Northeast Times

Musical orbit

Sing­er Nick Cas­ciano and his col­leagues with The Rock­ets re­hearse for their up­com­ing re­union show. KEV­IN COOK / FOR THE TIMES

— The Rock­ets formed nearly three dec­ades ago and de­veloped a loy­al fol­low­ing in the re­gion. The years have brought changes. On Fri­day night, they’ll launch a loc­al re­union show.

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Nick Cas­ciano saw Billy Stott at Parx Casino a few years ago, and the con­ver­sa­tion soon turned to mu­sic.

Both men were ori­gin­al mem­bers of the Rock­ets, a ven­er­able band formed in 1984.

Today, Cas­ciano plays for the pop­u­lar Heart­beats while Stott man­ages the Rock­ets.

“We should have an ori­gin­al Rock­ets re­union,” Cas­ciano told Stott.

The re­union took place in Novem­ber 2010 at Whis­key Tango, and a good time was had by all. The crowd numbered more than 1,200.

“It was very suc­cess­ful. The place was mobbed. It was really cool. We took the clock back twenty-five years,” Cas­ciano said.

Still, there were Rock­ets fans who did not know of the re­union or couldn’t make the date.

So, the Rock­ets will hold an­oth­er re­union on Fri­day night at the Buck Hotel. Four gen­er­a­tions of band mem­bers will play on two stages, in the ban­quet room and the tav­ern area. In all, there should be about 30 per­formers.

“It should def­in­itely be fun,” Cas­ciano said.

The ori­gin­al Rock­ets fea­tured Stott, Cas­ciano, Chris Leg­ger­ie (all Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School gradu­ates), Bobby Mun­yon (North Cath­ol­ic) and Bob Hamilton (Car­din­al Dougherty). Hamilton, a bass play­er who grew up in Lawndale/Cres­centville, will come in from South Car­o­lina for the big gig.

The Rock­ets have al­ways played cov­er mu­sic. It was strictly oldies in the be­gin­ning be­fore adding in rock and pop.

The band ex­pan­ded to sev­en pieces to in­clude horns when the mu­sic of Chica­go and Earth, Wind & Fire be­came a big part of the Rock­ets’ act.

Cas­ciano, of Somer­ton, was the lead sing­er dur­ing his years with the Rock­ets. He left in 1990 to join the Heart­beats.

While he and the oth­ers have moved on, Stott has re­mained as the long­time man­ager.

“God bless him,” Cas­ciano said. “He’s been able to keep the band work­ing and suc­cess­ful. It’s been a house­hold name for a very long time, es­pe­cially in North­east Phil­adelphia. The Rock­ets are and al­ways will be a North­east Philly-based band.”

Tom “Tiny” Cal­lan was part of what is con­sidered the Rock­ets’ second gen­er­a­tion. He was lead sing­er from 1990 to 2001. Today, he’s a mem­ber of Mid­night Hour.

Cal­lan loves the idea of a re­union.

“I was honored and priv­ileged to be asked to do it,” he said.

The first re­union at­trac­ted long­time fans, their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren and oth­ers. The fan re­ac­tion was over­whelm­ing, Cal­lan re­calls.

“It was a hum­bling ex­per­i­ence. It was a great night all around,” he said.

Stott, whose Star­field En­ter­tain­ment man­ages a dozen bands, sees the Rock­ets as the Rolling Stones of cov­er bands, per­form­ing along the East Coast. It’s a guar­an­teed fun ex­per­i­ence, he said.

The band man­ager hopes the re­union brings back good memor­ies for per­formers and fans. It’ll also be an op­por­tun­ity to hear the cur­rent Rock­ets.

“They are really, really hot now,” Stott said.

To get ready for a re­turn to the stage, the Rock­ets have been re­hears­ing at Wyld Stu­di­os, on State Road in Holmes­burg.

Stott was on key­board and sax­o­phone dur­ing his play­ing days.

“The sax­o­phone is not like rid­ing a bike,” he said. “I hope our voices have stood the test of time.”

Look­ing back to the first re­union, Stott said it was neat to par­ti­cip­ate and ob­serve the crowd sing and dance along to the mu­sic. It took them back to an easi­er, care­free time of less re­spons­ib­il­ity.

“It was ex­cep­tion­al. The ones who came were people in their forties and fifties re­liv­ing their youth,” he said. “Memor­ies are im­port­ant to people.”

The Rock­ets, ac­cord­ing to Stott, played more than 300 per­form­ances a year from 1986-98. The ven­ues var­ied. Mem­bers would join fans on ski trips and at Dor­ney Park.

Some of the more mem­or­able spots in­cluded the Wait­ing Room, Roosevelt’s and Route 1 Caf&ea­cute; in the North­east; The Barn in Ben­s­alem; Kitty’s and Moore’s In­let in North Wild­wood; and La Costa in Sea Isle City.

Sundays, more than any oth­er day of the week, seemed to draw the most loy­al crowds.

“Those Sunday nights were le­gendary,” Stott said.

Stott said there will be mu­sic to sat­is­fy every­one’s tastes. He said people, es­pe­cially those who hate their jobs, go “in­sane” when they hear Bang the Drum All Day.

Fans might hear Build Me Up But­ter­cup in one room and Get­ting’ Jiggy With It in an­oth­er. They can listen to Bach­man-Turn­er Over­drive and the mu­sic of yes­teryear or Pit­bull and the sounds of today.

“People will hear everything from Frankie Valli to Katy Perry,” Stott said. ••

 

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Blast off!

 

The Rock­ets re­union will take place Fri­day at 8 p.m. at the Buck Hotel, at 1200 Buck Road in Feasterville.

Tick­ets cost $13.

For more in­form­a­tion, call the Buck Hotel at 215-396-2002, vis­it www.rock­ets­band.com/re­union or check out the Rock­ets Re­union 2012 page on Face­book.

 

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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