Blues Guitarist Rafe Klein of the Name Droppers Talks Music, Dad Life, and Gigs in ’21

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Connecticut-based blues rocker and guitar-wielding dad Rafe Klein first caught my attention when I watched a virtual livestream of his solo set in mid 2020. But it wasn’t just his cool guitar chops (he studied with the legendary Charlie Karp in his 30s) and singing that impressed me. He had a presence — an unmistakable confidence and earnestness in his delivery — that piqued my interest and kept me listening. 

So I was particularly excited about his latest project — a musical collaboration between his band the Name Droppers and international recording artist Carole Sylvan, which culminated in the record ‘Love’ that dropped earlier this summer. The record, produced by Vic Steffens, is loaded with funky guitar riffs, rich, soaring vocals, and danceable beats. 

Rafe Klein (far left) and the Name Droppers with Carole Sylvan (center). Photo courtesy of Rafe Klein.

We recently caught up with Rafe to talk about what’s next, including his September 2nd show at Café Nine (New Haven) with Frank Viele.

Rockmommy: Hi Rafe! How would you describe your music for those who haven’t heard you? 

Rafe Klein: The Name Droppers play blues rock. I really like the idea of using traditional blues riffs, but using them differently, maybe less frequently, or perhaps as a reprise. Then turning them into a non-traditional blues song, which could be, but is not limited to, the standard 1-4-5 progression, but still recognized as a blues.  

Rockmommy: So when did you start playing guitar?

Rafe Klein: I started taking lessons about 13 years ago. At first just playing chords, mostly on acoustic. Then I started playing electric, and began to learn how to solo, started working my way around the neck. I’m still learning, and always looking for ways to improve my playing.  

Rockmommy: How have you been making the most of gigging and playing out this summer?

Rafe Klein: We’ve had a decent amount of shows this summer, and fortunately, most of them were well attended. I think because of the pandemic, certain venues now have twice the budget, since most of last year’s budget is still available to them. 

But now, because of the new Delta variant, bands, and booking agents are both thinking twice about booking gigs into the fall or winter. It’s a complete unknown, and it may be something we’re all just going to have to deal with for a while, or maybe even longer.  

Rafe Klein (Photo: Kvon Photography)

Rockmommy: You made a record with international recording artist Carole Sylvan (‘Love’). Is there anything more you can tell us about the music?

Rafe Klein: This record, produced by Vic Steffens, has been a work in progress for over two years. Besides the Name Droppers, we’ve got a great lineup of additional musicians, including soul man Bobby Harden, who is a guest vocalist on a song he wrote called ‘What Do You Call It.’ 

Carole’s ability to put together vocal arrangements and do all the parts and background vocals herself has really impressed me. I’m proud of the record, and think its collection of original songs, plus a few covers like ‘Tennessee Whiskey’ — one of my favorite songs — make it stand out, and hopefully make some noise.

Rockmommy: What are your hopes (and plans) for making music this fall? 

Rafe Klein: Fortunately, ‘Love’ is being played on over 100 college radio stations in the United States, and we will be supporting the album. Carole Sylvan & The Name Droppers have two shows lined up this Fall: Cafe Nine in New Haven on September 2nd, and a return Triad Theatre in New York City on November 11th.  

Rockmommy: What’s your advice for balancing parenthood with being a musician or creative person?

Rafe Klein: If you try to make your kids part of your creation, it can be rewarding. This is not easy, however. I have made a few funny videos where my kids are the main characters. Working with your kids in a creative environment is not the same as working with your musical peers. 

There is a lack of attention, as well as the fact that you are their dad, and not their dance instructor or creative instructor. It can be frustrating, but really cool and rewarding when it works. Encourage your kids to play instruments. Especially the drums if you can handle the noise. Playing drums can open up all kinds of talent or curiosity. The ability to keep time can lead to learning other instruments, or better musicianship.  

I also think if you over-encourage them it could be a problem too. Let them want to do it. If it comes from you, it’s probably not cool. But if a friend from class starts playing violin, for example, and then your kids come home and want to take up violin. Letting it happen organically is more productive then forcing them to learn or practice something that they may not value. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

The POSSM’s Earl Henrichon on Parenthood, Music, and Riding the Next Wave of Creativity

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

It blows my mind that some musicians can just pick up an instrument in their late 20s or early 30s, and within a few years play close to the level of Jack Johnson. But that’s just one thing that makes singer-songwriter and guitarist Earl Henrichon so cool. The rockdad, who fronts Hartford, Conn.-based band The POSSM, picked up his signature instrument far past his adolescent years, but strums and sings like he was born to do just that.

And he’s not only a proficient guitarist but a damn good vocalist. Just listen to his gravelly tones on covers like The Pixies’ ‘Where is My Mind’ and originals like “Her” and you’ll agree.

Earl Henrichon and his family

Not that he has a lot of time to sing and play. In 2020, Earl, who’s also a high school PE teacher and surfer, wrote one of our favorite essays on balancing work, music, and life with his wife Jane and now 8-year-old daughter. 

We recently caught up with Earl to talk about his return to the stage, the upcoming HartBeat Music Festival on September 18, and parenting an 8-year-old in 2021. 

Rockmommy: Hey Earl! How’s it going in 2021? 

Earl Henrichon: It is going ok! I think our ‘new normal is going to be fewer shows than we were playing before the pandemic, and at the moment, only outdoors. We are all vaccinated and feel totally safe, but just decided to stick with the outdoor shows since those are so fun anyway. We are going to save more time for family, practicing and recording new songs, and try and appreciate each show and look forward to it, rather than pack the schedule and feel overwhelmed. We just started practicing in the last month or so, and are enjoying getting back together and hanging out and making music together again.

Rockmommy: Did you write a lot of new music between March 2020 and April 2021? How did the band stay connected?

Earl Henrichon: We actually didn’t write all that much original music during that time. Pretty much every member of the band contributes original music, and I think each member may have been creative during that time but not a lot of it was material for the band. I actually think that is pretty healthy, the band is its own thing, but having other outlets for creative energy I think lessens the opportunity for burnout. That isn’t to say we don’t have new material, because we do, and a lot of it we are really psyched about, but it isn’t the amount of material you would have assumed would come from that amount of time. But there was a Pandemic, so there was that…

Rockmommy: You and the lead guitarist are dads! What’s it like sharing your music with your respective daughters?

Earl Henrichon: Hell yeah we are, it is fricking awesome! Having another dad makes the vibe of it for me really great, a couple of old men like us care about things like getting the kids together to play (and it is awesome for them as well), and I think it is healthy for the younger guys in the band to hang out with the kids and get a family vibe. Our band is very much about community and family anyway, so this just makes it obvious about the things that are important to us. 

This summer our kids will be at any show that isn’t at night, and that will be awesome. We are playing Hike to the Mic on my daughter’s birthday, so it will be a party for the kids. Stuff like that makes playing music even more fun for me. [Lead guitarist] Craig and I can complain about bedtime stalling antics while the other guys have to pretend that even for one second that this is something they find interesting.

Earl Henrichon with his Hartford, Conn., band The POSSM

Rockmommy: What are you doing to stay balanced, between being a teacher, musician and co-founder of the HartBeat Festival?

Earl Henrichon: Well, to be clear I am not the lone founder of the HartBeat festival, our former bass player Tony Koos was integral about approaching Riverfront about working together on something and this is what was born from that. And working with Riverfront Recapture is amazing, they get behind most of our ideas about the community vibe of the festival. But balance and happiness is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. I teach health so it is on my mind quite a bit about how to best maximize my time so I can have energy and also get relaxing time in. 

I could talk about this topic a lot, since it is a passion of mine, but the short story is that I am at once a physical person who loves to be active and at times an introvert who needs to recharge my batteries with lots of time with my family and at home. So since I know that about myself, there are just things I don’t spend a lot of time doing, like going out and having drinks with friends on a regular basis. I prioritize things I love to do that make me feel good such as surfing, playing ultimate frisbee, disc golf, music etc… and will try to work in time with friends doing that stuff and then spend the rest of my time with my family so that I get that recharge time and feel that family connection that is important to me. 

I am also not a late-night guy. I want to be curled up on the couch with my wife watching Netflix and going to bed at a decent hour so I can feel good.

Rockmommy: What advice do you have to rockin’ dads out there who want to find the right balance between work, play, and family time?

Earl Henrichon: It is one of the large questions in many of our lives, and for musicians who have late-night schedules it can be even harder. My advice is not to play too many really late-night gigs. It is hard to say no to things, but the alternative is burnout and exhaustion. I think the idea of that sort of thing is sort of old school, I have found many people feel just like I do, and I try adjust many of our shows to be at reasonable hours, and I think that is part of why we were able to get people to come hang out with us, because we could get them in bed by 10:30 and they could still have a fun night.

I find exercise to be very therapeutic and stress relieving, but the days of hitting the weight room hard are sort of over for me, so finding other avenues to play and actually get out and run around are meaningful to my physical and mental health. I’ve gotten into chasing down frisbees with a group of people in Hartford at lunch time when I am on break, and it gives me an opportunity to get out and run at full speed, which doesn’t exist that much in adult life the way it does for kids. It makes me feel alive to get to compete a bit, break a sweat and get some sun. 

Earl Henrichon and his daughter, taken when she was younger.

I am not someone who will just go for a run, so finding times to actually play and get exercise at the same time are huge for me. I do Wim Hoff breathing in the morning before my shower and use the waking up app (meditation) when I am feeling stressed. I also have become a fan of mastering mobility stretches on YouTube so when I have a free 20 minutes, I can get my old man body some much needed stretching in.

I also try to use social media sparingly, I keep all notifications off on my phone so I can try to use it when I want as opposed to when my phone tells me to get my eyeballs on screen so someone can make advertising money. That is easier now for me, since the brand of our band is built a bit, I needed to spend more time when we were starting, so that is a balance as well.

I also try to give other bands and musicians love when I am online, and that tends to get returned when others feel like you are looking out for them. We maybe don’t have the following we could potentially have online as a result, but in the end is that really the most important thing? I try to stop and think a lot about what makes me happy, and then I just try to make sure that that thing is happening in my life enough to meet my needs. And if it isn’t, I think about how to adjust my schedule to make it happen. I know that sounds simplistic, but many of the best moments in my life are pretty simple and I want to make sure I get as many of them as I can. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and cofounder of Rockmommy

Richard Demko on Challenges, Changes and Keeping Connecticut’s Live Music Scene Thriving

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

If anyone my local music scene in Southern Connecticut is deserving of the ‘jack of all trades’ designation, it’s Richard Demko, longtime multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, promoter and more. He has an ear for talent and a knack for making things happen. He’s a dad, too, which is awesome. 

I had the honor of meeting Demko — a.k.a., ‘Rick’ — in early 2020 at Café Nine in New Haven, through a mutual friend who invited him to see my band Trashing Violet play its third-ever gig. But although his reputation as a superstar engineer and founder of independent label NeuroTronix Records made me feel a little intimidated, his easygoing, engaged personality immediately put me at ease. 

For Demko, a man who is still busy juggling family life, with pressures to create, support and promote in spite of Covid-related restrictions, a pandemic silver lining was a surge of creativity. In early March 2021, Demko released his first orchestral single “Through Time and Space” (available on iTunesSpotify and Amazon), and is organizing as many outdoor shows as possible so his musician peers can play again. 

We recently caught up with Demko to chat about new music, summer plans, parenting and more. 

Richard Demko, of NeuroTronix Records, hard at work at Horizon Studio.


Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?

Richard Demko: My biggest challenges in the past 12 months have been juggling writing, producing, promoting and all the label obligations I have with my whole household being home due to distance learning and working. 

It’s also been a challenge promoting albums because live music is a big part of getting music out there. With no live music, I’ve had to be creative on how we promote releases and singles. There is no script to what has had to occur to try and keep everyone out there and moving. 

I have a lot of sympathy for working musicians and venue owners who have been hit very hard this year. I’ve been lucky because I’m blessed to have great clients who have sent me lots of remote mixing work, writing and session work, and some decent album promotional campaigns. Because if that, I make it a point to try and give back to organizations and places that are supporting local working musicians and various venue relief efforts as much as I can. 

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process? 


Richard Demko: 2020 has had a big influence on my solo writing, as I’ve written a few pandemic-themed songs, including a Christmas tune released exclusively for the 2020 holiday season called “Merry Christmas From a Distance.” I’ve also written a few songs for sync licensing that pertain to certain aspects of the pandemic. 

Richard Demko “Through Time And Space”


Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021? 


Richard Demko: I am hopeful that the pandemic will come to an end and we can return to live music! I am also hopeful from a label perspective that Connecticut will gain some serious attention in the mainstream music scene, as we have so many great artists and bands in our area! 

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share? 

Richard Demko: As a solo writer, I plan on releasing of a few singles early in 2021, maybe a new Demkovic single will drop too. Passing Strange has a new album that we will be starting to track, which I’m really excited about. 

[SEE RELATED: Passing Strange Share Their Journey to ‘The Water and the Woods’ and What They Want Most in the Post-Pandemic World]

Rockmommy: What can you tell us about your new song? How did it come about? 

Richard Demko: This song was started 7 years ago. I never finished it and it just sat on the storage drive and I kinda forgot about it. About two months ago, I was going through some of the stuff on my storage drive and I came across this and decided to take a listen. One thing led to the next and I ended up finishing it. Normally a song like this I would submit to one of the music libraries I work with for sync licensing, but I really was digging this one and wanted to keep it for myself so I decided to release it to the world under my name. 

Rockmommy: You’re also a big supporter and promoter of indie rock– both independently and through NeuroTronix Records. What can artists hope for in Connecticut this summer? How are you navigating some of the new rules and challenges to bring live music back? 

Richard Demko: I think this summer is going to be pretty good for outdoor music. I’ve got a few places I’m working with to promote live outdoor shows, one being 10selden where I have exclusive access to the bookings calendar. During the spring and summer months, I tend to enjoy outdoor music under normal circumstances, so I think regardless of the changes in the indoor venue guidelines, I’m going to stick with promoting mainly outdoor shows — at least at 10selden. I wouldn’t say I’m just a supporter of indie rock, I support indie artists of all genres, and hopefully once things start to go back to normal, the label will be actively scouting again to expand its roster. I’ve got a few artists I’m keeping an eye on, but that’s all I will say about that for the moment. 

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life?

Richard Demko: The best advice I can give to creative parents would be to just do the best you can with the time you have. Modify your creative schedule so that your family has the attention they need. When you get stressed, put that energy into writing or creating when you get the time, and it will not only come out more emotional, it will mean so much more in the end. I love being able to spend all this time with my kids and wife with everyone being home, however making the time to create is a very important part of having a balanced life.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Pierce Freelon’s 2021 to-Do List: Music, Media, and Helping Others

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

The start of every new year is full of hope — I knew this the moment I watched creative renaissance dad Pierce Freelon’s ‘Daddy Daughter Day’ video (featuring J Gunn). We recently caught up with Freelon to talk about his biggest hopes for 2021, and what the perfect summer looks like.

Rockmommy: For those who might not be familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound? 

Pierce Freelon: My sound is millennial Hip Hop head rapping at my home studio with two kids in my lap. Or electronic jazz and soul beats that sample voice memos from my iPhone. My sound is also family-friendly music about inspired by real situations that young Black parents have to deal with. 

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?

Pierce Freelon: My biggest challenge in the last 12 months was adjusting my life so I can serve on Durham City Council. As a husband, father, musician and business person I already had my hands full. Taking on a new job virtually (during a Panny) was a heavy lift. But I’m still here!

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process?

Pierce Freelon: 2020 was the year of virtual collaboration. I’ve worked with so many artists that I never see in person. I’m not used to that. Usually, we get together and vibe out in the studio. These days, I’m emailing tracks, and getting WeTransfer links back full of magic. I kind of dig it. It’s like opening a birthday present. 

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?

Pierce Freelon: In 2021 I hope to get better every day. I hope to learn from the silence and solitude and slowness of 2020 and make that part of my everyday, intentional practice. 2021 is the year of affirmations and speaking things into existence. What affirmations do you say to yourself every day? 

Rockmommy: If you could plan the perfect summer for 2021, what would that look like?

Pierce Freelon: A perfect summer looks like no one running against me in my re-election bid for City Council! Let me go ahead and speak that into existence right quick 🙂 I was appointed back in August and I’ve been doing a great job (if I must say so myself, lol). Real talk, it would be nice to chill this summer after we approve the city budget and not be in full campaign mode. 

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Pierce Freelon: One project I’m really excited about is an educational television show for K-3rd graders I’m producing with PBS North Carolina in 2021 called Classroom Connection. This show will be a crucial lifeline for kids, especially in the rural part of our state where schools have been closed and internet is limited. There will be lessons from real public school teachers, music, puppetry, animation and conversations with kids! 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Bronx family musician Fyütch’s New Song ‘Black Women in History’ Celebrates Dozens of Unsung Heroes

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Before he became a dad, musician or social artist, Fyütch was just a schoolboy with an open, impressionable mind. But while he learned plenty about the accomplishments of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks, few other historical black women received more than a single, passing mention.

With his new song, ‘Black Women in History,’ Fyütch hopes to change that by educating a whole new generation of young learners about the accomplishments of everyone from Mississippi civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer to Shirley Chisholm. The song also features black female artists/singers Rissi Palmer and Snooknuk, and it’s clever as heck, dropping unexpected, fresh rhymes about dozens of inspiring ladies.

In fact, Fyütch and his co-artists drop so much history in ‘Black Women’ that anyone who listens to the song or engages with the video is bound to learn something.

See it for yourself on #MLKDay2021 — or better, share it with your family, as you honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

[SEE RELATED: Fyütch celebrates Earth Day with a new rap song, ‘Pick It Up’]

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Getting Candid with Mark Erelli: From ‘Blindsided’ in 2020 to New Music in 2021

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

For many musicians, the loss of performance opportunities in the pandemic has been unbearable – professionally and emotionally. Mark Erelli is one of them.

His twelfth record, Blindsided, came out just a few weeks after everything shut down. Tours were rescheduled, then rescheduled again, then canceled. Shows with a full band turned into solo live streams from his basement. This week, we catch up with the Massachusetts singer-songwriter and dad of two to discuss the challenges of creating music in 2020 and staying positive for the new year.  

Mark Erelli (Photo: Joe Navas)

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?

Mark Erelli: I am a parent of two boys, 10 and 13, so there have been many educational, logistical, and emotional challenges of guiding them through this year. But challenges of that nature always exist, though I’m not usually around so consistently to help address them because of my work. So the parenting has been tough but, in a way, it’s been a bit easier because I’m here for my kids and to support my wife. 

The biggest challenge was the impact of the pandemic on the release of my twelfth record, Blindsided, which came out just a few weeks after everything shut down. Tours would be rescheduled, then rescheduled again, then canceled.

Shows I was really looking forward to playing with a full band turned into solo live streams in my basement. For once in my career, the groundswell of publicity and my musical profile were kind of synced up and it was all teed up to be a big, career-defining year for me. Of course it wasn’t, or at least not in the way I’d hoped for. And it’s not really something you can recreate, the moment passes and then it’s gone. So I’ve just had to try and wrap my head and heart around that, something I’m still trying to do.

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process? 

Mark Erelli: For a while, I wasn’t really feeling like picking up a guitar and singing or writing. When a new song finally came to me here and there, I found I was far less critical in the early stages of the process. I didn’t worry about if it was good or deep or how it dovetailed with anything else I’d done, I just wrote it and took it as far as I could, then if I liked it I would go back and be a little more ruthless as far as editing and honing the finished work. 

I also used alternative media, like video making and animation, to help develop musical projects in a way that I’d never quite done before. At a time when it felt difficult to write songs, figuring out how to make an animated video allowed me to stay creative, but not be burdened by any of the expectations my normal musical approach might have.

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021? 

Mark Erelli: Honestly, I just want to begin the process of moving back toward a life in music. I’ve been working however I could this year, but it’s nothing like it used to be. Live performance  — my own gigs and working as a sideman for others — is a big part of what I do, and I’d like for that to be a big part of my life again on the other side of this. But there’s no “going back” to how it used to be. It needs to be safe for myself and my audience, and we’re going to have to evolve some new work/life balance strategies for both me and my family, and those take time. I can envision some stuff happening outside in spring/summer, and maybe even some proper shows toward the end of 2021, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to recreate the musical life I want until 2022.

Rockmommy: If you could plan the perfect summer for 2021, what would that look like? 

Mark Erelli: Summer of 2020 I did a few outdoor shows, but they were all very reactive to changing restrictions and guidelines. I would like to see conditions be a bit more stable and for promoters be very proactive in providing safe performance opportunities for artists and audiences to come together. We know better how to work under these constraints and so I’d like to take advantage of what we’ve learned and use it to provide more chances for community around music.

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share? 

Mark Erelli: I released a Christmas song, written on Thanksgiving 2020, that came out over the holiday. It’s called “Not Quite Christmas.” And come Valentine’s Day, I’ll have another 3-song EP coming out, with each song exploring a different take on love.

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life?

Mark Erelli: It’s not a one-strategy-fits-all sort of thing, every artist and every family is different. What works for me is saying no a lot. My family needs a lot right now, and they are the most important thing to me. So that means I say no to a lot of music opportunities and say yes to the ones that are especially meaningful. I try to choose music opportunities that aren’t too disruptive with us all cooped up in one house and have sometimes been able to livestream from locations outside of the home safely, so I’m not keeping everyone quiet while I work. I want my kids to know that I love my job and making music very, very much. But I also want them to see me balance it with being there for them, physically and emotionally. In my book, if I were to have an amazing musical career that came at the expense of my marriage or family, it wouldn’t even be worth it.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

Laura Merrill on Art, Life and the Legacy of her Rock n’ Roll Dad Alan Merrill

By Rew Starr

The first time I met Alan Merrill was on my show ‘Rewbee’s World.’ My friend Jo Brat said she’d recently met him at a random party and I needed to get him on the show since he was the actual songwriter who wrote ‘I Love Rock N’ Roll.’ It’s incredible how everyone reacts in surprise when they hear that. 

Alan Merrill and Rew Starr (Photo Courtesy of Rew Starr; Photo credit: Johann Vipper)

That first meeting was more than a decade ago, but it was LOVE at first sight, in a way. Alan immediately adopted me as his sister… he always told me my ‘Rew’ sticker was the only sticker he ever had on his guitar case… I miss him and think about him every day. He passed away in early Spring 2020 due to complications stemming from the coronavirus. 

I recently caught up with his daughter, Laura Merrill, a creative soul in her own right, to talk about Alan and his legacy. 

Rew Starr: I want to say how sorry I am for your loss. Alan your dad was very special to me and zillions of others. How are you doing? 

Laura Merrill: Thank you Rew. I’ve been OK and slowly adjusting to the new normal. Life without my father is very strange.

He was and has always been someone I could turn to for advice and guidance… especially during a worldwide pandemic. Everyone knew him as a rockstar and to me he was always Daddy.

Alan Merrill and daughter Laura Merrill

Rew Starr: How old were you when you realized your Dad was a Rockstar?

Laura Merrill: Well it must’ve been when I started school because he was always the one to drop us off and pick us up. I didn’t realize how different he was from the other parents until he was in the crowd of them at the end of the day waiting to pick us up. He stayed true to himself and wore his leopard spandex, bullet belt, ripped T-shirt and pink headband in the school yard to greet us.

Laura Merrill (Photo: LauraMerrillImages.com)

We grew up with music being played and recorded around us since we were born so that wasn’t abnormal. It was the reaction of the other students and especially the moms drooling over him that I started to realize he was… special and a Rockstar. 

Rew Starr: When did you understand the impact of his work?

Laura Merrill: It was when I’d hear ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ everywhere. In the grocery store, gym, doctor’s waiting room, everywhere and of course on TV.

Rew Starr: Your Dad was a groundbreaker in so many ways — TV, music, being a Dad spreading love. Did you inherit some of this passion? Is there any favorite thing about him you have?

Laura Merrill: Yes he definitely was a groundbreaker and marched to his own beat. I inherited a lot from him. My love for music, art and fashion. Our humor is exactly the same. Our love and understanding of social media. But mostly his heart, we are very much alike in matters of love and our view on life. That was my favorite thing about my father, his loving nature and the way he made everyone feel like they were family. I’d admire his kindness from afar and I hope to carry that on and share it in my life. 

Alan Merrill and Rew Starr (Photo credit: David Tanner)

Rew Starr: What do you think he wants to see you accomplish?

Laura Merrill: I think he just wants to see me be happy and successful. Make a mark with my artistry. He was always my biggest cheerleader. I’m sure he’d like me to keep his legacy going. I work hard every day to stay true to my artistry as did he. 

Rew Starr: ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ is an anthem for the entire world. How did that make him feel? How did that make you feel?

Laura Merrill: It made him feel amazing. He knew what he had accomplished and wanted the world to know he was the man behind the music. Unfortunately, he accomplished that more in his death than his life but *sigh*…isn’t that the life of a true artist? For me, it makes me so eternally proud of him.

Rew Starr: Are you making any new music?

Laura Merrill: I do write here and there but have turned my creativity towards photography and art. It’s helped me cope with the loss of my father. Songwriting is so personal and perhaps when things settle down I’ll return to it. He would’ve wanted that as he was my biggest supporter. 

My father really instilled such a love for music in my soul. I can’t breathe without it. It has the ability to shape my mood.  

Alan Merrill and Rew Starr (Photo Credit: Alan Rand)

Rew Starr: Tell me about your photography? Your ART….

Laura Merrill: My photography and art at the moment celebrate femininity and the female body. I’ve always thought the shapes — dark and light of female nudity — to be so beautiful. I photograph it along with many self portraits, and paint it as well. I think a lot of my art is my mother’s influence. She was a model in a time where people were free to express themselves. I want to embrace that freedom.

Rew Starr: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

Laura Merrill: I am ambidextrous. I hate anything to do with math and still count on my fingers.  

Rew Starr: What’s the greatest part about being a rockdaughter?

Laura Merrill: The best thing — and I didn’t realize this until after my father passed — is that with his success and now that he’s gone…he is still all around. People and fans posting videos, songs and photos I’ve never seen online. It’s like he’s visiting and still here. I’m lucky in that way I guess. 

Every time I hear “I Love Rock and Roll” in a bar or on the radio it’s like him saying “I love you” from heaven.

Alan Merrill (Photo Credit: Laura Merrill)

Here’s a photo I took of him for his album just a few weeks before he died. It still feels like yesterday that he came over for the session. He brought several guitars and a ton of clothes. My brother was there as well and we just had such a great time. We were busting on my dad for some of his poses as kids usually do. He had a gig downtown just after the session and I went not knowing it would be the last time I’d see him play. He sounded amazing as always.

Days after the shoot he was rushing me to get the photos finished because he was so excited to get his album out. This is the photo he put on the inside of the CD and I really tried pushing him to make it the cover. The photo he chose pointing at the camera was a goof and I almost deleted it. It just goes to show what a silly character he is… always marching to his own beat.

Rew Starr is an actor, musician and mother who lives in New York City.