The Ramblers' guitarist/vocalist Steve Cocchi was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1962, in the town of Folsom, Pennsylvania...in the heart of the "Hard Chemical Region". There's no prison there, but there's usually a chemical fire. Despite, or maybe due to his glowing surroundings, he grew up in a musical family where everyone played an instrument to some level. Though he tinkered with the family piano and his father's Hammond organ, it was at the age of seven his parents bought him a drum set...and thus was born his long musical journey.
Steve spent many, many hours practicing his drums, much to the dismay of his immediate neighbors. But he didn't care, 'cause he was really rocking. Over time, and because of the musical tastes of his older siblings, Steve became enamored with the "progressive rock" era of the 70's, listening and trying to emulate such bands as Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Kansas. At the same time, he progressed enough to join various elementary and junior high school organizations, including jazz and marching bands (believe it or not!).
Although he was a drummer at heart, during the second half of the 1970's Steve got tired of having to limit his practice sessions, and was looking for something new. So, on a cue from his older brother Bob (an accomplished guitarist and Berklee College of Music graduate) Steve took up the guitar. He was hooked. He could practice whenever he wanted, he didn't have to endure tasteless drummer jokes (not that there's anything wrong with that), and the guitar was like the coolest instrument to play. Thus began the next phase...and playing in *real* bands.
From 1978 through 1982 Steve played guitar in a few different local bands, covering everything from 70's classic rock to early 80's pop and top 40. He played school dances, he played clubs, he played weddings... he played wherever and whenever he could. In fact, this was the first time Steve became a bona fide "full time musician". It was also during this period that Steve took up playing keyboards too, an instrument very much needed for the type of music he was playing. Over time, his keyboard playing time increased, and his guitarist duties decreased, to the point where Steve officially became a keyboardist. Through a series of fortuitous events the band Steve was with at the time, "Escape", took to the road, traveling the northeastern quadrant of the USA. They played from Virginia to Maine to Michigan, in hotels and clubs, and having a good ole' time being "road warriors". They tweaked and streamlined their repertoire, and their members, slowly but steadily moving away from the world of top 40 and back into rock n' roll.
It was during this phase that Steve received a phone call from one of his former bandmates (literally while on the road). He had put together an original band, Free Delivery (to be changed to Hit the Ground Running), and was recording a single - this is back when a "single" was actually a vinyl disc about 6" across, with a small hole in the middle, and which was meant to spin at 45 rotations per minute in order to play back music! Anyway, Steve made the decision to give up his life on the road (you can only drink so much JD) and make a change... He joined the band, grew his hair, and became a true rocker. He played local clubs (again), but this time with a bigger show - six foot stacks, full light show, the works. They recorded some songs and hooked up with a production company in Camden, NJ, the same company that produced the TV show "Dancing on Air". They played some some higher profile gigs, opening for acts such as surf-rockers Jan & Dean at the Allentown Arena, and R&B legends Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes (of "If You Don't Know Me By Now" fame) and other 50's acts for a WHYY special.
But, alas, money was tight, and Steve realized he needed to get on with his life. Thus began his foray into the working world, and a brief one year hiatus from band life. Of course, he couldn't stay away for long and soon Steve was playing keys with an R&B/rock band..which morphed into a 50's/dance/rap eight piece horn band (Philly Brass & Electric) playing local establishments 50 weekends a year. After two years of this schedule, and meeting his future wife, things got a bit tiring...so another year hiatus followed. Which then led into a stint playing keys and a bit of guitar in a band with his older brother Bob covering classic rock and early nineties "alternative rock". But, over time Bob was swayed by $$$ into the wedding band life, and Steve began looking for an alternative..which then lead into a two year phase of playing *country rock* with Dreamcatcher
. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, you get the idea. The band also released an original CD during this time, which was produced at a local Delaware County studio. But alas and again, a change was needed as the gigs were getting further and further from home.
Enter Voodoo Deville
, Steve's first foray into the blues. It was here that Steve (a.k.a. "The Professor
") found a style that was fun, and an environment that was more relaxed than previous endeavors (it's not like these guys were trying to "make it" or anything). And he's stuck with it ever since. As fortuitous events seem to happen, due to personnel changes he also had the opportunity to pick up the guitar again, something he hadn't done in years. And that my friends, is what leads us to the Smokehouse Ramblers...