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Reesa and the Rooters keep on jamming

Posted by South Jersey News Online November 13, 2008 2:48PM


Reesa Marchetti (center) poses with her fellow Reesa and the Rooters band members. The group will perform at the Bus Stop Music Cafe in Pitman Saturday.

By Carly Romalino

In her 20s, Reesa Marchetti might have balled herself up and popped out of a trunk on stage, rolled to the microphone on a stretcher, or run through the audience singing the Reesa and the Rooters' hit "Chocolate Freakout." The element of surprise is her show-time signature, she said.

As the Elk Township resident and life-long musician nears her 60th birthday in December, she might not exhibit exactly the same outrageous behavior as she did 40 years ago. But seated in her power chair since the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis 10 years ago, the lead singer of Reesa and the Rooters will bring her strong vocals to the Bus Stop Music Cafe in Pitman on Saturday, Nov. 15, to celebrate the release of a three-song compact disc.

Reesa has been performing since high school. She started jamming with the Rooters in 1979, playing acoustic folk music with her brother and his friends.

"I'm not one to just sit around and jam, so I booked a gig and, as soon as I did, I realized I wanted to be electric," she said.

Since the late 1970s, the band has transformed from Reesa and the Rooters, to a female trio called The Suburban Wives Club, and various other bands throughout the 1990s. Marchetti revived Reesa and the Rooters five years ago.

In 2008, Reesa and the Rooters has similarities to Gwen Stefani and Smash Mouth, she said.

"I asked my husband ... because I don't know how to describe it, and he said it's punky pop," she said. "It's dance pop music, but there's always an element of punk behind it."

With influences in blues, classical and folk genres, Marchetti is not sure how she ended up with a rock sound.

"It just kind of happened. I took all those influences, but I wanted to dance," she said.

Ten years ago, Marchetti was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis that claimed her ability to walk and affected her right, keyboard-playing, hand.

"It was quite a shock at first, but now I am used to it, and I am doing everything I can do to better myself and get around it," she said. "It makes everything harder, but not impossible ... I actually had to change how I play keyboards because my right hand has become unsteady -- I let my left hand take over ... It hasn't affected my voice which is great. You have to do things to compensate for the abilities you have lost -- like walking."

On Saturday, Reesa and the Rooters (drummer Len Brown, bassist Ron Chinappi and guitarist Sean Naylor) will perform songs from their new CD "Melt the Iceman."

"I used to write a lot of songs based on what I heard or read in the news or saw around me," she said.

"Melt the Iceman," a song that shares the CD's title, is about making it in the music business, she said.

"I don't feel like an old lady, but when I look at the amount of time --," she said, "I have been at it for a long time."

If you go:

Reesa and the Rooters will perform at the Bus Stop Music Cafe at 148 S. Broadway in Pitman at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 15. Admission is $7. For more information call the Bus Stop Music Cafe at (856) 582-0009, or visit the band's Web site at www.reesaandtherooters.com.

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