By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

WHAT BEGAN as a lark for a high school reunion last year looks to be turning into a regular gig for the seven local businessmen that make up rock ’n’ roll band Class Act.

The members of the band had no idea when they began rehearsing for that party in 2003 that they would have audiences up dancing and yelling for more at the Carmel Mission Inn. This Saturday, you can hit the dance floor yourself at the Elks’ Lodge in Monterey when Class Act plays at the Elks’ third annual Sock Hop.

The story of Class Act really begins in 1958, when rock ’n’ roll was in its heyday. The Beatles were yet to happen and Elvis, Fats Domino, Chubby Checker and others ruled the airwaves. Salinas was home to several dance clubs, all now gone, and many groups of teenagers strummed guitars in basements and garages, hoping to make it big some day.

Drummer Jerry Contreras and guitarist J.R. Monigold were both in garage bands at that time, and when, years later, the announcement came that the Salinas High School Class of ’63 was going to have its 40-year reunion, the two began thinking about all the fun they had had playing together. All of the members of their old band had carried on playing music, some with famous artists, and had kept in touch with each other over the years.

An idea was soon born to get a band together, formed from old Salinas High School pals, to play at the reunion party. The organizing committee for the event gave the idea a resounding yes, and so Contreras and Monigold were charged with the task of assembling a band and rehearsing 45 songs … all within nine months!

The band, then called Class Act ’63, turned out to be a huge success. The people at the reunion got up and danced; people from the Class of ’83 reunion in another room at the Embassy Suites came in to see what was going on, and everyone had the time of their lives.

The members of the band thought that would be their only show; however, slowly but surely, repeat performances have started to happen, including their recent appearance at the Carmel Mission Inn.

Keyboard player Bob Lawson claims the band is actually being offered more gigs than it can fulfill — the members all have demanding full-time jobs.

The band, the other members of which are Greg Ramirez (organ), David Monigold (lead guitar), Danny Monigold (bass) and Gary Meyer (sax), has careers that range from Realtor to property manager to Supreme Court judge.

Class Act plays rock and roll music from 1955-1963; if you go to the show on Saturday you can expect to hear old favorites such as “Rock around the Clock,” “Blueberry Hill” and “The Twist.” The band prides itself on always playing only one song by any given artist in a night, so if you hear 30 songs, you will hear material by 30 different bands!

Tickets to the Elks’ Sock Hop are $35 each, which includes dinner, dancing to a DJ and Class Act, plus a raffle.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, April 1, 2004

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