BEST BETS: Singer-songwriters to perform at newly opened Rockshop

Musician Joey Fulkerson plays guitar on stage at the Rockshop Performing Arts Center in Camden. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Paying homage to B&B Music’s former home in Camden, The Rockshop Performing Arts Center opened this spring, bringing another venue for live music to Kent County.

The Rockshop, adjacent to B&B’s current location on U.S. 13, is a 1,200 -square-foot performance space that served as B&B’s home in the early 1970s. Forty-five years later, it’s presenting music in a whole new way.

Designed by the musicians who work at B&B, the center features acoustic paneling, an insulated stage, professional lighting and room to fit 150 audience members.

It also has a concession area, handicapped-accessible bathroom, break room and a recording studio. Music lessons are taught on the second floor.

Opened in April, it has hosted student recitals, improvisational comedy classes, open mics and more.

Sunday, The Rockshop will host a singer-songwriter showcase by area favorites Sol Knopf, Joey Fulkerson and Paul Donovan.

The Rockshop is about a year and a half in the making. Most recently, the building housed the Mr. Vac business, which rented the building from B&B, from 2000 to 2016.

When the business owner passed away and the store closed, the folks at B&B had a big job on their hands.

“We really had to clean everything out. We literally tore out the ceiling, the walls, the floor, everything to get it to a point where we could rent it to another business,” said B&B Music general manager Josh Rose.

“We were going to rent it out to a lady who had a dance studio but we realized we had a lack of parking when we started talking about dropoff and pickup times for her students. We just knew it wasn’t going to be feasible to rent it out to a business that had that kind of flux.”

The thought occurred among employees that it might work to have a dedicated space for recitals, workshops and performances that were previously held in the store itself.

“What we used to do is rent 100 chairs and tear the store apart,” said store manager Donny Marvel.

“We would set up a sound system and some small lights and then we’d have to tear it all down the next morning to get ready for business. This is so much more convenient now.”

With a little prodding of ownership, The Rockshop was born.

“It took a lot of convincing to put up the money to get it up to snuff,” Mr. Rose said.

From left, B&B Music Camden store manager Donny Marvel, B&B Music General Manager, Joshua Rose and Joey Fulkerson stand in front of the Rockshop in Camden. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“It took a little bit of design work and a lot of investment to get it to this point. We had to convince (owner) Roy Voshell and then get him to convince his dad who still owns the building.”

The site has already been used for the young and the not so young. Local musician Ashley Mitchell’s vocal performance students held a recital as The Rockshop’s first event in April and First State Improv has held classes for those as young as toddlers.

“It’s a space to not only do what we want to do but it’s also for the community,” Mr. Rose said.

“Music in the community has always been part of our mission and this is another step in the legacy of the business. All generations can enjoy this.”

Mr. Rose said it’s nice for the younger performers to get their feet wet with a performance space such as The Rockshop.

“To have this stage with the lights and the music is so much different than what we had with the old setup,” he said.

“The sound quality alone is amazing. For the kids, it’s pretty heavy. They aren’t just singing with their headphones in the bedroom. It’s an opportunity to get those first performance jitters out.”

Mr. Rose said the kids’ parents get a kick coming into the new space as well.

“Folks remember coming in here back in the day when the parents were the students and they’ll say ‘I bought my first guitar in here. It looks a lot different,’” he said.

So far, The Rockshop is getting rave reviews.

Singer-songwriter Paul Donovan will join Sol Knopf and Joey Fulkerson for a show of original music Sunday at 3 p.m. (Submitted photo)

“The last open mic we had 23 performers and 80 people. So it’s not just performers. It’s also people coming to see the shows and checking out the venue,” Mr. Marvel said.

Sunday’s show has a definite B&B connection. Mr. Knopf and Mr. Donovan are former employees and Mr. Fulkerson still works there.

“I called Sol as soon as we opened the venue in April and told him we would love to start a concert thing in the fall. He does a lot of these singer-songwriter shows. He got up with Joey who is here and Paul says he loves playing with those guys and they are all friends. So it all worked out,” Mr. Marvel said.

Mr. Fulkerson said he loves having a new place to play right in his backyard.

“It’s great because the (former) Schwartz Center priced us out of our ability to have a show like this. Probably other than maybe (Dover nightclub) Bubba’s, this is the nicest stage in the county,” he said.

“It’s nice to have somewhere to play with a professional sound system and lighting like this. Typically we have to truck that in ourselves and it’s all included here.”

The style of the show is also a favorite of Mr. Fulkerson’s. Each performer will take a turn playing one of his original songs and telling a story behind the writing of it.

“Sol has been doing a lot of these in a lot of other venues — the Schwartz, Smyrna Opera House, Kent Theater Guild. It’s a more intimate setting. In a lot of the places I play, there are 40 TVs and you are background music,” he said.

“This is more intimate. Here, people are coming specifically for the songwriters and you get to tell how you came up with the songs and all of us can take a little more time and connect with the audience. You don’t get to do that a lot.”

Mr. Rose said he’s looking forward to Sunday’s show as The Rockshop continues to branch out.

Sol Knopf

“All three of those guys are stellar performers and songwriters. I don’t doubt with the area of their fan base, it will be a success. Paul lives in New Jersey now but he used to live in Rehoboth and play a lot down there,” he said.

Oct. 13 sees another first for The Rockshop as it will present its first play. Stanton’s 4th Wall theater troupe will stage the mystery comedy “Death in England” at 7 p.m.

“As we are going along, we are discovering more avenues in which to use the space and people are thinking ‘What can I do here?’ Mr. Rose said.

“It’s been a learning experience and we are working our way through it. We’re just happy to have this here. It looks awesome and it sounds amazing.”

Advance tickets for Sunday’s 3 p.m. show are $10 and can purchased at B&B Music at 3443 S. DuPont Highway or online at www.bnbmusic.com/p-2578-in-the-round-performances.aspx.

Tickets at the door are $15.

For more information about upcoming events, visit www.bnbrockshop.com.

Cowboy Up sold

Cowboy Up owners Felicia and Jimmy Baker announced this week that they are selling their popular Dover nightspot.

In an email, Ms. Baker said, “the transition to the new owner will be within the next 30 to 60 days. During this time, we are completing all the necessary processes for the new owner, Charles Boyer, to take over the business. We are working very closely with him to make this a smooth transition for everyone involved.”

She went on to say, “We take this opportunity to thank our many loyal customers, of which many have become friends … even family. We have had a great run these past five years and it would not have been possible, without your support and loyalty.”

Ms. Baker says to stay tuned on exact plans. “Because you know we are planning one last party.”

Over the last five years, Cowboy Up, on Lafferty Lane, has hosted many regional country music acts and a host of community fundraisers.

‘Canterville Ghost’

Second Street Players present “The Canterville Ghost” adapted by Pat Cook from the short story by Oscar Wilde today through Sunday and Sept. 22-24. The Friday and Saturday shows start at 8 p.m. and the Sunday show curtain opens at 3 p.m. All performances will be held at the Riverfront Theatre, 2 S Walnut St., Milford. Tickets are $17 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com or by calling the box office at 800-838-3006.

In the play, Hiram and Lucy Otis can’t wait to move into their pastoral English manor house — just as soon as the ghost moves out. Canterville Hall comes complete with a howling, green ghoul, but only if Sir Simon (the ghost) can remember to bring the green mist with him.

This classic tale spins the Otis family through a maze of dithering maids, blustering bosses and an English realtor who’s always looking for a free lunch. The mystery unfolds amid flashes of thunder and disappearing guests. Only when the Otises can figure out the curse of Canterville Hall can Sir Simon rest in peace.

For more information, visit secondstreetplayers.com.

Now showing

New in theaters is Jennifer Lawrence in the horror film ‘Mother!’ and Michael Keaton in the action-adventure film “American Assassin.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “Wonder Woman” and the comedy “The Big Sick.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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