Toney Rocks sees his new song, “Not Gonna Run,” as “a kind of personal anthem.”
“It says everything that it needed to say,” says the Las Vegas singer, songwriter and guitarist.
It just took a little while to say it. That’s because Rocks had lost a new guitar tuning he had written down, which would form the framework for the song. Luckily, he found that paper about a year ago.
The song, whose video makes its debut here today, will be part of an upcoming EP, which is due for a January release. Rocks, whom Las Vegas weekly named one of 10 Las Vegas Artists to Watch for 2017, said the new release will “in the same vein” as his previous recordings.
“Solo acoustic,” he says. “Some piano, some ukulele. The record I released at the top of 2016 was a whole-band arrangement. The last two albums were like that, but I realized my whole road work was solo. People were buying a record and not hearing what they were hearing on stage.”
Rocks grew up in a musical family; his mother was a touring vocalist.
“Club and r&b music,” he says. “We’re talking about the ‘80s. “Whatever was popular in the clubs. Gloria Gaynor was still popular. Anything that was popular, my mom was doing it, Anita Baker and stuff like that. And at home it was jazz and gospel. And then as I started to get into my own thing, I got into the rock thing, and when I was in college. I was heavy into bebop jazz.
“I played in every single kind of band you could think of. Rock, blues, orchestras. And oddly enough, a lot of that goes into my songwriting.”
Despite the breadth of Rock’s musical interests, he was not initially familiar with a well-known artists who ended up becoming a mentor. Rock was scheduled to play at a jam session led by David Bromberg, the legendary folk artist and Bob Dylan collaborator.
“I didn’t know a doggone thing about him,” recalls Rock. “I was living in Delaware, and there was a jam session one hour north in Wilmington. I heard about this guy running it, David Bromberg. I get to Wilmington and realize this guy’s face is on the sides of buildings with people like Cab Calloway. Even in my circle people were saying he’s this and he’s that. And I got there, and he’s the coolest, the opposite of what these cats were saying.
“Yeah, he’s snarky, he’s this 70-year-old Jewish guy who’s been through hell, but he was so open to who I am and my playing style, he liked it. I’ve never been one to blow licks all over the place, and he liked that.”
Bromberg went on to invite Rocks to share some bills with him and invited him to sit in “for a few songs here and there.”
“We have a rich, behind-the-scenes relationship,” Rock says. “It’s just a mentor type of thing. I’d you asked him, he probably would just say I’m another guy on the scene and he doesn’t see himself as mentoring me, but it’s all helped.”