Jim Lucas and the Solid Gold Band

Members of the Solid Gold band practice Tuesday in Rio Vista. The band of musicians over the age of fifty cover popular music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. (Conner Jay/Daily Republic)

The Other Side of 50

Over 50 and still rocking

By From page OSF9 | December 13, 2012

FAIRFIELD — Say what you will about rock ’n’ roll, it’s alive and well – thanks in part to those who just won’t give it up.

It’s not necessarily the young folks with an affinity for loud noise and a tendency to practice the drums into the wee hours. It’s the folks on the other end of the spectrum, the ones who may be more mature, but can still rock with the best of them.

The over-50 crowd is keeping rock ’n’ roll alive.

And why not? Those 50, 60 and even older grew up when rock ’n’ roll started to blossom. This demographic of hard rockers isn’t ready to give up on the genre.

In Solano County, there are numerous bands and ensembles devoted to covering artists and songs from the past.

In Trilogy, a retirement community in Rio Vista, there are several bands devoted solely to big band and 1940s jazz. They cover the songs of artists such as Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.

Trilogy resident Jim Lucas, 72, is part of one of those jazz ensembles. While playing for the group, he saw both their strength and limitations. Jazz was a genre the Trilogy crowd knows and loves. But jazz, unlike other styles, is more musically complex.

Seeing these limitations, he had a goal in mind while forming his new band: play rock ’n’ roll.

“Jazz just doesn’t draw like rock ’n’ roll does,” he said.

His six-piece band, Solid Gold, is unique because it subverts expectations by covering a wide range of music – including pop, country, R&B, jazz and, of course, rock. On top of that, the band covers a wide range of years, from the early 1950s to the 1970s.

Joining Lucas on saxophone (among other instruments) are his bandmates: Vocalist and keyboardist Bonnie Granados, bass guitarist Bob Jacobs, lead vocalist Claire McKean, lead guitarist Harry Pluth and drummer Joe Pepper. They range from age 50 to 72.

Solid Gold has the unique advantage of having two female vocalists, Lucas said. With that they can cover male-led songs from Buddy Holly or the Doobie Brothers, as well as mixed and female-led songs such as Pat Benatar and The Carpenters.

The wide range of music allows them to cater to each audience’s musical preference. The few artists they have yet to touch include The Beatles and Elvis – they said they wouldn’t dare try to emulate that baritone.

Solid Gold also won’t write any original songs.

“There’s no original music, all cover,” Lucas said. “That’s where the audience is.”

A Fairfield band, The Convertibles, takes a similar approach to its music. It covers an even larger range – from the 1950s to present.

Band members Dave Green, Brad Hanks and Steve Farrer all grew up in Fairfield, but met each other at very different points in their lives. After their fourth member, Steve Snell, joined in 1978, the band officially became The Convertibles.

Back in the day, the band members played what was popular, such as hit songs like “Jessie’s Girl.” And much like Solid Gold, they play cover songs faithfully.

The group, like most bands, sat on the back burner while the members got married, had families and took on full-time jobs. Today, they are in the 51- and 52-year age range. They all have full-time jobs, such as accountants and engineers.

Recently, however, with all but one child out of the house, the band decided it was the right time to rock again.

With time, their sound has changed. They evolved from a Top 40 cover band to something of an all-encompassing band, playing tunes to the audience’s preference. Expanding their repertoire, Green said, has allowed them to play more venues.

Although all four members have full-time jobs, Green said they get a huge satisfaction from playing music and playing live.

“A lot of people play golf,” Green said. “We’re like that with music . . . There’s a little bit of magic in it.”

To learn more about Solid Gold, visit its website at www.solidgoldriovista.com. To learn more about The Convertibles, visit their Facebook page, The Convertibles.

Reach Heather Ah San at 427-6977 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/HeatherMalia.

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San

Heather Ah San covers Rio Vista, features and general news for the Daily Republic. She received her bachelors of art degree from the University of Oregon.

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