If you love rock and roll you will love the Roadrunners and for good reason. The Roadrunners play tribute to the true queen of rock and roll–Joan Jett, who with her Blackhearts band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Joan Jett is a legendary musician who put her stamp on the music world as a teenager when she was the leading force in the Runaways–a teenage all female rock and roll band who made history and drew world wide acclaim in the late 70’s before the split launching Jett into a historic career on her own.
The Roadrunners run deep in musical intensity and experience that includes Rose Kuhel on lead vocals and guitar, KB Bradly on lead guitar and vocals, Jeff Graham on bass and Rick Chillemi on drums.
Joan Jett has been a musical influence to many and that includes Rose Kuhel who fronts the Roadrunners and plays her heart out rocking every show with her heart, soul and sweat. Rose has been active and rocking the NE Ohio music scene since her teens with Guys and Dolls and which included playing bass and vocals in Cherry Bomb–an original all female hard rock band influenced by the Runaways and Joan Jett. Rose also fronted the all female band Rebel Girl and RFK as well as been in several bands over the years leading up to the Roadrunners.
On the lookout for a new band, Kuhel met Jeff through another band mate of his and the idea of starting a Joan Jett tribute band was in the works.
“I was thinking about starting a band to supplement my income when I’m not working. And also to have fun. I’m not big on cover bands but that’s how you “make money here. Jeff said we should start a JJ tribute band. I never even thought about it. So Jeff and my date were also in an original band that I thought kicked ass. It was loud 3 chores rock and roll with a good hook kind of band. They had great chemistry. I went home, picked up my acoustic and turned on some Joan Jett. I live in an apartment so I was trying to be polite. Now I’ve learned Runaway tunes in my old band Cherry Bomb and again in Rebel Girl but never did I think I could cover Joan. She is a real pro when it comes to being a front man. Plus she sings and plays in a totally unique fashion. I’m not great at totally copying someone but when I sat with the songs, the spirit of Rick and roll just flowed through me so I thought the very least I can do is pay a great tribute to JJ and all that she has done for music. I called my guy and said, “I’m in. Let’s do it!” Sent him a song list and waited. A whole year went by but I was having fun learning to play and sing like Joan.”
Nothing happened for a year before things finally came on track. ” I kept asking him if they were still in and he kept saying Yeah, yeah! Anyway, I felt confident enough to start looking elsewhere. A friend reunited me with KB my guitar teacher and ex band mate from Guyz & Dollz and The Crybabies with Bradsholes and I asked him if he would play guitar for me. He accepted and we formed a band quickly. I asked Bob Coon if we could open for his band sometime. He said yeah, how about in a month. I said shit, ok. The drummer in that band was also playing in a band with Jeff. Jeff had no idea I started this band and was bummed out I didn’t ask him to do it with me. Come to find out, the guy I went out with never even asked him. He was lying to both of us. So Jeff shows up at my show and we talk about what happened. There was no question in my mind that Jeff was supposed to be part of it. So I said right there, “if you want the job it’s yours”. He accepted. The rest is history.”
Kuhel always strives to be the best and is making her band a must see experience as Jett and her reputation in music has already set the bar at a high level. Kuhel said, “To try our best and continually evolve in to being an authentic representation of JJ&theBH to introduce people to JJ and how she pioneered Rock & Roll. To empower people of all kind to be themselves and leave it all on the field. And honestly, to play some of the most kick ass music ever written. And also to get free drinks and French fries !”
Although the band has only been playing out live since May, they are making plans for the upcoming year with great news. “We are going back into rehearsal to come out in 2022 with a better show, tighter package and try a little harder to put as much energy and fun in the live show as Joan does. We are also in the process of writing new songs with plans of recording and doing our own music as well. It’s so exciting to play all these good songs and get energized into writing songs that are consistent in that energy.”
Anyone who knows and loves Joan Jett this is a must see. For those who are on the fence it is time to jump in and join the rock and roll party! Kuhel said, “Checking out the best looking band around, singing along and being the stars of the show, getting energized and smoking a shit ton of weed! Every song just kicks ass. You feel like Mohamed Ali. You feel like you can kick ass all night! We will bring the party every night just like Joan does. But most importantly, this band is very special to us. We love JJ&the BH so we get to sing and play and get lost in the sweat.”
When it comes down to paying respect to what Jett accomplished and how she leads by example, Kuhel said, “To recognize the balls it took for Joan to carry out her vision of rock & roll as a young teen to the present AKA the long game. And to pay respect to her as a pioneer in rock and roll. If you want something you have to believe,endure and move forward. Well I’ve been playing for a little while now. I still love rock and roll so I also want to write and record and I want to continue to bring it to people.”
And for those who are not aware what Jett accomplished, Kuhel said, “She started an all female Rock & Roll band called The Runaways when she was 16 with Cheri Curie, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox and the late great Sandy West(RIP). When she went solo and tried to get a record deal all the labels turned her down. So she gave them the finger and started her own label with Kenny Laguna. They sold records out of trunk of the car and turned I love Rock & Roll into a hit. She didn’t quit, she didn’t give up, she didn’t sellout, she didn’t make herself a spectacle. She represented the spirit of rock & roll. The rest is history. Joan’s influence on me? Very impactful. She let me know it’s ok to be a strong woman playing guitar pussy to the wood style. Guys say balls to the wall. Joan says pussy to the wood. Her songs touch me emotionally. I felt like someone understood me. The beats just pumped like blood through my veins. I went out on tour with Tower of Power for about 8 months in 2018 and all I could do was think about how I wanted to be a Blackheart. I thought I could play bass in her band. When I was young I felt so intimidated by that thought. Now that I’m older, I’m more aware of my talent. But just that thought and feeling got me through some tough times. I love rock & roll, a good hook and an attitude. How could I not be influenced by Joan? When you saw I love rock & roll on MTV in 1981 it just lit you up and made you wanna be a rock star. I didn’t fully learn about JJ and the Runaways until I joined Cherry Bomb. Amy Good was giving college courses on JJ and The Runaways . Anyway, I’m so glad Joan was putting herself out there in this world so Tom Boys like me could someday fit in.”
Kuhel believes Jett in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is well justified. “Well she most definitely deserves it. My old band Cherry Bomb once recorded a record at Paramount studios in Hollywood with Kim Fowley. So I know Joan’s documentaries are close to being accurate. That being said, she really walked the line for Rock & Roll and deserves every accolade available. She has the best fans in the world. I never met a Jett Head I didn’t like. Joan still rocks at a high level. We are humbled to play her music. She made history. “
Another artist Kuhel pays tribute to is one of Jett’s primary influences–Suzi Quatro. “Suzi Quattro- I’m on love with Suzi!I mean I’ve always known about Suzi but you really have to dig to find out all the shit she did. I ran across her YouTube page during the Covid shutdown. She was doing a little ditty every so often where she would take one of her songs, give a little back story, grab her bass and tear it up. It was called the baseline with Suzi Quattro. Then she put out a documentary called Suzi Q. She is so personal and you just gotta love her. Why she isn’t in the R&RHOF I’ll never understand. Band man, does she slam! We are doing Shine my machine as one of our encore songs. After all, Joan did pick up a lot from her. “Allegedly”, Joan stole a poster off of Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco wall. “
If you are seeking to hear and experience a great rock n roll performance and simultaneously fill your hearts and souls with the music of Joan Jett then the Roadrunners are your direct ticket to truly an experience you need to take head on live and in the flesh. Let your hair down, have a drink, and live for rock and roll–just as Joan Jett does and the Roadrunners bring to life before your very eyes and ears! “Our hope is to inspire a resurgence of rock and roll back into the scene. Create a new generation of Jett Heads. That people come and sing like they are driving in their car, and also that if Joan ever needed a fill in Blackheart for an evening she would consider one of us to fill the position. If you come to a show please bring weed and snacks, don’t take yourself too damn serious, we are just a bunch of Jett Heads happily performing the Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth. We love rock & roll and especially Joan Jett & the Blackhearts Joan has enough music to keep rotating through her obscure stuff through our sets. Just when you think you heard it all, we will bust out another Runaways or Joan tune to keep you coming back. I fell like a Roadrunner! I feel like we put a lot of sweat equity in 2021. We are now starting to play the bigger stages. Stay tuned …!”
You had better mark your calendar for the Roadrunners! They will play The John S Knight Auditorium on February 19th (Saturday) at 8:00 pm! Tickets are available online and through ticketmaster. Get ready to rock and roll with the Roadrunners and keep posted on all their shows. A must see show!!!