The Rocket Revue links Peterborough’s music scene to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The ensemble rhythm and blues band performs at The Market Hall on December 29

The Rocket Revue is Peterborough's 'swinginest and rockinest' rhythm and blues band
The Rocket Revue is Peterborough's 'swinginest and rockinest' rhythm and blues band

The smoky vocals of Brent Bailey and Al Black serenade me this morning; the bluesy sound of Greg Weichel’s trumpet fills the air. Sultry sax, smooth percussion, and classic Motown — it doesn’t get any better than this.

I’m listening to The Rocket Revue, Peterborough’s “swinginest and rockinest” rhythm and blues band.

Previously known as The Rocket 88s, the band changed their name to better reflect how they present their music. The compilation of the band is ever-changing, but you can always count on some of Peterborough’s legendary musicians to grace the stage when this band gets together.

The Rocket Revue was formed in Peterborough in 1999 by trumpeter Greg Weichel.

The band features Peterborough’s adopted sons, Sam and Ryan Weber, and our own local legend, Bobby Watson. The heart of the band is the five-piece rhythm section consisting of Al Black on drums, Andy Pryde on bass, Brent Bailey on keyboards, and Buzz Thompson and Gary Peeples on guitar — and all of them mastering harmonies on vocals.

It is the sheer power of the horn section, however, that drives and defines the unique sound of The Rocket Revue. In fact, the entire band’s repertoire is built around the sound of the horns. The horn section consists of Jim Usher on tenor sax, Rob Roy on trombone, Steve McCracken on baritone and alto sax, and band leader Greg Weichel on trumpet.

The band’s musical cache is extensive, covering over 88 years of jazz, blues, rock, soul, and R&B. And most of these exceptional musicians have rubbed shoulders and played with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “A” list of who’s who, including The Allman Brothers (inducted in 1995), The Band (inducted in 1995), Johnnie Johnson (inducted in 2001), Jerry Lee Lewis (inducted in 1986), Carl Perkins (inducted in 1987), and Muddy Waters (inducted in 1987).

Members of the band meet in Al Black's kitchen to work out the set list for the Market Hall gig
Members of the band meet in Al Black's kitchen to work out the set list for the Market Hall gig
Many band members have played with Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, including Al Black, Brent Bailey, the Weber brothers, and Buzz Thomspson (who played guitar and harmonica and performed backup vocals with Ronnie for 15 years). Brent Bailey plays with the Partland Brothers and has played with members of The Band (when they re-formed), Levon Helm, and Garth Hudson. Jim Usher has shared his soulful sounds with Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Berry’s piano player.

Pat Rush has played with Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Jeff Healey, The Allman Brothers, James Cotton and Billy Preston (the fifth Beatle). Steve McCracken has played with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Colin James, and Downchild Blues Band.

Buzz Thompson, affectionately referred to as “Mr. Soul” and a well-respected figure in Peterborough’s music scene, was a founding member of The Hangmen in the 60s. Buzz has spent his career making music with some of the greatest legends in music: members of The Band, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Kris Kristofferson, and Jeff Healey.

If you like the classic sound of Motown, if you’re a fan of 60s’ funk and soul, if you like swing and jump blues, if you like classic rock, or if you like horn sound of BST and Chicago, then you’ll love The Rocket Revue. You don’t want to miss the rare opportunity to experience this group of inspiring musicians on the same stage at the newly renovated Market Hall. Check them out on Saturday, December 29 2012, at 8 pm. There’ll be both cabaret-style and regular seating as well as a huge dance floor. This will be an all-ages, licensed event.

To warm you up for the party, here’s a little taste of The Rocket Revue, with Buzz Thompson performing his original soulful composition “Find Out For Yourself” at The Market Hall in December 2011:

All photos by pconnor photography