Sha Na Na Bringing a Rockin' Christmas to Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca
BY: Melanie Hulick | December 02, 2013
Sha Na Na Bringing a Rockin� Christmas
To Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca
By Melanie Hulick
The title of 50�s and 60�s rockers Sha-Na-Na�s first album, released in 1969, was a premonition of sorts that �Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay�. Well into their fourth decade of recording and performing around the world, these �greasers� have built a bridge that connects three generations of families to good old rock and roll music.
Starting Wednesday, December 4th, Sha Na Na will be bringing their Rockin� Christmas Show to Seneca Allegany Casino Events Center in Salamanca, NY for 5 shows, including matinee and evening shows.
Speaking to original member, Jocko Marcellino, by phone recently, we talked about how the group started and where they are now. From their performance in 1969 at the original Woodstock Festival, their iconic role in the movie �Grease� as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, and their hit music variety television show that ran from 1977 to 1981, the rockers are still doing 50 plus live shows a year.
�The songs we do everyone has a connection to the first time they heard it, whether it was in their Chevy with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or when the parents played it for them somewhere along the way,� said Marcellino,. adding, �We get three and four generations of families listening to this music.�
Their newest album, �Sha Na Na Greaser High School Hop�, includes 25 songs from the 50�s and 60�s. �These songs are all designed to make you get up and dance,� stated Marcellino. �We also have a real good Christmas album called �Rockin� Christmas� that our fans love.�
Asking Marcellino what the best part of being Jocko was, he didn�t hesitate for a moment saying, �Well for whatever reason I was born to rock and be an entertainer, and do what I do. With Sha Na Na we get to have the privilege to perform for people and at the same time we get to celebrate together and share our history together, he said. �How lucky am I to get to do this?�
For ticket information visit: www.senecacasinos,com and click on Seneca Allegany
For more information on Sha Na Na visit: www.shanana.com
A Conversation with Jocko Marcellino of Sha Na Na
By Melanie Hulick
HULICK: Your music is timeless. How many years have you been performing?
MARCELLINO: Next year is our 45th anniversary! We started as an offshoot of the Glee club a lot of us were in at Columbia University in New York back in 1969. When they started adding oldies, that�s when I came in with my theatrical and drumming background. We did some real big shows on campus and also did a few things out of town. The long and short of it is we didn�t know exactly what to do with it. We were playing a club in Hell�s Kitchen for a summer to see if we could make it professionally. Well this club was where Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin & The Doors hung out. The last night we were to play, two producers of Woodstock came to the show under Jimi Hendrix�s recommendation. We were asked that night if we wanted to play Woodstock. We said yes and our eighth gig as professionals was at Woodstock. We got paid $350 and the check bounced, and we got $1 to be in the movie (documentary).
HULICK: Wow! Were you nervous playing with all those iconic artists?
MARCELLINO: No� I was getting aggravated because we kept getting bounced to a later time in the show. So finally on Sunday night they went to Jimi Hendrix and said he would be closing the show because there were weather and technical problems and Hendrix said these acts that have been waiting should go on first and I�ll be the last one then. So in many ways Jimi Hendrix was so critical to our career. He was such a great guy.
HULICK: What a great story. Then you went on years later to be part of the pop culture movie �Grease�.
MARCELLINO: What happened was after five or six years of being the darlings of the �underground�, and then being accepted by Hendrix and others , it was all sort of waning, and we were thinking OK� now what do we do? Then the producers of Grease came to us about a role in the movie, as their third choice. The Beach Boys and Chicago had both turned them down. But it worked out great because we were very theatrical, which was needed in the film. They cast us as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers and we sang the oldies at the dance.
HULICK: The group�s name, Sha Na Na, actually came from a song by the Silhouttes called �Get A Job� right?
MARCELLINO: (singing to me over the phone) Yip, Yip, Yip, Yip� get a job� sha na na na�. sha na na na na�
HULICK: Did you guys consciously pick what you were going to wear on stage or was it every man for himself?
MARCELLINO: Well originally we rented the gold lame suits from the Braodway show �Bye Bye Birdie�. Eventually we started going towards the �greaser� look� the T-shirts, the leather jackets and the jeans. As far as our hair being all greased up, someone discovered that if you use K-Y Jelly it washed out a lot easier because it was water soluble. We were using Brill Cream and that was hard to wash out.
HULICK: (laughs) That�s funny!
MARCELLINO: (laughs) We had a lot of hair back then!! So we went with the one that washed out easiest. You know Rolling Stone magazine had a feature called �Random Notes� and one time we were mentioned in there stating that Sha Na Na greases their hair with K-Y Jelly. (laughs) It was like a news bulletin!
HULICK: (laughs) No Jocko� it�s going to be your legacy.
MARCELLINO: (laughs) You�re right! We had a few other mentions, but that one was particularly funny.
HULICK: What can we expect from your Christmas show?
MARCELLINO: Well you will see a tribute to Grease of course. First we bring you to our regular �Hop�, where we do the Twist, the Stroll, the Hand Jive,... so you are going to be dancing. Then the second half is our holiday celebration. You�ll be going from rock & roll to rockin� Christmas! It�s a great, great time! I have it on good authority that Santa will be showing up at the show.
HULICK: Oh really?
MARCELLINO: Santa will be in the house!
HULICK: (laughs) And he�ll be rockin� it, right?
MARCELLINO: Shake it Santa, shake it!