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Coronavirus

Pandemic a ‘cheap trick’ to local musicians who toured with iconic band

Pictured, back row, front left: Justin Bell, Chris Delvin, a lot of slide guitar and Dimitri Panoutsos; and front row, from left: Max Loebman, Joe Bordenaro and Kevin Decker.
Pictured, back row, front left: Justin Bell, Chris Delvin, a lot of slide guitar and Dimitri Panoutsos; and front row, from left: Max Loebman, Joe Bordenaro and Kevin Decker.

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A classic rock band with members from Lockport and Lemont had their CD release tour grounded as, one by one, venues canceled dates, due to the coronavirus.

Joe Bordenaro said his band Rookie “had an east coast run” the first two weeks in February, opening quite a few shows for Cheap Trick.

Bordenaro especially appreciated how well members of Cheap Trick treated Rookie.

"Every night, the would have one of us come onstage with them to sing 'Surrender' as their encore," Bordenaro said.

Rookie was already touring with a different band when venues started canceling shows.

"So we packed up and came back to Chicago," Bordenaro said.

So on March 13, Rookie held a livestreaming event on Instagram to celebrate the release of its self-titled debut recording original music. The record is available on CD and 12-inch LP.

That's just one of the ways the band is trying to keep fans engaged online, Bordenaro said.

"We're just trying to give people entertainment," he said. "Even though they are stuck in their homes.".

Classic and timeless

Although Rookie will perform cover music at events, "Rookie" the album features all original material of music with a 1970s sound, which shows the influence classic rock on their style, Bordenaro said.

That style has multiple influences: Rookie members listening to their parents’ rock albums, and members' love for classic rock stations, he said.

“I think that comes through our music a bit,” Bordenaro said.

They even collect vintage instruments. And some fans have compared Rookie's sound to the sound of the Allman Brothers Band, Bordenaro said.

Members of Rookie are also inspired by the music of John Prine who died April 7 of COVID-19 complications.

“His songwriting and his outlook on life and his musicianship is all something we call relate to and admire," Bordenaro said.

Fortunately, the pandemic hasn’t greatly affected sales of music and other merchandise, although the band has obviously lost potential sales from people who might have purchased at events, Bordenaro said.

“A lot of people are supporting us by buying our merchandise online,” Bordenaro said. “I do think everyone on the team is taking it as it is and not let it get anybody down and trying to promote it [the CD) as best we can.”

Although Rookie in its present form only has an 18-month history together, its musical roots are a bit longer than that.

Getting the band together

After Bordenaro, singer and rummer for Rookie, graduated from Lockport Township High School in 2015, he moved to Chicago and began jamming with his cousin Kevin Decker of Homewood, Rookie's bass player.

The two met another jamming duo – Dimitri Panoutsos of Chicago, now Rookie's lead guitarist, and Max Loebman or Grayslake, who now sings and play guitars for Rookie.

Sometimes the four played music together, which led them to form Rookie, Bordenaro said.

Members met Justin Bell of Lemont while playing at a house party; Bell was part of the band that opened the event.

The band liked his keyboard skills and invited him to play with Rookie when he had the time, Bordenaro said.

They met slide guitarist Chris Delvin through the recording studio – Bloodshot Records in Chicago.

“We thought he was just great and he fit the band,” Bordenaro said.

Although Rookie’s music appeals to adults in their age demographic, touring with Cheap Trick helped attract some older fans, too, Bordenaro said,

“Our music is timeless,” Bordenaro said. “Anyone can get something out of it.”

Bordenaro feels Rookie the band can be as timeless as its music.

I hope that at the end of our career, we have a stack of records that we can say that we made," Bordenaro said. And I hope we get to see this touring opportunity through. When we were all on the road playing a different city every night, we all just felt happy and fruitful.”

KNOW MORE

Goal: “To tour as much as possible and turn the band into something sustainable for my lifetime. That may sound like a big goal, but I think that can work out.”

Inspiration: “We just love the classic music, so I think we just bring connection to the snogs other people have connected to.”

Words of wisdom: “Don’t be scared of what other people think. Nobody really knows what they’re doing. Everybody is just going for it and giving their all. If you feel music is your thing, you hope for the best and don’t care about what anyone else.

To purchase music and merchandise, visit the band's website at rookietheband.com, as well as the website of its recording label: bloodshotrecords.com.

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