New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Persistence Pays Off For Mike Rocket

By Gary Wien

originally published: 07/21/2016

Persistence Pays Off For Mike Rocket

Indie musicians often work hard to get heard, but few have the drive and persistence of Mike Rocket.  His persistence paid off in June when he performed at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware.  Officially it was his first time playing the festival, but unofficially thousands have seen him perform outside the festival since it first began in 2012.

Performing outside of big events has been a strategy of his for some time. Mike grew up outside of Philadelphia and began performing in the mid 1990s. Growing up, he bore a rather uncanny resemblance to Bruce Springsteen.  In a way, this helped him break into the Jersey Shore music scene and led to a following from performances outside of the stadiums before Springsteen shows.  Unfortunately, while the resemblance helped people remember who he was, it distracted from his original songs.  But he kept plugging away with club dates mixed with live sets outside of concerts and in busy city areas like Times Square.  His friend, Nick Clemons, gave him the idea to try morning television shows, which have been successful.  And he began performing outside the gates of festivals.

He expected this year at the Firefly Festival to be like the last five, but something unexpected happened.  A fan wrote a letter to the festival in support of Mike.  The letter told about Mike’s dedication to play for hours each day, performing under the hot sun and during the rain - to a crowd that doesn’t know him as the festival opens to ones that know his songs by the close of Firefly.  It was written by someone who was there the very first time Mike performed at Firefly in 2012.

“People have no idea who I am on Thursday or Friday,” Mike said in the piece, “but by Sunday people are cheering me on. It’s kind of a Rocky thing.”

The people behind the festival were so touched by the letter that they posted the letter online at a page dedicated to Mike Rocket.  The festival wrote, “There are thousands of stories that happen at Firefly, not all of them inside the festival. The following is an inspirational story submitted by one of our fans about a remarkable individual that you may have walked right by and not even realized it; a fan that embodies the very spirit we all want to possess when we come to a festival like Firefly.”



The article continues after this ad

 


And they invited him to perform on stage during the festival for the first time.

“It felt like a towering accomplishment and victory especially to some of those small bar managers who said I wasn’t good enough for them,” said Mike.  “It was a dream come true! I really believe that if you stick with something — it could take years -- you’ll eventually take it to where you’re trying to go.”

Whether he’s on stage or outside the gates, Mike says he treats every performance as ‘the one great concert that can change the world’ (inspired by Dewey Finn as Ned Schneebly in School of Rock).  He doesn’t expect to make many tips, but will have his guitar case open in case people want to throw him a buck or two.  His CDs are also for sale when he plays.

You might expect Mike’s story to include a constant battle between festival security and his guitar, but he says he has rarely encountered any difficulties.  The first time he performed at Firefly they asked him not to play by the entrance.  He complied, but instead of leaving completely, he simply moved away from the entrance — close enough to the festival that the festival attendees still passed him on their way in.

“It’s about trying a different approach, kinda like golf or a maze,” explained Mike. “In one of the songs on my upcoming album I say, ‘The fame labyrinth is not easy; hold on with tenacity.’”

Long-time fans of Mike Rocket may wonder when that next album will actually come out.  He says he is finally finishing up a project that he’s been working on for several years.  The goal is to complete it by the end of the summer. He’s got a GoFundMe campaign going to help fund the album and raise money for the ASPCA to help stop animal abuse.

Mike is an elementary school teacher in North Jersey, but still dreams of playing music full-time.  He gets inspired when he hears stories about artists like Rachel Platten who he recently saw on the Today Show.  She talked about playing in front of 20 people at bars, just hoping to get one song to hit big.  Mike believes he might have that song with “I’m Dreaming Of A Better World” which should be on his next album.

“I was especially inspired in 2013 when I met Clive Davis during a Q & A for his book,” recalled Mike. “I gave him my music; he then introduced me and asked me about how I got the name Mike Rocket. Right after another artist asked what it takes to make it. Clive responded to the artist, ‘As Mike Rocket points it out, hard work, tenacity, belief, and you just keep doing it.’”

That’s all he’s ever done and he’s got no reason to stop now.  As the Firefly page said, for “one brief but gratifying moment, Mike Rocket, the man who in five years has been happy playing outside the gates, will be the biggest star of the weekend.” 

And that he was. 

Persistence Pays Off For Mike Rocket





For more by this author, click here






State Theatre Presents Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet Tour
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Diana Krall live in concert as part of her Turn Up The Quiet World Tour on Friday, October 12 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $43-$153.50.  This concert will feature songs from Diana Krall’s stunning new album, Turn Up The Quiet, out now on Verve Records as well as a mix of some fan favorites. 
Kean Stage Presents The Manhattan Transfer
(UNION, NJ) -- Going strong after more than 45 years, Grammy Award winner The Manhattan Transfer, with tenor vocals from Kean University alumnus Alan Paul '71, will captivate Kean Stage audiences with their distinctive four-part harmonies at Enlow Recital Hall on Sunday, September 30 at 3:00pm.
3rd Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival returns to Jersey City on October 6. Presented by Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids, the festival includes acts from those labels and Little Dickman Records, Rhyme and Reason Records, and State Champion Records.  The festival takes place at White Eagle Hall. Doors are at 4:00pm and the music starts at 4:30pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
The Dryden Ensemble Presents Bach Cantata Fest
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Dryden Ensemble will present a Bach Cantata Fest on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6587 Upper York Road, Solebury, Pennsylvania, and on Sunday, October 21 at 3:00pm at Miller Chapel, located on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, New Jersey. Tickets are $25 for general admission and free to students with an ID. They may be purchased at the door or online at www.drydenensemble.org.
Steve Barton & Robert Darlington From Translator To Perform at Randy Now's Man Cave
(BORDENTOWN, NJ) -- Whether it's pure pop or moody acoustic ballads, singer/songwriter/guitarist, Steve Barton, has developed a reputation for crafting some of the most literate and poignant music in underground rock.  In addition to being a founding member of the revered punk/psychedelic band Translator, perhaps best known for the Barton-penned song "Everywhere That I'm Not", he has released several solo albums.  The seventh and latest, "Tall Tales and Alibis", is a sprawling triple album tour de force filled with Steve's brand new songs, which was released in March by Sleepless Music.   To celebrate the release of the record, Barton will be making a rare live appearance with his Translator partner Robert Darlington, this Sunday, September 23 at Randy Now's Man Cave in Bordentown (134 Farnsworth Ave) at 7:00pm.  


From the Ballpark to the Concert Stage: Bernie Williams LIVE! at The Grunin Center
Fans of sports and music are lining up outside Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Saturday, September 8, 2018 for a concert by four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist/composer Bernie Williams and his All-Star Band!
“Here’s Lucie!” Lucie Arnaz LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center
Even though the weather outside Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center is cloudy with some light intermittent drizzle this Wednesday, September 12, 2018 afternoon, the venue’s stage is still shining brightly with talent thanks to a live performance by television, film, and stage actress/singer Lucie Arnaz!
Mike Aiken Talks About Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch At RVCC
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) -- Raritan Valley Community College presents Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22.  The three-day event will feature a number of different musical shows by Mike Aiken, as well as other solo artists and groups.  
Virtuoso Jazz Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
It’s a warm but lovely Aug. 23, 2018 evening here in Newton, NJ. After enjoying some hand-dipped Cliff’s ice cream from the window at Hayek Market, we march up Spring Street looking forward to hearing some world-class jazz at one of the Garden State’s favorite concert venues, The Newton Theatre.
An Interview with Bernie Williams
Four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist and composer Bernie Williams will perform with his All-Star Band at the Jersey Shore this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at The Grunin Center of the Arts in Toms River, NJ!










Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


MUSIC

Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm


Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm


Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


DANCE

SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


LITERATURE

Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.