24HR Diesel brings that old time rock n roll to Renton | THE CREATIVE SIDE

"Unlike many bands, most of 24 Hour Diesel are not longtime musicians who have been playing for their shot at stardom since they were kids."

Rock ‘n’ roll has staying power, bridging generations. I remember seeing Elvis Presley for the first time on Ed Sullivan in 1956. The young girls had ponytails tied with silk scarves and were screaming in their poodle skirts and over-starched petticoats. The music was so much different from what my parents grew up with.

But now kids listen to the rock ‘n’ roll their grandparents listened to. And you can still hear it performed live right here in Renton with 24 HR Diesel, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing.

I met four members of this local, philanthropic rock band one evening at Doofers in the Highlands. By day they all have ordinary jobs, but by night they become an old-time rock and roll band covering classics by Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Bill Haley, Otis Redding, Dion and more.

Most performances also include some form of fundraising, such as a donation bin for the Renton Food Bank.

Steve Guggenmos, the group’s unofficial spokesperson, and rhythm guitarist doubles as a real-estate broker for Better Properties in real life.

“It’s not a normal band. We’re just a group of friends playing music together,” he said. “We’re doing it for fun, friendship, and charitable causes. We are so close that if one of us quit, it would be time for all of us to hang it up.”

They got the name 24 HR Diesel from a truck stop road sign while driving back from a Relay for Life rally.

Their sound engineer, Tim Holman, who works as a Red Box field tech, said, “I’ve always loved the rock classics. As sound engineer, I try to make the band sound as close as possible to original rock ‘n’ roll.”

Other members of the band include Ron Nevi – bass guitarist and salesman, and his brother Ray Nevi – their drummer who works in food distribution for Merlino Grocers. Not present for the interview were lead guitarist Randy Henderson, a machinist, and lead singer Ryan Hoover, owner of Premier Automotive.

Steve used to work at Microsoft, so they performed at several Microsoft holiday parties and events like the Xbox release party. Bill Gates himself introduced them that night.

The band has performed locally at Red Dog and Dino’s Pub and at Renton River Days. But mostly, they play at private events, block parties and fundraisers for organizations such as Relay for Life, Lymphoma and Leukemia. For five years, they played for the King County Animal Shelter and every January they perform for the Renton Food Bank when holiday donations dry up.

Unlike many bands, most of 24 Hour Diesel are not longtime musicians who have been playing for their shot at stardom since they were kids.

“I picked up the guitar the first time at 42 years old. I got a book and CD and taught myself, starting with the 12 Bar Blues,” said Ron, the group’s oldest member at 56. “Three years later the band started rehearsing in my parents’ basement in an old house on Cold Creek that was supposed to be haunted. Not the usual age for a rock band in their parents’ basement!”

Randy, on the other hand, is the one the others call “our silent leader” because he had been in bands before and was a big help for them with his knowledge of music and performing experience.

Steve and Ray were roommates when the band started in 1996. Steve borrowed an old acoustic guitar that was always out of tune, and Ray played on a toy drum set.

“For two years we were too scared to play in public,” Steve said.

They finally bought real instruments and by 2001 there were five band members all still playing together after 15 years.

Thursday nights are rehearsals at Steve’s house. They’ve been practicing there for several years. Steve’s daughter, Jenna could barely walk when she started hanging out with them. Now at nearly 12 years old, she is an accomplished drummer who has played with the band twice.

Every member of the group graduated from Hazen High School. Randy’s father Jerry was a teacher and a coach at Hazen and at Renton High School.

Tim said “I grew up here. What I love about Renton is that even though it’s grown and there are all these improvements, it still has that home town feeling – a major suburb of Seattle with a small town spirit!”

Ray, Randy and Steve graduated in 1980 along with local entertainment star, Aunt Dottie who introduced me to the band.

When I asked them all if they remembered any unusual patrons, Steve said, “We are usually the most unusual people at our gigs!”

They did have a few memorable gigs though, like the birthday party for an 80-year-old woman who loved dancing to their rock and roll music. And the time they played at a Halloween party that ended with a surprise wedding ceremony.

I’m sorry I missed meeting Randy and Ryan. Ryan is the youngest at 39. “All the chicks love him!” the others said, “He has a very powerful vocal talent and a personality to go with it.”

The band’s next local gig is May 21 at Dino’s Pub on Northeast Fourth Street in Renton. It will be a fundraiser and auction for Lymphoma and Leukemia.

They’ve promised to save a place for me! I’ll be there, perhaps not in a poodle skirt though!

For more information on 24 Hour Diesel, contact Steve at sgugg@msn.com.