Accomplished pianist and singer Rod Russell will present Good Rockin’ Tonight at the Nexus at First United Church on Saturday, March 25. - Image credit: Photo contributed.

Get ready to rock out

Performer takes audience back to mid-century vibes

Get ready for some good rockin’ as internationally known singer and pianist Rod Russell brings music and memories to Salmon Arm on March 25.

Playing what he calls “the best music of our time,” Russell performs hits by Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Charles, Floyd Cramer, Elvis Presley, Billy Joel, Fats Domino and more.

Songs like Blue Suede Shoes, Georgia On My mind, Music Box Dancer, Blueberry Hill, Chantilly Lace, and New York State of Mind take audiences back to another place and time.

Russell says music has long been a part of his life, as has the passion to share his talent

“My mom put me into piano lessons when I was 10,” he says. “I loved it, I was the only kid who didn’t complain if I had to stay home and practise when everyone else was out playing.”

Russell says he played primarily classical pieces for many years, but didn’t really like them. So, at the age of 16, he turned to rock and roll and began playing in dance bands.

Russell stayed in the music business, opening the first music store on the Alaska Highway in the 1960s.

“I did lots and lots of playing, wound up owning a steakhouse/nightclub in Fort St. John and played with the house band,” he says, noting he and his wife sold the business and moved to Kelowna where they built a big restaurant and nightclub.

Still playing piano and singing, he opened an online piano school, the Russell Music Academy, with 80,000 students from around the world, learning through a variety of different teaching styles.

“Most of them are our age,” laughs Russell. “So many people took lessons as a child or quit taking them and didn’t get a chance to continue.”

Russell says his touring career began about a year ago after a friend he jams with egged him on.

“He said ‘you know so much of this stuff, you need to be out playing. People don’t get out to hear this much any more,’” says Russell, who has performed 16 concerts in B.C. and Alberta in the past year. “Everyone there (at the concerts) is like minded, kindred spirits – we all love the music of that era.”

Russell tries to keep his concerts as friendly and casual as possible and audience members are invited to sing along.

“It’s like a kitchen party – I want people to go home with a smile after being taken back to another place and time,” he says.

Russell’s show takes place at 7 p.m. at the Nexus at the First United Church.

Tickets are available at Acorn Music and at the door. If people buy their tickets before March 18, they will save $10, dropping the price to $24.