‘Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock and Roll’: An event for the ages

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Tomorrow at UConn’s very own Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts is an event that will surely get the audience up on their feet. At 8 p.m., award-winning composer, lyricist and producer Neil Berg is hosting ‘50 Years of Rock and Roll,’ a performance-filled event that takes you on a journey through the evolution of rock and roll. Berg is best known for composing the musicals “The 12,” “Grumpy Old Men: The Musical” and “The Prince and the Pauper.” 

The Daily Campus was lucky enough to speak with Berg via email in a preview of Saturday’s upcoming rock extravaganza. 

“[50 Years of Rock and Roll] is an incredible story to tell and I think just about everyone in our country, and around the world, relates to the power, relevancy and influences of Rock & Roll,” Berg described. “While I now spend most of my time writing and producing Broadway musicals, I started off [in] the rock ‘n’ roll world. First as a kid growing up listening and loving the music, then joining bands in high school playing battle of the bands, then playing keyboards in one of the great classic rock ‘n’ roll cover bands in the tri-state area (Boys in the Attic), then replacing Dan Federici of Bruce Springsteen’s band in Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, then touring around the country opening for big-name acts, and eventually being the Composer/Musical Director for Harley Davidson’s 100 Year Anniversary Tour, playing alongside bands like Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, The Doobie Brothers, Steppenwolf, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Journey, Ted Nugent, etc. and even being there when The Doors first reunited with Stu Copeland on drums.” 

Other than being a part of national tours opening for rock concerts, the genre has had a profound effect on Berg’s life. 

“It’s the music I first connected to, it’s the music that crept into my soul before I even knew what was happening, and has never left,” Berg explained. “Rock & Roll connected me to like-minded people, and I’ve made some of my best friends and relationships through [it]. It gave me a way to express myself, learn about myself, and others. It taught me about diversity, about history, about society, style, social injustice, counter culture, civil rights, revolution, connection, and on and on.  And because Rock & Roll music is so diverse, it led me to explore and love different styles/types of music. For example from early Elton John and Emerson Lake and Palmer I started loving and exploring classical music. From Steely Dan I started loving and exploring jazz music, and so forth. From the Beatles I learned that four young ordinary “blokes”, when put in the right situation, with a willingness to keep learning and pushing themselves further and further, could become something EXTRAORDINARY! Perhaps most importantly for me, from The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Genesis’s Lamb Lie’s Down on Broadway, I fell in love with telling story through music, which is another definition for “Broadway Musical”, which is ultimately what I’ve done my entire life/career since my last year in college, which was quite some time ago.” 

This isn’t Berg’s first foray into a musical trip through time, as he led a similar touring act in a different genre entirely. 

“I also developed and had a big hit touring show called Neil Berg’s 100 years of Broadway, which told the story of the history of Broadway musicals,” Berg said. “After the success of that, it was only natural for me [to] tell the story of rock ‘n’ roll, not only because I thought it was necessary, but also because I’m so passionate about it, and wanted to share the story and the music in a unique, fun way.” 

Ultimately, Berg is excited to deliver an educational, exciting and entertaining experience to listeners in the Storrs community. 

“Rock ‘n’ roll started long before people think, and once [people] see the show, they will get a great sense of the important influences all styles of American music had on rock ‘n’ roll, and a greater appreciation for each style,” Berg described. “Rock ‘n’ roll concerts have always been about [c]ommunity, and people gathering together to have a unique experience. This will be the same! And while the students will definitely learn something, most importantly, the students are going to get to see and hear some of the most kick ass rock ‘n’ roll singers wail on some of the greatest songs ever written, and they’re going to have an AMAZING time!! As I always say, this is half story and half rock ‘n’ roll concert, so get ready to rock!” 

Tickets for “Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock and Roll” can be purchased at jorgensen.uconn.edu.  

Additionally, for UConn students only, a limited number of free rush tickets for all Jorgensen events can be acquired by emailing the box office (jorgensen.tickets@uconn.edu) between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. the morning before each concert. 

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