BY MATT MUNOZ Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The roar of cheering baseball fans will be traded for the sounds of music when pop rockers the Little River Band and Stray Cats' bassist Lee Rocker perform a doubleheader at Sam Lynn Ball Park on Sunday.
Thomas Rockwell, president of Trout's Corp., organized the show and is styling it after "Day on the Green"-type outdoor festivals. The afternoon concert is part of an ongoing wish list of entertainment events he's been planning.
Little River Band and Lee Rocker
When: Gates open at noon, concert at 1 p.m. Sunday
Where: Sam Lynn Ball Park, 4009 Chester Ave.
Admission: $25 to $250, plus service charges.
Tickets and information: Emporium Western Store, 1031 19th St. 325-8476, and Trout's, 805 North Chester. 399-8600. Or online at brownpapertickets.com
"It's all about getting some of these artists when they're touring in the area," said Rockwell. "When you can make it happen in the community like this, there's no downside."
Rockwell said his choice to have the show outside the first weekend of November is based on a combination of weather research he conducted and securing an ideal location that will allow locals to kick off their shoes one last time before winter hits.
"I found that in the last 15 years, this weekend has always had great weather in the 70s or higher. Probably the last great weather weekend of the year."
When he's not booking live music at Trout's honkytonk, Rockwell has been busy promoting shows through his production company Rockwell Opry Productions. Already, country singers Pam Tillis, Mark Wills, Bryan White and the Doo-Wah Riders have appeared, both at Trout's honkytonk and at the Fox.
"These shows were just the beginning. Bakersfield will have more shows to look forward to like this as we progress into next year."
The Little River Band, an Australian group that found most of its success in the States in the mid-'70s, is no stranger to Bakersfield after selling out Fishlips bar twice.
Original Little River Band bassist and vocalist Wayne Williams, 62, said the group's lasting radio hits have always been the lifeblood of the group. Their baby boomer-rich discography of 15 studio albums includes hits like "Lonesome Loser," "Lady," "Cool Change," "The Night Owls" and "Reminiscing."
"People come usually for two or three songs they're intent on hearing, and then they get the other six or seven they don't realize were also part of the band's history or part of their radio listening back in the day. So, you definitely get people saying, 'Oh, I didn't know you guys did that song.'"
Still heard regularly on adult-contemporary radio or in commercial and films during flashback sequences, the group feels fortunate to resonate with younger fans as well.
"The mix of people at the live shows who reconnect with our songs is incredible. I think a lot of artists take it for granted and literally cast aside their past, because it's not the new thing or what they're doing now. That's not what people come to these shows for. We're not going to carve new ground or re-invent the wheel. Fans come with their memories intact. There are a couple of new twists to the hits, but what I like to call it is like an 'interactive scrap book.'"
Memories were a factor playing into why Rockwell booked the group for the show along with Stray Cats' bassist Lee Rocker, who also makes a return visit to Bakersfield to open the show.
"Little River Band to me is like having my 1968 GTO back, because that's the cassette somebody left in the back seat. Then you have Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats in the '80s. You hear that music that just starts triggering something."
Sunday's show will be held on a raised stage in the left-field grass area away from the bleachers. Open seating will be split into five sections, starting at general admission and going up to preferred seating from there. The top ticket price, $250, includes admission to the Little River Band's encore performance the following Tuesday at Trout's. Lawn chairs and blankets will be allowed in all sections. Once inside a number of food and beverage vendors will be on hand selling concessions. No outside food and beverages are allowed inside the park.
In addition, there will be a classic car show in the Sam Lynn parking lot and a pin-up girl contest onstage during the concert.
Williams said he's had an affinity for Bakersfield after the group's previous shows turned into wildly festive occasions. He expects even more dancing out in left field on Sunday.
"It never fails that, by the time the night is done, people are saying, 'What a great party. Thanks for keeping it alive, and bringing all those memories back.' That's the kind of day it is."
Following the concert, an after party will be held at Trout's in Oildale. Tickets for Tuesday's concert with the Little River Band at Trout's are available for $100. Tickets can be purchased separately at Trout's. Classic car owners and models interested in entering the pin-up contest can email Therockwellopry@yahoo.com or call 724-OPRY.