rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 06/15/2006
Johnny and the Boomers Carry on a Tradition
by Lisa Palmeno

Johnny & the Boomers brought high-energy, old-fashioned rock n' roll to Big Cities Lounge on Saturday, May 27. Led by 27-year-old Johnny Sherman, the Boomers managed to crank out upbeat, danceable party music and down home blues.


The five-piece band formed three years ago when Sherman asked his dad's friends to help him start a blues and rock band. Sherman was influenced at an early age by both his musician father, Bill Sherman, and his step dad Jimmy Doyle, who is now Johnny's drummer.


The "Boomers" are all baby boomers, who all played in various combos together since the 1970s. Johnny used to hang out while the guys were playing and learned from the Boomers throughout his childhood.


Bassist/vocalist Terry Racine is originally from Sycamore, IL, but moved to Genoa, IL, where the others all met. Choir trained, the bassist has been in a number of bar bands, both rock and metal, on rhythm guitar, mandolin and lead and backup vocals. Racine writes many original for different projects and comments, " I've wanted to play bass in a band for a long time. Everyone wanted me to be a front man. It's nice to play bass in a band and sing backups." Racine's choir training paid off: His singing voice is clear and articulate, and he has developed his own unique vocal style.


Ted Lawrence has been playing harmonica in the area since 1976, starting out with respectable blues influences such as Butterfield and Magic Dick and moving on to Junior Wells, Little Walter, Big Walter, and James Cotton. When he and Racine were playing out in 1977, they were playing folk and Dylan. Now, Lawrence uses dynamic blues, folk and classic country techniques in his repertoire, adding an interesting and valuable component to Johnny and the Boomers' musical character.


Johnny says he ended up being a front man, while he was playing in a rock band in Joliet, IL. I've known these guys  forever," he said. "This guy has been in band with my dad," he said, talking about rhythm and lead guitarist Ken Rodd.


Rodd has been playing rhythm and blues with The Shades, performing 60s soul music with Johnny's dad, Bill Sherman, who was one of their lead vocalists. Rodd got the job when Bill needed a sub. Bill told Johnny to call Rodd, who enjoys being in the group. "When I found out what material they were playing, I was delighted. I was born in Chicago and was always a fan of the blues," stated Rodd.


Doyle's musical career is probably the longest of anyone's in the group. He says he has been playing before The Beatles. The drummer has about 45 years' experience, a lifetime passion that began with playing spoons to Lawrence Welk at age six. "The beats have always been in me," Doyle explained.


The blues they played Saturday night was enriched with a little funkadelic from Johnny. His vocals were gruff and growling, an especially effective device on "Hoochie Coochie Man." Lawrence wailed in on harp, and Doyle added some great military drum rolls. The music has lots of drive and energy, and Lawrence's train imitation is well-developed.


They worked out strong versions of blues standards "Mojo Workin," and Ray Charles' timeless "I Got a Woman" and "Drown in My Own Tears." The bassists' choir voice shone through on Tom Petty's "Breakdown," and they added flavor to the evening by throwing in rock classic "Last Dance with Mary Jane" and J. Geils' Whammer Jammer." Rodd sang lead on "Shake, Rattle and Roll," which was heavily punctuated by Lawrence's harp.


Johnny and the Boomers have a great set list, experienced performers, and a young, enthusiastic band leader who is helping them carry on a tradition. I can't wait to see them at the festivals. The band will return to Big Cities Lounge on Sat., June 24. To book the band, contact Ted at 815-751-7167; Terry at 815-895-2371; or Johnny at 815-501-3038.

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