DANVILLE -- The East Bay will get a heavy dose of that old time rock 'n' roll when more than 40 guitarists and a handful of backup singers take the stage for a monstrous jam session.

The musicians will take part May 22 in the 15th annual Rock 'n' Roll Recital at the Village Theatre, 233 Front St.

"It's a wonderful thing to put on a successful live performance," promoter Chester Farrow said. "You just can't beat that experience. The show is a great two hours of entertainment. You get to cheer on the young people. It's a very uplifting experience."

The recital features more than 40 students of guitar teacher Bruce Hock, an East Bay guitar legend whose former students include Dan Vickrey of Counting Crows, Kevin Feyen of the Black Eyed Peas and Jason Hammon of the indie band Dance Hall Crashers.

Back row, Mackenzie Dimler and Grayson Brandeburg. Front row left to right are Athena Chahin, Zack Oelerich, Catherine Quinn, and Bruce Hock. (Courtesy of
Back row, Mackenzie Dimler and Grayson Brandeburg. Front row left to right are Athena Chahin, Zack Oelerich, Catherine Quinn, and Bruce Hock. (Courtesy of Paul Chahin)

"The first half of the concert is sit-down acoustic guitars where there's like six of us in a row," Hock said. "Then the band comes out, and it's pedal-to-the-metal rock 'n' roll. It's like a train leaving the station where it just builds and builds and builds until the end and kicks butt."

Hock, 60, and Farrow, 70, have been buddies for more than four decades. Farrow taught electronics, TV production and studio/audio recording at Danville's Monte Vista High School for 32 years. The duo teamed up in 1999 for their first Rock 'n' Roll recital the spring Farrow retired.

"What started out as a small recital turned out to be a couple of hundred parents and several hundred more because I was retiring," Farrow recalled.

The recital became an excuse for former students of Farrow and Hock to return to their small-town roots for a big reunion.

"The place was packed," Farrow said. "It was a wonderful experience. Everyone performed and showed off. It was a big party. At the end of the show, my former students said, 'This is great. Let's do it again.' "

Farrow didn't give it a second thought until months had passed and he realized a second recital would be a fantastic way to have an annual reunion. The rest, as they say, is history.

"I thought it would be a one-time thing, but now we're doing Rock 'n' Roll 15," Hock said. "It's become a Danville tradition."

The recital is broadcast live for free on the Internet so that friends and relatives worldwide can see the show. Farrow's former students, some of them successful in the TV business, return to help with the broadcast.

"Wherever they are, they drop everything and come here to help Chester," Hock said. "It's kind of like an annual high school reunion.

"Chester gets to see his former students, and my students get to perform and do a concert with the TV cameras and the lights and the microphones," he added. "The main thing is my students get to do a concert. It's not like a boring piano recital where the parents are falling asleep. It's totally professional."

The evening will also feature a drawing to win a signed guitar from the Doobie Brothers, which also includes signatures of all the recital volunteers and performers. Money raised will be donated to Monte Vista's music program. At the recital, guitarists are backed by a house band and four singers from Monte Vista's award-winning chamber choir.

"It's the only place you're going to see doctors and businessmen playing rock 'n' roll with high school kids," Hock said. "I even have a second-grader who's playing this year. We do classic rocks songs. We always do a big mix. We're doing folk songs, blues, rock, gospel, rockabilly. We do a little bit of everything -- Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan."

Art Solomon, a Discovery Bay dentist, has taken guitar lessons from Hock since 1999 and has played in more recitals than he can remember.

"I enjoy doing it because I love guitar music, all guitar music," Solomon said. "I enjoy watching kids get that enjoyment out of playing an instrument. They invest a lot emotionally in this. A public performance is a big deal."

Solomon admitted he doesn't have the teen angst many of the young performers have, allowing him to enjoy the thrill of being on stage and seeing the young guitarists succeed.

"I get a kick out of it," he said. "It's a great opportunity for kids to become more social and more confident in themselves. It builds character and maturity. Since music has been cut back in the schools, any resource like this in the community should be appreciated and cherished."

Farrow, who's also been the Oakland A's scoreboard operator for 45 years, believes students and adults alike should have the chance to experience rock 'n' roll on a local level.

"Rock 'n' roll is part of the fabric of any community," he said. "It's what I've been doing for the last 45 years. It's who I am. It's what I do. It's just in my DNA, as it is with my former students."

Rock 'n' roll recital
What: Chester
Farrow Presents
the 15th annual
Rock 'n' Roll Recital
When: 7 p.m. May 22
Where: Village Theatre, 233 Front St., Danville
Cost: $10. But tickets the door or online at http://bit.ly/XUzqs5
Extra: Doobie Brothers-signed guitar drawing, tickets five for $20, to be sold at the event
Details, or to watch webcast: Visit www.rockandrollrecital.com