On Sept. 8, from the ground floor of The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), one could hear the sound of music floating down from The Loft. This was the inaugural performance for “Locals in the Loft,” a series that celebrates performers from the area at the SOPAC.Two local bands, Laredo and Rude Boy George, brought about 50 people together over their shared love of live music.
Rude Boy George’s set included influences from 80s music to ska or reggae with covers of songs like “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Sandie Shaw and “Talking in Your Sleep” by The Romantics.
Loredo drew from multiple genres, concluding their set with a country song.
In an exclusive interview with The Setonian, two members of Rude Boy George, lead singer Roger Apollon Jr. and bass player Marc Wasserman, expressed an early love of music. Both men grew up with music in their lives from the start.
“Besides family and friends, music is the biggest part of my life,” Wasserman said. “I have to listen to music every day.”
According to Apollon, his professional career in music started with a chance encounter.
“Music has been a very big part of my culture and I’ve always been listening to the radio,” Apollon said. “I only sang in the shower until someone in college overheard me and said ‘my friend is starting a band and you should sing for them.’ That was the moment the arts started to take up a big part of my life.”
Though both Rude Boy George and Laredo performed covers of songs that night, Wasserman explained that they are not just a cover band.
“We have to reinterpret the songs,” he said. “We have to put our own spin on it but keep the parts people know and love.”
Apollon added that it is important to them that they “pay homage” to these songs and have the original creators enjoy this new spin.
Gary Shippy, the drummer for Laredo, said his band sometimes plays originals, but for “Locals in the Loft” they would only perform covers. Shippy then talked about the origins of the band, which started out as “a jam session in [his] basement with local musicians who wanted to get together to play.” The people who consistently showed up to these “open jam sessions” became members of the band.
Though this event was Rude Boy George’s first performance at SOPAC, Laredo played at the venue once before for The President’s Ball. Shippy said “Locals in the Loft” is a “unique concept.”
“Since there are a lot of bands like Laredo and Rude Boy George there is a thriving music scene where people have real jobs but are in bands for fun,” he said.
Claudia Emanuele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.