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Johnny and the Rock-its! at Schooner Estates

Out and About

By Rachel Morin

AUBURN – Johnny and the Rock-its! played to a huge crowd in the Village Green at Schooner Estates Senior Living Community in Auburn in mid-July.

Many in the audience knew the Band from previous performances, and many knew the leader, not as Johnny, the fast-playing guitarist and singer, but as Schooner’s own Director of Operations.

 John was garbed in a black outfit with red accents and wore a black hat to complete his Rock-its! persona.

Well, I was taken aback!

John was good, and, truth be told, he was REALLY good! John (or is it Johnny?) played that guitar like a pro and his singing voice was great.

Carl Perry on drums, Marcel Gagne on bass guitar and vocals, and John Rice on guitar and vocals play non-stop for Schooner tenants who are ardent fans of the Rock-its! (Rachel Morin photo)

I settled back in my chair and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon listening to the Rock-its! as they played one popular song after another to the delight of the audience who kept time to the music, tapping their feet and swaying in their seats.

Several women couldn’t sit still and gave their own dance interpretation “on stage” for the audience. The Rock-its! also had lots of vocals along with their rollicking music. All of this brought rounds of applause from a delighted audience.

The trio continued playing one rousing selection after another without stopping and kept our feet tapping to the music. John Rice on guitar and vocals, Marcel Gagne on bass guitar and vocals, with Carl Perry on drums. The afternoon passed too quickly and soon it was time to depart with requests for them to return soon.

The next day at breaktime, John Rice came by our table where I sat with Beverley Heath and Georgette Morin enjoying our slices of blueberry cake. He thanked us for coming to see Johnny and the Rock-its!

And I couldn’t help but say, “John, I saw a different side of you yesterday” and a little awe had crept into my voice. He laughed and said “I will tell you how I and the Rock-its! came to be one day.”

Johnny and the Rock-its! warm up before the audience arrives. Marcel Gagne on bass guitar and vocals, Carl Perry on drums, and John Rice on guitar and vocals. (Rachel Morin photo)

Little did John and I know the opportunity would come the very next day, quite by happenstance! We found an hour where we sat down and John told me the interesting and inspiring story of how the band came to be. And here is John’s story, word for word, within quotes and separated in paragraphs for easier reading.

“The band formed a little over three years ago when Marcel and I started talking about music at an LA Metro Chamber event. Marcel learned that I had just bought my dream guitar and knew that I performed periodically for the tenants at Schooner.”

“Being a music enthusiast and a musician who had performed for many years, Marcel suggested that maybe we could try getting together and he could join me in entertaining the Schooner tenants. I immediately took him up on it and we set a rehearsal date.”

“Marcel and I started playing and we really clicked together. By the end of the night I was pretty excited and thought ‘how great it would be if I could get my friend Carl to join us on drums’.

“Carl and I had played together in the past and I knew his playing and personality was just what we needed. By the next week we three were officially a group.”

Rock-its! fans enjoy a recent show at Schooner Estates in Auburn. (Rachel Morin photo)

“We love to get together to rehearse and play shows. We do it because we enjoy the comradery music creates with fellow musicians and as a way to make a difference in our elders’ lives by sharing our joy.”

“We don’t accept money for our shows but we get paid with smiles! Last summer we toured several senior living homes. We really felt like we were on a mission. Everyone was in a lock-down status and they needed something fun to do. Every show was outside. People were spread out across courtyards and parking lots. It’s a summer we will not forget!”

Marcel Gagne gives his all in “Heartbreak Hotel”. (Rachel Morin photo)

John ended his story with “This year we have already booked several shows in our “Rock-its! Senior Smiles Tour 2021” and we look forward to earning a lot more smiles!”

I came away from John’s story of the Rock-its! beginning, with a new respect for John and his band comrades and their mission of caring for the seniors in their lives.

Music and Smiles are universal languages!

One Response to “Johnny and the Rock-its! at Schooner Estates”

  • Don comeaux:

    When I get to the point in my life where I need assisted living/nursing home care I want Johnny and The Rock-ets to be in my corner. Thank you for all you do to make life better for our elderly.

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