Music has been a part of the Toye family for generations.
Before becoming a musician himself, Eddie Toye remembers his maternal grandmother playing the piano. His son, Teddy Toye, has been performing for as long as he's known how to walk, and grew up watching — then performing with — his dad's rock band, the Rockaways.
But after graduating from high school in 2007, the younger Toye pursued bigger goals. He moved to New York City, where he completed his studies at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and entered the professional acting circuit. Most notably, he played Broadway in Bring It On: the Musical and originated the role of Harold in Broadway's Lysistrata Jones.
Currently between tours, the younger Toye, now 25, has returned to Spring Hill for a few weeks. This visit will allow him the chance to perform again with his dad when the Rockaways take the stage with two performances this weekend at Stage West Community Playhouse, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
"I make my way down every six months or so," Teddy Toye said. "While I didn't get to play (with the band) last visit, I did play a year ago in a benefit concert for my sister (23-year-old Amber Lace, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 22 with colon cancer)."
Eddie Toye, who has been planning for some time to do a benefit concert for Stage West, said the timing was perfect.
"It's always a roulette wheel," Eddie Toye said. "But Teddy comes back for the good shows, thank God for that."
A musician for more than 40 years, Eddie Toye formed the Rockaways more than 20 years ago after he left the music business and moved his family to Spring Hill. A fan of the Beatles and Paul McCartney since he first saw the legendary band perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, Toye was part of a Lennon-McCartney tribute act in the 1980s. His music career included an offer to be part of the Association (Along Comes Mary, Cherish), but he turned it down for his own record deal, signing on with Al Shalshinger (Supertramp, ELO, Toto).
The elder Toye provides lead vocals and plays guitar for the Rockaways. Other members include Michael Sullivan on bass guitar and Carl Viola on sax and vocals, who have been with the band for 10 years; Viola has toured in five European countries performing with the Four Kents, while Sullivan has played with Dan Fogelberg and blues legend Luther Allison.
Teddy Toye joined the band about 10 years ago as a teenager. They needed a drummer and he was a natural fit.
"I've been playing drums since I was little," Teddy Toye said. "And I had been at every show my dad ever did and I already knew the songs."
But with Teddy in New York, the Rockaways' drummer is now Mark Stanchis, who played with the Harry Dash Band and is the "driving force of the Rockaways," Eddie Toye said.
While Stanchis is on drums, Teddy Toye will be performing on congas, percussion and vocals.
While the Rockaways' past concert tours concentrated on Beatles or Paul McCartney music, the group plays a variety of classic rock hits from the 1960s and '70s. This weekend's concert will include a variety of classic rock songs, as well as some blues, from not only the Beatles, but Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton and even Buddy Holly.
The show will include multimedia and will open with a Beatles "experience," Eddie Toye said, including songs such as A Day in the Life, Gotta Get You Into My Life and A Hard Day's Night. "Then it will get more eclectic ... with top songs from other favorite artists."
Proceeds from the show will benefit Stage West's building fund.
"(The Rockaways) is a wonderful band," said Stage West board member Leanne Germann. "It's been about eight years since they last played here, so we're really excited."