Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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20190116 GreenGate IMG 6017Danny & The Juniors boldly proclaimed, in their musical hit in 1960. that “Rock n Roll is here to stay.”

In the 70s, the John Travolta and Olivia Newton John confirmed that prognostication in the movie “Grease.”

Now, another 40-plus years later, Winter Texan parks and resorts across the Rio Grande Valley are enjoying rock n roll more than ever and making sure it’s here to stay. Green Gate Grove is one of the latest parks to add a rock 'n roll jam to its list of weekly events. The park ended the year on a rockin' note with a dozen different performers with songs ranging from George Bowers performing “Johnny B. Good” to Bob and Lily Weibe with Elvis' “Don't be Cruel” and Mark Schwendner with an exciting and fun version of “Wooly Bully.”

The event is new for the park, and judging by the excitement on the stage and in the crowd, it will be a growing event throughout the year.

One of the things that seems to be consistent in the jams is the level of talent. In most cases, performers at one time or another played with some of the greatest entertainers throughout history. Martin Strubberg, who was the host of the Green Gate jam, remembered the day when he and some other musicians were together when Ike and Tina Turner walked into the building. They were in town one day to scout the lead guitarist for the band Strubberg performed with. The band and the Turners spent the day together and when it was over, Strubberg and his band were looking for a new guitarist.

20190116 GreenGate IMG 6024“We were a small group that would get together and go look for some jobs playing in the area,” Strubberg said. “They came into town looking for a lead guitarist and they hired him (Herb Sadler). We spent the day with them and ended up playing behind them in St. Louis. It was the greatest experience of my life. It was just one crazy song after another.
“I was 20 or 21 and they had just hit the big time. Talk about being nervous.”

After that experience, Strubberg organized a band and they stayed together for about 16 years. Later on, after he left the band, he moved to Springfield, Mo., and bought a dairy farm.

“I did that for several years and it got to the point where you just couldn't make any money,” he said.

Stories like Strubberg's abounds with the performers throughout the Valley’s various stages, from playing with Elvis to performing with the likes of the Turners or B.J. Thomas or Charlie Daniels, the underground music scene among Winter Texans is like a virtual who's who.

Brothers Bob and Bill Schneider, who sang “World Without Love” and “White Sports Coat,” have made their living performing – for 60 years.

“We started when we were 7 in church together,” Bill said. Then my mom bought a guitar for me when I was12 and I learned three chords.”

The Schneiders play at three rock n roll jams weekly but will try to perform in two jams per day, six days a week. Born in North Dakota and raised in Iowa, the Schneiders have lived full time in the Valley, staying at Circle T Park, for the past year and a half. The brothers have performed in Branson, Mo., Las Vegas and around the globe over those six decades.

“We enjoyed the Green Gate jam, it was very good,” said Bill, adding that they perform also at Bentsen Grove and at a new jam on Tuesdays at Casa del Valle. “There are more rock n roll jams being created. We like that.”

That's because rock n roll is here to stay.

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