Rockola to revive classics at Twilight Concert Series

Band plays tunes by Beatles, Cream

By Justin Kielbasa

Bob Tedde, Mark DeCerbo, Doug Booth and Bobby Sale make up the local classic rock revival band, Rockola, which is known best for its Beatles covers. Formed during the late 1980s with drummer Bobby Sale joining four years ago, Rockola (named after the Rock-ola jukeboxes prominent during the 1950s and 1960s) aims to revive the music of bands such as The Beatles, Cream, The Rolling Stones and many more. They will be performing at the Twilight Concert Series at 7 p.m. July 21 at Powerhouse Park in Del Mar.

How do you decide which songs to cover?
We fight hard to keep a solid identity as a classic rock revival band, although each Rockola performance calls for something different. For example, our acoustic shows utilize vocal harmonies while club/corporate shows revolve around material that will get people up dancing. Our summer concert series shows are family affairs with 1950s and 1960s material that will reach 3- to 101-year-olds. (Yes, we have a 101-year-old fan.)

What was the most exciting time for your band? On the flip side, was there a low point?
Without a doubt having the likes of Jack Bruce from Cream, Alan Parsons, actor Cary Elwes, and comedian Jon Lovitz joining us on stage are memorable moments. The low points would have to be in the first few years when we had to work hard to be taken seriously. Trying to break into the San Diego club scene was very difficult.

Has there ever been any disagreement within the group as to whether or not Rockola should cover classic rock versus writing its own music?
It’s a subject we’ve talked about on many occasions. Guitarist/vocalist Mark DeCerbo is a prolific songwriter with albums in stores worldwide. We have on several occasions backed him under the moniker “The Mark DeCerbo Band.” For the most part, however, we haven’t yet figured out how to develop an original musical identity that wouldn’t conflict with our original mission statement. That having been said, in some weird way, I think an original Rockola album will eventually happen.

What are some of your favorite bands and genres to listen to?
The Beatles, Creedence, The Stones, The Rascals, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, The Zombies, Sly & the Family Stone…that’s a pretty good sample of the sub-set of personal interests that bring the four of us together.

Do you have any specific bands that you particularly enjoy covering?
Beatles for the feeling of accomplishment, Rolling Stones for the sheer fun, and Crosby, Stills and Nash for the vocals. In general, however, our job is to cover specific recordings and under that definition, it is as much or more fun to figure out the magic of an over-exposed staple like “Satisfaction” or “Mony, Mony” as it is something as sublime as “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.”

When you were children, did you dream of becoming musicians?
Speaking for myself (Bob Tedde), I dreamt about it for about six months when I was 7. That’s when I started playing guitar. After that I immediately began playing gigs. Truthfully, I haven’t gotten that much better since then. You’re kind of born a musician.

If Rockola had a mascot, what would it be?
Funny you should ask. It’s been suggested recently that Rockola adopt a mascot. Here’s the concept: a guy in a big costume in the shape of a 1960s Rock-ola jukebox. We’d call him “Jukey.”

When you’re not playing music, what do you do as a group?
Our social life pretty much revolves around our music. We rehearse together, travel together, wait for backline gear to be set up, etc. Unlike many full-time working bands, however, we do seem to hang together as a group when we’re out of town taking in local sites, snorkeling, clubbing, occasionally riding mopeds over expensive cars, but that’s a story for another day …

Does Rockola have any big plans for the future?
Our big plans currently involve making our work with young musicians a much bigger part of our career. Along with the Magical Symphony Youth Orchestra, we are currently seeking to form a nonprofit organization whose mission statement includes working with kids of all ages and skill levels. Concerning travel, we would love to go back to Grand Cayman. We had great fun playing in New York City, and would love to do that again. Surprisingly, we have yet to play in Europe, which we hope to do sometime in the next three years.

Twilight Concert Series
- 7 p.m. July 21: Rockola
- 7 p.m. Aug. 18: Savor
- 5 p.m. Sept. 13: Ruby & the Red Hots
- All concerts are free and performed at Powerhouse Park. For more information, visit

Related posts:

  1. Concert a crowd pleaser
  2. Concert a cause for commotion
  3. Green Flash Summer Concert Series returns in May
  4. ‘Keep On’ concert raises funds for children with cancer
  5. Moonlighting rock stars enjoy regional success

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