LACONIA — There was perhaps no better vantage point to watch the development of rock 'n' roll than from the radio disc jockey’s seat. They were able to play songs that no one had heard before, and to see what struck a chord with audiences at that moment in time. That’s why Mike Smith made the DJ the center of his multimedia show, “Rockphoria,” which is taking to the Lakeport Opera House stage tonight.
Smith is owner of the Winnipesaukee Muskrats and a speech pathologist staffing agency, but before any of that, he was a musician. His piece, Rockphoria, dates back to his days as a Laconia High School student in the mid-1980s.
He said it began as a songwriting exercise that he and another young musician, Scott Cormier, did. “Neither of us could sing very well, so we would put together medleys of classic rock songs,” Smith said. Over time, they found they could string together one well-known song after another, sometimes going 20 minutes without stopping.
Later, Smith started writing a show to go along with the mash-ups. He created a character, through whom he could tell the story of the music form’s development. More recently, during the pandemic, Smith picked it up again, dusted it off and re-wrote it, making it ready for the stage.
“It’s a nostalgic look at how rock 'n' roll came up, through the eyes of a DJ. That’s who tells the story,” Smith said.
Through it all, Smith sought to answer, why do musicians do what they do? What compels them to spend their lives with their instrument and a notebook, then sharing their creations with the world?
While exploring these questions, a live band, including Smith, will perform “musical acrobatics” to seamlessly flow from one song right into the next, covering 70 classics along the way.
Smith said the show will appeal to a range of rock and music fans. Those well versed in the genre are guaranteed to hear dozens of their favorite hits, while younger fans will learn about the historic context surrounding the songs.
Some segments of the show have been performed before, Smith said, but this will be the premier of Rockphoria since it was re-written.
“This is the first actual showing of it, so we’re excited,” Smith said. He hopes to bring it to other audiences, but made sure that his hometown would be the first to see it. “It had to be Laconia. I wanted to bring it here, I’m a Laconia kid. It has to be Laconia for me.”