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It's A Long Way To The Top If Ya Wanna Rock and Roll


On Saturday, January 23, 2016 my little man took his first steps in his quest to attain rock and roll stardom by playing his first official gig. Well, it wasn't an actual "gig" but he played a 12 song set in the lobby/hall of the Firehall Theatre in Niagara Falls and it may have been my proudest moment as a far!

10 days prior to this, I received a Facebook message from a local singer/songwriter, Cory Cruise, asking if Evan would play in the reception area at his CD Release Party. Of course, I was thrilled, but I wasn't sure if Evan would want to do a 50 minute set...that's a lot of songs to learn...and learn well! I was wrong. He was over-the-moon and up for the challenge. He picked his songs, including a few new ones, I printed the chords off and mounted them individually on bristol board and then left it up to my little rock and roller to practice, practice and practice. And practice he did!

I was bit nervous for him leading up to the show because we had spent a lot of time on our outdoor rink that week after dinner leaving only pockets of time in the mornings before school and a bit of time after school to practice. But thankfully he did just that....he budgeted his time wisely and worked on 12 songs. some for the first time (David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" being one of them). So, on Friday night before his bedtime he rehearsed all of his songs for Anna and I. He did very well, but I noticed a few things and offered him a few tips for his strumming and his vocals. Being a hard-headed-Calabrese like his Dad, and being a bit tired, he wasn't to keen on the tips that I was offering him and was determined to do it his way. So, I remained a bit nervous, that is, until Saturday morning when he rehearsed his set list again from top to bottom and this time implemented Dad's tips!!! He killed it and my wife and I sat there grinning proudly, admittingly a bit surprised at the vast difference from the night before!

Saturday was a busy day. After he rehearsed we went out on the rink for an hour and got a nice warm up for his game. After that, the perfectionist came in and practiced his set list again. He finally took a half hour break to watch TV and then we headed to the Gale Centre for our hockey game. I figured he'd be a bit distracted by his music and have a bad game between the pipes, but Boss-Time played awesome and helped us win 5-1. After the game we had to hustle out of the dressing room, head home for Ev to shower and get into his rock and roll ensemble and then head straight to set up for the gig. Whew....a whirlwind but we did it. We were set up with 10 minutes to spare!

It was 5:50 pm and he was set up nicely in the corner of this small reception area outside of the theatre. There was a bar, tables and chairs, a merch area and a food table. People started to come in and you could see he was getting more and more nervous. He stepped to the mic to practice and his voice was quite and he looked very timid. Then the clock struck 6 pm. Showtime! Time to poop or get off the pot, as they say! Ev stepped to the mic and started to strum and started singing "Well, I won't back down...." and the rest, as they say, is history. (That's the 2nd time I referred to "they"...not really sure who "they" are...but they obviously have a lot to say).

By the time he got to his dedication to Glenn Frey (Take It Easy) he was finding his groove and his voice got louder and his strumming got fuller and he became more animated. I just sat there in awe. Not because we felt that we had found the next Springsteen or that he was some child protégé...but because this 11 year old kid was standing there in a very noisy room with 100 people talking, drinking and getting ready for the actual show, and he was just having fun and kicking ass too! The more people that stopped to watch, the more he gave back to the crowd and it was truly one of the proudest moments of my time as a Dad. Everything I wanted to be....he was doing at 11 years old!!! 

After the show, we spoke to quite a few people who not only thought he did an awesome job but they loved his song choices. He dedicated "Ziggy Stardust" to David Bowie, he covered 3 Springsteen songs, Tom Petty, a classic song "Fine, Fine Day" from Tony Carey (from Rainbow), U2, 2 of his best played songs by Green Day, One Guitar by Willie Nile, Blue Rodeo and the great Warren Zevon. Fine choices for someone who wasn't born when those songs were penned and only 3 months old when Green Day's American Idiot came out! He picked these songs himself. Evan will hear a song either on TV or if I'm playing something and he immediately will say I like that song...and head over to the computer to find the chords and learn it! He's an old soul with great taste in music!

Most people know Evan is my world but I never would have imagined how much of my world he would embrace and become a part of. Music for the Rotella family is the Tie That Binds. My father influenced me and my music...still does...and it's very apparent that I influenced Ev. He's done so many things that have made me proud, but his performance Saturday night was the proudest moment thus far. Joe D'Urso once wrote "Dylan is the muse, he's always the muse"....well, move over Mr. Zimmerman...there's a new muse in town! 

I can't thank Cory Cruise enough for giving Evan this amazing opportunity. It was truly an amazing night - one we'll never forget. I've seen Springsteen 70+ times, Dylan, The Eagles, Petty and many, many more but Saturday topped them all.

They say that some people go a lifetime without meeting their musical heroes, well, my wife gave birth to mine!

I'm sure it is a long way to the top if ya want to rock and roll...I'm just looking forward to more of these nights along the way :) 

Until next time...enjoy every sandwich,


Posted by: DANIMA Dave


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