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Rockin’ with a bunch of Rotten Tomatoes

Monday, October 29th, 2012 | Posted by

Current members of The Rotten Tomatoes. Gerard Giudice stands in white.

Gerard Giudice claims that before he started the cover band, The Rotten Tomatoes, he never sang a note in his life.

So how in the world did he become the lead singer?

Three years ago Bill Pettibone, his business partner at Sally Tomatoes, decided Giudice needed a hobby. A friend suggested he start a band.

Oktoberfest segued into Rocktoberfest at Sally Tomatoes. A musician asked Giudice what song he could sing. When he chose Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” he was asked what key he’d sing it in.

“I’ll sing it and you tell me what key it is,” was his answer.

It wasn’t that Giudice, 50, never had the opportunity to play an instrument or hit a melodic note. In fact, he comes from a lineage of great musicians.

His grandfather, Generosso Guidice, was a voice coach for opera singers. He had been a child prodigy, conducting the symphony orchestra at Yale by the time he was sixteen years old. Using the band name Jerry Jordan to hide his Italian heritage, he played with many famous musicians of his era—including Louis Armstrong, Vic Damone and Nelson Riddle, who did arrangements for Sinatra.

Giudice’s father was also a singer. He played bass in Generosso’s orchestra while Giudice’s uncle played the drums. Even his brother and sister played instruments.

“I resisted it,” Giudice says of his grandfather’s attempts to get him to play piano, guitar and violin. “It was a sore point between us.”

It wasn’t until auditions were held in the boardroom at Sally Tomatoes that Giudice began to sing and hasn’t stopped since.

“We’re all just a bunch of rotten tomatoes,” he says about the seven band members, all men between the ages of 47 and 60. “But we’re definitely a party band. Our songs encourage dancing.”

The group has about 60 songs in its repertoire, most from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s—the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Stevie Ray Vaughn. They do about 20 gigs a year, half the time playing for free to support local organizations—just another outlet for Giudice’s commitment to community service.

Giudice says, “We’re the house band of Rohnert Park, which is hilarious.”

The Rotten Tomatoes practice at 6:30 p.m. every Monday night at Sally Tomatoes. You can catch them playing the next time on New Year’s Eve.

Writer Spotlight

Nick Walden is our Rohnert Park + Cotati correspondent.
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