Up on the stage again

In the 1980s, there wasn't a continent that wasn't touched by the Stray Cats. The band was credited for reviving rockabilly and made the top of the charts in the U.S., U.K. and Australia with hits such as "Stray Cat Strut" and "Sexy and 17."

On Saturday, the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana will welcome former Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker (born Leon Drucker) to the stage where he'll perform Stray Cats classics and sing some cover songs off his newest EP, "Cover Sessions," which hits shelves March 15.

"Cover Sessions" is an "interesting departure," Rocker said, because it isn't what people would expect from the American rockabilly bassist.

"It's not a rockabilly record, like the Stray Cats; it's more Americana music," the longtime Laguna Beach resident said.

Rocker grew up with the six cover songs, with the originals by artists such as Paul McCartney and Elton John.

"It's sort of like playing with some different colors that I haven't played with before," he said.

Rocker is known for his mastery in the string instruments: He is also familiar with cello and electric bass. For his most recent endeavor, he included instruments such as the mandolin and ukulele, giving a unique sound to familiar tunes.

This will be his first time back to the music stage in a while, but he was in a theater not too long ago. Rocker recently performed in 16 Broadway performances of "Million Dollar Quartet."

"It was a hell of an experience," he said. "It's one of those things on the bucket list for a musician/entertainer."

Living in Laguna for the past 21 years, Rocker isn't a stranger to the Santa Ana music venue, which is just across Costa Mesa city limits on Harbor Boulevard.

"The Galaxy Theatre is a place I've played a lot," he said. "It's kind of my backyard. It's one of my favorite places to play."

However, he asserts it is a special performance.

"It's a rare occurrence," he said. "I'm not playing out live that often, maybe once a year or so."

The Galaxy Theatre, which last heard Lee Rocker in 2007, is looking forward to Saturday's show.

"He's performed here numerous times before," Galaxy publicist Leila Sadeghi said. "The show was very fun. People were hitting the dance floor and dancing to the old tunes from the Stray Cats that he played."

Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys, a rockabilly swing band opening for Rocker, couldn't be more excited to be followed by an icon.

"When I was a teenager in the early '80s and caught up in the excitement of the rockabilly revival that the Stray Cats ignited here in the U.S., I never dreamed that someday I'd be sharing the bill with any of them," Robert "Big Sandy" Williams wrote in an e-mail. "Here I find myself, 30 years later, playing with Lee Rocker one night and with another Stray Cat, Slim Jim Phantom, on the night before."

Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys are playing with Phantom on Friday night at the Brixton South Bay in Redondo Beach.

Rocker is planning to return to rockabilly with an album that will be released this summer.

Although the bassist grew up in New York, he's happy to perform for his Orange County fans.

"After this many years, Orange County is my home," Rocker said.

For more information about Rocker's show, visit http://www.galaxytheatre.com.

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