Their music has little in common with the rockabilly stylings of their British namesake band, or with any of its descendants, for that matter. Tuna (guitar), Waldo (drums), and Nachos (toy piano) of the local Rockcats are more closely aligned with the free-jazz tradition. Says conductor and trainer Samantha Martin of Amazing Animals by Samantha, “They play to the beat of their own drummer.” Tuna claws dissonant open chords and repeated low tones on her guitar, young Waldo rattles his double snare and hi-hat, and Nachos pounds paws-down on the piano like a pissed-off McCoy Tyner. They’ve only been together a few months, but all the cats have been in showbiz since they were kittens. Waldo, for instance, is a skate rat–during a recent Chic-a-Go-Go taping he came out from behind the kit to demonstrate a few moves on the board. But Tuna’s the veteran of the group. She’s worked in films and commercials over the years, can roll barrels and climb ropes, and has played solo for the patrons of places like Excalibur nightclub. “She’s a pro,” Martin says. “She’ll hang out on her table with her guitar, tap her tip jar every now and then.” Two other players, Darby and Pinky, are set to join the group in the near future–but Martin says their chops still need work. “It’ll take a couple more months to really get them tight. After that the sky’s the limit. Record deals, music videos, movies. They’re screaming to sell something.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Saverio Truglia.