Rocko Dalian, seen here singing one of Bohemian Funk’s songs at a show, is a product of the Ferndale and Berkley school systems, and he credits a former teacher for helping foster his love of music.

Rocko Dalian, seen here singing one of Bohemian Funk’s songs at a show, is a product of the Ferndale and Berkley school systems, and he credits a former teacher for helping foster his love of music.

Photo provided by Bohemian Funk


Band led by Ferndale, Berkley native hopes to make mark in national competition

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 21, 2021

  Graham Werts, Eric Webber, Rocko Dalian and Montana Iverson, of Bohemian Funk, are competing in Opening Act, a competition where the winner gets to open for high-profile artists at a Hollywood Bowl concert and receives $10,000.

Graham Werts, Eric Webber, Rocko Dalian and Montana Iverson, of Bohemian Funk, are competing in Opening Act, a competition where the winner gets to open for high-profile artists at a Hollywood Bowl concert and receives $10,000.

Photo provided by Bohemian Funk

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FERNDALE/BERKLEY — A band led by a former Ferndale and Berkley student is making traction in a big musical competition to open at a famed Los Angeles venue.

Rocko Dalian serves as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in the band Bohemian Funk, which currently is vying to win Opening Act, a competition where the winner gets to open for high-profile artists for a show at the Hollywood Bowl. The winners also will receive $10,000 and, according to the band, a meeting with two record executives from two major labels.

Bohemian Funk, described as a rock band with Southern and soulful influences, was formed two years ago when Dalian met up with drummer Graham Werts in Dayton, Ohio. The two originally met in Michigan, but Dalian later moved to Dayton, of which Werts is a native. The group became fully formed when bass player Montana Iverson and lead guitarist Eric Webber joined the band.

In the years since, Dalian said it’s been exciting to see the band’s growth.

“We heard this sound that was so creamy and good, like the vibrations just felt right,” he said of the band’s sound. “Since then, COVID has affected a lot of people’s jobs in a lot of bands, but for us, we were still able to get gigs and play, thankfully, and we have been progressively moving forward and meeting new people to help us with our success.”

He felt it’s pretty hard to find four guys who are willing to quit their jobs and drop everything to pour their whole lives into this venture.

“We all love music, and we created a friendship and a bond, and we just promised each other that we were gonna ride this out to the end,” he said. “We just decided that that’s what it was, and our progress just skyrocketed. We poured everything we had into it — we still do — and that’s why we’ve gotten to the point where we’re at.”

Dalian formerly lived in Oak Park and spent the majority of his grade school life in Ferndale Public Schools, which he attended through the ninth grade before spending the last three years at Berkley High School and graduating in 2013.

Dalian said he didn’t have many friends while in school, but a big pull that kept him waking up and going to school was his love of music and being able to take part in music classes. He credited a teacher in Ferndale, Kim Schroeder, who he said helped make him the musician he is today.

“She was my teacher from preschool, and somehow this happened — she just kept moving up in the grades as I progressed. And there were these music lessons you could get, but only if you had a scholarship, and it seemed like every single year she always made sure I had a scholarship so I could go and do music, because she knew it was what I loved,” he said. “She really helped shape who I am as a musician and my voice, and I believe to this day that that is the reason that I have the voice that I have, because of my guidance through Ferndale School District.”

Voting for the current leg of the competition will end at 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23. The concert, titled “We Can Survive,” will take place Oct. 23, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The winners of the 2019 contest opened for Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Marshmallow, Jonas Brothers, Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello and Becky G. The lineup for 2021 includes Coldplay, Doja Cat, Black Eyed Peas and Shawn Mendes.

For Dalian, Werts and the rest of Bohemian Funk, it would mean the world to them to be the next Opening Act, with Dalian adding that they’re definitely underdogs in the competition and, to the world, “nobodies,” but if they win, this could make them “somebodies.”

“It would mean to me that everything that I’ve done and every person who told me to cut my hair or get a job or be normal, it’ll mean that my dreams are not in vain. They have value — which I do believe that now, of course,” he said. “I’ve known since I was 4 years old I’ve wanted to be a rock star, since I saw the king, Elvis Presley, on the TV screen. I was like, ‘Man, I got to do that. I have to do that,’ and right now I’m pouring every last thing that I have, and so are each one of my band members, into this and to have this would be a huge reward and our dreams coming true.”

Werts added that he hopes this opportunity will lead to more doors opening for the band in the future.

“It’s something that every musician strives for, to get a moment like this,” he said. “It’s almost kind of like a movie, and we’re really getting an opportunity of a lifetime, and we’re truly taking full advantage of it by pouring our whole hearts into it and finances to get to the top and make it where we need to be. So I’m excited, we’re all super excited, and I think when we do make it, it’s gonna be a moment for us for sure.”

Those interested in voting can find more information at www.theopenact.com/2021/bohemian-funk. For more information about Bohemian Funk, visit facebook.com/bohemianfunk.

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