morse said. He then displayed his soulful, heartfelt vocal power with a goose-bump raising version of “The Dock of the Bay.”

Morse wasn’t finished paying tribute to his man Otis. He got down with his nitty-gritty R&B style on a stirring version of Otis’ “The Happy Song.”

After the songs ended, Seader came to the front of the stage with an emotional embrace for Morse. It was a moment of unity and love – and the power of music was on full display — as it was all night long.

Tony Violanti covers arts and music for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into the Buffalo NY Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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