Roller Brings ‘Generations of Grassroots Rock’ to campus on Feb. 25

By UW-Waukesha

WAUKESHA –   Bands like the G.T.O’s, Freddy & the Freeloaders, Big Louie & the Renegades and the Mustard Men once disturbed the peace in Milwaukee and its suburbs in the name of rock-n-roll and to the delight of teenagers.Peter Roller

Author Peter Roller tells their story, as well as including more well-known artists such as the Violent Femmes, in Milwaukee Garage Bands: Generations of Grassroots Rock, a book that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said, “provides the hope that teenagers with drums and guitars will continue to get together in unfinished spaces to work up some songs.”

Roller, an associate professor of music at Alverno College, will present a lecture based on the book at noon Tuesday, Feb. 25 at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.

The lecture, which takes place in Commons 101, is free and open to the public. Free parking is available during the lecture. UW-Waukesha is located at 1500 N. University Drive in Waukesha.

Roller will talk about beginning garage bands found in generations from the ‘50s start of R&R through the ‘90s from his book. He will show pictures of amateur bands from these various time periods while talking about what beginning rock musicians value most about joining a first group. Roller will give an alternate view from prevailing notions that there were only valid garage bands during the 1960s and that people enter rock music solely with the desire to become famous or achieve stardom.

Roller also plans to bring his friend and former garage bandleader Fred Bliffert (of the aforementioned Freddy & the Freeloaders) to join him in performing beginning garage band songs at end of his talk.

In addition to teaching and writing, Roller is a guitarist who has performed and recorded in styles that range from blues to French chanson to worldbeat to country swing. He was an accompanist for first generation bluesman Yank Rachell during the 1980s, playing guitar and acting as producer for Rachell’s Grammy-nominated Blues Mandolin Man. Roller also has played with black gospel quartet The Masonic Wonders, dance band Paul Cebar and the Milwaukeeans, blues singer/harmonica player Steve Cohen and chanteuse Robin Pluer.

UW-Waukesha’s spring lecture series also includes talks on the state of public education in Milwaukee, sustainability projects at the Milwaukee Public Museum,” travels in London, the impacts of sports participation on girls, and more. For more information about UW-Waukesha events, visit


UW–Waukesha has the largest enrollment among the 13 UW Colleges campuses. These freshman/sophomore campuses and UW Colleges Online comprise the UW Colleges. They offer an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree and prepare students of all ages and backgrounds for baccalaureate and professional programs.

In addition, UW-Waukesha offers several collaborative bachelor’s degrees through UW-Milwaukee and UW-Oshkosh. Starting this fall, UW-Waukesha is offering the Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) degree completion program, a bachelor’s degree that can be earned at UW-Waukesha in collaboration with UW-Parkside. The degree is conferred by UW Colleges. Classes are taught by faculty from both UW-Waukesha and UW-Parkside.

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Andy Turner