It was about five years ago that Steve Johnson and Terry Cooper, two motorcycle riding friends realized they had another interest in common – music. Not just musical taste as you might imagine, these two didn’t realize the other was a practicing musician. It wasn’t long before they found a few more friends with similar interests and jam sessions ensued with the cherished rock and roll and country tunes of their youth. They called themselves The Rusty Rockers.
The group is comprised of Cooper on lead guitar, Lee Bickford on bass, Rick Church on drums, Jamie Scott with the keyboard and Johnson on vocals. All have been playing music since childhood – except for Johnson, who says it took a little longer for him to discover his inner voice. After retiring from a career in public service, Steve took up music with entry-level piano lessons. It was great, he says, but he wanted something he could take to more quickly. With encouragement from his wife Cathy and his music teacher he transitioned to vocals – and things caught fire. He found a vocalist mentor, did more extensive recording and hit the circuit giving performances to seniors at assisted living facilities – a perfect audience for the miod century crooner tunes Johnson loved to sing. Word of mouth brought in additional gigs at both public and private events, and Steve found himself a niche business as “The Singing Steve Johnson,” which he runs alongside his position as lead singer of the Rusty Rockers.
Billing themselves as the band that will take you back in time with their blend of country and rock and roll tunes, the Rockers can be found playing all over the region at fundraisers, weddings and parties, or just about any other event that promotes music. They are passionate about sharing their gifts and they’ve built a happy following of fans who look forward to songs spanning the 50s and 60s, from Elvis and Chuck Berry to Merle Haggard and Buck Owens.
Johnson sees that they’re also filling a niche with an ever-growing audience of boomers wanting to take that musical trip back in time, “With lyrics you can understand,” he adds. The group likes to casually refer to themselves as “just a bunch of old guys having fun,” but the testimonials of their fans make clear that here is a great deal of musical talent and a group that knows how to entertain. Indeed, the Rusty Rockers calendar looks busy into September, but they’re always looking for new opportunities, whatever the occasion may be. As Steve likes to joke, comparing his previous career in law enforcement with his new life as a singer, “I went from booking other people to trying to book myself.”
The Rusty Rockers website gives an extensive sampling of their music as you browse the site, and they offer a free demo CD as well for any prospective clients. You can also see the listings of 2015 concert dates.