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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Welcome to Rockville: A Day In The Life

Welcome to Rockville took place in Daytona Beach, Florida, May 9 through May 12 at the Daytona International Speedway. There was a special concert for campers on May 8. The festival drew over 200,000 people, marking it as the most attended music festival in the United States, besting Louder than Life's record-breaking 2023 attendance of 180,000.

Thanks to my freelance work for Hometown News Volusia, I had the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the goings on.  My article for the newspaper is linked below.

Herewith, I present greater detail regarding my interview with Dirty Honey lead singer Marc Labelle and observations on Mötley Crüe as well as Judas Priest. 

I did not schedule an interview with Marc Labelle. Getting to speak with him was a fortuitous event. 

The writer's lounge and artist's lounge, both outdoors, are right next to each other. I was hanging in the writer's lounge when Mr. Labelle walked over, looking for his scheduled interview. When I saw him, I asked if he had a few minutes to talk. Graciously, he said yes, informing that he had about 10 minutes before his scheduled interview. 

The Marc Labelle Interview

Charles I Guarria   

All right, so let's start with how many times you guys played Rockville.

Marc Labelle  

Well, this is number three, technically, but (number) two didn't really count because that was the Guns and Roses cancellation.

Charles I Guarria   

Oh yeah. Yeah, that was the rain thing.

Marc Labelle  

We made the trip, but we didn't get to play last; I guess it was two years ago?

Charles I Guarria   

I think so, yeah.

Marc Labelle  

So, three, but officially two.

Charles I Guarria   

Okay, that's fantastic. What brings you back?

Marc Labelle  

Rockville, of course. I mean, it's obviously a great festival, and you know, we're pretty well followed in Florida. Thanks to a lot of stations that play us from the Panhandle down to Orlando and Tampa, we got offered this gig six months ago, routed a couple of dates around it, and made a nice little run. 

Charles I Guarria   

I remember when you guys played in Jacksonville in a place called Jax Live. I was in the audience that night. 

Marc Labelle  

Really? That was a tiny little place. (Per Concert Archive, Dirty Honey has played 369 concerts. To recall that one night was impressive.)

Charles I Guarria   

Tell me about the evolution. What has it been like for the band to come that far? 

Marc Labelle  

It's been great. It's just a testament to the music and the state of rock and roll and what people are looking for and want to hear, and it's just good to see that there's a real thirst for rock and roll again. Metal and hard rock and all those things are good, but I feel like they've kind of been thriving the last 15 years or so. And rock and roll is kind of taking a backseat to that; we're here to give rock and roll the tequila shot that it needs.

(I then tried to think of the song, Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay by Danny & the Juniors, containing the lyric "Rock and roll is here to stay It will never die It was meant to be that way though I don't know why.' released in 1957. He joked that was before his time. Mine too. 😊 My point was meant to be rock n roll shares the stage with other music now, as opposed to when it frost started. However, the idea that it might go away has been around almost since Alan Freed spun the first rock 'n' roll 45.)

Marc Labelle  

Rock 'n' Roll, it's an attitude. I've been a vocal person about Howard Stern getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because he's always pushed back against authority and (said) what he thought was right, and that's what Rage Against the Machine does. That's what NWA did. So, I'm kind of more on that tip of rock and roll. Yes, of course. It's music. It's a very particular style. But it's an attitude. The attitude can come out in country, it can come out in hip hop, jazz, some great rock and roll icons are jazz cats, blues guys, it's not just white dudes playing two guitars, bass, drums.

Charles I Guarria   

I don't want to take up too much of your time I'm sure others want to talk to you. Thanks.

Marc Labelle

Yeah, my pleasure.

Charles I Guarria   

Nice to meet you.

Marc Labelle 

Nice to hear you were at that tiny little club (in Jacksonville).

I got the feeling, based on our convo and  other quotes I have read of his that he is an old soul.

Yes, I did give Mr. Labelle my business card, told him about my upcoming book regarding a rock star and if he was ever interested in writing a script for movie or play he should contact me so he can do that with my next book. Mr. Labelle said "cool" and "okay."

Hey, you have to put yourself out there.

Many hours later, Dirty Honey's bass player, Justin Smolian, was hanging by the bar that joins the writers and artist lounge. I shook his hand, told him the show was great-it was, I wasn't blowing smoke. He said, "thanks," asked my name and introduced himself as if he was a regular 9-5er and not the bass player in one of the most popular rock bands in the USA.

Rockville Notes

Judas Priest's Rob Halford was stiff on stage; it was a bit uncomfortable watching him. Even after the show, when he was walking to the artist lounge, he looked stiff. Can prostate cancer do that to you? Comment below if you know. He will be turning 73 years old this August; maybe that's it? Maybe both? 

I had not seen Priest since they opened for KISS in 1979 at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY (Long Island). I don't plan on seeing them again.

Mötley Crüe should re-retire. During the show, I thought they were okay. However, Vince Neil

can't sing, and most of what they do, like Tommy Lee asking girls to take off their tops, seems formulaic. As if he is expected to do something crazy, so he asks women to pull up their shirts. It's a not really needed few minutes of the show.

John 5 is very solid as the new guy replacing lead guitarist Mick Mars. However, like Priest, Crüe have seen their better days.

Welcome to Rockville is a fantastic event. I thank Hometown News Volusia for getting me there, as well as the team coordinating the press for Don Wimmer Productions for making the time there such a breeze.

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See ya soon!

Photo Credit: Welcome to Rockville



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