by Rick Grant
Last Wednesday night at European Street on Beach Blvd, the Rocco Marshall benefit turned out to be a hip happening of the highest order. The shindig was produced by Jim Brown to help Rocco pay his medical bills for his recent hospitalization due to complications of diabetes. It was like a family reunion of musicians who hadn’t seen one another in many years. I never had so many bro-hugs in my life.
What happened to Rocco started when he went out on the pavement during a viciously hot summer day in August without his flip-flops, burning his feet. He administered his own first aide with some over-the-counter burn ointment.
However, due to his diabetes, his right foot became infected rapidly, and he had to be rushed to the hospital. The surgeons tried to save his foot, but the infection was creeping up his leg. So, to save his life, the surgeon amputated his right foot. That was 71/2 weeks ago.
Just prior to Rocco’s hospitalization, he was laid-off from being a Bail Recovery Agent (Bounty Hunter)–a day job Rocco had for many years. Consequently, he lost his insurance.
Now, Rocco is having a prosthetic installed on the stump so he can walk. This piece of space age engineering is very expensive. Add that to his mounting other medical bills, and Rocco is looking into a black hole of debt.
Enter Jim Brown to organize three events to raise money for Rocco. The kickoff event at European St. was a smashing success with standing room only for the artists who performed, who included Jacksonville’s answer to Hot Tuna, Mike Shackleford and Steve Shanholtzer, The duo Storytellers, Jamie Defrates, and Susan Brown, and The Larry Mangum Trio.
Unequivocally, the duo of Shackleford and Shanholtzer is a class act. Mike’s gritty blues voice combined with Steve’s guitar wizardry got the crowd excited. Mike also plays harmonica to spice up the duo’s blues sound. Incredibly, Mike still looks ageless. What’s his secret?
The Storytellers is a hip duo that plays covers. With just a singer and guitarist, they sing the hits with style and great vocal harmonies. Solo and duo acts are in vogue because of the Great Recession has lowered the pay-scale for live bands.
My longtime friend, Jamie Defrates and his significant other, Susan Brown are one of the Southeast’s hottest folk duos. The couple’s boundless love for each other extends to their songwriting and performances. There was a moment during Jamie and Susan’s set when I could feel their joyous energy flowing through the room. It’s the power of love! It’s all that matters!
Playing out the evening was The Larry Mangum Trio. Larry’s poignant and funny songs were the perfect repertoire for ending this memorable event in local musical history. Larry’s song “Old as Dirt” is hilarious and most people in the audience could relate to it.
The event at the Pit has already happened. The next Roccopalooza events are at Yesterdays on the Westside on Jan. 28th featuring A1A, Al Stone, and Dillinger. Jan. 29th there will be a jam at Yesterdays from 4-7 pm featuring J. Collins, Mojo-rue, the great Yankee Slickers, and Artimus Pyle committed to the event, and some other surprise music titans might show up. Rocco said he will have his prosthetic installed and will be jamming with each group.