Socorro’s historic plaza will be rocking the weekend of Sept. 16-17 as music, food and activities return for the city’s signature festival: SocorroFest. The headline event will feature Lee Rocker of the ‘80s band Stray Cats, a group best known for the hits “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut.”
SocorroFest is sponsored by the City of Socorro in collaboration with New Mexico Tech. The full schedule and the musical lineup for the free annual festival is on the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series website at:.nmt.edu/pas/2022-2023/SocorroFest.php
The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 17, from noon to 10 p.m. at the city plaza off Manzanares Avenue near Socorro City Hall. In addition to musical entertainment on two stages – at the plaza and at the nearby Capitol Bar – SocorroFest will include food, arts and crafts vendors, and a spirits tent featuring Socorro and New Mexico micro-brews and wines and local vendors Capitol Bar Brewery, Bodega, and Black Smuggler Winery. There will also be a classic and low-rider car show, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a cornhole tournament, New Mexico Tech’s Esports Club, and a kids’ corner with mining for minerals and jump balloons.
Headliner Lee Rocker made his mark singing, playing, standing on, spinning, and rocking his giant upright bass as a founding member of the Grammy nominated music group The Stray Cats. The Stray Cats sold over 10 million albums, garnered 23 gold and platinum-certified records, and were music video pioneers of MTV. The Stray Cats’ worldwide mega hits “Stray Cat Strut,” “Sexy and Seventeen,” and “Rock this Town” have become a part of the fabric of rock and roll. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has included “Rock this Town” as one of the 500 most important songs in rock. From the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine, appearing on Saturday Night Live, to headlining the US Festival and touring with the Rolling Stones, Lee Rocker has seen and done it all. In addition to The Stray Cats, Lee Rocker has recorded or performed with George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Leon Russell, John Fogerty, and Carl Perkins.
Besides Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, a few of the other musical groups performing at the Plaza include:
- Blue Monday. For nearly a decade, Blue Monday played to a packed house at Manny’s Buckhorn in San Antonio. What began as a duo with the restaurateur/famed chef Bobby Olguin and guitarist Tom Romancik quickly grew in musicians and in popularity. Bobby plays some toe-tapping harmonica and percussion anchored by Gene Cole’s impassioned vocals and percussion, with Jim Ruff on bass, Tom Hunt on saxophone, former NMT student Pierce Mayadag on drums, and newcomer to Socorro with a glowing guitar resume, Neil Haverstick.
- Suavecito: This band’s members simply enjoy playing and making music with each other. The six-piece variety band of Socorroans is managed by drummer Anthony Lukesh, and features lead singer Lorenzo “Porky” Valenzuela, Carl Lukesh and Ronnie Silva on guitars, Danny Jojola on keyboard and bass, and Lefty Gonzales with rhythm guitar and vocals.
- The Full(ish) Professors: Drawing from a range of influences, from Americana and folk to popular (and even some ‘80s mixed in), this group features NMT faculty members. Mechanical Engineering professor Julie Ford is on vocals, Communication professor and dean of Arts and Sciences Steve Simpson on vocals and guitar, and Ephraim Ford, head of New Mexico engineering at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory on bass. They are joined by various other musicians, including Paul “Saxypants” Demorest on saxophone and Andrew Wagg on percussion.
Also during SocorroFest Weekend, New Mexico Tech is hosting its inaugural Parent and Family Weekend Sept. 16 to 18, which is aimed at providing an opportunity for families of new and returning students to visit their students and experience campus and community life, and it is also the weekend for the President’s Annual Golf Tournament. More information and registration for the Parent and Family Weekend is on the Tech website.