Rhythm Rockets
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Rhythm Rockets

| Established. Jan 01, 1996

Established on Jan, 1996
Band Blues Swing


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



"CD Review- Fall 2003"

When lovely Nicole Kestler breathily leads an inspired reading of the standard "Fever," halfway through the Rhythm Rockets' latest release, Take Off, she could melt an iceberg in the dead of winter. This is my professional opinion and I'm sticking to it.

I suppose the rest of the Chicago-based septet has their charms as well. The Rockets have obviously patterned themselves after the jump blues bands of the '40s and '50s, and those roots are reflected in tight, sax-driven arrangements on "Pachuko Hop," and "Tina's Cantina," as well as a superb reading of Big Bill Broonzy's "Trouble In Mind." With three sax players as well as guitars, piano and drums backing up Kestler's steamy vocals, the band can switch from fat blues thumpers to smoky standards in a heartbeat.

However, there are also some inspired excursions here, particularly Andy Blanco's originals like "Shuffle of the Damned," which would be perfectly at home backing up shadow dancers in New Orleans. Blanco also composed "Vampire of Love," a clever and well-written song portraying one of the grand femme fatales of the world.

The Rhythm Rockets bring a rich blend of influences that build a fine foundation for the septet's obvious plethora of talent. Sweet home Chicago, indeed. - Atomic Magazine- S. Clayton Moore

"Featured Band Story- July 2006"

In January of 1996, guitarist Dave Downer embarked on a musical project that was fueled by his passion for vintage Rhythm & Blues. With determination, lack of common sense, no musical skills, and a “must go on” attitude, he managed to put together what has become one of Chicagoland’s most popular and unique Jump, Rhythm & Blues bands.

Heavily influenced by the sax-driven Jump, Rhythm & Blues bands of the late 1940's & early 1950's, the Rhythm Rockets bring to the stage the high energy roots music that influenced the founding fathers of Rock & Roll. Between the big band sounds of the 1940's and the birth of Rock & Roll in the 1950's, was a style of music that gave way to Rhythm & Blues. The Rhythm Rockets recreate those authentic sounds of yesterday. This high energy, up-tempo, dance music was created by black artists who were inspired and schooled by the pre-war Swing era. In turn these artists were inspirational to the founding fathers of Rock & Roll such as Bill Haley and His Comets, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and of course, Elvis Presley. These musicians often credited the Jump bands of the 1940's & 1950's as the basis and influence of their own sound.
Not realizing that the 1990’s Swing revival was in full swing (no pun intended) at the time he formed the Rhythm Rockets, the band enjoyed much success. For the first four years, the Rhythm Rockets performed 5-6 nights a week at various venues and private engagements. The Rhythm Rockets also traveled the country in support of their three CD releases. Performing in Seattle to San Diego, New York to Atlanta, and throughout the Midwest, they were spreading the gospel of vintage Rhythm & Blues to audiences of all ages.

In addition, Columbia Tristar included four Rhythm Rocket original songs on the critically acclaimed, but short-lived, FOX-TV show, The Tick. The Tick was a live-action comedy based on an animated series spoofing super heroes. The show enjoys a cult following and you can still purchase the full season (nine episodes) of The Tick on DVD.

Fast approaching their tenth year of performing, the Rhythm Rockets still are tearing up the stage 150 times a year. For the past eight years they have been performing every Wednesday night at Frankie’s Blue Room in Naperville, IL. Frankie’s is the only Chicagoland venue offering a weekly Swing night complete with live music and dance instruction.  The Rockets are still bringing in a full house on Wednesdays and have recently finished recording their fourth album.

The Rockets keep it basic, using the same instrumentation as those early groups once did. Laying down a solid rhythmic heartbeat falls on the shoulders of drummer, Mark Fornek. The Rockets frontline is provided by two saxophones, one tenor and one baritone. The two are often seen walking the bar while soloing. This is the musical foundation that supports one of Chicago’s most talented and authentic singers, Nicole Kestler. Nicole switches her smokey vocals effortlessly between Jazz standards and gut-bucket Rhythm & Blues. The Rhythm Rockets provide a show that appeals to all ages, to aficionados of the Blues, to lovers of Jazz, and to those who need to dance.

In addition to Frankie’s Blue Room on Wednesday nights, you can see the Rockets perform at various venues and outdoor events around Chicago. Check out the band’s schedule at

www.therhythmrockets.com for a complete listing of shows
- Suburban Nitelife Magazine


Come Ride The Rocket- 1998
Real Men Don't Do Housework- 2000
Take Off- 2002
Jump & Shout- 2007



This high energy, six piece band brings a unique style of American music to the stage. From the retro clothes and instruments to the infectious toe-tapping music, the Rhythm Rockets have delighted audiences of all ages. Their stage show involves the spectator as well, with the crowds joining in during the shout choruses and the bar-walking saxophones.

The Rhythm Rockets are a unique band. We bring a show to the audience reminiscent of the early days of Rhythm & Blues. The REAL early days! The days that saw the emergence of America’s music to the world. The Rhythm Rockets perform Jump, Rhythm & Blues from the 1940’s and 1950s exclusively. With vintage instruments, clothes, sounds and show, we give the audience an authentic look back in time.

The Rhythm Rockets’ brand of music and show is unique. We pride ourselves on originality. Whether it’s our original compositions, our unique arrangements of old classics or our version of that obscure tune, we present it in a hip format that appeals to all ages.

Performing over 150 dates per year since 1997, the Rhythm Rockets have become a favorite to fans of all ages. Top Chicagoland venues like the Paramount Arts Center, Willowbrook Ballroom, Green Dolphin Street, the United Center, Pheasant Run Resort, and Rialto Square Theater, have hosted the Rhythm Rockets. In addition, the Rhythm Rockets performed at Chicagoland’s longest running, weekly Swing Night at Frankie’s Blue Room in Naperville, IL for 8 years.
The Rhythm Rockets have performed at top venues such as the Plaza Hotel in New York, as well as venues and events in New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Missouri, Washington, California, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

In 2001, Columbia Tristar included three Rhythm Rockets’ songs on their FOX Television show, The Tick, now available in it's entirety on DVD, all nine episodes!