Drummer Marco Del Destino laughs about his near-misses with famous musicians over the years. His former band used to run into Bruce Springsteen when they played in Asbury Park, New Jersey, but that was before he joined. When he couldn’t make a gig in Florida one time, Steven Tyler from Aerosmith was sitting a few feet from the stage.
Now, however, the rockabilly drummer plays with one of the pillars of the genre. For the past four years, he’s been with Dibbs & the Detonators, featuring guitarist Dibbs Preston.
“He’s a legendary figure. He has such an amazing voice and he’s a great guitar player. I consider it an honor,” said Del Destino.
Preston may not be a household name, but in roots-rock and rockabilly circles, his career is well known. Originally from London, he toured internationally with the Rockats starting in the late ’70s and opened for the likes of Iggy Pop, David Bowie and the Clash in their heyday. It was the band that people like Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats sought out while making their own name, and one that still plays occasionally today.
Meanwhile, Preston himself moved to Glenside, Montgomery County about 10 years ago, where the Blue Comet bar hosted rockabilly bands every Sunday night.
“The story goes that he came to the Blue Comet and liked the feeling of Glenside,” recalled Del Destino. “Everybody was pretty excited. It was kind of hard to believe how accessible he was.”
Del Destino sat in with Preston occasionally while playing with the Razorbacks, and became a full-time Detonator four years ago.
“He seems like such a natural on stage with his confidence and demeanor. We all get stressed out on stage sometimes, but it’s very relaxing to play with him.”
It’s also fun. Rockabilly, says Del Destino, is the type of music that people, even if they don’t actively listen to it, always enjoy it when they hear it — especially live.
“Rockabilly is sort of under the mainstream, but any place you go you can find a place to play it and people will love it,” he said. “Anyone from age 5 to 95 will enjoy that sound.”
Del Destino expects more of a “people who like to watch and bop their heads” crowd for their show at John & Peter’s in New Hope on Friday. But there are places like the crowd in Glenside or further out in Lancaster or Phoenixville, where bands like Dibbs and the Detonators play ballrooms and other large spaces where people can spread out and move.
Dancing, especially swing dancing, is catching on again and especially at rockabilly shows, according to Del Destino. More young people are taking lessons on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, and showing off their moves on the weekends.
“It really is inspirational to play for those people,” he said. “And that really is our goal: to make it impossible for you to sit down.”
Dibbs & the Detonators will play John & Peter’s, 96 S. Main St. in New Hope, on April 8. For information, visit www.facebook.com/dibbsandthedets.