Michael Somogyi has a deep passion for educating others about rock and roll. “I have a crazy obsession with music,” he says.
Somogyi’s love for the genre, and his general taste in music, gave him a reputation among friends and family back in the day as someone capable of putting together an enjoyable mix of songs, he recalls.
And so, every now and again, people approached him with requests that he burn CDs for them, a process that quickly grew tiring. Somogyi found a solution: He would combine his talent for selecting music with his willingness to share his favorite tunes by creating his own online radio show, uploading episodes to a filesharing website so those closest to him could download and listen.
Dubbed “Rock4Rookies,” Somogyi described the show as a “best of” rock from all ages, incorporating classic rock, oldies, heavy alternative metal and more.
“It started off with me being really pissed off that today, even though rock and roll has been around for over 60 years... people still refer to it as noise,” said Somogyi, 31, who is originally from Texas.
“It was really trying to explain to people that even if you liked pop music or you were into hip-hop or you were into more melodic or beautiful tunes, you would find something that you like in rock and roll.”
Expecting no more than 10-15 listeners, the show quickly blossomed, with the help of a friend in setting up a separate website, rock4rookies.com, soon after.
Within about four months, the website had full-time electronic, indie, country, and pop music shows.
Now, five years later, the Rock4Rookies network is set to celebrate its first big anniversary.
“The different genres of music that exist on my website are all types of music that people who don’t know about them tend to hate,” said Somogyi, known better to his listeners by his stage name, “Maximum Mike.”
“Our statement is that music can literally talk to anyone and there’s something out there for everyone, no matter what it is.”
The Rock4Rookies show airs approximately once a week on the website, running for two hours. During this time, Somogyi plays various rock songs, often including the work of relatively unknown Israeli bands he feels deserve more recognition.
“It’s a shame that it’s so difficult to get noticed and get recognized,” he said.
“With the Internet today, oddly enough where everybody can access anything in the world, the problem is now that there’s too much. Any band can simply go unnoticed because they’re surrounded by a billion other bands.”
Somogyi said that as the years have gone by, he has increased his focus on the Israeli rock scene, which he himself has come to appreciate by attending concerts of Israeli bands that are just starting out.
“My specific statement about rock and roll definitely changed and has become more centered around Israeli rock,” he said. “Israelis are people and they have artistic needs. There’s so many amazing rock bands in this country.”
Often “blown away” by what these bands are doing when he attends their concerts, Somogyi brings some of them on his show for performances as well to interview them.
Somogyi, a full-time English teacher in Ramat Gan, says he hopes this aspect of his show has helped to educate Israelis about their up-and-coming rock stars.
“There’s amazing rock and roll coming out of this country and most people [are] completely oblivious to it, especially Anglos who live here,” he said.
Many of these bands will be performing at Rock4Rookies Live, the five-year anniversary concert celebrating the show, scheduled at the Tmuna Theatre in Tel Aviv on August 22.
“[It’s] kind of like the bar mitzvah of Rock4Rookies,” he quipped.
Somogyi said the concert will follow the same style and format as his show, but up on stage.
It will feature nine Israeli singers and musicians from Shredhead, The Genders, Walkways, Got No Shame, Dolly’s Circus, Vipress, The Prowlers, Kill The Drive, and Oceanic. The singers will perform a total of 22 songs from 22 different rock and roll bands.
The concert costs NIS 40 for an advanced ticket or NIS 50 if bought at the door.
Doors will open at 9:30 p.m., with performances beginning at 10 p.m.
Unlike most concerts in Israel that pay tribute to one band, Somogyi felt it was important to include a wide variety of music – such as metal, pop punk, regular punk, classic rock and roll, rap rock and metal – to reflect the original message of Rock4Rookies, with regard to the diverse selection of genres within rock and roll.
“The show that I’m putting on has never been done before – doing a show which isn’t specific to anything,” he said. “At the end of the day, I just want to hear good music.”
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