Young rockers draw inspiration from their Retro Roots
They say it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, so it doesn’t hurt to get an early start.
For local rock band Retro Roots, the focus is on the journey, not the destination.
The trio of young musicians features three former and current Old Rochester students, led by Janey Rego on bass and vocals, with Charlie Richards on guitar and Joe Gauvin on drums. The founding member of the group, Patrick Igoe, still plays guitar with the band in the summer but takes the school year off while he attends Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.
The group met about five years ago as students at OR High School through the school jazz band. Igoe, a freshman at the time, masterminded the group when he reached out to fellow freshman Rego and senior Gauvin and asked them to be the band’s lead singer and drummer respectively. Rego picked up the bass shortly after, completing the ensemble.
From the start, the band’s setlists were based around classic rock and blues covers, music that the members grew up listening to and had a deep affinity for.
“We started out and we knew we wanted to do classic stuff,” said Rego. “Joe and I had previous experience in a 50s rockabilly band and Patrick had always been into rock and Clapton-era stuff.”
Gauvin said that the familiar structure of blues music made it a good starting point for the musicians to get to know each other.
“The original stuff we played was all blues stuff because that was the easiest for us to get together and jam on,” he said.
Later on, the three met Richards at a battle of the bands event and reached out to him to be their fill-in guitarist when Igoe’s parents bought a house in Georgia, leading him to spend more time away from Massachusetts.
“[Charlie] really impressed us [at battle of the bands]. He put his guitar behind his head and everything,” said Gauvin. “So that definitely got our attention.”
When Igoe started at Mass Maritime, Richards, who has been playing guitar since he was seven, took a larger role and is now the band’s main guitarist.
“[Patrick] has been absent since late August, so we haven’t really seen him since then,” said Rego. “He’s usually good for the summer.”
In the meantime, the band has been working hard to get back to playing live shows since the pandemic interrupted their schedule.
“During covid everything got cancelled, you know restaurants got shut down and there were a lot of restrictions and everything,” said Rego. “So we ended up branching out and doing some Facebook live streaming, which we had never done before, and we were pretty successful with that.”
Now, as bars have reopened and events are back, they have started playing regularly again, usually booking three or four shows a month, despite their busy school schedules.
Rego and Gauvin attend UMASS Dartmouth where Rego studies nursing and Gauvin music. Richards is a senior at Old Rochester and says he is still figuring out what he will do after graduation, though he would like to keep playing with the band if he stays in the area.
The young artists say they are taking their musical careers one step at a time, focusing on their studies rather than worrying about when they will become rich and famous rock stars.
“I think people assume that all of us want to be immediately recognized and I think it’s important to mention that we’re all just taking it day by day. Our priority right now really is school, we’re just trying to make it through college and see where music takes us,” said Rego. “Honestly, I just love playing music and I love what we do, so my priority is just making people happy and seeing them enjoy what we do. It’s just such a rewarding job.”
Rego said that one of the next steps the group would like to take is writing and recording their own original songs.
“We haven’t really made the time to create anything original,” she said. “Charlie has had some super cool ideas and we’ve played around with those a little bit, but it’s mostly been about building our repertoire of music we know everyone will love and enjoy; stuff that pays the bills.”
Until then though, the group is content to keep improving their skills while playing covers from their favorite bands at local venues where they get lots of encouragement from friends and family.
“They’re our biggest supporters, you know my extended family always comes out when they can and Charlie’s friends usually come out to see him, Joe has friends that come out,” said Rego. “So it’s really nice having those people who are close by and enjoy the music.”
Retro Roots will play their next shows on Friday Jan.14 at the Tavern on the Wharf in Plymouth and Saturday Jan. 15 at Quahog Republic Dive Bar in Falmouth. For more information visit their website at retrorootsmusic.com.