Jeff Rolka
Gig Seeker Pro

Jeff Rolka

Alameda, California, United States

Alameda, California, United States
Band Folk Acoustic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Dandelion Review"

I was beginning to wonder what might become of the singer-songwriter. With closet
solo artists like Dave Matthews opting in favor of larger rhythm sections and horn
instrumentation, the whole guy or girl strumming an acoustic guitar thing seems out
of style lately.
Not that Jeff Rolka is an acoustic guitar-toting folkie. But Rolka, who is also not only a
singer-songwriter, takes a stab at reviving the art on his debut solo album, Dandelion.
The power trio of Rolka on bass, Michael Woods on electric guitar and Leo Tallman on drums
works well for Rolka’s Sting-esque songwriting, and they create concise and unpretentious
rock music. The tunes on “Dandelion” are light, simple, upbeat and catchy. In a word, the
album is very listenable.
Other than its subtlety, though, there isn't much here to set it apart from the rest of the pack.
Nothing is unique about the musical style. Nothing rocks too hard and there are few really
sweet breakdowns to emphasize the nice 3 and 4 chord pocket grooves Rolka sings over.
At the same time, nothing gets too slow, sappy, whiny, or even close to cliché, which is
refreshing for today’s light rock scene. The songs definitely grow on you as well, and Rolka’s
perpetual optimism is infectious.
“Rocket Ride” is the most radio-friendly song, although “Personal Friday” is the real hit on this
album. It’s one of those songs that everyone will sing along to at the concert, and it’s a great
song to have on in the cubicle when the job is really pissing you off. “Dandelion” is worth it
just for the emotion behind “Personal Friday.” If you appreciate good, light rock, Jeff Rolka is
definitely for you.
Please visit for more info on this band.
Frank Zeccola
Writer for the San Francisco Observer - SF Observer

"Live Show Review"

A Candid Critique:
I Went to a monday night "Viv and a movie" and was treated to a very excellent night of
music. The band that caught my ear especially was THE JEFF ROLKA BAND.
A power trio, with Mr. Rolka doing all the fronting. Which is actually appropo considering the
band has his name.
They reminded me of a mix between the Police and Zappa with a good measure of Dan
folgelberg thrown in. Now this may seem like a bizzarre combination, but strangely enough it
worked. Let me explain, no let me sum up......Jeff vocals sound like Dan Fogelberg. Clear,
distinct, melodic, with a folksy edge to them.
The arrangments tended to be more Zappa like with bizzare interludes at times that seemed
to be reaching into the wrong places but when you came back you felt as if the voyage was
correct. (no easy task, mind you!) Because Jeff is a bass player and singer he reminded of Sting
and the police. His command of the stage show the veteran in him while his earnest desire to
please gave everything a sense of newness. overall a catchy, enjoyable sign of the times.
Buddy Saleman
San Francisco Music Producer - Buddy Saleman

"Rolka's Waltz"

“Rolka’s Waltz”
I first read James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” when I was a senior in college. Initially
I was drawn to the story because of Baldwin’s marriage of two things I hold sacred: music
and literature. Though Baldwin quickly won my appreciation and motivated me to read his
work several times over, it would be another few years until I truly understood a major
theme of this particular story.
I had seen Jeff Rolka perform several times prior to October 4, 2004. By then, I had nearly
exhausted my copy of Jeff’s debut CD “Dandelion” and still could not pass up an
opportunity to see Jeff and his band perform. Sitting in the balcony above the stage at San
Francisco’s Red Devil Lounge, my two friends and I nursed cold Pabst Blue Ribbon in tired
states from the workday. Amidst the house music that proceeded priceless short
independent films, I was relaxed and prepared to kick back and enjoy another evening of
familiar music. Having seen Jeff perform many of these songs both with his band and
acoustically, I knew what to expect. However, it was never clearer to me then at the end of
this evening that artists, in particular, musicians can never be predicted nor
It wasn’t so much that I had underestimated Jeff, rather I could not immediately identify
what was so different about the performance once it concluded. Yes, there were some new
songs such as “Be There,” “Every Little Thing You Do,” and “Sarah,” but there was still
something fresh about the performance that could not solely be credited to an expanded
catalog. What was different was Jeff. Jeff was different from the guy who had written and
performed these songs hundreds of times. What was different about him was his comfort, a
comfort that was so appropriate and so apparent that for the first time I realized that Jeff
Rolka truly was where he belonged. At home on stage, he was certainly still the likeable,
friendly, and ever so appreciative singer/songwriter he has always been. He was an
appealing young musician with lots to say both happy and sad, but said it all with song and
with an appreciative demeanor uncommon in high-profile modern musicians. These
attributes: a friendliness without deliberation, a grace without effort, and a talent without
swagger are unfortunately all rare qualities in most periods of rock and roll’s long history,
but guaranteed qualities in every conversation and every performance with Jeff Rolka.
Having already arrived at the mid-20’s crossroads, it was inspiring for me to see a friend so
comfortable in who he was and take so much pride in what he was doing with his life –
making his dream become a reality.
As I later reflected on the performance, I recalled Baldwin’s story. I now understood the
sense of pride the narrator felt for his brother Sonny as he witnessed Sonny’s glory as all of
his emotions, both tortured and glorious come pouring through during a passionate live
performance. It is this display of realism – this intimate sharing of an artist with his audience
that makes the live performance a strong examination of the human condition. Fortunately,
Jeff Rolka has not had to endure the life experiences that gave Sonny his blues. Like all of
us, Jeff has experienced emotions of all extremities. Jeff’s success as a songwriter comes
from his ability to share universally felt emotions, based on his private life experiences. This
is what links a loyal audience to an outstanding songwriter – this ability to convey
something familiar by saying it in such a personal, eloquent, and poetic way that no other
person could duplicate. I believe that this talent, along with his deep devotion to his
audience and an effortless, yet unrelenting commitment to remaining the good person that
he is, is what allows Jeff to gain a wider audience and further engage the already devoted.
Baldwin eloquently explains that Sonny’s “triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.” This
statement was the fundamental revelation I had about Jeff Rolka on the evening of October
4, 2004. And that too, is what ultimately makes Jeff Rolka and his music so appealing: it’s
not just the music, but it’s the man and the connection he makes with us. He doesn’t want
the success to be just about him. He wants the success to be about everyone who
experiences the music. And for that I am grateful and so satisfied to be a fan of a deserving
musician and friend.
- Dave Armo
January, 2005
San Francisco, California - Dave Armo


Somewhere in the Fade



The release of ‘Somewhere in the Fade’ feels a lot like the day you get your driver’s license according to singer/songwriter Jeff Rolka

“I had a lot of things to get off my chest, “ says Jeff Rolka. “and ‘Fade’ was the perfect platform to do it. I studied really hard, I went to the DMV, took the test, and now I can happily drive on!”

Produced by Andrew Griffin and Jeff Rolka (Dave Armo, Duff Ferguson) and mixed and mastered by Rob Beaton (Doobie Brothers, Adam Cohen, Santana, Starship, Whitney Houston). Somewhere in the Fade is Rolka’s second full length CD released fully on his own. Impressed by his growth, Iris Distribution was eager to handle his digital distribution after he returned from his 2005 National Tour.

Rolka’s latest CD, Somewhere in the Fade, was recorded in his own personal studio in Alameda, CA during the winter of 2005. He spent six months writing and recording 15 songs, 10 of which are included on the album, with guitarists Max Butler (Chuck Prophet), Rich McCulley (Rich McCulley Band, The Mains), Mike Fiorentino (Viv), bassists Kevin White (Chuck Prophet) and Peter Canton (Megan Slankard, Tremolo) keyboardist Justus Dobrin (Viv) and drummer co-producer Andrew Griffin (Viv).

While the songwriter originally from Detroit, Michigan continues to explore the themes of love and love lost, his music is more fully realized by the talents of his all-star Bay Area ensemble. “Don’t Blame Me,” “Every Little Thing,” and the rocker “3 a.m.” are huge in scope and sound. Recording on a variety of instruments (gtr, piano, bass, wurlitzer, samples), Rolka seamlessly transitions from the alt. Indie flavored “Good Angel,” to an introspective antique vibe on, “Return to Me.”

“I wanted to make a record that sonically embodied the highs and lows I have felt. I wanted it to stand on its own without requiring explanation,” says Rolka. “The best part is having the people around me to push me to be honest and forthcoming with the stories. They never let me dodge a bullet!”

After recording ‘Dandelion’ over the course of a year and a half on and off in San Francisco’s Potrero Post recording facility, Rolka says it was satisfying to do ‘Somewhere in the Fade’ all at once. “Dandelion has a lot of heart, but I hear myself changing and growing on the record; as any artist should. Somewhere in the Fade, however, happened very quickly by comparison, and is a beautiful cohesive vision realized.”

Rolka calls the Bay Area his home, and although his roots go back to Motown; California is where he has found an environment conducive to his creative impulses. “Writing songs has never been better or more fulfilling,” says Rolka. “Sarah happened for me up on the drive around Tilden Park in Berkeley, CA. Just myself and my guitar in the back of my truck wondering aloud about someone, and there it was.” This was only a few months after the release of ‘Dandelion’ and scant weeks after his return from tour.

It was then only weeks before Andrew Griffin broached the idea of making a record together, and with the abundance of new, powerful material, the time was ripe.

“Getting a band together for these songs blew me away. When you’re in the same room as Max Butler, Kevin White, Justus Dobrin, and Andrew, magic things happen. The environment was as open as it could be, and textures in the music reflect these open good willed sessions. Truly a dream come to life.”

Before long the project was in Rob Beaton’s hands, and trips to LA became the norm. “Rob is a masterful producer/engineer that I feel privileged to work with. Being an engineer myself, I can appreciate his vision for sound and how to sculpt it. He reduced me to tears the first time I heard “Sarah” in his studio. I’ll never forget sitting behind the console as the first piano chords rang out of the monitor. It was what I had wanted, in the flesh, in my ears, and my poor heart, it broke all over again.”

As word spreads, Rolka finds himself booking up further and further in advance. With release celebrations coming in March of 2006 and several dates before and after already booked, there will be plenty of opportunities to catch him in the Bay Area and along the West Coast Region. Clubs in Indiana are soliciting bookings as well, and it looks as if the Mid-West will get another chance to hear him.