Today's Song You Should Know: 'Summer Days' By The Wildroots

Post by: Rick Ellis 21 July, 2021

One the heartbreaking things about loving music is that at some point you realize that there are so many great musicians, so many incredible bands who will never get that big break. The history of rock & roll is filled with dreams, but also with even more stories of talented people who were unable to build a commercially successful career.

The same thing is also true for local music scenes. For every success like the Bay Area "Summer of Love" scene in the 60s or Seattle's 90s grunge scene, there are lots of vibrant music scenes that never make it past local fame. Maybe the timing is wrong or there's just too much going on in other hipper parts of the country. But the world of rock music is littered with amazing bands that should have been your next obsession.

Chicago in the late 1970s and 1980s was lousy with great pop rock and roots rock bands. Cheap Trick led the first wave of late 1970s groups to reach national success and while others like Off Broadway and Shoes managed only modest chart success, there was a sense that a real important music scene was building. By the early/mid 1980s, Chicago was lousy with great rock bands. Every club seemed to have another potential star band in the making and the consensus was that once one band broke big, Chicago would have its musical moment in the sun.

And that never quite happened. A lot of bands were signed to major labels, from the staggeringly great root rocks band Insiders (who had a modest hit with "Ghost On The Beach"), to The Elvis Brothers and The Bad Examples. There were at least a dozen bands that were signed to major labels and by the time the 90s rolled around, most of them had lost their deals and none of them had broken big.

But for all of that energy, there were also some great bands that never inexplicably got as far as a major label release. I was living in Chicago back then and The Wildroots were a band you'd always see playing around the local clubs. With incredible hook-filled original tunes and a charismatic lead singer, The Wildroots always felt like they were one break away from making it big.

They didn't. I left Chicago towards the end of the decade and I'm not sure what happened to the band. The only official recording they left is a single track on a local 1987 compilation album entitled "Live From Jay's Garage." Lead singer JD Dragus seems to have worked with local Chicago rocker Hugh Hart on a couple of projects after the Wildroots broke up. But I can't find out much more online. I seem to remember they had recorded some demos for Island Records at one point, but I could be mistaken.

"Summer Days" is a great rocker and when I ran it across it on YouTube while back I was thrilled. It reminded me how great The WildRoots were back then and hearing the song again is more than a little bittersweet. The Wildroots deserve to be remembered and for right now, this is just about all that's left of the band.

The Wildroots were:
JD Dragus: lead vocals & lead guitar
Tom Gerlach: vocals & guitar
Kerry Kelekovich: bass
Dan Massey: drums


Last modified on Wednesday, 21 July 2021 21:31