Lee Rocker Turns Pershing Square into One Cool Spot

Written by on August 5, 2010 in August 5, 2010, Live Reviews - Comments Off on Lee Rocker Turns Pershing Square into One Cool Spot

Renowned Stray Cat bassist headlines outdoor concert in downtown L.A.

Lee RockerAcclaimed for his years, nay, decades of mining the rockabilly mother-lode with his upright bass, Lee Rocker is a dyed-in-the-wool apostle of this homegrown American music, and he can’t stop, hasn’t stopped, won’t stop rocking this town, this nation, this planet with his vintage sound. Lee Rocker brought his touring band to downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, July 24th, for a free outdoor concert in historic Pershing Square, helping to kick off a series of summer concerts at the site. The performance marked the L.A. stop on the map for the former Stray Cat bassist and his band on his current tour, as he continues crossing the nation from coast to coast to bring the authentic Stray Cats hits to the people, along with vintage classics and gems from his personal catalog,.

The show was introduced promptly at 9 p.m. by DJ Julie Slater from “The Sound,” FM Radio100.3. Julie thanked the Department of Recreation and Parks and other sponsors and supporters, and then Lee Rocker took center stage with his big, black bass. Dressed in black like Lee, guitarists Buzz Campbell and Brophy Dale flanked the bassman on the open-air stage, with drummer Jimmy Sage keeping the beat in back. Lee opened with “Bulletproof,” the title track from his 2003 solo release, eliciting lively response from the well-filled square. The next offering was the Stray Cats’ signature song, “Stray Cat Strut,” played with earnest faithfulness to the original 1982 hit. Several well-known singles followed, including “Fishnet Stockings,” “Built For Speed” and “Runaway Boys,” during which Buzz and Brophy alternated lead and rhythm guitar duties. Then Brophy retired to the wings for a bit, leaving Lee leading a trio for a potent rendition of “Blast Off.” After that, Lee brought up his slimmer yellow bass as he soldiered into a tasty take on “That’s Alright Mama,” gaining big applause from the crowd. The Hank Williams chestnut, “Lonesome Tears,” ensued, with Brophy handling slide-guitar duties while Buzz played the banjo – an instrument that Lee said, with tongue firmly in cheek, was well-known to be played by hillbillies and half-wits. Lee then played acoustic guitar for the Everly Brothers classic, “Dream Dream.”

Lee RockerLee RockerLee RockerLee RockerLee Rocker

Many frisky dancers were pleased to prance when the band picked up the tempo for “Running from the Hounds,” which featured a fine lead by Brophy. And after a brisk rendition of “I’ll Cry Instead,” the gents glided through an innovative rendition of the slow-dance classic, “Sleepwalk.” Finally, Lee and his band brought out a couple more faithfully-delivered Stray Cats classics, “Bring It Back Again” and “Rumble in Brighton,” and all along, this wizard of the upright bass displayed the showmanship and no-holds-barred technique that has made him a legend ever since the Stray Cats started out. He spun the bass, he stood on it, he slapped it like a madman while getting the notes right every time, and he gave the crowd a memorable performance all the way through, along with his ace band. And so, to wind things up, Lee Rocker closed out this Pershing Square performance with that other big smash from 1982, the one that sums it up every time: “Rock This Town.”  Yep, he sure did, you bet!


Lee was preceded by a stylish quartet called Flashback Heart Attack. All dressed in red leather suits with black shirts and white ties, and cheap sunglasses, Flashback Heart Attack is a tribute band that pays homage to the sounds of the Eighties, and during their 8 p.m. set at Pershing Square, they did a good job doing it. Consisting of two guitarists, bass, and drums, the band relied on recorded keyboards to handle songs that included “The Heart of Rock-&-Roll,” “Safety Dance,” and “Let’s Go.” Before kicking into “I Love Rock-&-Roll,” the lead singer paraphrased Jon Bon Jovi by noting that “We’ve seen dozens of faces – and we rocked them all!” Interestingly, when the band closed the set with “Dancing with Myself,” there was sufficient applause to justify an encore – so Flashback Heart Attack played a current radio hit, “Kids” by MGMT, before bowing out with the Ramones classic, “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Wrapped in leather and memories, Flashback Heart Attack’s stroll down memory lane admirably sparked, for many, fond recollections of a time that is gone but not forgotten – and so the stage was set for Lee Rocker and his rockabilly-revival reminiscences.