With 25 years in music, the entertainer and “music activist” set about to coordinate an event that would draw people in who would donate to the cause. Along with her own band, Rokaholix headlining the rock concert, two other local bands, Axe Blade and Bad Tattoo, joined to form an unbeatable trio of live bands to perform Saturday night at the VFW. The Bad Tattoo starts it off at 9 p.m., Axe Blade comes on stage at 10 p.m. and Rokaholix hits the stage at 11 p.m.
Besides Pettit, who is affectionately known as “Motormouth,” Rokaholix boasts Donnie Blankenship, guitar; Bill Dyer, drummer; and Greg Maxwell, bass. Her husband, Gary, is soundman/deejay. The band, she said, took two years to build. She also plays guitar (not yet in the band), along with several other instruments.
The Bad Tattoo Band members are Bethany Yates and Chris Celandrino and Axe Blade includes Jason Just, James Malone, Lydia Just and O’Neil Dover.
Getting together with other bands is nothing new for Pettit. Last year, Pettit said she did more benefits than in the last 25 years. The Rokaholix’s first benefit gig was in Chattanooga bringing together so many musicians in honor of a fellow musician. And she organized the entertainment for the benefit event, also, for the Chattanooga Area Brain Injury Association. The event featured 14 Chattanooga Divas onstage for 12 hours, raising $8,000 for local children with brain injury. She has been involved four years with the annual fundraiser as their auctioneer.
The Chattanooga Divas event was birthed from her inspiration to link together women entertainers from Athens to Dalton, Ga. Some 30 to 40 women came together and got to know each other.
Born in Chattanooga, Pettit has been singing since she was a little girl standing at the piano while her aunt played, and at church. But the talent was there, and using a hairbrush for a mic, she sang along with shows like “Saturday Night Fever.” She and a girlfriend used to sing in her basement and record their “performances.”
In the seventh grade, Pettit saw her first live band in person at a pep rally at middle school. “I fell in love with live music,” she said, and became a “show dog” to friends.
But it was a few more years before she would overcome her shyness and come out singing. She worked several years as a lab assistant/phlebotomist at Bradley Memorial Hospital, but decided to stay home with her 9-month-old son, Corey, and made a solid living doing nothing but singing for 15 years. That son, now 21, has his own band.
Since the early 1990s, Pettit has performed her own show, as well as fronted several bands. Her first band was Breakin’ Loos and her first well-known band was AlleyKat, which set the attendance record in a local club. Karaoke/DJ, she said, helped pioneer the local karaoke scene and at the time, had the longest running show at a club in Cleveland. She has performed — with bands such as Groove Station and Adrenaline Drop — in five states and is considered one of the top entertainers in East Tennessee. She has performed at Riverbend, the Ocoee Olympic Festival, and the World Cup Canoe and Kayak Association celebrations.
Although Pettit was making a living in music, she wanted more. Cover tunes and playing bar gigs didn’t satisfy her passion to bring original music live to people who are addicted to true rock and roll — not cookie cutter cover bands.
Rokaholix members, she said, agreed they did not want to be just another cover band. “It is a sober, professional group — we are entertainment, not a party band, and the bar scene doesn’t appeal to us.”
Pettit said the songs she sings never encourage people to drink, cheat and so forth. “I want songs to make you feel good,” she explained. “We want our music to be positive and uplifting, make feel good ... also spark your thinking about what is going on around you in our world — real music not generated with electronics by real people about real life. And every now and then, there’s a sappy love or love lost song as well.
So writing, recording and releasing their own materials, the Rokaholix members agreed, will “hopefully leave our mark for future generations.”
The Rokaholix founder said she “lucked up” to get the talented people to build the band that has integrity and they truly enjoy each other in music.
“It’s only befitting we write and play together and ride this out as long as our hearts’ desire ... and take you along to enjoy the ride.”