PAGE UPDATED: March, 2007
Hayden Thompson CD Review
Review: Rockers Reunion Weekend, 2007
Songs of John D. Loundermilk
All Star DooWop Weekend
Rhythm Riot No. 10 (Review)
Wildest Cats in Town '06
New Jerry Jaye CD
Rockabilly Rave No. 10
23rd Annual Rockers Reunion
Review: Rhythm Riot No. 9
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 35
HAYDEN THOMPSON, 'Rockabilly Rhythm'
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 34
Tony Wilkinson Reviews Green Bay Fest II
Rockabilly Rave No. 9
Rhythm Riot No. 8
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 33
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 32
Rockabilly Rave No. 08.
Rhythm Riot #7
HEMSBY Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 31, October 2003
ROCK 'N' ROLL FROM DOWN UNDER (PART THREE)
BILL FLAGG - Guitar Rock - CD
ROMAN SELF, A Tribute to Ronnie Self - CD
MATT LUCAS 'I'm Moving On'
Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 5 & 6
TERRY LEE & THE WILD ONES
Rockin' 50's Fest - Oneida Casino'
Bill Haley and His Comets: 'Vive La Rock 'n' Roll'
HEMSBY #28 - In Review
HUELYN DUVALL / CDs
HUELYN DUVALL / THE HOUSEROCKERS
THE AQUATONES - '40 Years Later'
2 CD Reviews: THE ADVENGERS and THE RHYTHMAIRES
2CD: Rocky Burnette, Darrel Higham & The Enforcers
2 CD Reviews: HUELYN DUVALL
Review: Rhythm Riot No. 5
Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4
Gene Vincent: "Town Hall Party TV Shows 1958/1959
Book Reviews: "The Wild One" & "Long Distance Information"
Hemsby Rock & Roll Weekender #27
VLV 4 - Five Days, Five Days of Rockin' 'n' Rollin'
EDDIE COCHRAN - Town Hall Party TV Shows 1959
ROCKIN' AUSTRALIA - PART TWO - SEVERAL CDs
EDDIE SULIK / THE ECHOES CD - 'Sweet Memories'
BILLY ADAMS CD
Winter Party Rockers Reunion Review
RHYTHM RIOT No. 04 - REVIEW
Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Texasbilly Rockers - Foggy Mountain Rockers
Archive #1 (Big)VARIOUS ARTISTS "Bop 'n' Roll Party"
CHARLIE RYAN - "Hot Rod Lincoln"
CHAS MCDEVITT SKIFFLE GROUP
Various Artists - "Teenage Cruisers"
TRITONS - "Saturday Night At The Duckpond"
VERNON TAYLOR - "Now And Then"
3 CD: Various Artists - Charlie Rich - Frankie Ford
WILD BOB BURGOS
Dick Darmron, Alvis Wayne, Kenny Vance CDs
EDDIE SULIK "A Farewell Legacy"
LARRY DONN "The New Recordings"
RAY SMITH CD - "The Complete Wix Sessions Of Ray Smith"
DALE WATSON - The Borderline, London
TRIBUTE CDs - Perkins, Holly, Presley, Cochran
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Lamar, Sutch, Wells, Pierce
GENE VINCENT & EDDIE COCHRAN - "Rock 'n' Roll Memories"
EDDIE BOND - "The Memphis Bopper"
VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Rock-A-Ballads/Rock-A-Hits"
ROCKIN' IN LONDON TOWN, July 10-13, 2000
VIVA LAS VEGAS 3 In Review
IAN CALFORD & THE BRAKEMEN: "Strapped For Cash" - CD Review
Di MAGGIO BROTHERS: "Rockabilly From The Boots Up" - CD Review
RICK HOLLOW: "Swing Your Hips" - CD Review
LEROY DAVIS: "Play It Cool" - CD Review
MOON MULLICAN & THE SHOWBOYS - and - BONNIE LOU - CD Reviews
GRAHAM FENTON'S MATCHBOX - "Rockabilly Rebel - CD Review
WANDA JACKSON - "Rock Around The Eiffel Tower" - CD Review
HAWKSHAW HAWKINS and ZEB TURNER - 2 CD Reviews
EARL LEWIS & THE CHANNELS: "The Best of Take One & Take Two" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Wolf Call" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Mickey B's Juke Box Review Volume 1" - CD Review
BOBBY LOWELL: "Rocka Boogie/Rocka Billy: Just Won't Stop!" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Cash On Delivery" - CD Review
VARIOUS ARTISTS: "Alter Of Dreams" - CD Review
TOMMY BRUCE: "The London Boy" - CD Review
THE PLANOTONES: "Teenage Jazz" - CD Review
A Look at Gary Byrant
Various Artists - "For 20 Ar Sedan" - CD Review
The Winter Rock 'N' Roll Party - Show Review
Various Artists CD - "Talk About A Party! - The Crest Records Story"
Rhythm Riot No. 03 - Show Review
Eddie Fontaine CD - "Cool It Baby"
Huey Piano Smith - Frankie Ford - Jimmy Clanton
Various Artists - "Twistin' Time Volume 1 and Volume 2"
Bobby Lowell & Jim Cidlikn" - 3 "45s"
The Paladins CD, "Slippin' In"
Paul Evans CD, "I Was Part Of The Fifties"
Various Artists CD, Fernwood R&R
Danny Gatton & Robert Gordon
Alvis Wayne, Darrell Higham, Railmen (Show Review)
Rock & Roll Down Under - Multiple Artists
Various Artists: Mark Lamarr's Roc-King Up A Storm"
Various Artists: Hi Records-The Early Years Vols. 1 + 2
Everly Brothers: "Live In Paris"
Sonny West: Rockola "Ruby/Sweet Rockin' Baby"
Cochran/Vincent "Town Hall Party"CD Review
Golden Crest Instrumentals
30 Original Historic Rockabilly Classics Vol. 2
As Art Ontario 1957-1962/As Art Buchanan 1991-1993
32 Original Historic Rockabilly CLASSICS
Fernwood Rockabillies CD
Don Weise Hillbilly Cat CD
Gene Vincent, Vinyl
Warner Mack, CD
Mike Berry & The Outlaws, CD
Vipers Skiffle Group, Vinyl
Gary Tollet w/the Crickets, Vinyl
Wanda Jackson's Show
AMERICAN MUSIC MAGAZINE
A POTTED HISTORY
One of the foremost specialist music magazines in Europe (especially in the Scandinavia region) is the quality American Music Magazine, a non-profit making concern which is dedicated to all things real rock 'n' roll.
The magazine came about during a meeting in May 1979 between Bo Berglind, Claes-Hakan Olofsson, Erik Larsson, Bertil Jansson and Christer Malmstedt at Vessigebro, Southern Sweden with the joint intentions of spreading the word of original and true rock 'n' roll and bringing rock 'n' roll originators to Sweden. It was quickly realised by the participants that the best way of achieving these laudable aims was to launch a r 'n' r magazine and the first issue was in September 1979 - with the featured artist being rockabilly great Jack Earls.
The magazine quickly went from strength to strength and obtained a wide and steady readership in the Scandinavia area. The magazine was and is published quarterly and it is the magazine's proud boast that not one issue has been missed since its launch.
Around 1981, Bertil Jansson was unfortunately killed in an accident when his car stalled on a level crossing but his place was taken by Erik (Bad Boy) Petersson in 1982 and Erik remains a core member of the AMM team to this very day. 1982 also saw the first USA visit by Berglind and Larsson when the intrepid duo met up with Janice Martin, Mickey Hawks and Carl Perkins plus attended the Rocky Burnette "Get Hot Or Go Home"recording session - there were also numerous (mis)adventures on this trip but a veil will be drawn over those.
Larsson was struck down by the terrible M. S. disease upon his return from this trip and so had to leave the production staff of AMM. Christer Malmstedt had launched his Rock & Country Record label in the late sixties and his continued heavy involvement with releases lead to his connection with the magazine gradually fading away. However the remainder of the founding fathers remain actively involved and were joined by Tony Wilkinson as the UK representative in 1993 - as a result of a particularly wild Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Weekender. Morton Reff has also joined as the AMM man in Norway.
The magazine helped The Sun Rhythm Section become a significant touring act in Northern Europe and was instrumental in establishing Rocky Burnette as a known name. In 1995, AMM bought Jerry Jaye and Darlene Battles to 'Sweden for their first ever concert dates outside of the USA - these were followed the same year by appearances in the UK.
AMM is proud of the fact that the first major articles on many r 'n' r originators have appeared in their pages, all of which were and are accompanied by a wonderful and extensive selection of photographs (many being published for the first time) and generally a full discography. Artists who have recently been featured include Jimmy Swan, Eddie Cash, Joe Turner, Lloyd Arnold, Vernon Taylor, Johnny Kidd, Conway Twitty, Jeff Stone, Joyce Green, Bobby Wayne, Don Weise, Carl Mann, Van Broussard, Troy Shondell, Mickey Lee Lane, Vernon Green & The Medallions etc. etc. Forthcoming issues will contain the Specialty label story and similar on the Golden Crest group of labels, the last mentioned will be the first all English language issue of AMM.
The magazine has an extensive list of contacts all over the rock 'n' roll world and is really appreciative of their invaluable help and assistance, none more so than the rocker from Bono, Arkansas - Larry Donn.
If you want to join the ever increasing band of readers,
annual subscriptions (four issues) are available from
426 68 Vastra Frolunda, Sweden as follows:
For Sweden: - 150 SW. Crowns
For elsewhere in Europe (apart from UK) - 180 Sw. Crowns
For rest of the World - $30 (US)
For the UK and Ireland, contact:
4 North Street,
Southend on Sea,
Essex, SS3 OEL, England
(fax number Int. + UK Codes + 1702 218 8 50)
for which anannual subscription is £15.00 (UK).
Sample copies are available at 40 Sw. Crowns/$8.00 (US) post paid.
If any further information is wanted,
please contact the editor,
Bo Berglind, Kungsgatan 1,
432 40 Varberg, Sweden
(fax Int.+ Swedish Codes + 340 877 24).
Review: Pontins Holiday Centre, Camber,
England 9th to 13th March 2006
Rockabilly Rave No. 10
The tenth annual Rockabilly Rave demonstrated that this festival has grown from its small beginnings to an international affair. There were literally people and acts from all over the world in attendance. There was a particularly strong representation from our Continental friends with German, Dutch, French and Spanish languages heard as frequently as English. This was no doubt partly due to the closeness of the Channel Tunnel and the Port of Dover.
The bill was cleverly constructed with three distinct entities, new(ish) young bands such as the Mad Men from Croatia, acts that spearheaded the rockabilly revival in the seventies with the likes of High Noon and Buzz Wayne plus a couple of originators in the form of Janis Martin and Sonny Burgess. With attendance announced as being in excess of 3,000 people, the joint was jumpin' to top notch rockin' sounds.
Business commitments prevented myself from attending on the opening day on Thursday and so I unfortunately missed Big Sandy + The Flyrite Boys from the USA, The Go Getters (from Sweden), The Tin Stars (from Holland) and The Skiprats (UK). However, reports I received the next day were all confirmatory and that the main hall was like a Saturday night out with Big Sandy playing an awesome set and that the Go Getters received a tumultuous reception with their heavily punk tinged rockabilly.
Friday, 10th March 2006
Opening act was the UK band The Infernos followed by the first of the rockabilly revival acts, namely Buzz Wayne who had been a popular act in the seventies and eighties leading Buzz & the Flyers. For myself, this was the first time of viewing and it became quickly apparent that I had missed (up to now) a quality act. Buzz possesses an exciting reasonably powerful voice and coupled this with a first rate animated stage presence. He had an excellent backing band that featured the great Sean Mencher on lead guitar. Stepping on to the stage in a three piece suit and an Ollie Hardy style hat, it was straight into a mixture of originals such as 'From Every Walk Of Life' 'Crazy Girl You' with good covers in the form of an excellent 'Little Pig' and 'Sixteen Tons'. Buzz really mixed up styles and tempos and excelled on the Gene Vincent tunes 'Pretty Baby' and 'Dance To the Bop'. After stripping off the jacket and hat, it was clear that he was giving the show his all, with bucket loads of sweat pouring off him. Other notable performances were his workouts on 'Everybody's Moving' and 'My Baby Can't Be Satisfied'. Suitably impressed, I hope to be able to catch further Buzz Wayne shows.
Next up was man who in my books can do virtually no wrong, namely the Arkansas wild man, a 73 years young Sonny Burgess. He had bought over Pacers drummer Bobby Crafford and piano man Kearn Kennedy with him and the remainder of the backing group comprised the Swiss/Austrian band Mars Attack who had backed up Sonny at the Green Bay festival in 2005. Sonny stepped on the stage a picture of sartorial elegance dressed in black trilby, bright red jacket, black shirt with white spots and black trousers. After a warm-up instrumental, it straight into the rockin' with 'My Bucket' Got A Hole In It' and 'We Wanna Boogie' followed by Bobby Crafford taking the lead vocals on 'Mathilda' and 'Ain't Got No Home'. Sonny appeared a little agitated and he called upon the stage technicians to rectify amplifier problems. The reason for this became clear when he advised that this performance was being recorded. Back to Sonny for 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' and 'Higher' before Crafford took over again with 'Wipe Out' (playing the drums blindfolded) and 'Forty Days'. Clearly, Sonny was still concerned as he sang 'Wings of an Angel' and 'Find My Baby For Me'. After calling the technicians back to the stage, the set really took off with 'Ain't Got A Thing', 'Sadie Brown' and 'Red Headed Woman'. On the last mentioned, two drummers were featured and the entire ensemble did the 'Bug Dance' that Sonny advised had been lifted from Roy Orbison's Teen Kings. The stage was a picture now of wild rockin' with Sonny in powerful voice and the rest of the musicians hammering away like there was no tomorrow. 'Tear It Up' was then segued into 'Red Head Woman' before we were treated to a wild 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby' and Kearn Kennedy hammering the key boards into submission of 'K K Boogie Woogie'.
Showing no signs of wanting to leave the stage, despite the house lights flashing, the 75 minute long act finally closed out with a medley of 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On and 'Gone Gone Gone', 'Ain't Got No Home' and 'Don't Be Cruel'. The person standing next to me described this performance 'as good as it gets'. No further comment needed.
The live rockin' on Friday night concluded with an appearance by the original line-up of The Dave 'n' Deke Combo. This included the two original upright bass players, the original drummer and was, so we were informed, the first time that this line-up had played together for thirteen years. Coming on to the stage dressed as country hicks, they blasted their way into a rockin' orbit. At times, the cornball humour got a tad tiresome, but the quality of musicianship overcame this every time. Fronted by Dave Stuckey and Deke Dickerson, the group gave out with a right ol' mixture of hillbilly with heavy lashings of rockabilly music served up complete with dashes of western swing. The songs ranged from covers of tunes such as the Sparkletones 'Maybe Baby' and Jimmy C Newman's 'Carry On' to originals like 'Baby You Ain't As Dumb as You Look' and 'Tally Ho' There was an amusing send up of the song 'In The Ghetto' which was rechristened 'In The Meadow' with suitably adapted lyrics. I particularly enjoyed 'Chrome Dome' and 'No Good Woman' and especially their rendition of 'Goin' Steady with The Blues '. Their versatility, especially that of Deke, was demonstrated on 'Chicken Picker' which featured various style of guitar playing such as that of Joe Maphis, Scotty Moore and Duane Eddy. For an encore, the band came back on stage in one-piece bright red underwear and rocked away on 'I Am My Own Grandpa'. A fine show that went down well with the audience at 2:00 am in the morning - but one can understand why Deke Dickerson has gone on to do his own thing.
Saturday, 11th March 2006
Before we go into the performances in the main hall, it is best to describe the general scene. Dotted through out the venue were clothing stalls, record stalls and general bric a brac stalls. There was also the camp radio serviced by top jocks and presenters like Del Villareal from Detroit. Downstairs in the secondary hall, every afternoon, there were a series of performances such as that by Kim Lenz backed up the reasonable Spanish Jaguars group. She turned in a pleasant performance on such ditties as 'You Made A Hit' 'Kiss And Tell Baby' and 'Got A Lot Of Rhythm'. There were too many up-tempo numbers; in fact, there was only one slow song in the fine reading of 'Thinking About You'. There was also an indoor Hot Rod show and the now standard Sunday morning flea market. Bars were open for much of the day as was the cafeteria.
However, we digress. The night's performances in the main hall kicked off with Marti Brom, now based in Austin, Texas. What does one say about this lady? She has a top-notch voice capable of singing rock 'n' roll, country, western swing, plus is a stunning looker and has great stage presence. Have I gone overboard? No way! She is all the foregoing in one package, and then more. (I shall retreat to my darkened room before completing this segment of the review). Opening up with 'That Crazy Beat', she was backed-up by a superb bunch of musicians including the divine Lisa Pankratz on drums (I will have to stop this as I am giving away 'my dirty old man' persona). The musical content ranged from the pure country of 'Stop This World', 'Whole Lot Of Lonesome' and 'Whiskey Six Years Old' to raucous rockers like 'Tomcat' and a superb version of Joyce Green's 'Black Cadillac'. She sang with heart wrenching anguish on 'Blue Tattoo', 'Wicked White Lies', shimmied like crazy on 'Three Hearts Later', strutted around the stage on 'Fallin' and rocked like no tomorrow on 'Great Shakin' Fever'. This was truly memorable.
We remained with Austin based rockers for the next performers. It was back to early rockabilly revivalists with the original line-up of High Noon. Well not quite, as bass player Kevin Smith was unable to appear due to his current engagement behind Dwight Yoakam. Chicago's finest, Jimmy Sutton, took his place, alongside Shaun Young on vocals/rhythm guitar and Sean Mencher of lead guitar/occasional vocals. Notice there was no drummer but, boy, did they lay down a cracking beat between them in a fast-paced act. The vocals from Young were fine, especially on 'Rockin' Wildcat', 'Hanging From The Old Oak Tree', Rattlesnake' and 'Movie Magg'. There was a spell binding instrumental from Sean Mencher that, I believe, was titled 'Comanche Moon' and another stand out number in the set was 'Blue Bonnet Boogie'. The quality of musicianship up there on the stage was oh so high, as was the entertainment value. All too soon, they had reached the end of their allotted time, but there was (in effect) more to come the next night.
The next act was another personal favourite, the top rockin' lady Janis Martin. This was a set of vintage Janis numbers such as 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll', 'Alright Baby', 'Billy Boy', 'Ooby Dooby, and 'Crackerjack'. On 'Let's Elope Baby', Miss Mary Ann joined her to duet on lead vocals and this worked well. However, Janis appeared to be concerned with the playing by her backing band The Ragtime Wranglers. Musically, they played well but did lack that raucous spark. Essentially, they were playing in a hillbilly style whereas Janis's music commands the more raucous edge of a rockabilly outfit. Janis, being the first rate performer that she is, managed to effectively overcome this difficulty with good humour as she shimmied her way through 'Bang Bang', Barefoot Baby' and 'Good Love'. Once she donned her own guitar, the set really ignited. We were then regaled with 'Hard Rockin' Mama' and 'My Boy Elvis'. This had developed into vintage Martin. She concluded her set with a Presley medley of 'My Baby Left Me/Good Rockin' Tonight/C C Rider' and 'Johnny B Good'. If one judge's popularity of a performer by the length of the autograph queue after a performance, and it is a good yardstick, then Janis achieved top rating. She was still signing over 75 minutes later when the concluding act of the night, The Mad Men, took the stage. Now this is a young band, who presented a mixture of original songs and covers in a frantic style. Too much so for my taste as one number began to blur into another with a distinct lack of musical finesse. That said, they drew a big response from the audience with numbers such as 'Boo Hoo', 'Rockabilly Ball' and 'Til the Law Says Stop'.
Again, I retreated a happy bunny to my lonely room for the night.
Sunday, 12th March 2006
For openers on the final night, we had the German band Ike & The Capers who were followed by Charlie Thompson (UK) and Miss Mary Ann who played a heavily rockabilly tinged hillbilly set. Backing was again by the Ragtime Wranglers but this time around, their picking was wholly appropriate. The majority of songs were served up as duets, and included 'Do The Bop With Me', 'Don't Lie', Claudette' and a lovely 'I Wonder If I Care As Much'. Each performed a solo number with Miss Mary Ann singing 'Crazy' and Charlie treating us to an authentic treatment of 'Slowly I'm Falling'. This was a good time music set, pleasing on both the eyes and the ears. Other good renditions included 'Gee Whiz Baby', 'In the Jailhouse Now', The Louvin Brothers 'My Baby's Gone', Jimmy & Johnny's 'Sweet Singing Daddy' and James O'Gwynne's 'Trying To Forget You'.
The next act was billed as a Ronnie Dawson Tribute. I am always wary of such well-meant events that frequently fail to deliver. However as the band assembled on the stage, I just knew that there were no such worries on this occasion. Up there stood High Noon (Shaun Young, Sean Mencher and Jimmy Sutton) plus sitting behind the drums was the delectable Lisa Pankratz, all musicians who had often performed with Ronnie. For the second lead guitar, they were joined by Deke Dickerson. After a fitting introduction by Chris Dawson (Ronnie's widow), it was straight into a wild rockin' set with all concerned giving a one hundred per cent. Jimmy sang lead on 'Red Hot Music', Shaun on 'Monkey's Uncle 'and back to Jimmy on 'Rockinitis'. The music flowed, the action was wild (I cannot recall having see Shaun so animated previously) and the excitement coming from the stage could not have been bettered. There were guest lead vocalists such as Peter Sandberg (Go Getters) on 'Shim Sham Shimmy', Big Sandy performing two brilliant songs with 'I Make The Love' and 'Congratulations To Me' plus Marti Brom on 'Knock Down Dragout'. I guess that the majority of lead vocals were carried out by Shaun and he rocked like a madman (but with effect) on 'Action Packed', 'Rockin' Bones' and 'Home Cookin'. The entire ensemble returned to the stage for 'Monkey Beat'. I doubt if any of the performers had anymore to give, this had been sheer brilliance.
The close out act for the festival was Scotland's High Voltage. After the last set, they had to spend a bit of time and effort cranking up the audience. That they succeeded is to their credit and they got better as the act proceeded. They set about tearing down the barriers with 'Honky Tonk Man', 'All I Can Do Is Cry' and 'Let's Rock Tonight'. Mention must be made here that the lead guitarist could have passed feature wise as a young Keith Richards, quite fascinating. Clearly, another high energy band, they knew how to work the audience as they gave out with 'I'm Heading Home', 'Shadow My Baby', a fine version of white Tommy Tucker's 'You Don't Love Me (Uh Huh Huh)' and 'Foxy Dan'. Most lead vocals were handled by Vince Turner but the occasional spot was dealt with adequately by the drummer. A slight jarring note to the performance was the occasional use of bad language that added nothing to the performance. The set closed out with 'Please Don't Go', 'Miserlou and 'Jump Start Boogie', all of which were performed with a heavy edge.
Everyone that I talked to commented how much they were enjoying themselves. This bodes well for the future of our music and for the continuation of this festival. Long may all this continue ... Promoter Jerry Chatabox advised that next year's event will again top everything to date, that will take some doing.
© Tony Wilkinson
Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading, England - Saturday, 21st January 2006
MARVIN THE MAGNIFICENT:
23rd ANNUAL ROCKERS REUNION
Sandy Ford's Flying Saucers
Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers
Again, the year's rockin' in the UK kicked off with the annual Rockers Reunion held at the Rivermead Leisure Complex, an easily accessible and relatively spacious complex located on west side of Redding. Attendance was again well up on the event held in 2005. To go along with the music, there were the now standard well-stocked bars, cafeteria plus record and clothes stalls. A strong feature of this event is that it is a melting pot of age groups, but all gathered there were clearly intent on enjoying themselves dancing to and watching rock 'n' roll.
Due to conflicting pressures, I missed Top Cats who were the opening act but there was an evident buzz around the venue when I arrived in time to catch a portion of Sandy Ford's Flying Saucers. Sandy has been on the scene since the seventies and this was evident in his stagecraft. Professional and rockin' with a passion, this is one band that I always appreciate watching. It was soon on to the next act, Johnny Red, who was the lead singer with Johnny & the Jailbirds. Delivering a mix of rock 'n' roll standards such as 'Judy', 'Promised Land' ' 'Lonely Blue Boy' and 'Believe What You Say' along with original numbers like 'Sexy Eyes' and 'West Coast Rock 'n' Roll' (from his days with his previous outfit) this was a pleasing performance. On stage, Johnny exudes stage mannerisms to those witnessed at a Shakin' Stevens show. Indeed, there were vocal similarities. This is no bad thing and fitted with the night' scenario of straight in your face good ol' r'n'r.
Not quite knowing what to expect from the next act, I received a pleasant jolt. This was Dave Savage with his tribute to the late Screaming Lord Sutch, with more that a dash of Screamin' Jay Hawkins thrown in for good measure. There must have been a small truckload of props on the stage and there were constant costume changes throughout the performance. Entering on to the stage complete with cape and top hat, it was evident that we were going to be in for a night of mayhem as Dave launched into his lordship's 'Murder In the Graveyard', followed by Jay Hawkins 'Alligator Wine' that saw Henry, the skull on a stick, being paraded around the stage.
The Savages for the night were a bunch of first-rate musicians and special mention must be made of the sax player. They kept up a constant thuddering rockin' beat whilst Dave worked in every Sutch stage trick that he could think of. I lost count of the costume variations during 'I'm A Hog For You Baby' but there was yet more to come in the set's showpiece number 'Jack the Ripper'. This came complete with an attractive young lady on stage having her arm amputated in a magic trick and Dave guillotining himself. He also swallowed a sword and the trick 'seemingly went wrong' when fake blood cascaded over his jaw from his mouth. Oh for sure, this was over the top stuff but most amusing and entertaining. Towards the end of the set, Dave came on without any props and delivered numbers such as 'Good Golly Miss Molly' and 'Boney Moronie' in his best (not in tune) Sutch singing voice. Yes, I did enjoy this, bought back quite a few pleasant memories.
It was now time for the headliner of the night, namely Marvin Rainwater. Backed up by The Hemsby Houseband with the lead guitar work being handled in a superb manner Antonio Coni, it was straight into 'Love Me Baby (Like There's No Tomorrow)' and it was quickly apparent that we were in for a magical performance. After singing his 1958 UK number one hit 'Whole Lotta Woman', Marvin commented that he was then 34 years old and told that he was too old to be a rock 'n' roll star. Now 80 years old he declared that he still loved to rock 'n' roll. Believe me; he was rockin' out with the best.
With very little gap between numbers, he proceeded with 'Baby, Don't Go', 'I Dig You Baby' and 'My Brand of Blues'. All quality songs performed in the best possible rock 'n' roll manner. You may get the correct impression that I was really enjoying this! Following an inspired 'Mr. Blues', he then advised his favourite place in the UK was 'Newcastle Town' and the reason for this was his favourite drink Newcastle Brown. He then sang a tribute in the form of 'Me And Newkie Brown' before delivering a devastating 'Dance Me Daddy' that was originally titled 'Rock Me' before the record company decided that this was too suggestive. Marvin's singing voice was in great shape and he had a lovely guttural edge to the vocals, especially on the song 'Rockin' Down The Wall' that he had previously advised was to be on his new CD but which has yet to appear Marvin, I am waiting.. The set closed out with a new number 'Rockabilly Music Is Coming Down' and the classics 'Boo Hoo' and 'Hot And Cold'. Forget the 'Starvin' Marvin' tag as based on this performance; it has to be 'Marvin the Magnificent'.
The evening once again closed out with perennial Rockers Reunion favourites Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers. I have previously made the comparison that they are the Status Quo of rock 'n' roll. Like the Quo, they have their legion of followers who will go and see them perform whenever they can. However, also like Quo, they appear to introduce relatively little new material into their act. Instead, they decide to concentrate on proven and perennial favourites. This was a good decision as far as the audience at the Rivermead Leisure Centre was concerned and the band received their customary enthusiastic response.
Once again, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and well worthwhile making the trek. I am looking forward to next year's Rockers Reunion. However, before then, there is oodles of good rock 'n' roll heading our way to salivate over: especially Hemsby in May with Carl Mann, Bobby Brown (the guy who recorded for Vaden Records and not the hubbie of Whitney Houston), Barrence Whitfield, Roddy Jackson (now that should be a blinder), the Velours and Bobby 'One Way Ticket' Crown. Be there or be square.
© Tony Wilkinson
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England - 25th to 28th November 2005
Review: Rhythm Riot No. 9
By Tony Wilkinson - All too soon, the time had come for the final major weekender of the year and it was time to head off to Camber Sands on the south coast of England for the ninth Rhythm Riot. This time, I did not have Mrs. Wilkinson and daughter Colinda along with myself as the other offspring (known as Superbrat) had just produced her first sprog. If I am able influence matters, the future of rock 'n' roll will be secure with introduction of young Master Rory Keeble on to this planet. Mrs. Wilkinson' face was certainly beaming as I navigated the car out of the drive and set off for an eclectic mixture of rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, honky tonk, jump and jive, rhythm & blues and down-home dirty blues along with a few beers and the hope of acquiring some rockin' wax.
Friday, 25th November 2005
After studying the programme, it became clear that Friday evening was Ladies Night. All the acts and disc jockeys were of the female persuasion, and they produced some mighty fine music. First act to take the stage in the main hall was Lil Rachel (USA) backed up by the Rhythm Riot Kings of Rhythm. This attractive young lady is part of the Austin based Casey Sisters who are scheduled to reform next year. That she possesses a great voice became readily apparent as she launched into the LaVern Baker tune 'Whipper Snapper' followed by tough rockin' interpretations of 'Dancing With Teardrops In My Eyes' and 'Tough Lover'. As she raunchily strutted the stage demonstrating good stage presence, the band started to cook. The set was a mixture of jumpin' R&B and ballads and other standout songs were '12 O'clock' and 'Please Mr. Jailer'. This lady is a talent.
Annita & The Starbombers from Holland followed her, the latter are also known as The Barnstompers. From the outset with 'Burn That Candle', it became apparent that we were in for a rockin' treat. The vocals were spot on and the backing was sublime. Annita proceeded to dance around the stage and thrill with such ditties as 'For Rent', 'I'm Waiting Just For You', 'What Good Would It Do Me' and an outstanding version of the Brenda Lee song 'Bigelow 6-200'. This was music par excellance and more of the same continued with the superb beat ballad 'Don't Ever Leave Again' before picking up the tempo with 'The Big Bounce' and proceeding on with 'Not Anymore' and an unusual but fine treatment of 'Mean Mean Man'. She closed out with 'These Mean Hangover Blues'. The Netherlands keep producing first-rate rock 'n' roll musicians, Annita is up there with the best of them.
It was now time for the first of the American headliners, Shirley Gunter. As the lady is unfortunately partially sighted, she was escorted on to the stage by her daughter, flowed by the previously mentioned Annita and Lil Rachel who were to act as replacement Queens for the night. She started with 'Baby I Love You So' and this was followed by 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme'. Unfortunately, the backing band was not as one with her and she had been provided with a directional radio microphone. It became apparent that her style is to sing sideways into the mike and thus it was not always possible to hear her vocals with clarity. The set proceeded on with 'Ipsy Opsie Ooh' and a tasty 'I'm Sorry'. She had the respect of the audience and this was enhanced as Shirley served up 'Baby' I Love You So' and 'You're Mine' in which the two aforementioned young ladies provided fine backing vocals. Shirley then sang 'Fortune In Love' and 'It's You' before we were treated with the classic 'Oop Shoop'. There was one encore with the apt 'Headin' Home'. For sure, the lady was popular with the audience. The close out act for the first night was Candy Kane & Her Band. This lady is certainly well endowed in all manner of ways.
Saturday, 26th November 2004
For openers, we were served up with the musical delights of the Swedish outfit The Exposives who were followed on stage by Rusti Steel & The Red Hot Wranglers. Rusti has of course been on the circuit for a number of years and on this occasion, he had a seven piece line-up behind him consisting of twin fiddles, lead guitar, drums, upright bass, acoustic guitar, saxophone whilst Rusti played a mean steel guitar. The music was primarily western swing but with heavy rockabilly overtones, a pleasing blend that was demonstrated on 'Crazy Man Crazy', 'San Antonio Rose', 'Roly Poly', a splendid 'Traffic Jam' and a fine 'Teardrops From My Eyes'. The outfit had the dance floor full with 'Ballroom Baby' and 'Real Rock Drive' before enabling the bum clutchers on the floor to hold each other close with a splendid 'Sleep Walk'. Rusti has nice nasal overtone to his voice and this was demonstrated on the Hank Williams classic 'I Saw the Light' before he closed out with 'Rompin' And Stompin'. A tasty, varied and most enjoyable set.
To vary the musical styling, the next act Little George Sueref & The Blue Stars served an authentic sounding R&B come Blues set. Opening up with 'Early One Morning', but with a latin beat', the set continued with the likes Walter Horton's 'Little Boy Blue ' and Howlin' Wolf's 'Built For Comfort'. It became apparent that Little George is his own man and he often dropped into a searing high-pitched vocal styling, somewhat reminiscent of Ted Taylor. Other tunes served up by the four man combo included 'Everyday About This Time', Further On Down The Line' and 'Rhythm Rockin' Boogie'. It was then time for one of my favourite acts from South Louisiana, Warren Storm who forsook his drummer's stool for the night and concentrated on his vocals. Launching straight into 'Mama, Mama, Mama', it was clear that we were in for a professional and tight rockin' set. We were not disappointed as he continued with 'The Prisoner's Song', a great version of 'Send Me Some Loving' and 'Lonely Lonely Nights'. Despite having caught a cold, or perhaps because of, there was a good rasping edge to his vocals and this was amply demonstrated on 'Fannie Mae', 'Please Mr. Sandman', 'Sweet Little Sixteen' and a superlative treatment of Elton Anderson's 'Shed So Many Tears'. The pace and tempo was constantly varying, all adding to the exciting mix. Clearly adept at utilizing the stage, Warren rocked away on 'Slow Down', the swamp pop anthem 'Mathilda', a hard rockin' 'Lucille', a tasty 'Honest I Do' before closing out with 'Sick And Tired'. This had been first-rate entertainment.
Next up was a guy who I had not previously seen, namely Californian resident Roy Gaines. Backed up by the hard working Rhythm Riot Kings of Rhythm, but with a trumpet player added for a fuller fatter sound, it was a set chock full of hard driving blues based rockin' music. From the outset, it was non-stop action on the stage. Indeed, Roy played the guitar behind his head in the opening number - and what a guitar player he truly is, one of the best that I have seen. He started with an instrumental that segued into 'I'm Leaving This Town' followed by 'Midnight Train'. The stage was a vision of wildness as he lay down on the floor still playing the guitar with the sweat pouring off him. I only wished that I had as much energy. Roy is as good a vocalist as he is a picker and this was amply demonstrated on 'Everyday I Have The Blues', On the Outside Looking In' and a truly wonderful 'Skippy Is A Sissy'. The last mentioned was a wonderful piece of hard driving rock 'n' roll. Other songs featured in the sixty five minute set included 'Baby Please Don't Go', 'Chicken Shack Boogie' and I Love Southern Women'. Based on this performance, he is a must-see again act.
The Rhythm Riot always throws up an act about whom little is known but who are simply wonderful. Such is the case with the final act for the night, San Francisco based Stompy Jones who came complete with his own band, and what a great outfit. The style was I suppose can be classified as jump-jive lounge music in the vein of the great Sam Butera. Strangely, the band did not include a guitarist but did have two sax players, trumpet, piano bass and drums. The quality of the musicianship was high, bloody high and Stompy's vocals were spot on. The set consisted of Stompy singing tunes such as 'I Wanna Know, 'My Heart Will Always Belong To You', 'Marie', 'Boogie Woogie On A Saturday Night', a totally different slant on 'Keep A Knockin' plus a speel binding 'angel City Blues. Then whilst, he took rests by sitting on the side of the stage, the band came to the fore, much in the same manner as a Bill Haley show. In the last mentioned, they performed a sensational version of 'Rudy's Rock' with the sax player blowing away like crazy. Spell binding stuff. Again, another act that I hope will return to these shores.
Sunday, 27th November 2004
The start up act was The Revolutionaires, a straight in your face rock 'n' roll show band with bags of energy who performed numbers such as 'Rockin' Is Our Business', 'Walk Right In', 'Mystery Train' and a clutch of instrumentals. As a side note, one of our party, Ken Major, got asked to dance by a young lady. He obliged and clearly got so excited that he returned with the crutch ripped out of his trousers. Next Up were The Barnstompers who were superb. This Dutch outfit consists of high caliber musicians and vocalists and they demonstrated these attributes on a rockabilly come country set that included the likes of 'I Still Miss Someone', 'Move On. Move Out', Six Pack To Go', 'Rollin' Rock' and 'Dig Boy'.
American blues original, 85 years young T-Model Ford came next. Supported only by a drummer and singing 'n' picking sitting down, this was a set of authentic blues straight out of the Fat Possum school. Like many other blues singers, especially such as Jimmy Reed, many numbers sounded similar to well known songs but with subtle variations. However, I do believe that his set included 'Backdoor Man', 'Gypsy Woman', 'Mojo Man'. 'Call My Name', 'Sally Mae', 'Don't Leave Me No More' and 'Down The Road I Go'. For sure, this was the real thing.
This festival always has one vocal group and this time around, it was the turn of The Five Keys. Following on from the demise of the late great Rudy West, the leadership of the act has been taken over by Maryland Pierce who joined in 1950. Dressed smartly in black dinner suits, and two members utilizing walking sticks, the guys appeared on stage. Soon, their superb vocal harmonies and perfect coordinated movements swept all before them. This was music, real music from a legendary band. Opening up with 'From The Bottom of My Heart', it was straight into the beautiful 'The Glory Of Love' and this was followed by the likes of 'Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind' and 'Doggone It, You Did It'. The mix was clear, up-tempo and ballads, all performed with sheer professionalism and class. This was a real joy to listen to and watch. 'Ling Ting Tong' was sublime, especially as the Five Keys own rhythm guitarist quietly but determinedly lead the backing band. One of the attributes of this performance is that the numbers were kept to their original duration and not extended beyond credulity. This group has been going for over 56 years and this clearly shone through. All the Keys classics such as 'Wisdom Of A Fool', 'The Verdict' and 'She's The Most' were included and the act closed out with 'It's A Groove' and 'Real Fine Mama'. Oh, how I did enjoy myself.
The closing act for the festival was the Italian outfit Captain Jive, who as the name suggests were a high-energy jump jive outfit. This seven piece line-up were dressed in safari suits and their act contained many set piece visuals such as the entire band laying on their backs playing whilst the sax man took a solo. Quite a few of the numbers were sung in Italian, such as 'I Want To Be Like You' (from 'The Jungle Book'). This was a party band.
Yet again, overall, another great Rhythm Riot and there is next year's weekender to think of and salivate over from 24th to 27th November 2006. Headliners announced so far include Hayden Thompson, Ray Sharpe and Eddie Bo with more to be announced.
Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact the web site www.RhythmRiot.com for further information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 35 -- 29th September to 2nd October 2005
Baby, That Was Rock 'n' Roll
After a long summer with limited live rock 'n' roll attendance by yours truly due to business commitments, I was really looking forward to Hemsby 35 to recharge those rockin' batteries. So come the Thursday, I jumped into the automobile and headed north, ready to rock. Overall, expectations were lived up to and I had a great time as will be demonstrated in the following text.
Attendance was down for the normal October Hemsby but I understand that there was numerous pay on the door late arrivals guests. Not to sure why there should be this reduction as the bill was strong and the scene at Hemsby is always good. Whatever, the promoters elected to stage the main shows in the smaller Norfolk Room. This had advantages, as the sight lines were good as were the acoustics. The record dealers and clothes stalls were located in the main hall but, unfortunately, the traders decided to close this section off at around 8.00 pm each night. Anyway, this was incidental to the main happening, the music.
Thursday, 29th September 2005 (the rockin' starts)
Opening act for this festival was Mischief who was making their fourth Hemsby appearance. They are a good 'n' basic European rockabilly trio that the programme advised hailed from Belgium but the compere announced Holland. They set the scene with the out and out rockabilly of 'Ridin' Along In My Automobile', produced good raucous vocals on 'I Want Some More' and an excellent version of the Kershaw Brothers 'Hey Mae'. They varied the lead vocals amongst the band plus, on some songs, it became a duet. They closed out with wild rockin' on 'Yes I Do', 'Grow Up' (a cousin to 'Tore Up'), a first rate work out on 'Train Kept A Rollin' and a fine 'Justine'.
Next up was the Detroit rocker Johnny Powers, accompanied by Chris Casello on lead guitar, Clive Osborne on sax and members of the Shufflers forming the rest of the backing band. From the opening bars of 'Mean Mistreater, it was evident that this performance was going to be something special as the diminutive rocker as Johnny demonstrated his stage craft and powerful vocals. This was followed by a great interpretation of 'Be Mine (All Mine)', a frantic 'Be Bop A Lula' and the pounding beat ballad 'With Your Love, With Your Kiss'. The picture for the performance was painted by varied tempos, all of which were enhanced by Johnny's professionalism and the biting guitar sounds of Chris Casello. Chris was Steve Nadella's predecessor in Jack Scott' s band and subsequently went onto to play for Emmy Lou Harris. Currently has his own band in the USA as well as playing for BR549. His style is reminiscent of that used by Al Hopson behind the late Warren Smith with that lovely stinging sound. Chris was a real revelation and he too knew how to use the stage as he bopped around. This entire scene served to push Mr. Powers to new heights as he launched into the likes of 'Me And My Rhythm Guitar', 'Rock Rock', 'Mama Rock' and 'Long Blond Hair'. He performed a truly appealing ballad in 'Three Little Words' that demonstrated his versatility as did 'Indeed I Do', 'I Was There When It Happened', 'A New Spark For An Old Flame' and 'Give It To Me'. The only slightly duff number was 'Trouble' which was taken at too fast a tempo, thus effectively robbing the tune of its menace. Whilst there were the scheduled encores, the crowd demanded more and Johnny had to keep coming back and ended up playing for in excess of an hour. That was rock 'n' roll. Return to these shores soon Johnny and bring Chris Casello with you.
Friday, 30th September 2005 (the rockin' keeps on the simmer).
The rockin' in the main hall commenced with the UK band Shaun Horton & The Tennessee Trio. Unfortunately I did not catch their performance as I was at the artist met 'n' greet session but by all accounts, they gave a good performance that was well received. However, I was there for the second time UK performance by Andy Anderson backed up well by Gene Gambler and The Shufflers. He had good stage presence as he went into 'Tough, Tough, Tough' followed by 'Gimme A Lock O' Your Hair', 'I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry Over You' and 'I Got Me A Woman'. Andy advised that the last mentioned was a number that he had recorded in 1956 at the Delta Studio but remained unreleased. It is a good rockin' piece. So far this had been an acceptable performance but, unfortunately, it went downhill for the rest of this show. Seemingly, the problem emanated from Andy having a hearing impediment and so he changed vocal key rather often in numbers. Still it was good to finally see the man who includes the club favourite 'Johnny Valentine' along with 'You Shake Me Up' 'Hey Ba Reba' (reminiscent of Billy Lee Riley's 'Trouble Bound'), 'Big Game Hunter' ' and 'I'm A Rollin' Stone' in his stage show.
Friday night next act was The Smokey Mountain Boys, an English band who specialty is authentic hillbilly sounds and do not include a drummer in their line-up. In this laudable aim, they succeeded but then spoilt it with too much clowning around and bucket loads of false 'hee haws'. The singers have good guttural voices and their picking is good .Sorry guys but, based on this show, it was not for me. I am all for humour in an act but not over the top with it. Final act for the evening was the Spanish outfit Big Jamboree.
Saturday, 1st October 2005 (the rockin' gets real hot)
Dave Moore, who has previously been to Hemsby playing lead guitar for Vernon Taylor and Billy Adams, picked for Ace Brown & The Helldivers, an act based in Philadelphia. Again no drummer in their successful attempt to recreate the fifties rockabilly sounds. They showed true enthusiasm and respect for the musical genre with a whole heap of original numbers as 'Street Angel', Lucky Penney' and 'Yes She's Mine' alongside the likes of 'Cool Off Baby', 'You're My Baby' and 'Purr Kitty Purr'. An enjoyable performance and demonstrated plenty of potential.
The Helldivers returned to the Hemsby stage, this time with Ace Brown on drums, to support the true original Pat Cupp. This was a performance similar to that at the Rockin' Fifties Fest 11 with Pat including a mixture of the five originals issued on the Modern label, such as 'Do Me No Wrong', 'I Guess It's Meant That Way and 'Long Gone Daddy', along with a selection from his new CD on Wild Hare Records (#HSO5001). Also featured were a few rockin' covers such as 'I Got A Woman' and 'Roll Over Beethoven, which were just great. From the new numbers, especially pleasing were 'Contract With My Baby' with great guitar work from Dave Moore, 'Everything's All Right' and the splendid ballad 'New World'. Pat appeared very at home on the stage and was at one with The Helldivers. A tasty performance.
Also making his fourth Hemsby appearance was Narvel Felts (the only other headliner to receive such an accolade is Jack Earls) who had Gene Gambler and The Shufflers backing him. This proved to be a killer combination as it was a blistering performance with Narvel excelling and the British band pushing him hard. No wonder he is called 'Narvel the Marvel' as, based on this show, there is not many who can come close to the pure excitement that came forth from the stage. Starting off with his monster hit 'Reconsider Me', it was into an adapted version of Chuck Berry's 'Back In the USA' that Narvel titled 'Back In The UK' followed by an exciting version of 'Foolish Thoughts'. The stage was a whirl of rockin' movement and came complete with an emanation of hard drivin' rock 'n' roll sounds. It could not be bettered, virtual perfection. Narvel's years of being a professional clearly showed through as he proceeded with 'Honey Love' and 'Pink And Black Days' before slowing it down for the climatic 'My Prayer'. Narvel was giving a commentary about his early days and the numbers he then performed. He demonstrated this with a powerhouse treatment of 'Down the Line' (only previously seen bettered by Jerry Lee, it was that good) and later with 'Be Bop A Lula' with the band really nailing the Bluecaps sound. He also included the story about one of his earliest performances when he was ejected from the dance hall for rockin' it up too much on the stage the band carried on playing waltzes. We were then treated to 'Kiss A Me Baby' and 'My Babe' before the emotional tribute to his late son with the ballad 'Even Now'. This has previously been, and continues to be, a highlight of Narvel's show. Back to rockin' with 'Maybelline' before featuring, for the first time, a version of his early record 'Genavee' that was recorded at the Hi Studio, Memphis and released on the Pink label. This was good and refreshing. The set concluded with 'Goin' Home', 'Lonely Teardrops' and the number that we were all waiting for: 'Did You Tell Me'. I have seen Narvel quite a few times but cannot recall when I have seen him better.
The concluding act for this night was Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers. I have previously commented that Cavan is a band that one either loves - or not. That said, there are not too many bands who can come on at 2 am in the morning, get the joint really jumpin' an still be talked about the next day. All power to them, they are the Status Quo of rock 'n' roll.
Sunday, 2nd October 2005 (the rockin' ain't done yet).
The rockin for the last night kicked off with Scotland's Hi Voltage followed by America's The Roy Kay Trio. Regrettably, I was unable to catch these two performances but based on previous experience, I know that Hi Voltage put on a great rockin' show whilst there was plenty of good buzz regarding Roy Kay who hails from Seattle.
However, I was there for the magic voice of Pookie Hudson, lead singer of the Spaniels making a rare sole performance. Supported by UK band The Swingkings, who blended in admirably, he stepped on stage dressed very dapperly in a white suit complete with a black bowler hat. Soon that magic voice was treating us to 'Stormy Weather', 'I Know', the marvelous blues tinged ballad ''You're Gonna Cry' and the sublime , 'Baby It's You' But it was not all slow numbers as we also had rockin' R&B with the likes of 'Crazee Baby. Two standouts from this mesmerizing performance were '(You Gave Me) Peace Of Mind' and, of course 'Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight'. Maybe I shall see Pookie perform 'Bus Fare Home' one day but in the meantime, please give me more of this. Perhaps this show was even more remarkable as Pookie has not been in the best of health in recent times.
The final act for this Hemsby was Paul Ansell's Number Nine'. Here I have to hang my head in shame as, for various reasons; I had never previously caught their show. Now I know what I have been missing! In the hands of bands such as this, the future of our music is safe. Paul has a great voice and stage presence and the current line-up of Number Nine is such a tight and oh so talented band. The outstanding thing about Ansell is that he can take a song and interpret it in his own unique styling And he does select numbers form the most unlikely of sources such as Aaron Neville's 'How Can I Help But Adore You', Billy Ocean's 'Red Light Spells Danger' and Iggy Pop's 'Passenger'. Paul is also a talented writer as we were served up numerous originals such as 'Rockin' In Memphis' and 'It Ain't Right'. I never thought that I would see the Hemsby audience lap up 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love To Town' or 'Jody Love' but with the treatments served by Mr. Ansell, it was a given. We had varied selections from the Presley songbook like 'Crawfish' and 'His Latest Flame'. Then there were the driving rockers in the form of 'Lonesome Train', 'Ready Teddy' and 'Mean Woman Blues'. I believe that the outfit were called back for at least five encores, may have been more. However, I do recall that they included 'Viva Las Vegas' and 'By The Time I Get To Memphis'. Clearly one of the best 'new' acts around today, and that is from anywhere in the world. I shall now get down off my soapbox. Just go and see for yourself when they are playing near you.
To reiterate, this was a good rockin' Hemsby. But, there is plenty to look forward to as the May 2006 Hemsby has to have one of the strongest line-ups yet. Headliners include Carl Mann, Roddy Jackson, Barrence Whitfield, Bobby Brown (of Vaden Records fame), Bobby ('One Way Ticket') Crown, The Velours together with a great list of supporting acts. Be there or be square.
Barry Dixon Photos: Hemsby #35
& The Rhythm Rockers
St. George STG 7714 - Playing Time: 48.33
Mama's Little Baby/Love My Baby/Rockabilly Boogie/Reelin' And Rockin'/Milk Cow Blues Boogie/Let's Get Gone/Sugar-Coated Love/Boppin' High Scholl Baby/Chicago River Blues/Hang Out/Can't Hardly Stand It/Gonna Rock & Roll Tonight/Boppin' The Blues/Blue Moon Of Kentucky.
Rock 'n' roll originator Hayden Thompson returns with a set of new recordings laid down in Chicago in 2005. Boy, what a set! This is easily the most significant r 'n' r album release this year so far and it is a scorcher from beginning to end. I normally treat the liner blub on an album with a degree of skepticism but when in this particular case they state that 'Get ready to rock and bop like it's 1956. This session is white-hot rockabilly cut in 2004 but played with the feel and intensity unleashed by the Hillbilly Cat at the Memphis Sun Studios in 1955', I cannot fault the sentiment as it aptly sums up the content of this release.
Hayden's voice is a perfect blend of excitement and feel and is in complete syncopation with the backing musicians who rock like there is no tomorrow. This is not a frantic set of thrash 'n' bash recordings but is the achievement of a group of musicians who understand the idiom that they are recording and obtain the desired result. Whilst the ultimate credit must go to front man Hayden, the backing musicians such as Rockin' Billy Harden on lead guitar, Nick Lightnin' Lloyd on string bass and Louisiana legend Warren Storm on drums have also to be singled out for praise.
The songs are in the main covers of reasonably obscure numbers from the fifties but in all cases, they have new life breathed into them. Take for example Chuck Berry's 'Reelin' And Rockin', the work-out here incorporates a fiddle in the backing and it works, it moves like crazy. There are also some originals in the form of the stompin' 'Let's Get Gone' and the blues drenched vocals of 'Chicago River Blues', both of which were co-written by the album producer George Paulis. The last mentioned for myself is the stand out track with its (country) Jimmie Rodgers vocal inflections. This, and the similar vocal styling on 'Love My Baby' (which reverts more to the original Junior Parker version), 'Milk Cow Blues', 'Can't Hardly and 'Sugar Coated Love' are simply pure magic. One can but hope that Hayden will consider more recordings in this vein in the future.
It is not often one gets an album in which all tracks are good (no, make that great) but this is a rare exception. I could go on at length about the content but I would only end up repeating myself. For anyone with rock 'n' roll blood coursing through the body, this has to be classified as essential. Go get it. (Contact St. George Records at 1202 N-West 75th Street, #277, Downers Grove, Illinois 60516 for further details).
(c) Tony Wilkinson
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 34 - 5th May to 8th May 2005
Rock 'n' Roll Time Again
I must admit to having been a trifle apprehensive that Hemsby 34 might have come across as a trifle downbeat coming so soon on the heels of the Rockin' Fifties fest. 11 held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. However, my concern was baseless as this great weekender proved to be one of the most enjoyable Hemsbys yet. It rocked from beginning to end and the large attendance clearly thought the same. It is pleasing and gratifying to know that this long established festival is going from strength to strength.
Business commitments prevented me from arriving for the first night but colleague Ian Wallis was there to catch the performance by first time European visitor Roc LaRue. He advises that Roc came across as a competent performer featuring such cuts as 'Baby Take Me Back' and 'I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine' that were issued on the Rama and Holland labels back in the fifties. These songs were performed alongside newer numbers like 'Red Headed Mama' and the Ronnie Haig composition 'Hey Little Baby'. With a sympathetic backing provided by Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, Roc gave a very visual show, full of Presleyesque style movements, and he demonstrated that he has a strong voice to match. Another good rock 'n' roll discovery.
The evening closed out with an appearance by German outfit Ike & The Capers who have the pleasing advantage of a femme drummer. These are high-energy people who gave out with well seasoned tunes in the form of 'It's All Your Fault', 'Down On The Farm' and an original treatment of Ray Smith's 'You Made A Hit.
Welsh band Gene Gambler & the Shufflers opened up the proceedings and gave out with a pleasing slab of rock 'n' roll mixing in their own compositions and covers of Roy Orbison's 'You're My Baby' and a first rate workout of the Sonny Burgess song 'Find My Baby For Me. In the five years since their formation, this group have steadily built up their expertise and should go on to further greatness.
Next up was another first time UK visitor, who was back there in the fifties, namely Louisiana's Jay Chevalier. Bounding on stage in an eye catching two piece gold lame outfit, he launched straight into his rockin' ode to American footballer 'Billy Cannon'. Jay's years of treading the boards were clearly evident as he carried on giving a confident show with his own hook laden 'Come Back To Louisiana' before descending nto a raid on the Chuck Berry songbook with 'Promised Land' and 'Memphis Tennessee'. This was followed by a sing-along version of 'You Are My Sunshine' and a medley of the Hank Williams Snr. songs 'Hey Good Looking/Setting The Woods On Fire/My Bucket's Got A Hole In It'. The last mentioned pair showed indications of not having been on the prescribed set list as the backing band, the aforementioned hard working Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, at first struggled to keep up with Jay. This 'making it up as one goes along feeling' was further enhanced with a rather lame 'Mama Don't Allow'. However, the showman that is Jay Chevalier retrieved the situation with 'The Ballad Of Earl K Long' (a personal favourite from his recorded repertoire), his first record 'Rock 'n' Roll Angel', the rockabilly classic 'Casto Rock' and the sublime 'Lost In Louisiana 1959'. A further Chuck Berry medley of 'Johnny B Good' songs was somewhat superfluous but as he encored with a repeat of 'Lost In Louisiana' leaving one with the impression of having witnessed a good performance (overall).
Eighteen months marked the return to the Hemsby stage of Art Adams and his own guitarist Bill Stewart. In that time, his performance has gone from strength to strength. He reinforced the reputation of being one of the top highly visual solid core rockabilly acts and he gave 110% of himself in a long high powered set. Opening up with the instrumental 'Rhythm Ride Rock' he then proceeded to rock out on 'Get With It', and his own 'Indian Joe' (complete with war chants) and 'Rock Pretty Baby' before slowing the pace a trifle with his own new song 'Canadian Lady', a tasty mid tempo ditty. However, it was soon back to crazed rockin' with 'Flat Foot Sam', 'Red Headed Woman' and a great interpretation of Webb Pierce's 'Walkin' the Dog'. The American visitors were provided with great backing from the English band The Infernos and the stage was a cauldron of rockin' excess as Art bopped and weaved across the stage. He included more of his own compositions with 'Sweet Kandie Jean' and 'She's From Tennessee' before exhaustingly closing out with repeats of 'Indian Joe' and 'Rock Crazy Baby'. All in all, a more than justified bill topper.
American Chicano act Omar & The String Poppers' closed out the night with a no holds barred assault on the senses. They tore through 'Problem Child' and other tunes like there will be no tomorrow. Exhausting to watch, the guys must have been totally drained when they left the stage.
Fairly frequent American visitor to these shores, young Eddie Clendening, opened up Saturday's rockin' in the main hall backed by Ike & the Capers. Eddie 's act is getting good and he certainly appeals to the ladies and he left quite a few femme body parts a fluttering.
The next act, the great, the marvelous, the raunchy, the blindingly superb Janis Martin was greeted by loud and sustained applause as she took the stage. No ifs, no buts, this lady is the rockin' business and I do not think that I have seen her better. All of her rock 'n' roll classics such as 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll', Alright Baby', 'Billy Boy', Ooby Dooby', and 'Crackerjack' were delivered in top notch style, all of which was rapturously devoured by the audience. She and her backing group, The Hemsby Houseband, were clearly inspired and when she kicked of her shoes and tore into 'Barefoot Bay' the roof of the hall nearly came off. This was followed by 'Bang Bang' and the aptly descriptive, 'Hard Rockin' Mama' before the set concluded with 'My Boy Elvis'. Could she go without performing more, no way! She returned to the stage with her tribute to the ailing Ruth Brown in 'As Long As I'm Moving' and finally 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. Janis returned to the stage, clearly emotionally drained, as indeed was most of the audience. That had been ultimate rock 'n' roll.
There are not many performers capable of even coming close to the last mentioned performance but fortunately for us, the promoters had wisely booked the wondrous Jack Earls for what I believe was his fourth Hemsby appearance. Backed by the Infernos, who did the business perfectly, he literally tore into 'Flip, Flop And Fly', 'Take Me To That Place', 'Hey Jim' and 'Sign On The Dotted Line'. His stage art is near perfection but I do wish he would drop a few of those corny lines such as 'I would love to put y'all in my suitcase and take you home with me'. But when it comes to top notch rockabilly, few can hold a candle to Jack as he went on to demonstrate with 'Let's Bop', 'They Can't Keep Me From You', 'She Knows How To Rock Me', 'Goodbye Mary Ann' and a frantic 'Tear It Up'. The excitement being exuded from the stage was a joy to behold and it continued to build with 'My Little Mama', 'Rockin' Daddy', 'Crawdad Hole', 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby' before climaxing with his Sun Records tour de force 'Slow Down'. The audience wanted more and Jack being the professional he is, came back and delivered. We were treated to rockin' tributes to the late Ray Harris with 'Come On Little Mama', to Charlie Feathers with 'Wedding Gown Of White' and to Carl Perkins with a medley of his magical recordings but all served up with that Jack Earls styling.
The Hicksville Bombers closed out this night with their normal lashings of modern styled rockabilly. Boy, what a great night for rockin' music this had been.
The preceding commentary has focused on the acts appearing in the main hall but part of the fun of weekenders such as these is the whole scene. During the days, acts such as The Texabilly Rockets, The King Beans and The Sugar Creek Trio had given their all in locations throughout the camp, disc jockeys had played a fantastic selection of music between acts and there was an enjoyable boot fair (where I managed to acquire a few long sought after goodies).
The rockin for the last night kicked off with German band The Velvetones whose act I unfortunately was unable to catch. However, I believe that they were quite unique, albeit somewhat on the heavy side of rock 'n' roll and performed a blend of original tunes and unusual covers such as 'Welcome To The Pleasure dome'. However, I was there for the main act of the night, namely vocal group The Willows. This group originated in New York back in 1952 and remain based in Manhattan. For this show, three of the original line-up, lead singer Tony Middleton along with Ralph Martin and Richie Davis, were present. Sadly, the other original member, Joe Martin, passed away last February and his place has been taken by Desi Edwards Middleton, son of Tony. They also had their own musical director, Michael Cisternas, with them who did wave his arms around quite a bit. From the outset, it was obvious that the group were a touch ragged, both in the harmonies and stage movements. But, in actuality, this enhanced their appeal as clearly they were the genuine article and their set consisted of original material with no 'doo wop medleys'. They presented a good balance of ballads such as the delectable 'First Taste Of Love' and up tempo numbers like the stompin' 'Rock Little Francis'. The duet between Tony and Richie on 'Delores' was a joy to both the ears and the eyes and on 'Don't Push, Don't Shove', the group really excelled themselves. Early in the set, we had 'Love Bells' which was their own answer to their real biggie, the 'Church Bells May Ring' which of course has entered into the realms of being classified as a doo wop classic. We were treated to the latter twice and boy it was good as it bought their show to an apparent conclusion. However, we were then treated to a major surprise. Tony Middleton was the singer on the demo recording of 'Big Hunk Of Love' that was presented to (and of course recorded by Elvis A. Presley). Tony came back on stage and preformed this little ditty for us with the rest of The Willows and the backing band, an on-form Swing Kings, gradually joining in. Magical moments and I put The Willows in the must see again section, clearly a view shared by many as the group finally left the stage to enthusiastic applause.
The final act for Hemsby 34 was the German outfit Hot Boogie Chillum, who like Jack Earls were making their fourth appearance that these weekenders. They are one of those bands who you either love or loathe with a passion. For many of the audience, they were one of the highlights and certainly are original.
To reiterate, this was one of the best Hemsby yet and it makes me look forward to next one in October when I can put on my rockin' shoes for the line-up that includes Narvel 'The Marvel' Felts, Pookie Hudson (of The Spaniels), Pat Cupp, Johnny Powers and Andy Anderson. See's you there.
© Tony Wilkinson,
Pontins Holiday Centre, Camber, England
11th to 14th March 2004
Rockabilly Rave No. 9
By Tony Wilinson - This was the ninth annual Rockabilly Rave and this one has to rate as probably the strongest yet. Maintaining its justifiably gained reputation as a full blown international rockabilly come rock 'n' roll festival, it again attracted in excess of 2,000 visitors from all around the world. All were here to watch, listen and dance to eclectic rockin' music from a mixture of American originators and new bands. With regard to the last mentioned, it has to be pointed out that they came from all over the world to play what promoter Jerry Chatabox correctly describes as classic straight ahead rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. The stated policy is to supply quality music, keeping it pure but fun, and ensuring that everybody has a good time. Apart from an odd hiccup, this laudable aim was achieved - no mean feat.
Friday, 11th March 2005
Opening act was Canadian band Roy Thompson & The Royal Acadians, who after opening up with an instrumental proceeded to attack a catalogue of Louisiana based R&B influenced rockabilly. Roy (real name Olivier Laporte) has a nice guttural voice, well suited for the music he was putting across and the rest of the band were just fine, especially that lead guitarist who produced some real tasty licks. They rocked out well on Charles Page's 'Baby You Been To School' and Johnny Jano's 'High Voltage' plus other good numbers like 'Billie Jo', 'Hey Mr. DJ', 'Little Red Ridin' Hood', Honky Tonk Stomp' and 'True Loving'. A pleasing performance.
It was then time for the second ever UK appearance by Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones. It was immediately obvious that the group was all-together and was now tighter in their playing, vocal harmonies and showmanship. Consisting of the four original members from back in the fifties, namely Joe Bennett on vocals and lead guitar, Howard 'Sparky' Childress on alternate lead guitar and back up vocals, Wayne Arthur on upright bass and vocals plus Jimmy 'Sticks' Denton on drums, they were clearly enjoying themselves and it showed in their cohesive playing and laid back approach. Launching into 'Let's Go Rock And Roll', the guys rocked their socks off with their own 'Maybe Baby', the teen bopper 'Boys Do Cry', 'Cotton Pickin' Rocker' and 'Boppin' Rock Boogie'. This was good time rock 'n' roll and they mined the same vein with 'Late Again', 'Rocket' and 'Do The Stop' before varying the tempo with the ballad 'Softly' where their voices blended seamlessly. They paid tribute to Gene Vincent with 'Be-Bop-A-Lula' but this was to be the only non-original song in the whole set. The set closed out with 'sparkling' interpretations of 'Bayou Rock', 'We've Had It', 'Penny Loafers And Bobby Socks' plus their real biggie 'Black Slacks'. A first rate performance from the band and they made it look oh so easy. The final act for Friday was The Mean Devils from Portugal, a rockabilly outfit with bags of bash and thrash, playing most numbers at a frantic tempo. They served up a good version of the Little Jimmy Dickens/Ricky Van Shelton song 'Hole In My Pocket'.
I went to bed a fluffy bunny excited by what I had seen, and heard - treasuring the show by The Sparkletones.
Saturday, 12th March 2005
Downstairs in the secondary hall, in the afternoon, there had been a guitar forum presented by several pickers demonstrating various guitar techniques, interesting and enjoyable. This was followed by sets from Japanese band The Big Chief' and UK act Shaun Horton & Tennessee Trio. However, at lunchtime, Stomper Time Records owner Dave 'Pierce Brosnan' Travis had treated Eddie Bond, Eddie Jones (from Dave's Bad River Band) and yours truly to a splendid lunch to mark his birthday. Consensus for this momentous occasion was that it had to be a landmark anniversary.
Opening act for this evening was the German band The Round Up Boys who proved to be a competent rockabilly outfit. Their set comprised a few originals such as 'Rock It Up' plus quite a few covers that were, in the main, reasonably obscure and therefore not heard too often from the stage. By this I mean such ditties as 'Sneaky Pete', 'I'm Sitting On Top Of The World', 'Standing In Your Window', 'Mean Little Mama', 'If You Don't Treat Me Right' and 'Hypnotized'. An enjoyable set and the guitar pickin' by leader Axel was a joy.
The Ragtime Wranglers appeared next and performed three good instrumentals, including 'Groovers Bop' as the warm up for the next American visitor, Barbara Pittman. I was really looking forward to seeing this lady as this would mark the first time I had managed to catch her performance. Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed, as on several tunes, she went off key and she kept wandering on and off the microphone. She got it all together on 'Sentimental Fool', and 'I Need A Man' but to counter this, there were not good versions of 'River Stay Away From My Door' and 'Money Honey'. The other songs in the 29 minute set were 'There's Good Rockin' Tonight', 'Everlasting Love', 'I'm Getting Better All The Time', 'Lonely Weekends' and Great Balls Of Fire'. I understand that Barbara was not well and so it probably will be best to leave it at that and draw a veil over this sub-standard performance.
Redeeming the situation was the next act, Billy Lee Riley. Anybody who knows me is aware that I am a Riley fan - big time. Like good wine, this guy seems to get better with age. From the onset, it was obvious that we were in for a no hold barred stompin' rockin' time. Opening up with 'Everybody Let's Rock', it was straight into 'Rock With Me Baby', 'Trouble Bound', 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll, 'Roll Over Beethoven, 'Pearly lee' and 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy'. The backing band was just fine with the lead guitarist being straight out of the Roland Janes school of playing. Billy's voice had lost none of its raucous originality and he was dancing all over the stage with those little crouches and quirky little jumps that mark his performances. (Perhaps it is worth mentioning here that in the last two years, he has had two operations on his back, an artificial hip fitted and recently a steel plate installed in his leg but none of this was evident from this vintage Riley show). Hardly pausing, the set proceeded with 'Got The Water Boiling' before slowing down a bit to launch into the gut bucket raunchy 'Hoodoo Woman Blues' before taking of again with 'Good Rockin' Tonight', 'Baby Please Don't Go and the first of two workouts of 'Flip. Flop and Fly'. Delving back into his Sun Records catalogue we then treated to 'Wouldn't You Know' before he reverted to two r 'n' r standards in the form of 'Blue Suede Shoes' and (an overlong) Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On'. This 75 minute show of vintage rockin' came to a conclusion with 'Red Hot' and second performances of 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Got The Water Boiling'. Riley left the stage to tumultuous applause. A minor gripe would be the inclusion of so many standards to the detriment of his own original songs but that, in all honesty, is the purist in myself coming out.
Saturday night closed out with Sweden's own Jack Baymore The Bandits. He too went down a storm and my betting is that several young ladies got over excited. At one point, he was joined on stage by Charlie Thompson and Wild Fire Willie on back up vocals. Two standout numbers were 'Ain't That A Dilly' and 'Weary Blues'.
Again, I retreated as a happy bunny to my lonely room for the night.
Sunday, 13th March 2005
For openers on the final night we had Lynette Morgan & The Blackwater Valley Boys who performed a traditional honky tonk set (down to not having any drummer). Boy, this young lady sure does have a good voice. Earlier in the day downstairs, we had been treated to performances by The Madmen from Croatia and the Roy Kay Trio the USA.
Back to the main ballroom, we were next treated to the vocal delights of Texas originator Huelyn Duvall with backing by the previously mentioned Round Up Boys. Huelyn was clearly out to enjoy himself and set about rockin' with the crowd pleasing 'Pucker Paint' and 'Juliette' before going into the jerky beat of 'Hey Brutus' and his fifties record 'Friday Night On A Dollar Bill'. The tempo was varied with the chuggin' beat of 'They Ain't Close To You' before zooming off with 'Rock It Down'. The set really ignited with Huelyn's interpretation of Sid and Billy King's 'Let 'Er Roll' that was inserted at the last minute and without any rehearsal with the band. Despite this, it was seamless and the trip to the rockin' stratosphere continued with a brilliant treatment of Tooter Boatman's 'Thunder And Lightnin', truly awe-inspiring. Again, I have to mention the guitar playing by Axel of the Round Up Boys, it was spot on and up there with the likes of Deke Dickerson. By now, Huelyn was thrusting his body all over the stage and as the show continued with 'Lonesome For A Letter' and 'Three Months To Kill', the audience was roaring its appreciation. The tempo was slowed somewhat for his USA hit 'Little Boy Blue' before taking off again with 'High Class Baby', 'Coming Or Going' and 'It's No Wonder'. For an encore, we were treated to 'Bertha Lou' (Clint Miller style) and 'Down The Line'. I have seen several of Huelyn's performance but this was one of the best yet.
Final American visitor for this weekender was Eddie Bond who had Roy Thompson & The Royal Acadians as his backing band. Maybe Eddie does not move around the stage too much anymore but that excellent powerful voice is still totally in tact and evidenced as he tore into 'I Got A Woman', 'Boppin' Bonnie', 'Talking Off The Wall', 'Baby, Baby' Baby' and 'Monkey & The Baboon'. He included two Hank Williams Snr. Songs in his set, namely 'My Buckets Got A Hole In It' and Move It On Over' both being served up in sparkling style. The tempos were nicely varied with 'This Ole Heart Of Mine', 'Standing In Your Window', 'Here Comes That Train' and 'Juke Joint Johnnie'. Top notch rockin' was achieved with 'Tore Up' before reverting to his own catalogue with 'Double Duty Loving', 'Flip Flop Mama' and 'Rocking Daddy'. His show closed out with 'Slip Slip Slippin' In'. All in all, a very enjoyable experience.
Final act for the weekender was Paul Ansell's No. 9 before it came to a conclusion. Unfortunately, by this time, I was in the chariot roaring across Kent's wastelands, known as the Romney Marshes, due to work commitments the next day. However, Paul Waring caught the show by No. 9 and comments that a cluster of pretty girls gathered at the front of the stage as the four-piece band came on. This group has its own devoted following and expect moody type Elvis vocals complete with a strong lead guitar over slap bass and drums. They were not disappointed when this styling was applied to a host of contemporary numbers that Paul has made his own through his CDs. On this night, we were treated to Billy Ocean's 'Red Light Spells Danger', Aaron Neville's 'Crying Shame', Don Gibson's 'Sea Of Heartbreak plus a selection of Elvis songs in the form of 'Lonesome Cowboy' and 'Pocket Full Of Rainbows'. Mixed in with these were self-penned numbers such as 'Me And The Jukebox Have Found A friend' and 'It Ain't Right', both of which had the crowd singing along with and demonstrating that he has left his own foot-print on music. The band was called back for three encores, namely Lonesome Train', 'Veronica' and 'Viva Las Vegas'. This was no mean feat, especially coming at the end of three days of good music. The Rave came to a conclusion with a Tiki Party at 3.:00 am lead by Friki Tiki King Kukelee.
The consensus was that this had been the best Rockabilly Rave thus far. However next year with be the tenth Rockabilly Rave and I am assured by promoter Jerry Chatabox that the event will top everything to date. That said the 2005 festival would take some beating.
© Tony Wilkinson (with thanks to Paul Waring)
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
26th to 29th November 2004 ... REVIEW:
Rhythm Riot No. 8
With all the shops blaring out Christmas music and enticing one to come in and send money, I knew that the time had arrived to take Mrs. Wilkinson and daughter Colinda for their annual treat. Accordingly, scooting home from work, picking up She Who Must Be Obeyed and offspring, the chariot headed off to the traffic jams en route to Camber Sands on the south coast of England for the eighth Rhythm Riot. Anticipating the by now normal 'rockin' bizness' of an eclectic mixture of rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, honky tonk, jump and jive, rhythm & blues and down-home dirty blues, we were not disappointed read on ...
Friday, 26th November 2004
First act to take the stage in the main hall was the Sheffield (UK) based R&B outfit The Big Heat who, complete with a three piece brass section, served up a tasty full fat sound knocking out their renditions of ditties such as 'I Ain't Mad At You', 'Much Later For You Baby', 'I'm Nervous', 'The Walk', 'I'm Your Boogie Man' and a great interpretation of 'Chicken Shack Boogie'. We were off to a good start. One of the great things of this weekender is that generally there is one act that is a real revelation with regard to their music and stage act. This year there were no less than three such instances, the first of whom was the Dutch band Lil' Ester And Her Tinstars. They took the stage and from the opening bars, it was clear that we were in for a real treat. Lil' Ester has a great voice ideally suited for the mix of rock 'n' roll come rockabilly numbers that the group performed. Coupled with this, The Tinstars had a tight sound and special mention must be made of the lead guitarist who was no slouch at picking, effectively capturing the James Burton/Joe Maphis Imperial Records sound. Opening up with 'Go Daddy Go', the band then tore into numbers like 'Buddy', 'Let's Fall In Love', 'Need A Little Love', Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll' and 'That's All Right With Me. All the time the stage was full of visuals complete with exciting sounds as Lil' Ester and her guys succeeding in impressing. We were then treated to 'No Time For Love', 'Flame Of Love' (awful lot of lovin' going on) before concluding with 'Arguments And Alibis', 'Rock Boppin' Baby' and 'Mercy'. They got a justifiable great reception.
By now we were really cookin' but the heat unfortunately went off the boil with the next act, the first visiting American headliner Joe Houston who was backed by The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm. From the onset, clearly something was wrong, as Joe was late in getting on stage and then promptly left apparently to go to the loo. When he returned, looking very dapper on a cream suit and matching hat, the opening jam session ended in a version of 'Flip Flop And Fly' (I think). This was followed by an elongated vocal version of 'Rock Me Baby' with a minimum of sax playing. I do not know what the third number was titled but basically Joe just stood there with the occasional squawk on the saxophone. 'Sweet Little Angel' followed and this that basically was a repeat of the previous performance. After this I, and the majority of the audience, had lost interest. The set was then mercifully drawn to a conclusion whilst Joe disassembled and cleaned his saxophone. I understand that Joe was not well and so a veil must be drawn over this disaster. This evening's shows were rescued somewhat by a good set from Jook Joint.
Saturday, 27th November 2004
For openers, we were served up with a piano boogie set from the Hoodoo Kings lead by Bob Hall. This is a quartette who specialise in capturing the boogie-woogie sound laid down over the years from 'Suwannee River Boogie' through 'I'm Moving On' to 'If You Won't Go Home'. These guys demonstrated that they were very competent musicians, with Hall (despite having a passing resemblance to Rolf Harris) excelling on the piano and vocals. He also did a fine solo workout on 'Pinetop's Boogie. Other pieces included 'Somebody's watching Over Me, 'I Don't Play Boogie' and the original number 'Rock This Joint. Very satisfying. Next up was Spanish outfit The Lazy Jumpers who perform in an R&B come swing style. The lead vocalist was also competent on harmonica. They were okay but did not exactly set the stage alight.
They were followed by Wes Weston's Big Rhythm were a different kettle of fish. Here was quality musicianship, with fine vocals from Wes, who is a first rate showman, and a great backing from the guys on a set of basically jump jive offerings. The lead sax player was particularly outstanding. Plenty of stage action from the guys, some of whom play with the Big Town Playboys and James Hunter, who treated us to 'Everyday I Have The Blues', 'Boogie Chillum', Go On Fool', 'Rock This Joint' and Ray Sharpe's 'Linda Lu'.
The Southlanders were scheduled to appear but medical reasons prevented this. Deputising for them was the UK vocal group The Extraordinaires who are very visual on stage. This more than compensated for some of the vocals that were weak on certain tunes. They mixed in back flips and bags of coordinated movements on good workouts on the likes of 'Tell Me Why', 'Real Gone Mama', 'Lucy Brown', 'Let's Fall In Love', 'Ruby Baby', 'Zoom' and 'Hey Senorita'. They got it all together on an accapella treatment of 'Goodnight Sweetheart' before concluding with 'Let's Rock 'n' Roll'. Clearly popular with the audience, they received good applause. The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm who excelled themselves provided their backing in no uncertain style. Unfortunately this cannot be said of their performance behind the next artist, the legendary Hank Thompson. Okay, the brass section was justifiably missing, and the guys were augmented by steel and fiddle players but they were all over the place. On occasion, it seemed that they were playing a different tune that that which Hank was singing. As for 79 years young Hank himself, his vocals were spot on, especially on 'Humpty Dumpty Heart, 'Green Light', 'Indian Reservation' and 'Wild Side Of Life' where thankfully all the guys on stage got it together. It was a joy to listen to 'Wabash Cannonball', 'Six Pack To Go' and 'Take Me Back To Tulsa' and we were even treated to 'White Christmas'. Come back any time Hank but hopefully next time will see you performing 'Rockin' In The Congo'.
I mentioned revelations previously and the second took the stage to conclude this night's shows. They were the American Chicano group Vicky Tafoya & The Big Beat. This lady has a great singing voice which excelled on a good variety of songs like 'Do You Wanna Jump Children', 'Reelin' And Rockin', 'So Young, 'Mello Saxophone' and a superb 'We Belong Together. She carries her own band in The Big Beat and it showed. These guys were all together, with a real quality tight sound that was amply demonstrated backing Vicky on 'Rock Rock Rock', 'Rock A Beatin' Boogie', 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love' and 'There Is Something On Your Mind'. From the foregoing, hopefully you get the picture that this is a top-notch band with good stage presence. I certainly went to bed a fluffy bunny.
Sunday, 28th November 2004
Unfortunately I missed the opening act, The Jive Romeros, but there was certainly a good buzz in the man hall when I arrived to see Scottish rockabilly outfit Hi Voltage who were good. These guys know their business with consistently good performances taken at a nice tempo on ditties like 'Lonesome Tears', 'I Loose', 'Jump Start Boogie', 'Shadow My Baby, 'I Used To Be' and a sparkling rockabilly styling on 'Just Walkin' In The Rain'. A good act.
It was then time for the third revelation of the weekender and what a revelation! This was American visitor Roddy Jackson backed up by the house band. He came on stage and, with his leopard skin fronted shirt on, it was straight into 'I've Got My Sights On Someone New' followed by 'Moose On The Loose'. Roddy rocked, he rolled and he gave a 110 percent of himself. He pounded the keyboards into submission and belted out on the saxophone (not at the same time) as he gave a wild man performance. He has a raucous rock 'n' roll voice, reminiscent of the late great Ronnie Self, he is that good. He and the band were spot on with 'Hiccups', performed with humour, 'Any Old Town', 'Gloria', 'I Found A New Girl' and 'Love At First Sight'. He advised us that UK Ace Records have located a quantity of unreleased songs that he recorded for Specialty that will be released in 2005 and proceeded to treat us to a selection such as 'Juke Box Baby', 'Consider', 'I Love Her Just The Same' and 'Give A Little Love'. The majority of these are wild rock 'n' roll songs that Roddy gave full-unbridled leash to in their performance. He has a great stage personality and this was fully demonstrated on 'She Said Yeah' that he co-wrote with the late Sonny Bono. I cannot wait to see him again. We have a new rock 'n' roll hero.
New Orleans favourite Clarence Henry, who explained that this was his first UK visit in around 22 years due to income tax reasons, followed him on stage. But he quickly established a fine groove with an opening Fats Domino medley of 'My Girl Josephine/Margie/I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday'. His voice was in fine shape and the Rhythm Riot Kings of Rhythm provided a sympathetic backing as he followed with 'Troubles Troubles' and 'That's Enough' before going into an elongated medley of his sixties hits 'But I Do/You Always Hurt The One You Love. 'Cajun Honey' then ensued before dropping into a further medley of 'Jambalaya/Hey Le Bas/Blueberry Hill' and then continuing on with his own 'Little Suzy' and 'Lonely Tramp'. The last two mentioned bought cheers from the gathered multitude, as did 'Ain't Got No Home' which evolved into another medley of 'Twist/Johnny B. Good/Shake Rattle And Roll/Rag Mop'. For his encore, Clarence performed his concluding medley of 'When The Saints Go Marchin' In/Mama Don't Allow'. This was a pleasing performance by a show business veteran. The final act for this year's Rhythm Riot was I Belli Di Waikiki from Italy. This is a party time group who perform rock 'n' roll with a Hawaiian influence such as 'Honolulu Rock 'n' Roll' and 'Rock A Hula Baby'. Enjoyable.
Yet again, overall, another great Rhythm Riot and there is next year's weekender to think of and salivate over from 25th to 28th November 2005. No headliners have been announced so far but it would be great to see Ace Cannon fill the sax man spot and Nathaniel 'Village Of Love' Mayer on that stage based on reports of his appearance at this year's Ponderosa Stomp. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact the web site www.RhythmRiot.com for further information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson
REVIEW: ROCK 'N' ROLL TIME AGAIN
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 33
30TH September to 3rd October 2004 - At the risk of boring you, a little personal background to this particular Hemsby. Eldest daughter (Superbrat) was currently residing in Australia whilst her husband gained foreign experience for his job as a hospital registrar. Mrs. Wilkinson decided that we were all going out to stay with them and then go on for a tour of New Zealand. However a check with Willie Jeffery, the promoter of Hemsby, revealed that the dates conflicted and thus made for an agonising choice. Result, I came back after the Australian leg of the holiday on the Wednesday, arriving at Hemsby on the Thursday, whilst the rest of the Wilkinson brood went on to the windy isles. Rock 'n' roll prevailed!
Opening (and closing) Hemsby 33 was the Spanish rockabilly outfit The Bop Pills who comprised members from the bands Nu Niles and Los Brioles. The audience-pleasing Robert Gordon followed them. Now Robert is known for the occasional cantankerous mood swings and this was unfortunately one of those happenings. After arriving late on stage, a considerable portion of his set was spent chewing out the backing Hemsby House Band and seemingly changing the set list as it progressed. That said, when he was singing, that chocolate voice of rock 'n' roll was a joy to listen to and his performance was overall well received. The choice of material ranged from the thunderous opening 'The Way I Walk', the sublime 'I Just Found Out', a marvelous reading of the ballad 'Need You (at the special request of Trevor Cajiao, the editor of 'Now Dig This') to the rockin' workouts of Drivin' Wheel' and 'Susie Q'. He also featured songs from his latest CD such as 'Sea Of Heartbreak', Sweet Nothin's', 'Dear One' and 'Little Boy Sad'. It was good to watch new material from Robert.
The Unknown, a southern UK band were first on and performed a selection of Ricky Nelson, Presley and Johnny Burnette Trio, together with originals, type material in a rockabilly style. Their first album has just been released.
The next act scheduled was one of my all time recording favourites, the marvelous Link Wray & The Ray Men. However word came through that very afternoon that Link had influenza and had elected not to travel over from Denmark (his current base). This is understandable when one considers that the Linkster only has one lung and has to take special care. (Do check out his marvelous CD 'They're Outta Here, Says Archie' Rollercoaster RCCD 3032, a just issued 25 track compilation of previously unreleased (in the main) of recordings submitted to Archie Bleyer in 1958 for a proposed album follow up to 'Rumble'). As a substitute, we got a selection of Hemsby acts performing various songs. Of course, this had been quickly cobbled together but it was fun. The Hemsby House Band launched the proceedings with Link's 'Run Chicken Run' followed by Joe Clay on 'Shake Rattle and Roll', (a hot off the airplane) Bobby Hendricks on 'Mustang Sally' and 'Under The Boardwalk' before Robert Gordon took the stage to reprise 'Sea of Heartbreak', 'I Just Found Out and 'The Way I Walk'. This was oh so different, and great, performance to the previous night, it was coordinated and all there. This portion of the show closed out with the Hemsby House Band rockin' with a tasty version of Dick Dale's 'Miserlou' (but lacking that essential trumpet and saxophone - perhaps 'Rumble' would have been a better choice).
Next up were Wayne Hancock and his American backing musicians (guitar and bass). I have seen Wayne previously and he came across as Hank Williams Snr. on speed, and that is a compliment. This show was no exception except that he kept virtually all his material at the same tempo; a more varied selection would have maximized his impact. However we were treated to Wayne wrapping those marvelous nasal tones around songs such as 'Louisiana Blues', 'Flatland Boogie', 'Lovesick Blues', 'Thunderstorms And Neon Signs, '87 Southbound', 'Johnny Law, 'Hoy Hoy Hoy' and 'That's What Daddy Wants'. I must single out a number titled (I believe) 'My Echo, My Shadow And Me', a superb honky tonk ballad that reeked pure emotion. This was good roots music and all credit to Hemsby for ringing the changes in styles. The final act for Friday was The Sugar Creek Trio who I had last seen as support on the recent Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry UK tour. Jet lag had nailed me by this time and so I retreated to the land of nod but I understand that they gave a more than competent rockabilly show.
Feeling suitably refreshed, and having spoken to Mrs. Wilkinson down under, Saturday's proceedings in the main ballroom commenced with The Briarcats from Germany. This is an experienced band with a varied programme content that they aptly call Swing-O-Billy. Next it was a welcome return to the Hemsby stage for Joe Clay. I have seen Joe several times previously but this turned out to be one of his best ever shows. He rocked, he rolled, he thumped the heck out of the drums, he minced around the stage but at all times he was exciting. All his cult classics like 'Ducktail', 'Doggone It', 'Get On the Right Track', 'Cracker Jack', Goodbye Goodbye', 'You Look That Good To Me', 'Did You Mean Jelly Bean (What You Said Cabbage Head)', 'Slipping Out And Sneaking In' and a top notch 'Sixteen Chicks' were included. Along the way he also included his versions of 'Lucille', 'Linda Lou' and 'I Hear You Knockin'. That was rock 'n' roll.
Lee Rocker and his American band then took the stage. Lee was and is, of course, the bass player for the Stray Cats, a band who are phenomenally popular but not one of my personal favourites. It was with some trepidation then that I watched the outfit take the stage but my apprehension was quickly dissipated. The band, consisting of two lead guitarists plus a drummer and Lee on upright bass, was oh so cohesive and Lee's vocals were spot on. I guess that he could be described as the natural successor to the latter day Ronnie Dawson, he was that good. The set consisted of a selection of original tunes such as 'Bullet Proof', 'She's Gone', 'Blue Suede Night', 'One More Shot Of Loving You' and 'A Little Piece Of My Heart' along with a few Stray Cats tunes like 'Rock This Town' and 'Stray Cat Strut'. He also slipped in a few Elvis tunes, including a marvelous interpretation of 'Trying To Get To You' and 'My Baby Left Me', along with Chuck Berry and Hank Williams Snr. ditties. One surprise was a knock out version of Johnny Kidd's 'Please Don't Touch'. Lee's bass playing was of the highest order, including, so I am advised, triple slapping and did I mention that his band was on so good? A truly memorable show, especially as I was not expecting that much. Last on for this night was Gene Gambler & The Shufflers, a spin off from The Rimshots. With a pedigree such as that, you know that they are a fine rockin' outfit.
The final night's shows kicked of with Rudy La Croix & The All Stars, a UK Swindon based band that have previously opened for both The Comets and Scotty Moore. Next came The Go Devils, a mixture of members from Sweden's Go Getters and the UK's Blue Devils. It was quickly evident that their style consisted of bags of bash and thrash. 'Nuff said. Bobby Hendricks who had been a member of The Drifters, as well as having solo hits followed them. The Swing Kings who had added a new guitarist and drummer for the occasion backed him up. This certainly improved their playing, it was not nearly so pedestrian as on previous occasions. Bobby's years in show business were quickly evident as he was slick and polished, very enjoyable to watch and listen to. The only real complaint is that he elected to concentrate on Drifters material like 'Ruby Baby', 'Dance With Me', 'Up On The Roof', 'Under the Boardwalk, 'Save The Last Dance For Me', 'Drip Drop', 'This Magic Moment, 'Money Honey' and 'There Goes My Baby' to the detriment of his own solo outings. Indeed, the only tune from his own songbook was a very fine 'Itchy Twitchy Feeling', sadly no 'Molly B. Goode' and 'Physco'.
Hemsby 33 closed out with the return of The Bop Pills along with Hugo Salvage (this is Spanish for Sweden's Wild Fire Willie). Frantic crowd-pleasing rock 'n' roll ensued.
Overall, another enjoyable festival and I am salivating for Hemsby 34 from 3rd to 9th May 2005 with the line-up that includes three first time UK visitors of Jay Chevalier, The Willows and Roc La Rue, along with the established names of Janis Martin, Jack Earls and Art Adams. This should be something else.
© Tony Wilkinson,
REVIEW: ROCK 'N' ROLL TIME AGAIN
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 32
4TH May to 9th May 2004
Several people commented to myself before the latest Hemsby that, on paper, the bill did not look so strong this time around. Not sure that I could agree with them but, based on the actual event, this was a wonderful rock 'n' roll festival. This is one of the two times a year that Mrs. Wilkinson smiles at me (the other is the October Hemsby) as I set out northwards in the car. A few hours later, I was immersing myself in the great buzz surrounding the event that is known as Hemsby.
Whilst regular work commitments prevented myself getting there for the first two nights, I understand that the two opening acts acquitted themselves well. First up on Tuesday was local band Porky & His Good Luck Charms whilst Wednesday night had the South London based outfit Peter Hutton & the Beyonders.
The first act that I was able to catch was The Donettes, a high energy group from Seattle in Washington State. The programme advised us that there were a three girl to guys outfit but on this appearance, one of the young ladies was missing. As a side note, there was a young lady wandering around the reception area after the Donettes performance playing a guitar and singing Gene Maltais's 'Ragin' Sea'. Based on the pictures on the groups' releases, she did bear a strong resemblance to the missing person. However I digress, back to the Donettes show. This was good rockin' music well played and presented with one of the two remaining young ladies, who announced that she was from Austin, Texas, competently taking the lion's share of the lead vocals whilst the lead guitar work was from one of the guys who was good. Their set comprised a selection of original tunes and covers, all of which rocked out nicely, albeit there were too many numbers at a similar fast tempo. I especially enjoyed 'Hey Little Boy Scout', 'Rocket 69', 'Hitch My Hot Rod To A Star', 'Cry, Cry, Cry', and 'Mercy'. The band received a great response from the audience and clearly should go far.
Next up was Boston, Massachusetts based Barrance Whitfield. Backed up by the Hemsby house band, who were augmented by twin saxes, he launched into a frantic spell binding no holds barred wild rock 'n' roll show out of the Little Richard school. Opening up with 'Rockin' The Mule In Kansas', this was wonderful stuff and full of energy. From here the total assault on the senses continued with 'Big Mamou', 'Bloody Mary', 'I'm In The Madhouse', 'Juicy Fruit' an outrageous 'Caveman' and 'Bip Bop Bim'. This was pure excitement with Whitfield and the band blending well and clearly sparking off each other. On we went with the screaming rock 'n' roll of 'Wild Cherry', 'Geronimo Rock', 'Sadie Green', 'Stop Twisting My Arm' before concluding with a reprise of 'Bloody Mary'. The stage antics had been brilliant and everybody up on the stage had given 110%. There was tumultuous applause and clearly the crowd hungered for more, this was to be satisfied on Saturday night. Make no mistake, this guy is a headliner of the first order and I have not enjoyed a performance such as this in quite a little while.
First live performance of the night was from Rocket 88, complete with their original line-up and fronted by Leroy Bradley. They were followed by The Go-Getters, a three piece from Sweden, deputizing for a poorly Ersel Hickey who had unfortunately been hospitalized back in the USA. Hopefully Ersel will make a full recovery and this was only a postponement. The Go-Getters were popular with the younger element of the audience as they served up a selection of numbers with bags of thrash and bash. Opening up with 'Rock It On Down To My House Baby', this was followed by the likes of 'Hip Shakin' Baby', 'Let's Fall In Love', (the Jack Earls) 'Slow Down', 'The Devil Made Me Do It' before making a welcome change in pace with the slower 'I Wonder'. The main vocalist was the snare playing drummer but the guitarist did take over the lead for a few numbers. Other songs included 'Black Magic Woman', 'Tired And Sleepy', a heavy version of 'Brand New Cadillac' (performed in the style of the UK group The Pirates), 'Slow Down' (Larry Williams song), 'Mexico, 'Ice Cold Baby' and a fitting tribute to the late Ronnie Dawson with 'Jump Jivin' Doll'.
Before the next act, UK disc jockey Wild Cat Pete was presented by Hayden Thompson with a certificate inducting him into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for forty years completed as a rock 'n' roll DJ. Nice gesture and obviously deserved.
Go Cat Go then took the stage. This was the original line-up apart from obviously the late Darren Spears whose place on lead vocals was taken by Eddie Clendening who had been last in the UK last March with Deke Dickerson. It was a bit of a hesitant start, clearly all were somewhat nervous and probably a little rusty but as the set progressed, it came good and the outfit was a cohesive unit. This was an enjoyable set with a good balance of numbers and varied tempos. Clendening's vocals and stage movements were suited to the backing provided by Brian Freeman on bass, Lance LeBeau on drums and special mention must be made of the picking from the lead guitarist Bill Hall that was spot on. The show comprised a mixture of original songs such as the crowd pleasers 'Please Mama Please' (which had to be performed twice), 'Forever's Much Too Long', 'Little Baby Doll', 'Ten Ways To Rock' and 'Can't Tie Me Down' along with the bands interpretations of such as 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll', 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky' and 'Just Because'. I especially enjoyed 'Hot Rod Man', 'Who Was That Cat' and 'I've Got My Eyes On You'. A fine group who garnered a good reception and hopefully they may now continue performing. Closing out Friday's performances were The Blue Flames with their mixture of R&B and rockin' blues.
The programme advises that the first act on in the main ballroom was Boni Maki & The Sun Dodgers but unfortunately I was unable to catch their show. They were followed by a 77 year young Jimmy Cavello making his second UK appearance along with his own lead guitarist Ron Spencer. In the two years since he last made these shores, he had lost none of his impact and proceed to wow the audience with a demonstration of what showmanship was all about. His vocals were excellent and his sax playing sublime. With no messing, he went straight into 'Rock The Joint' followed by 'Bloodshot Eyes', 'Leave Married Women Alone' and 'The Big Beat'. The last mentioned had three saxophone players playing in unison. Cavello was seamless with the Hemsby house band. and this was demonstrated on 'Poor Me', 'Sick And Tired' before going into a splendid 'Rock Rock Rock'. Then it was back to the Fats Domino songbook with 'Please Don't Leave Me' which Jimmy demonstrated was the forerunner to Bill Dogett's 'Honky Tonk'. It was great to see an instrumental performed so appetisingly well. With guitarist Ron Spencer well to the fore, we were then treated to the 1946 and 1963 versions of 'Fannie Brown' before dropping into perhaps an unnecessary workout on 'What'd I Say'. However all was redeemed with the closing numbers 'Jump Jive And Wail' and a reprise of 'Rock Rock Rock'.
It was then time for the rockabilly singer extraordinaire, Hayden Thompson. Demonstrating complete confidence, the set opened up with 'Love My Baby' with the lead guitar duties being adopted by Dave Briggs on leave from the Avengers for the night. Without seeming to pause for breath, we were then treated to 'Fairlane Rock', 'Blues Blues Blues', 'One Broken Heart' before dropping into two of those infernal medleys. The first was of Johnny Cash songs and I have to admit that 'Ring Of Fire' came off oh so well. The second was a mixture of Presley songs recorded whilst he (Elvis) was at Sun. However we were soon back on course in no uncertain manner with 'Don't You Worry', 'Cheese and Crackers', ''Kansas City' and 'Call Me Shorty'. Hayden's voice remains very powerful, one of the best in the business, and a real pleasure to listen to. The set ploughed on in no uncertain manner with 'You Win Again', 'You Are My Sunshine' and a gob smacking workout on 'Mama Mama Mama'. He closed out with 'Just Because', 'Folsom Prison Blues and a fine 'Rockabilly Gal'. Me, I could listen to that voice all night.
However we were not over treat wise for the night as Barrance Whitfield was back with a second set of the weekend. Seemingly he had lost some money in dubious circumstances. There had been a whip round to make up the shortfall and part of this was to play a second set, something that he had wanted to do in any event. Backed up by the Hemsby House band, who did work oh so hard this festival, and Jimmy Cavello on some numbers, were again treated to pulverizing rock 'n' roll for around half an hour. Okay it was time again for 'Bloody Mary', 'Sadie Green', 'Stop Twisting My Arm and 'Caveman' but what the heck did it matter. This was flat out enjoyment. For good measure, we were also served up with a sparkling interpretation of Smiley Lewis's 'Shame Shame Shame'. This was going to be difficult to top but the closing band for the night, Spo-Dee-O-Dee from Germany gave it their best shot, sufficiently for there still to be a buzz the following day.
The time this weekend had flown by and in no time at all, or so it seemed, here we were on the final night of Hemsby 32. Opening up were The Rockin' Bandits who hail from Andover and have been in existence since 1991. Four attractive ladies, Reather Dixon, Emma Pought, Pamela McMullen and Debra Thompson, who collectively are known as The Bobbettes, then followed them. Boy this was a visual and musical treat. The ladies were stunningly turned out and proceeded to rock their stockings off with 'Ain't That Good News'. The stage movements were well co-coordinated but it was obvious that the backing musicians, the Swing Kings, were going to be rather pedestrian. Unfortunately this proved to be the case throughout the act but all credit to The Bobbettes as they certainly surmounted this hurdle. They followed this song with 'I Don't Like It Like That', the answer version to Chris Kenner's 'I Like It Like That'. It was then time for some lovely doo wop singing with 'Look at The Stars and 'Eddie My Love' and the ladies excelled. Upping the proceedings, we were then treated to 'Rock And Ree-A-Zole' before going into 'Oh Mein Papa'. This is a naff song but all credit as they carried it off well as they did the next number 'Zoomy'. Next came a musical highlight with the ballad 'You Are My Sweetheart', a powerhouse reading. Then it was time for the classic 'Mr. Lee' which was segued into 'I Shot Mr. Lee'. Their relatively short set was concluded with another workout of 'You are My Sweetheart' together with 'Goodnight Sweetheart'. Sadly that was it, no 'Dance with Me Georgie', but a stimulating performance nonetheless. Hemsby 32 finished off, live act wise, with The Mean Devils, a Portuguese and French outfit who in the now traditional style were a band who delivered their songs in a no holds barred frantic tempo. Crowd pleasers for sure.
This Hemsby, allowing for the new camp restrictions, was a near sell out. I really enjoyed myself and am looking forward to Hemsby 33 in October 2004 that has Link Wray, Joe Clay, Robert Gordon, Bobby Hendricks, Wayne Hancock and Lee Rocker as the scheduled visiting American headliners. See's you there.
© Tony Wilkinson, May 2004.
FROM THE DESK OF TONY WILKINSON
See: Barry Dixon's Hemsby #32 Photos
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England, 5th-7th March 2004. REVIEW:
Rockabilly Rave No. 08.
Incredibly this was the eighth annual Rockabilly Rave and in that time it has developed from a relatively small affair to a full-blown international festival attracting visitors from far and near. There was circa 2,000 people attending from Europe, the Americas and Japan etc., all there to witness what the promoter Jerry Chatabox justifiably described as classic straight ahead rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. As was witnessed, the aim of providing good quality music, keeping it pure but fun, was clearly achieved. This was a melting pot for rockin' music from all around the world.
Friday, 5th March 2004
The proceedings kicked off with Mars Attacks, a combo from Switzerland and Austria. They were an okay rockabilly outfit, performing a mixture of originals such as 'Men From Mars' through a selection of covers like 'Shadow My Baby', 'That's The Way I Feel' and 'Crazy Crazy Lovin'. The band reached their zenith with their interpretations of Johnny Burnette Rock 'n' Roll Trio tunes, 'Lonesome Tears In My Eyes' being particularly outstanding. Good visuals but they did tend to take a lot of numbers at a similar tempo thus effectively merging one number into the next and therefore minimizing the impact.
Mars Attack returned to the stage to back up the next act, the great Sonny Burgess. I have lost count of the number of times I have now seen Sonny but he never fails to satisfy musically. He is one heck of a top notch rockin' guy with bags of stage presence, great vocals and fine guitar picking. Opening up with 'Move it On Over', it was then into a medley of 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' and 'Gone Gone Gone' followed by the crowd pleasing 'The Prisoner's Song'. Burgess was clearly in control and the backing band blended in well. His act was full of those little hop skip and jumps as be built up the proceedings with 'Whatcha' Gonna Do', 'Find My Baby', 'We Wanna Boogie', 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It' and Fannie Brown'. By now young ladies were rushing the stage, not bad for a guy in his seventies (the lucky man, no wonder he was smiling frequently). Next came 'Let It Roll', which was actually Chuck Berry's 'Let it Rock', before Pacers drummer Bobby Crafford took the stage to take over the vocals on 'Forty Days', 'Wooly Bully' and 'Ain't Got No Home'. Then it was back to Sonny to close out with 'Red Headed Woman' that he segued into 'Tear It Up' before finishing up with 'Sadie's Back In Town'. A masterful performance.
Closing act for this evening was Nashville based The Planet Rockers whom I had seen previously but who had left me unmoved. However, this was to change with this show, it was brilliant. Lead by Sonny George on vocals, who has a voice not un-similar to Sonny Burgess, and the superb Eddie Angel on lead guitar, they were augmented by the bass player and drummer from the German band Smokestack Lightnin' and a second guitarist from Holland who had been a sideman for the late Ronnie Dawson. Not that one could tell as they all played together as a seamless and cohesive unit. Opening up with 'Trouble Up the Road', it was straight into a rockin' 'Big Daddy with biting but restrained guitar work from Eddie. The set was cooking and this was amplified by fine workouts on 'Yes I Do', 'Spin My Wheels' and 'Truck Drivers Rock' before Eddie took centre stage for the instrumental 'Rampage', complete with bags of showmanship such as his hands fanning the guitar strings. His guitar playing is up there with the likes of Danny Gatton and Ry Cooder. By now the crowd was jumping but there was no let up in the blistering intensity of the performance with such as 'Thunder Road Rock', Gravy Train', 'Billy Thunder', 'King Fool', Lonesome Traveller, 'Got The Bull By The Horns and 'Come On'. In some ways, this Planet Rockers show was reminiscent of a Ronnie Dawson set - such was its impact. Indeed, they closed out with 'Knock Down Drag Out' leaving me exhausted but thrilled. Boy, I went off to bed a fluffy bunny.
Saturday, 6th March 2004.
Downstairs in the secondary hall, in the afternoon, there had been a guitar forum from Ashley Kingsman, Darryl Higham, John Lewis and Deke Dickerson demonstrating various guitar techniques, most interesting and enjoyable. This was followed by a set by the German band Spo Dee O Dee.
Opening act for this evening was the Italian band Dale Rocka & The Volcanoes, who I unfortunately missed. However by the time I arrived in the main hall, they had certainly created a good buzz with what was described to myself as a showy and enjoyable rock 'n' roll set. I was there in time for the UK's Charlie Thompson who facially bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Frank Andy Starr. His backing group was a band from Sweden who did not possess a drummer. This was in keeping with the first part of Charlie's set as it was pure honky tonk hillbilly music. He performed numbers in this portion such as 'Teardrop Valley', 'Railroad Daddy' and even managed to pull off Slim Whitman's 'When I'm Calling You' complete with yodels. I suppose it was inevitable that we would be treated to a Hank Williams Snr. song but it was a splendid performance by Charlie on 'Why Don't You Love Me'. Miss Mary Ann of the Ranch Girls then joined Charlie for the tasty couple of duets 'In The Jailhouse Now' and 'Come Back'. The steel player from the band then adopted the drummers stool, it was eventually taken over by the drummer from The Sure Shots, and the set moved into quality rockabilly with 'Sweet Love On My Mind', 'Looking at That Moon' and 'Hang Loose' before quieting down a little with Glen Glenn's 'Kathleen'. Charlie closed out his set with 'Turn Around (not the Carl Perkins' song), 'Itty Bitty Baby, 'Model A Ford' and 'Mule Skinner Blues'. Based on this performance, his soon to released CD should be good.
Next up was another rockabilly original, namely the great Jack Earls who was ably supported by Holland's Ranchtime Wanglers. Like Sonny Burgess, Jack Earls is a consummate stage performer and he proceeded to rock out like there was no tomorrow. The excitement built layer by layer with 'Flip Flop And Fly', 'Take Me To That Place', 'Hey Jim', 'Sign On The Dotted Line', Let's Bop' and 'They Can't Keep Me From You'. Even the mind numbing patter from Jack between numbers could not diminish the quality of this performance as it proceeded with a well balanced selection of numbers like 'Sure Can Rock Me', 'Mary Ann', Hey My Love', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'My Little Mama', 'Rockin' Daddy', 'Crawdad Hole', and 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby'. By now, the joint was jumpin' and Earls could do no wrong, the master of his art. Next up was a number Jack called 'Oh Baby' (aka 'Sick And Tired') followed by 'Fool For Loving You' before we entered into the tribute part of the show. Carl Perkins was remembered by a medley of his songs as was Charlie Feathers with 'Tongued Tied Jill' and Ray Harris was recalled with a strong version of 'Come On Little Mama'. Jack did not want to leave the stage but he had well and truly over-run his slot and so he was forced into closing out with a reprise of 'Let's Bop'. All in all, 75 minutes of brilliance.
But the night was not over as next we were treated, and it was a musical treat, to Deke Dickerson with Eddie Clendening. Eddie opened up the set and came across as an Elvis wanabee; in fact a friend remarked that appearance and stage movement wise, it was like 'Elvis '56'. To be fair, there were no Elvis numbers included. Instead, we were treated to The Phantom's 'Love Me' along with the likes of 'One and Only', Stranded On A Date Last Night' and 'Ice Cold Baby'. Clearly the guy has talent and no doubt there were a few young ladies with moist underwear after this performance but there is a way to go yet. No such reservations with the performance by Deke, this was a quality musical extravagance from beginning to end. The harmonies were spot on and the musicianship was par excel lance. A highlight of the show came when all the band members exchanged instrument, showmanship to be sure. Again, I retreated as a happy bunny to my lonely room for the night.
Sunday, 7th March 2004.
For openers on the final night we had Ramblin James + The Billyboppers from the USA. Earlier in the day downstairs, we had been treated to performances by The Planets from Japan and Smokestack Lightnin' from Germany. The last mentioned was very good but sadly the group now appear to have broken up, this being their final performance.
Back to the main ballroom, we were next treated to the vocal and visual delight s of the original Ranch Girls line-up from Holland. Backed as normal by The Ranchtime Wranglers, the singing from these attractive young ladies was a joy to the ears as was their bopping around on the stage to the eyes. Opening up with 'Way Down Yonder In New Orleans' it was quickly into a mixed selection such as 'Sweet Thing', 'Pal Of My Lonely Hour', 'Real Gone', 'I'm Done, I'm Through' and 'Sure to Fall'. The two singing belles really excelled on 'Rock-a-Bye Baby' as did the band on the instrumental 'You Can't Sit Down'. Other tunes featuring the really good harmonies and first-rate stage presence were 'When Are You Coming Back', 'I'm Not Woman', 'Hey Sheriff' and 'Big Arm' (a solo by Miss Mary Ann). This most enjoyable performance closed out with fine treatments of Gene Vincent's 'Dance To the Bop' and The Collins Kids 'Hot Rod'.
Now it was time for a guy who was there when the rock 'n' roll avalanche first took place but making his European debut, namely Jimmy Lee Fautheree. Backed up by Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Fonics, Jimmy was clearly a trifle nervous. In addition, I knew that he had been unwell the previous night suffering a very high temperature but he was determined to make this show. Opening up with his own 'Love Me' the harmony singing with Deke was excellent and this was further evidenced with 'I'm Digging A Hole (To Bury My Heart)', 'Sweet Love On My Mind', and 'Overdue'. Something that I had not previously appreciated is that Jimmy is an excellent guitar picker and this was evidenced on 'Raunchy'. Jimmy related the interesting story behind this is in that when Jimmy was backstage one time at the Louisiana Hayride jamming with Carl Adams, he developed the guitar riff for the tune. This was seemingly was overheard by a guy from Sun Records. Before he knew it, Bill Justis had the record out and secured a monster hit. However back to the show and we were further entertained with some more fine country tinged rockabilly in 'If You Don't, Somebody Else Will', 'Sweet Singing Daddy' and 'Drink Up and Go Home', the last mentioned also being cut by Freddie Hart and Carl Perkins. Jimmy also recorded under the name of Johnny Angel for Johnny Vincent's Ace label set up and tonight we were treated to a tasty version of his 'Baby it's Love', a splendid piece of rockin'. The set proceeded on admirably with 'Til The End Of The World (Rolls 'Round), 'Box Full Of Git' and 'I'm Moving On' prior to climaxing with two workouts on 'I Can't Find The Doorknob' and 'White Lightnin'. This set was a good blend of original country music combining with new rockabilly. Jimmy was in great voice, his picking was exemplary and the backing by the band was in perfect sympathy. (Writers note: it subsequently transpires that Jimmy had pneumonia and has apparently been diagnosed has having cancer. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery are passed on to Jimmy, the world of real music needs him).
Closing out the festival was the UK band Carlos And The Bandidos who, dressed in their Cisco Kid outfits, played a good set of tex-mex tinged rockabilly/rock 'n' roll. This had been an exhilarating time and had been filmed in part for future broadcast by BBC3 television as part of their 'Rave Music' season (they had not appreciated that this word in the meaning of all night parties had been used by Carl Perkins back in the fifties). I was assured by the promoter that the event next year, scheduled for 11th to 13th March 2005, will be bigger and better. However the 2004 festival will take some beating.
© Tony Wilkinson
Rhythm Riot #7
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
21st to 24th November 2003
Funny how time slips away but the time had come once again to take Mrs. Wilkinson and daughter Colinda for their annual outing. Accordingly, jumping into the newly dented car, we headed off down to Camber Sands on the South coast of England for the seventh Rhythm Riot. To paraphrase Jane Morgan, these were the three days the rains came down but inside the main hall, it was the 'rockin' bizness' with an eclectic mixture of rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, hillbilly boogie, jump and jive, rhythm & blues and plain ol' dirty blues. As was to be anticipated from the line-up of artists, we were treated to some hot music and sparkling performances.
Friday, 21st November 2003
The proceedings kicked off with Big Boy Bloater & His Southside Stompers. This was their tenth anniversary of their founding and in that time they have developed into a tight sounding rockin' R&B band. This was especially evident on 'Sapphire', 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl' and 'King Kong'. Bloater was to be constantly on the stage during the next three days whilst he lead to house band The Rhythm Riot Kings f Rhythm. Bloater and Co. were followed by Otis Grand & The Big Blues Band. Unfortunately this rapidly became a modern blues style set with one number merging into another and thus to this listener rather boring. The performance could not even be rescued by having Jimmy Thomas, who was part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in the mid sixties, handling the lion share of the vocals. An appalling version of the instrumental 'Nut Rocker' was included.
However the next performer, Big Al Downing redeemed all. In his true imitable style, Big Al once again hammered the piano keys into submission on a straight ahead no frills enjoyable rock 'n' roll set. Great versions of 'Georgia Slop', 'Oh Babe!' and ''Down On The Farm'. The act featured many full song medleys, perhaps too many medleys, of songs by such as Elvis Presley but those concentrating on Little Richard and Huey Piano Smith worked. This was a good performance by a rock 'n' roll originator but who of course has subsequently sung many other styles of music. The final act for this night was Mike Sanchez and who was a late substitution for Knockout Greg & Blue Weather who was unable to appear due to having fallen victim to the flu outbreak in Sweden. Sanchez and his stripped down combo once again demonstrated why he is a top draw on the UK circuit with a great mixture of rock 'n' roll and R&B done Sanchez style. There were bags of visuals, piano pounding and smart vocals. The set included one of the best live interpretations of 'Breathless' heard outside of Jerry Lee. Other first class renditions included 'Blue Boy', 'Kiddio' and 'Three Months, Three weeks and Three Days'.
Saturday, 22nd November 2003.
Opening act for this evening was the UK band The Stargazers who performed a pleasant set that contained a Bill Haley beat colliding head on with Louis Prima/Sam Butera sound. The songs consisted of a mixture of jump jive such as 'Hey Marie', torch ballads with the likes of 'Rocket Ship To The Moon' and rock 'n' roll in the form of 'Ho Ho Ho' (otherwise known to Johnny Burnette fans as 'Please Don't Leave Me'), 'Rip It Up' and 'Shake Rattle And Roll'. They demonstrated a good stage presence. Following was Dexter Shaw & The Wolf Tones who came out with a fine authentic blues sound. The lead singer, Jeremiah, was very much in the Lowell Fulsom mould with the band basically being the musical Marques Brothers reincarnated. Good workouts in their act included 'Tiger Man' and 'It Hurts Me Too'.
Appearing next was Lazy Lester who, after a hesitant start, developed his act into a tasty show featuring the likes of 'Sugar Coated Love', 'Bloodstains On The Wall' and 'Same Thing's Happened To You'. The last mentioned amply demonstrated the blurring of the lines between swamp blues and rock 'n' roll. The backing band included both Big Boy Bloater and Big Joe Louis on lead guitars plus a metal washboard scratcher and Lester made them work. Perhaps he lived up to his name a little too much as many numbers contained two guitar solos together with a piano and harmonica solo. For his final two numbers, Lazy abandoned his harmonica and picked up an acoustic guitar and proceeded to sing country including 'Your Cheatin' Heart'. Sadly this change of style did not really work. However country music did really suit the next two singers on stage, namely Frankie Miller and Jimmy Eaves. Jimmy came on first and performed a solid Hank Williams Snr. set with 'Setting The Woods On Fire', 'Lovesick Blues', 'Hey Good Looking' and 'Jambalaya'. The vocals were spot on and provided a fine contrast to the preceding styles of music. Frankie Miller, who sang a good selection of short sharp and snappy basically fifties style numbers, followed him on stage. Whilst Frankie cracked a number of banal jokes, it was a joy to watch and listen to a tremendous 'True Blue' along with the likes of 'Blackland Farmer' and 'Waltz Across Texas'. Another number, which was not only good, but interesting as well, was 'The Great Song' (The History Of The Wild Side Of Life)' which traced the story of 'Wild Side Of Life' from its inception with 'Tonight I'm Dreaming Of My Blue Eyes' through 'The Great Speckled Bird' to 'The Wild Side Of Life' and 'It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels'. Hopefully we shall see Frankie back in the UK.
I have seen the next act, The Cleftones, several times previously and had never been disappointed. Tonight was to be no exception as leader Herb Cox along with Mac Todd, Nick Saunders and Kenny Whiteside danced onto the stage and proceeded to give a sparkling show. There was plenty of stage movement, great harmonies and good lead vocals on balanced and entertaining set of rockin' doo wop and ballads such as 'Heart and Soul', Roy Hamilton's 'Don't Let Go' (performed twice), a truly magnificent version of 'Blue Velvet', their classic 'Little Girl Of Mine' and 'Can't We Be Sweethearts. Kenny Whiteside got to grips with the Jackie Wilson songbook with fine workouts on 'That Is Why I Love You So' and 'I'll Be Satisfied'. There is a tasty hard rockin' edge to the voice of Herb Cox which is not present in some other vocal groups. All in all, they were a joy to witness and to listen to. Concluding Saturday night was the five-piece Australian jump jive, R&B and rock 'n' roll outfit Benny & The Fly By Niters who were a good choice to close out. They gave a solid and workmanlike performance, especially on the tunes 'Baby Baby Come Back', the instrumental 'Birmingham Bounce' 'Party Like Never Before' and 'Back To San Antone'.
Sunday, 24th November 2002.
For openers on the final night we had The Billy Bros Jumpin Orchestra from Italy who are a smartly attired swing and jump jive outfit. They gave an energetic show and were followed by Miss Mary Ann & Her Ragtime Wranglers. Miss Mary is an exceptionally talented lady, possessing a great voice and who is most attractive. If this was not enough, she was backed up by more than competent set of musicians on a selection of rockabilly, hillbilly and western swing tunes. Most enjoyable.
Maybe I am biased, but by general consent, Billy Lee Riley gave out the stand out performance of the whole weekender. Billy sang superb selections of rock 'n' roll, rockin' blues and some mean down dirty blues. He was in great voice and his act was full of his little hop and skips as he worked the stage. The band and he was a cohesive unit, especially on 'Mojo', 'I Don't Know', 'Hoodoo Woman', 'Ballin' The Jack' 'Flip Flop And Fly' and 'Rock Me Mama'. He really cut loose on 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll before Lazy Lester joined him on stage. The couple then proceeded to perform 'Raining In My Heart' and 'Scratch My Back'. Riley closed his show out with scorching versions of 'Red Hot' and 'Whole Lot Of Shakin' Goin' On' to tumultuous applause. What a show! The length of the autograph queue further evidenced this afterwards as the next act on, Young Jessie, had nearly completed his performance before it closed out. Jessie has a new stage image, the goatee beard has been replaced by hat and maroon suit and he gave out with a typical and excellent set. This guy is a veteran who has been singing for around fifty year and remains in great voice along with a commanding stage presence. Thankfully, his selection now includes 'Shuffle In The Gravel' along with good workouts of the likes of 'Hit Git And Split', 'I Smell A Rat', 'Hot Dog', a great 'Don't Happen No More', 'Oochie Coochie', 'Do You Love Me' and the powerhouse ballad 'Lonesome Desert'. Boy, Mrs. Wilkinson and I were virtually drained after the last two acts. However UK vocal group The Metrotones, who include ex Rocky Sharp & The Razors/Darts bass singer Den Hegarty amongst their members, closed out the whole event with their typical and acceptable performance of rockin' doo wop and ballads.
Overall, another great Rhythm Riot. But then there is next year's weekender to think of and salivate over. The headliners so far announced for Rhythm Riot 8, to be held at the same venue between 26th and 29th November 2004, are Hank Thompson (hope he performs 'Rockin' In The Congo' and 'Cocaine Blues'), Clarence Frogman Henry, Roddy Jackson, Joe Houston and The Southlanders. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact the web site www.RhythmRiot.com for further information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson, November 2003
A VERITABLE FEAST OF ROCKIN' MUSIC
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 31
2nd to 5th October 2003
Once again it was time to head northwards to attend the gathering of like minded rock 'n' roll music fans at the Hemsby Holiday Centre. So bidding goodbye to the Wilkinson family (why was Mrs. Wilkinson still smiling?), I drove the chariot through a seemingly never-ending series of road works and arrived at Hemsby. Soon the rigors of the journey were forgotten as the rock 'n' roll buzz was in the air and it was meet 'n' greet time with old friends and new acquaintances
Whilst other business commitments prevented myself getting there for the Thursday night, I understand that the two opening acts acquitted themselves well. First up was Mark Lee Allen's Drivers Bros., a Rockabilly band from Portsmouth in the UK. Next was Little Neal & the Blue Flames, who hail from Germany. The last mentioned were originally a session band but got the urge to go on the road. They have consequently built up a strong reputation as a good rockin' band throughout Europe.
This review will primarily concentrate on the acts that appeared in the main ballroom but mention should be made here and now of all the alternative sessions by disc jockeys and live acts going on at other venues in the holiday centre. One was spoilt from choice at times. The DJs pumped out a never ending selection of good rockin' music (albeit sometimes at a discordant level that prevented conversation) and acts such as Hot Chicken, Mystery Gang Trio and The Cordwood Draggers gave of their best.
The evening in the main ballroom commenced with the aforementioned Mystery Gang Trio who came from Hungary and who clearly demonstrated the international and European appeal of good o' rock 'n' roll. The programme aptly described them as hot. Next up was the UK Jive Aces. This jump jive band goes from strength to strength, both in musical competence and stage visuals. They are all so together and are a delight to watch and listen to. Their version of 'Caledonia' was absolutely knockout. If they appear at a venue near you, make the effort to go along. For sure, you will not be disappointed.
It was now time for the first of the visiting American acts and for myself, a first time see although he has been to Europe previously. Who am I prattling on about? - well none other than the man in the red suit, Johnny Olenn. Due to a double hip replacement, Johnny performed his set sitting on a stool playing a guitar but that did not prevent him from getting well and truly into the feel of the music and motivating himself around on the top of the stool. He was backed up by The Jive Aces who did an exemplary job, especially their sax player who blew away in a true and marvellous rock 'n' roll style. After opening up the set with a rather overlong basic blues instrumental workout, it was into his two numbers performed in the movie 'The Girl Can't Help It', namely 'I Ain't Gonna Cry No More' and 'My Idea Of Love'. The music started to cook, especially with the jump jive tune 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah' which was followed by a marvellously emotive reading of the Chuck Willis song 'Oh! What A Dream'. For yours truly, this was one of the highlights of Johnny's performance. As one will have probably worked out by now, the set was basically a selection of the tracks from the Olenn LP 'Just Rollin', no complaints there. But the next number, 'Born Reckless' was a welcome surprise. A tour de force of rock 'n' roll, this is the title song of a somewhat obscure B movie starring Mamie Van Doren. A hopped up version of 'Candy Kisses' then followed before Johnny took up a lap steel guitar for 'Steeling The Blues'. It is not a well-known fact but Johnny was the steel guitar player in Rudy Grayzell's band back in the early fifties and this performance showed that he had not lost the touch. After a workout on a Joe Turner styled 'Shake Rattle And Roll' it was back to the aforementioned album for good interpretations of 'Twenty Four Hours' and 'Sally Let Your Bangs Hang Down'. The final three numbers were 'Rocket 69' a new number from a CD due out next year, 'Pipeliner Blues' and an inspired treatment of 'Annie Had A Baby'. This guy is the business and received full support from The Jive Aces.
But the evening was not over yet for we next had Paul Ansell's No 9' who are awe inspiring. They take country rock to a new level. To demonstrate what I am trying to say, when was the last time that one heard 'Lonesome Cowboy' (one of the songs that Presley featured in the film 'Loving You') coming from a singer on the stage and sung bloody well. For many, Ansell was the hit of Hemsby.
This evening's session kicked off with a performance by Southend's (my home town) own Terry & The Wild Ones. This was frantic no holds barred straight ahead rock 'n' roll performed in Jerry Lee Lewis style. Full of arrogance, 18 year old Terry must have watched every Jerry Lee video going and based his high-energy performance on that. This was a set chock full of stage visuals, piano pounding and raucous rockin' music. He opened up with 'Real Wild Child' (a most apt song) and then it was into the likes of 'Great Balls Of Fire', 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Mind Your Own Business', 'What'd I Say', 'Tutti Frutti' and a rather weird version of 'Sea Cruise' (which sadly did not really work). The wild rockin' continued with 'C C Rider', 'Kansas City', 'Chantilly Lace', 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' (in which he smashed the piano stool to pieces - now where have I seen that before?) before concluding with '40 Days'. Maybe a little ragged in places and featuring too many well-known songs, this performance nevertheless inspired tumultuous applause. I know that I had a smile on my face throughout.
They were followed by Lil' Luis Y Los Wild Teens - a Mexican band based in Los Angeles. Out on the west coast, they have established a reputation as a must see band. For sure, they are a visual act. Alternating between tunes sung in Spanish or English and complete with a real raucous singer, this was an enjoyable set. 'Arkansas Twist' and 'Just Because' were sung in Spanish and worked. Other good numbers included 'Teenage Riot', 'Crazy Beat' and 'Rip It Up' (an original, not the Bill Haley/Little Richard song).
It was then time for another fifties originator, Art Adams backed up by The Infernos and his own guitarist Bill Stewart who had previously played for Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and The Coasters. I did not know what to expect from Art but with this good band and guitar picker behind him, he gave an exhilarating rockabilly performance. His left leg did not stop quiverin' and shakin' throughout the set and the vocals were spot on. Complete with his original fifties guitar with his name inscribed thereon, there was plenty of movement as he rocked his way through 'Rock Crazy Baby' (sung three times), 'Indian Joe' (sung twice) and 'Dancin' Doll' (also performed twice). Other tunes included 'Is A Bluebird Blue' (great workout), 'Boppin' The Blues', 'Matchbox', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'Mean Woman Blues' and 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. I look forward to seeing Art again on stage.
We next witnessed a true professional at work. Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater came on and rocked the Hemsby stage. Backed up by the House band who included Dave Briggs on guitar, Wayne Hopkins on upright bass, Paul Atkinson on drums and Clive Osborne on sax, the whole unit worked as one. Clearly all were enjoying themselves as a wonderfully garishly dressed Clearwater went into 'Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roller' and I could not help thinking that if only Chuck Berry would give this high level of performance. This was rock 'n' roll at its best! Okay, Eddy basically earns his living as a blues man with his own club in Chicago and therefore had the tendency to elongate the tunes but his showmanship was such that he easily overcome this hurdle. Following the last mentioned were 'I Wouldn't Lay My Guitar Down' in which Clearwater and Briggs joyously traded guitar riffs, 'Susie Q', a tune I believe was called 'Cool Blues Walk', 'Nashville Road', 'Boppin' At The Top Of The Rock' before returning to the Chuck Berry songbook with 'Reelin' And Rockin'. Clearwater then served up 'Let The Four Winds Blow' before closing out the set with '2 X 9' which segued into 'Hillbilly Blues'. This performance had Eddy playing his guitar over the back of his head in true T Bone Walker style. All in all, a gob smacking show.
The close out act for Saturday was Germany's Hot Boogie Chillun who judging by the way their albums had been selling on the record stalls, are immensely popular. The programme described them as a band with their own desperate style of rock 'n' roll, this about sums it all up. They had to play several encores and there was still a buzz over their performance the next day.
Appearing in their own right, The Infernos, were the opening act this night and gave a tight rockabilly set. The Otis Williams Show featuring The Metrotones and The Swing Kings then followed them. The Metrotones, complete with a maniacal Den Hegerty, sung around eleven songs such as 'Baby Come Home To Me', 'Crazy Over You', 'Who's That Knocking', 'Forever Loving You', 'It's A Groove', 'The Glory Of Love' and 'Let's Fall In Love'. An enjoyable set of mainly boppin' songs. They then stayed on stage to act as The Charms for the night as Otis Williams joined them. As back up vocalists the guys were fine but from a watching and listening point of view, The Swing Tones were not in complete syncopation with Otis. This marred what could have been an exhilarating set. Having said that, Otis provided a good balance between up-tempo and slow numbers as he launched into 'Gumdrop', 'Ling Ting Tong', 'Two Hearts', 'I'd Like To Thank You Mr. D.J., 'Hearts Of Stone' (which did come across brilliantly) and 'Pardon Me'. The voice of Otis Williams was all the way there. He also performed a few tributes such as 'You Send Me' and 'Stand By Me' which both worked reasonably well but regrettably not so 'La Bamba'. I am still puzzled by the selection of this number from a guy who has had around sixty plus singles released under his own name. After the last mentioned, the set came to a somewhat abrupt end. I guess that I sum up this portion of Hemsby by saying good, in the main enjoyable but could have been better.
The close out act for both this evening and Hemsby 31 was The Cordwood Draggers, a west coast rockabilly trio who are now based in Europe. Plenty of thrash 'n' bash in evidence and they proved to be popular. Certainly they enhanced their reputation with this performance.
Attendance for this Hemsby was down a bit over the similar Hemsby at the same time last year but those who were unable to make it really did miss out on a musical rock 'n' roll feast. I really enjoyed myself and am looking forward to Hemsby 32 in May 2004 that has Hayden Thompson, Jimmy Cavello, The Bobettes, Ersel Hickey, Go Cat Go and Barrence Whitfield as the scheduled visiting American headliners. See's you there ...
© Tony Wilkinson
ROCK 'N' ROLL FROM
DOWN UNDER (PART THREE)
'The Explosive Johnny O'Keefe'
Canetoad CTCD-027 Total Playing Time: 75.02 minutes
School Day/Dim Dim The Lights/Stagger Lee/Over The Mountain/Good Golly, Miss Molly/You Better Move on/The Angels Listened In/Mary's Little Lamb/Come On/Hit The Road Jack/Say You/Hey Dean, Hey Jean/I Know Who It Is But I Ain't Gonna Tell You/Jailer Bring Me Water/Tennessee/Lovers Who wander/Lose Your Inhibition Twist/Candy Man/You Never Can Tell/Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me/Uh-huh/Don't Be That Way/Trouble With A Woman/Um Um Um Um Um Um/Put 'Em Down/Money/Blue Bayou/The Game Of Love/Cousin Of Mine/She's About A Mover/Do Wah Diddy Diddy/Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood/Glad All Over/Bits And Pieces/Wake Up My Mind.
'Greatest Hits 1964 - 1967
Canetoad CTCD-031 Total Playing Time: 76.14 minutes
Baby Let's Play House/Endless Sleep/Nervous Breakdown/Doncha' Think It's Time/Be Sweet/You're The Dog/Come ON And Get Me/It's Love Baby/Goodnight Irene/Cincinnati Fireball/I Got Burned/Twenty Flight Rock/Yield Not To Temptation/Don't Destroy Me/Can I Believe It's True/Shimmy Shimmy '65/We got Love/Sell My Soul/You've Got What It Takes/Shake, Rattle And Roll/The Worryin' Kind/Big Jack/I'll Go Crazy/It Hurts Me/King Of Love/Who'll Be The Next In Line/Bonaparte's Retreat/Do It Again A Little Bit Slower/Too Many Fish In The Sea/You Didn't Have To Be So Nice/Lovin' Up A Storm/Come On Up.
'Vintage Australian Rock 'n' Roll - Rare recordings and Unreleased Performances'
Canetoad CTCD-018 Total Playing Time: 72.28 minutes
Shakin' all Over/You Bug Me Baby/Soldier Of Love/Cheryl's Coming Home/Ain't You Got No Heart/We Belong Together/Singing The Blues/Carol/Under The Moon Of Love/Clementine/Midnight Special
Save All our Lovin' For Me/Needles And Pins
Beggin' On My Knees/Blue/I Can Mend Your Broken Heart/A Tribute To The King/That's Right, All Right/My Little Emmy/Dancing Partner
Tell Me Mama
I Wanna Thank You/Working For The Man/Every Nite/Twisting The Night Away
Romeo and Juliet/I'll Touch A Star/We Say Yeah!
Jerry J Wilder;
Go On Back, You Fool/In The Meantime
As readers to this illustrious web site will be aware, I have long championed the cause of Australian rock 'n' roll from the late fifties and early sixties and that up here in the northern hemisphere we have probably unjustifiably overlooked some real rockin' gems from the land of Oz. As one digs deeper into the rock 'n' roll scene that existed in Australia and New Zealand, it becomes all the more apparent that there was vibrant and exciting musical activity and indeed there was a whole lotta shakin' goin' on down under. Here from Canetoad Records, a company that has been in existence since 1987, we have three further perfect examples of the foregoing. Canetoad is one of those wonderful companies whose prime intention is to get the rockin' music available again with profit being a secondary consideration.
First up is the governor of Oz rock 'n' roll, the great Johnny O'Keefe with a 35 track CD of previously unreleased recordings. From the detailed liner notes, it is explained that these titles were from acetates (found in a Sydney rubbish dump) of songs that Johnny recorded for his top rated and long running television series 'The Johnny O'Keefe Show'. Seemingly what happened was that the songs were recorded live in the studio of Festival Records and then mimed to for the TV broadcast. As such, we have the near raw passion of O'Keefe vocals backed up by fine musicians, a veritable delight that sets the feet tapping and the body twitching. Indeed, whilst writing this, I got up out of my chair and started to bop around the room (Mrs. Wilkinson thought that I had finally flipped). Examples of this are a truly sparkling workout of 'Stagger Lee' and a wonderfully stirring 'Over The Mountain'. The last mentioned packs much more intensity that the issued studio version. On and on the goes the rockin' spirit with JOK's versions of hits of the day such as Arthur Alexander's 'You Better Move On', the Crests 'The Angels Listened In' and Jan & Dean's 'Tennessee' which in itself was a revamp of Jan & Arnie's 'Jenny Lee'. Based on these performances, this television show must have been something to see. The recordings appear to be included in a near chronological order and as such, we work our way through the years stopping off at the likes of Mel Carter's 'Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me', a truly fine interpretation until we arrive at Johnny's attempts to cover the British beat explosion. Some such as The Animals 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood' work fine but not so hot are his versions of 'Glad all Over' and 'Bits And Pieces' and the folk rock protest of 'Wake Up My Mind'. Lordy, O'Keefe was a first league rocker and was not cut out for the wimp watered down music of the likes of the Dave Clark Five. First-rate liner notes and some neat photographs plus illustrations accompany the disc. Recommended.
Next up, we have Merv Benton who was numero uno in the rock 'n' roll stakes in the Melbourne area of Oz. His recording career for the W&G label spanned from 1964 through to 1967 and in that time he issued around seventeen singles. Although starting out generally after the rock 'n' roll explosion had tended to subside, Merv's passion for the rockin' music that we all love shines through like a lighthouse beacon and he turns in some scintillating performances, especially an exemplary 'Nervous Breakdown' (Eddie Cochran would have been chuffed), a marvelous 'I Got Burned' which is real close to the Ral Donner original plus 'Come On And Get Me' which knocks Fabian's into a cocked hat. Two interesting tracks are 'Be Sweet' and 'You're The Dog' which were originally German recordings with the previous vocals taken off and Merv's substituted, complete with new lyrics. Two good rock 'n' roll songs result and this unlikely scenario works. Benton's treatments of Johnny Burnette's 'Cincinnati Fireball', Tommy Sands 'The Worryin' Kind' and Charlie Rich's 'Big Jack are all excellent and he returns to the Fabian songbook for a rockin' 'King Of Love'. Also worthy of mention are Merv's interpretation of Billy Grammer's 'Bonaparte's retreat. For good measure, there are some originals included with the likes of 'Sell My Soul' and 'Can I Believe It's True', both fine slabs of rock 'n' roll. Merv's recording career came to an end in 1967 as a result of polyps growing in the back of his throat and by the time he had recovered from the operation some six to eight months later, the scene had moved on and so he decided to retire gracefully and relocated to the USA. Again the liner notes to this release are first class with each track being accompanied by a commentary from Merv.
Finally this time around, although hopefully we shall be returning to other Canetoad releases, is a thirty-track seven-artist compilation. I have to be honest in that previously I had not heard of these artists and thus, in the main, I was in for a pleasant surprise. First up is piano playing Roland Storm although this instrument is not prominent in these recordings. Like those previously mentioned in this review, he too captures the spirit of rock 'n' roll and turns in some fine performances especially with the likes of 'Shakin' All Over', the Larry Williams song 'You Bug Me Baby', a nice beat ballad with 'We Belong Together', a different treatment of Chuck Berry's 'Carol' which works until that dreaded femme chorus intrudes and a tasty original with the beat driven 'Ain't Got No Heart'.
There are two ladies on this CD, namely Del Juliana and Vicki Forest. The first mentioned by all accounts was one heck of a stage performer and here she serves up a faithful rendition of Jackie DeShannon's 'Needles And Pins' (just who were these Searcher boys?) and 'Save All Your Lovin' For Me', a song ideal for Brenda Lee. These were both one-take shots for a television show. Vicki Forest serves up a portion of the classic girl group sound in 'Tell Me Mama'.
The Elvis Presley influence is clearly apparent in the recordings of Barry Stanton and Jerry J Wilder, indeed the liner notes aptly describes them as Elvis clones. On his original 'Beggin' On My Knees, Stanton comes across with an immediate post army Elvis style. This is a good number as are the rockin', and also self penned, 'That's Right, all Right' and 'My Little Emmy'. Clearly a guy with a considerable talent had he developed further. Much the same can be said of Jerry J Wilder with his 'Go On Back You Fool', which I believe, is from the pen of Ned 'From A Jack To A King' Miller. With 'In The Meantime', Wilder tries to do Georgie Fame and fails, but there again what can be said that is repeatable of the original?
This leaves us with Booka Hyland (who never made it big time in Oz but who apparently today is mentioned up there with JOK, Col Joye and Johnny Rebb) plus Paul Wayne. Both of these artists can be classified in the teen beat style but both have undoubted talent. Particularly appealing are 'Every Night' by Hyland and ''I'll Touch A Star' by Wayne.
This concludes the third of our overviews of rock 'n' roll from Australia and all of these CDs are worth getting. Contact Canetoad Records at P O Box 1039, Potts Point, New South Wales 1335, Australia and request a catalogue.
© Tony Wilkinson
Rockabilly Hall Of Fame RABHOF CD115-NB
Total Playing Time: 47 minutes 18 sec.
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms/Sally's Salty Dog/Don't That Road Look Rough & Rocky/Sittin' On Top Of The World/Goodbye Blues/Dark Moon/The Burglar Man/Six White Horses/Rockabilly Music/Rattle Snakin' Daddy/Go Cat Go/Sweetchile'/Guitar Rock/Narrative.
One of the major records in the early days of the rockabilly revival was 'Guitar Rock' by Bill Flagg but it has taken quite a few years for this overview of Bill's recordings for the Tetra label cut in New York between 1954 and 1956 to finally reach us. The sub title to this CD is 'A Rockabilly/Bluegrass Blend of Music' and that amply sums up the contents.
The first two tracks, 'Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms' and 'Sally's Salty Dog' are basic good quality bluegrass but it is with the third track, 'Don't That Road Look Rough & Rocky' that rockabilly guitar picking mixed with a bluegrass song and other accompaniment becomes more pronounced. This is a delightful mid tempo shuffler whereas 'Sittin' On Top Of The World' is more of the same but at a faster tempo. I can just imagine couples strutting their stuff at a country-dance to this one.
'Goodbye Blues' is a great chugger on which the vocals are shared between Bill and Annette Paige and is a real catchy song. One of the highlights of this CD for myself is Bill's treatment of Ned Miller's ballad 'Dark Moon', an appealing tale of lost love with spot on accompaniment. On this the bluegrass element is substantially reduced to almost non-existent and this is also the case with 'Six White Horses'. On the last mentioned, we basically have arrived at Bill's rockabilly sound, apart from the guitar break that reeks of traditional country music of that era. 'The Burglar Man' is basically a talking blues, the sort of number that Charlie Ryan performs so well.
It is only a short jump to 'Rockabilly Music', which has to be one of the earliest mentions of rockabilly in the title. This is a mid tempo number with a lovely rockabilly style guitar picking and a boom chicka beat. More of the same is evident in 'Rattle Snakin' Daddy' with Bill slurring the words out in a real menacing style. The cult classic 'Go Cat Go' with it toe tappin' tempo, rock 'n' roll lyrics and great guitar sounds varying from electric to acoustic is a masterpiece. 'Sweetchile' has a boppin' hambone style beat that Leon Smith took to new limits with his 'Little 40 Ford'. This leaves us with the title song 'Guitar Rock', another cult classic. This is the most out and out rockabilly come rock 'n' roll tune of the whole set and boy does it bop. The CD closes out with a discussion in the studio between Bill and his brother Bob with Dave Lincoln and Brian Charette which is interesting and informative but obviously will not take repeated listenings.
Bill's vocals are spot on and in crystal clear sound with the same applicable to the backing musicians. A good CD that is worthy of adding to the collection. Visit the web site www.rockabillyhall.com/BillFlagg.html for more information.
© Tony Wilkinson
'A Tribute To Ronnie Self'
Rockabilly Hall of Fame RABHOF CD114
Total Playing Time: 34:37
Ain't I Dandy/Bop A Lena/Long Distance Kiss/Big Fool/Rocky Road Blues/Bless My Broken Heart/Ain't I'm A Dog/Pretty Bad Blues/Big Town/Flame Of Love/Big Blon' Baby/Sweet Nothin's/You The Mama Of My Song.
A few of the offspring of the rock 'n' roll originators have tied their hand at re-creating the spirit of their dad's music but generally with a limited degree of success. It was therefore with some trepidation that I placed this shiney wonder of recordings by Roman, son of Ronnie Self - one of the true rockin' originals, in the tray and stood back for the results. I had nothing to fear as this release cooks, it rocks and contains some great music.
This is a loving tribute by Roman to his dad's music and it is all credit to him that he mixes in a few of Ronnie's more obscure tunes such as 'Ain't I Dandy' with interpretations of the well known numbers like 'Bop A Lena'. The former is taken at mid-tempo and has bluesy tinges in the vocals and backings, a tasty workout indeed. Such a collection would not be complete without serving up the aforementioned 'Bop A Lena', surely one of the wildest rock 'n' roll records ever cut in Nashville, and Roman wraps his tonsils around the ditty in no uncertain way. Perhaps not quite possessing the strangulated style of singing of his old man, he does come dangerously close and the end result is sparkling rock 'n' roll.
Similar can be said regarding 'Big Fool', 'Rocky Road Blues', 'Big Blon' Baby' (both obviously done Ronnie Self style and not that of Gene Vincent or Jerry Lee) and 'Ain't I'm A Dog'. The interpretation of 'Pretty Bad Blues' is excellent as is the frantic workout on 'You The Mama Of My Song', simply hard driving good rock 'n' roll. Both 'Bless My Broken Heart' and 'Big Town' are taken at a gentler pace and provide a nice contrast to the preceding exuberance. 'Flame Of Love' has long been one of my favourite Ronnie Self tunes and Roman's version does not disappoint. It was brave to attempt 'Sweet Nothin's' which was a big hit for Brenda Lee but composed by Ronnie. It fits in well and is done I guess as Ronnie intended, it is not a slavish copy.
This leaves 'Long Distance Kiss' which was a mid sixties song by Ronnie in the vein of 'High On Life' and here whilst Roman's vocals capture the song nicely, it is somewhat marred by too heavy and cluttered drumming. This is a minor gripe in what is a thoroughly enjoyable CD. Hope we will be able see Roman gracing a stage here in the UK before not too long, a fitting demonstration of his dad's music is long overdue. To obtain this CD, visit the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame website at www.rockabillyhall.com
© Tony Wilkinson
'I'm Moving On'
Redita 146 Playing Time: 59.39 minutes
I'm Movin' On/Water Moccasin/Turn On Your Lovelight/Tradin' Kisses/Put Me Down/ Maybelline/Ooby Dooby/Wine Wine Wine/On One Like You/Mr King Of Rock & Roll/Sweetest One/Drunkards Dream/My Heavenly Angel/New Orleans Woman/ Ubangi Stomp/Annie Had A Baby/Red Hot/Going To Toronto/Down The Line/Rock 'n' Roll Ruby/M C Twine/I Need Your Lovin'/Herpes Blues
This is a 23-track compilation overview of the recording career of Matt Lucas, one of those select few in that he is a singing drummer. He has a unique exhilarating rough roadhouse style of rockin' with bags of spirit thrown in. The selection of tracks covers the ground from his first Memphis recordings in 1959, the rockin' 'Tradin' Kisses' and the beat ballad ''Sweetest One', through his hit making days circa 1963 with his totally original and wild rock 'n' roll interpretation of Hank Snow's 'I'm Movin' On' to the salacious tough rockin' 'Herpes Blues' from a session laid down in Chicago in 1983 At all times and throughout the varied styles, the uniqueness that is Matt Lucas comes shining through like a beacon of blinding light.
'I'm Movin' On' and the flip 'My Heavenly Angel', a slow almost tender ballad, were laid down in Memphis in late 1962 at the tail end of a Narvel Felts recording session and was picked up by Smash Records and went on to peak at position # 45 in Cashbox (# 56 in Billboard) but on the continent of Europe it was a bigger hit, especially in Belgium and Holland. The follow up, a frantic workout of 'Ooby Dooby', did not fare so well as the times were a changing. Special mention must be made of the excellent flip to this record, the beat balladry of 'No One Like You' which bears overtones of Presley's 'Anyway You Want Me'. More of the same rockin' Lucas styling is evident with his interpretations of 'Maybellene', 'Put Me Down' plus the more R&B orientated 'Turn On Your Lovelight' and 'Water Moccasin'.
Matt tried his had at the dance craze in 1965 with 'M C Twine' which was recorded in Detroit in 1965 and uses Alvin Cash & The Crawlers 'Twine Time' as its inspiration. This was a localized area hit the same year. The remainder of the tracks range from 1972 through to 1983 in recording dates and cover such as the rockin' blues of 'Going To Toronto', the R&B slanted cover of Hank Ballad's 'Annie Had A Baby which really works, the Crescent City style workout of 'New Orleans Woman' and reasonably successful attempts at Memphis rockers like 'Red Hot', 'Down The Line' and 'Ubangi Stomp'.
The one guiding theme from all inclusions is that the excitement and entertainment factors do not let up for one instance. The sound of these recordings has been cleaned up for this release and is now really good. The set comes complete with interesting and informative liner notes from Adriaan Sturm and a varied selection of photographs supplied by Lucas. To sum up, a worthy release. © Tony Wilkinson
"Early Rock & Roll From
New Zealand Vols. 5 & 6"
Collector Records CLCD 7755/A/B
Total Playing Time: 119 minutes
53 tracks including: JOHNNY COOPER - Blackberry Boogie (two versions) & Pie Cart Rock And Roll/MAX MERRITT & THE METEORS - Get A Haircut & Diamond Ring/THE MAORI HI FIVE - Chariot Rock & The Hippy Hippy Shake/THE EMBASSY SIX - Hoots Mon & Loch Lomond Rock/THE SUPERSONICS - Detour & Hard Boiled Boogie/TEDDY BENNETT & THE BLOCKBUSTERS - Clap Your Hands & Where Were You On Our Wedding Day/THE ROCKETS - Nashville Boogie.
This is a further various artists collection of the early days of New Zealand rock 'n' roll from down there in the Southern Hemisphere and is a two CDs for the price of one compilation. As with its predecessors, it comprises a mixture of some outstanding sides, quite a few that are reasonably good and a few that could have done without resurrection. The time scale of these recordings ranges from 1955 through to 1963 with the majority from 1960/1961. As with the collection on Volumes 3 and 4 of this on-going series, the Kiwis were paying close attention to what was emanating from both Great Britain as well as the USA. This is clearly evidenced in the music of The Supersonics who, apart from the 'Hu-Hu Bug credited to Bas Tubert & The Tubes which is an okay vocal rocker, stick to the guitar lead instrumental side of things very much in the vein of the (UK) Shadows with 'The Frightened City' and the USA band The Ventures with a straight copy of 'Walk Don't Run'.
There are seven tracks by Johnny Cooper who was clearly influenced by the music of Bill Haley & His Comets. He sings with bags of gusto and whilst the backing is a little on the amateurish/pedestrian side, the infection of the recordings seeps through and I loved them. Max Merritt and The Meteors, with seventeen recordings, have the largest inclusion by one act. Max was one of the first rockin' teen idols from that part of the world and later on achieved fame and fortune down under. His tracks here represent the odd original but in the main are covers of American originals such as 'Weekend', 'The Way I Walk and 'Tennessee Waltz. The last mentioned is fine but the rest are generally bordering on the okay level, listen able but without being too exciting. In the good category are the Maori Hi Five with a tasty version of the Champs 'Chariot Rock' and The Embassy Six with 'Hoots Mon' and 'Loch Lomond Rock'
A couple of real clunkers are 'I Love Paris' by Mister Pedals Malloy and 'My Lovin' Boy' by Litia Daveta but more than compensating is the excellent rockin' original 'Street Corner by Gary Stewart & The Coronets with Ian Lowe & His Esquires. Quality rock 'n' roll from anywhere in the world.
To conclude, a rather mixed bag of goodies, historically important, generally interesting and representing value for money. Hopefully there will be further similar releases (and we ain't reached Australia yet).
© Tony Wilkinson
TERRY LEE & THE WILD ONES
Westcliff Hotel, Westcliff on Sea,
Sunday, 19th January 2003
My home town of Southend on Sea, England, and its catchment area, back in the late fifties and early sixties was a veritable hot bed of rock 'n' roll with groups such as The Paramounts, The Orioles and The Rockafellas. The scene was great and vibrant, it was a rock 'n' roll town. I had heard good reports on Terry Lee and the band via the pages of NDT and on the grapevine and so I just had to go along and find out if these were justified and if the band was worthy of adopting the mantle of its predecessors. In fact, Mrs. Wilkinson and daughter Colinda were sufficiently intrigued to accompany myself - the group was honoured.
Terry models himself on a young Jerry Lee Lewis and pounds the piano into submission whilst the rest of the group poured out a rock solid beat behind him. All the Jerry Lee stage tricks were served up in abundance, raking the keyboards, head held back, leaning over the piano, leg up on the keys. But Terry could play the eighty-eight keys in no uncertain way, it was just marvellous to watch and listen. He had sufficient of himself, both vocally and instrumentally in there too to prevent it becoming a mere slavish copy. The set consisted mainly of tunes from the Jerry Lee songbook plus a few original numbers from a forthcoming CD. This was rock 'n' roll in the highest Southend tradition. Indeed, Mrs. Wilkinson was impressed (another tick in the box).
The scary point about all this is that the group has only been going for just over a year now; with Terry having just turned eighteen and the Wild Things all have to be around the same age. The talent potential is awesome and, once they learn to pace their performances a bit better, there will be no holding them. If the band plays in your area, make a point of seeing them perform, as I doubt if you will go away disappointed.
© Tony Wilkinson
A WEEK OF BIPPIN' AND BOPPIN'
Rockin' 50's Fest - Oneida Casino
Green Bay, Wisconsin
7th to 13th July 2002
Bribing My Way Out There.
A few months back, word began to trickle out on the grapevine that there was going to be one heck of a big rock 'n' roll festival at the Oneida Casino, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Accordingly, one new washing machine, one dishwasher and one fridge later and Mrs. Wilkinson looking forward to twelve days of peace, my bags were packed and I was on my way to Chicago.
Rockabilly originator Hayden Thompson, and his lovely wife Georgia, who looked after Stompertime Records president Dave Travis and myself, met me. The hospitality was something else and they showed us around the windy city, a great place to visit in it's own right. But it was soon on to Green Bay, a sprawling town about 220 miles north with a population of around 100,000 and home to the Green Bay Packers (American) football team.
The casino is located on the Oneida Indian Reservation and incorporates a large Radisson Hotel. The festival was to be held in three rooms, which at times would be simultaneously operating, and so it I quickly figured it out (bright bugger that I am) that there was no way that I would get to see all of around 115 acts scheduled to appear. Accordingly I prepared a hit list of artists that I wanted to see and based myself in the main 3 Clans Stage, which was a large hall complete with excellent sight lines, a big stage and a sound system to dream of here in Europe. The following review is not therefore intended to be complete but hopefully will provide a flavour of what has to be the greatest rock 'n' roll festival yet.
Sunday, 7th July
The first act was BOBBY CARAWAY who performed his claim to rockabilly fame, 'Ballin' Keen', along with a selection of rock 'n' roll standards generally in a night club style. However next act was a personal favourite, the man from Texas, HUELYN DUVALL, accompanied by Wild Fire Willie and The Ramblers. They were fresh from a 20-date tour of Europe together and boy it showed with a seamless inspired performance. This guy just gets better with every performance and worked the ample sized stage with consummate professionalism. The set varied slightly from that recently seen here in the UK but included all the Huelyn favourites such as 'Juliet', 'Pucker Paint', 'Coming Or Goin', 'It's No Wonder' and of course 'Three Months To Kill'. He also included his interpretations of songs that were popular at the time when he was on the road as a teenage rocker like 'When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again', 'Your True Love' and 'Somebody Touched Me'. The final act for this evening was the only jump jive outfit of the festival, the ROYAL CROWN REVUE from Los Angeles. Their numbers seemed to go on for a long time, but I was tired and headed off to dreamland salivating at what was to come.
Monday, 8th July
The performances in the 3 Clans Stage started at 2.00 pm every day whilst those in the Iroquois Ballroom commenced at 6.30 pm the acts in the Purcell's Lounge kicked off at 9.00 pm. Accordingly early afternoon saw a back to form MAC CURTIS backed up by the King Memphis band with a balanced set and sharp performances. It was all here, 'If I Had Me A Woman', 'Half Hearted Love', bluesy workouts on 'Just So You Call Me' and 'Side Track Mama', together with 'Grand-daddy's Rockin', 'That Ain't Nothin' But Right'. There was also a selection of newish numbers with the likes of 'Little Mama Have Mercy', 'Keep On Rockin' Baby' and 'Rockabilly Ready'.
The next appearance was opened up by ALAN CLARK who built up the excitement by performing a few numbers prior to the ever so active GLEN GLENN taking the stage accompanied by his long time guitarist GARY LAMBERT. It was flat out rockin' with 'One Cup Of Coffee And A Cigarette', Down The Line', 'Kitty Cat', a sparkling 'Jack And Jill Boogie' (with Dave Travis on harmonica) and of course 'Lori Ann', 'Kathleen', Blue Jeans And A Boys Shirt' and 'Everybody's Movin'. Gary demonstrated his guitar picking with 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and afterwards Glen signed autographs for 3-12 hours. This show was followed by the TRENIERS complete with magical musicianship, great vocals and polished routines. They were and remain a class act. To illustrate, the drum set partially collapsed during 'It Could Have Been The Whiskey' but they all carried on whilst the kit was being reinstated without missing a beat. Okay I, and many others, have seen this show previously but it never fails to excite. Again, it was all there with such ditties as 'Get Out Of The Car', 'Rockin' Is Our Bizness', 'Poon Tang', 'Water Melon Man' and even 'Mack The Knife' together with a second line march through the audience performing 'Be Baba Leba'.
Scheduled to appear next was the late ROSCO GORDON but he had to cancel due to ill health and sadly died three days later. As a consequence, SONNY BURGESS & THE ORIGINAL PACERS played for in excess of one and half hours - and it was powerhouse rock 'n' roll all the way. Virtually all the band stepped up and took the spotlight on numbers, including a newly added fiddle player. There had to be the inevitable medleys but the group managed to pull these off. Sonny excelled on 'We Wanna Boogie', 'Sadie's Back In Town', 'Find My Baby', 'Red Headed Woman' and 'T For Texas'. The band played an exhilarating bump 'n' grind version of 'Honky Tonk' and there was a fine version of 'Arkansas Twist'. We have yet to see this line up in the UK, fingers crossed
The COLLINS KIDS came on next backed by Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Phonics and again it top notch rockin' excitement all the way. Lorrie and Larry's professionalism make it seem so easy but it was 100% enjoyment. The increasingly attractive Lorrie took the lion share of vocals and really excelled on 'Rock Boppin' Baby' and 'Heartbeat' but all numbers were good and all the favourites were included such as 'Beetle-Bug-Bop', 'Hot Rod', 'Party' and 'Mercy'. Larry and Deke had several duals on the twin necked guitars, this was magic to witness, and Larry played a couple of rousing instrumentals including 'All American'.
GENE SUMMERS was the next on the main stage and he sang his heart out on a selection of numbers like 'Alabama Shake', 'Lotta Lovin'/Gotta Lotta That', 'School Of Rock 'n' Roll', 'Straight Skirt', 'Twixteen', 'Nervous' and the cult 'Fancy Dan'. His performance veered towards a cabaret/night club approach with quite a bit of chat. Amongst the other acts appearing that night was England's own DARRELL HIGHAM and there was plenty of positive talk about his act the next day. The final show that I witnessed that night was WAYNE 'THE TRAIN' HANCOCK. Sounding like Hank Williams Snr. on speed, this was a unique and devastating performance. Honky tonk rockin' at its very best and he excelled on 'Flatland Boogie', 'Johnny Law', Poor Boy Blues' and 'Cow Cow Boogie'.
Tuesday, 9th July
I had quickly learnt that the way to stay this rock 'n' roll course was to have a substantial breakfast because one was unlikely to be able to find time to eat until late in the evening. This day was no exception.
At 2.00 pm, ALVIS WAYNE backed by Sweden's Wild Fire Willie and The Ramblers took the stage and it quickly become apparent that Alvis was back to his top rockabilly capabilities. This was a blinding show from a great talent. Opening up with 'Thanks A Lot', this as followed by selections from his Westport and Rollin' Rock catalogues including 'Swing Bop Boogie', Sleep Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby', 'I Gottum', 'Lay Your Head On My shoulder', 'Don't Mean Maybe Baby', 'Lonely Lonely Teardrops and 'You Can Have Her'. Each act was feeding off the others and each was delivering quality shows. This was oh so apparent with the set from SID & BILLY KING, never have I seen them better. Sid was mostly up front with powerful vocals along with Billy crouching over his guitar picking great leads. Both were helped enormously by the Ragtime Wranglers on outings like the superb 'Good Rockin' Baby', 'Sad Drag And Fall', 'I've Got The Blues' and a magnificent 'Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight'.
Next up was JIMMY McCRACKLIN who served up a much better set than when he was over in the UK last November and which was in keeping for the type of festival. Out came fine rockin' R&B with the likes of 'Think', 'The Walk', 'The Wobble', 'Kansas City', 'Georgia Slop', 'Reconsider Baby', 'The Good Old Days' and a blinding 'Arkansas. A most enjoyable set from a consummate master. It was a change of styling with the next act, SANFORD CLARK with AL CASEY who came across much more confident than when I had previously seen them here in the UK. Classic Clark numbers 'Lonesome For A Letter', a pulsating 'Modern Romance', 'Nine Pound Hammer', 'Usta Be My Baby', 'Lou Be Doo' and 'Ooo Baby' were mixed in some later recordings of the ilk of 'Beverly Anne', 'Shades' and 'Son Of Hickory Hollow's Tramp (Sanford did the original). Al Casey also had his moments in the spotlight with a great 'Ramrod' along with 'Hackin' Around', 'Cookin' and '40 Miles Of Bad Road'. Of course the duo performed 'The Fool' before closing out with a rock 'n' roll medley, which did not really work.
LEW WILLIAMS had to follow and he did a great job. He has a quite unique styling and this was the most animated that I have seen him. He was simply a joy to watch as he jerkingly sang 'Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop' (twice), 'Don't Mention My Name', 'I'll Play Your Game' 'Abracadabra', 'Gone Ape Man', a marvelous 'Centipede' and 'Something I Said'. A steel guitar player and saxman were added for a truly enhanced 'Teenagers Talkin' On The Telephone'. In this set, Lew also served up a melodic 'I Saw You Crying In The Show' and the classic 'Cat Talk' (twice). I wanted more.
Backed up buy Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Fonics, this was the first time that I had seen DALE HAWKINS in the flesh and it turned out to be a true revelation. This was just first rate, Dale was altogether and the sound behind him was spot on. He worked the stage well on such numbers as 'Little Pig', 'Juanita' and 'Tornado' and told a little story about each number. On 'My Babe' he demonstrated how the tune was derived for the spiritual 'The Train'. Dale was rockin' away like crazy and excellent song after excellent song came forth like 'See You Soon Baboon', 'Teenage Darlin', 'Don't Treat Me This Way', 'La-Do-Dada', 'Wildcat Tamer' and 'Number Nine Train'. Crikey this set was so good, he even got away with the teen beat 'A House, A Car And A Wedding Ring'. He of course had to sing 'Susie Q' and to say this went over well is an understatement. One puzzling thing was that Dale had a mobile telephone strapped to his belt. If I could have found out the number, I would have rang him to request 'Life Guard Man'.
Dashing over to the Iroquois Ballroom, I managed to catch most of MARTI BROM's show. This beautiful and talented young lady just goes from strength to strength, what a great voice and stage presence. This was clearly evident on the various stylings of 'Maybe I Do', 'Boo Hoo Boogie', 'I Really Love You Baby', 'Blue Tattoo', 'Here Today And Gone Tomorrow Love', 'Unproclaimed Love' and a stormin' 'Voodoo Voodoo'. She has all the ingredients in the right proportions to make it big time. Look forward to seeing her again.
My little legs quickly carried me back to the 3 Clans Stage, as a personal favourite was appearing next. I have written up several times that a NARVEL FELTS show is not to be missed and this was no exception. I suppose it was basically the same set as he performed over here in the UK at Hemsby last May but such was its power that it seemed as fresh as ever. Opening up with 'Go Go Go, it was then into 'Kiss A Me Baby' and 'Pink And Black Days' before slowing the pace for a spine tingling 'My Prayer' which had to be reprised there and then. The rockin' then resumed with 'Cindy Lou' and 'Tongued Tied Jill' before dropping down for a tough 'Reconsider Me'. This established the format for the show and there was not a bad number. The songs 'Since I Don't Have You' and 'Even Now' were movingly sung as tributes, especially to his late son Bubba. Narvel the Marvel closed out with 'Did You Tell Me' from his Sun Record days and then it was over, far too soon. Due slow service in the restaurant, I unfortunately missed most of CHARLIE GRACIE's show but did manage to catch his closing number, 'Shake Rattle And Roll', before he left the stage to loud cheering and applause. Upon checking, it was another stormin' show from Charlie and this was borne out by the lengthy autograph line.
Wednesday, 10th July
One of the many features of the festival was the easy access to many of the artists. Bob Timmers and his Rockabilly Hall Of Fame web site crew had a few tables in the lobby and this was one of the gathering points. Many of the acts dropped by for a chat, pose for photographs and sign autographs. A real friendly spirit pervaded throughout the week.
This days rockin' commenced with the big man from Texas, SLEEPY LaBEEF who with his own two musicians, Jerry and Jimmy, perhaps performed the most countryish set that I witnessed during this festival. It was good, enjoyable and was typical of a Sleepy set in that he appeared to make up the song list as he went along. The choice of material ranged from 'Waltz Across Texas' though 'Playboy' to 'Raining In My Heart' (Slim Harpo song) and 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl'. I do not recall when I had previously heard 'Big River' segued into 'Hand Jive' but, from Sleepy, it was pretty cohesive. He closed out with rousing treatments of 'Tore Up' and 'Standing In The Need Of Prayer'. LARRY DONN, who rocked, rolled and sang his heart out, followed him. All the Donn favourites were included such as 'That's What I Call A Ball', 'Queen Of Memphis', 'Big Fat Mama' (aka 'Rock Big Mama Roll') and 'Night Train To Memphis'. There was also a healthy selection of Carl Perkins numbers included with 'Dixie Fried', 'I'm Sorry I'm Not Sorry', 'Matchbox' and a lovely unaccompanied 'Forever Yours'. The show closed out with two versions of his cult 'Honey Bun'.
Four acts that recorded for Sun then followed and, without exception, all turned in first rate performances. The first was JACK EARLS who never fails to light my touch paper and thankfully this was again the case. The voice is still great and his interpretations on 'Flip Flop And Fly', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'Tongued Tied Jill', 'Crawdad Hole', 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby' and 'Sick And Tired' demonstrated a master at work. He also showed how rockabilly should be performed with 'Take Me To That Place', Hey Jim', Sign On The Dotted Line', 'Slow Down', 'Let's Bop' and 'Mary Ann' and a tribute to his wife 'My Little Mama' plus 'She Sure Can Rock Me' and 'They Can't Keep Me From You'. It looks good for Hemsby next October. Another guy who I hold in high esteem is VERNON TAYLOR whose show was spot on. Looking every bit the smart rocker, it was straight into 'Your Lovin' Man', 'Sweet And Easy To Love', 'Satisfaction Guranteed', 'Big River' and 'Why Must You Leave Me'. The easy and satisfying rockin' style continued with 'Dinah Lee', 'Today's A Blue Day', 'Breeze' before toughening up with the great 'You Better leave', 'Mean Woman Blues', a sublime 'Mystery Train' done in the style of his Sun version (but with Dave Travis on harmonica) before closing out with the appropriate 'The Great Big Rock And Roll Show' and 'You're Making A Fool Out Of Me'.
The third consecutive Sun artist was the man with the deep rich voice HAYDEN THOMPSON. Hayden turned in a class show and opened up with 'Love My Baby', 'Fairlane Rock', Blues Blues Blues', 'Kansas City Blues' and 'You Win Again'. Sitting down at the piano, he launched into his favourite medley of Johnny Cash songs that was well received before singing the sinuous 'Rockabilly Gal' and 'You Are My Sunshine'. Before closing out with 'Hound Dog', Hayden was joined on stage by Big Sandy for a rousing 'Shake Rattle And Roll''. This performance also augurs well for October's Hemsby.
The biggest crowd so far gathered around the stage for a true rock 'n' roll originator BILLY LEE RILEY and he responded with one of his best ever shows that I have seen. It was full of Riley's trademark mannerisms such as the little crouch over the microphone and he animatedly worked the stage. Unusually he opened up with 'Rock This Joint Tonight' before going into 'Rock With Me Baby', 'Trouble Bound' and a high energy 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll'. 'Good Rockin' Tonight' and 'Roll Over Beethoven', followed and Billy then demonstrated his blues prowess with 'Hoodoo Woman Blues' before returning to his Sun repertoire with 'Got Your Water Boling Baby' and 'Pearly Lee'. Along with a few digs at Sam Phillips and Jerry Lee, we were then treated to 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On' and a full blooded 'Red Hot, rock 'n' roll at its finest.
JACK SCOTT and his own band were next on stage and, again, it was an inspired rockin' music. Jack has now added a sax player/back up vocalist to his group and it made for a very full sound. If one were to close their eyes, it was oh so close to the sound on his original recordings. It was all here with 'Go Wild Little Sadie', 'Save My Soul', 'Two Timin' Woman', 'My True Love', 'Geraldine', 'Midgie' and 'What In The World's Come Over You'. Two unusual numbers for Scott to include were 'They'll Never Take Her Love Away From Me' and 'Good Ol' Mountain Dew'. 'Found A Woman', 'Patsy', Goodbye Baby' and 'Leroy' followed, along with 'What Am I Living For' (complete with a great guitar break from Steve Nadella), 'Cry Cry Cry' and 'The Way I Walk'. Jack then spotted a cute little Japanese girl aged about three in the audience who he had met previously. He held her up, posed for photographs and received a lot of oohs and ahs. After returning her to her parents, he closed out with Presley's 'Trouble', a magnificent mood swing.
Earlier in the evening, I had scooted over to catch a portion of the set by ROSIE FLORES & THE FALCONS and it was well worth the effort. She played her own lead guitar and was singing just great, especially on 'Rockabye Boogie', Somebody, Someone, Some Day', 'Shotgun Boogie' and 'Honky Tonk Man'. The Falcons proved to be a good tight band. For my final rockin' performance this night, it just had to be ROBERT GORDON who had the twin lead guitars of Marco DiMaggio and Eddie Angel behind him. This was a typical Gordon show, plenty of fine vocals once the numbers got started and bags of great musicianship. He was excelling himself on 'I Just Found Out', 'Please Have Pity on Me', 'Worrying Kind', 'I'm Gonna Be Your Lover Boy Tonight, 'If This Is Wrong', 'The Fool', 'Red Cadillac And Black Mustache'' 'Fire' and (surprisingly) 'Lonely Blue Boy' which was excellent. The main portion of his act closed out with 'Hello Walls' and 'Driving Wheel' but for encores, he was joined on stage by Billy Lee Riley and the pair dueted on 'Red Hot' and 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll. Magical rockin' moments.
Thursday, 11th July
It was evident that this was truly an international affair and I determined that people from 26 different countries were present. From the outset, it was clear that one heck of a lot of organisation had gone into the affair and as the week progressed, I cannot recall one act that failed to start on time. The change over between sets was generally limited to half hour with disc jockies filling in, thankfully playing music at listenable/dancing levels and no discordance.
Opening the proceedings on day five was one of the originators from the fifties, BILLY ADAMS and The Rock-A-Tears who is one real nice man with a superb talent. He rocked out from the start with 'Rockabilly Roll' then into 'Sweet Sugar Blues', 'True Love Will Come Your Way' and 'That's My Baby'. Billy has a nice bluesy tinge to his voice and, on this occasion, played a real thumping rhythm guitar. One of his cult tracks followed with 'You Gotta Have A Ducktail' before Larry Donn joined him on piano to perform what was fast becoming the most performed song of the festival 'Shake Rattle And Roll'. However this was a version that came close to equaling the rendition by The Comets (see later). 'Blue Eyed Ella' from his Nau Voo catalogue came next, a great piece of slow thumpin' rockin and then it was into 'Matchbox' and a truly astounding version of his Dot Records 'You Heard Me Knocking'. Apparently this was supposed to have been a split set with W S Holland but the latter was unable to make the show and so the band had to perform several unrehearsed numbers. However none of this was evident from the seamless performance that closed out with Billy's classic 'Rock Pretty Mama' and, as an encore, 'Rockabilly Special'. The portent for his October Hemsby performance is high.
The backbone musician of Rollin' Rock Records, RAY CAMPI, was next and this was up to his high standard. Good fast rockabilly on such as 'Hollywood Cats', 'Rattlesnakin' Daddy', 'Rockabilly Music', 'Eager Boy', 'Pinball Millionaire' and 'Cattin' Around' will be familiar to readers of this magazine. On 'Tore Up' Ray stood balanced on his double bass but then fell flat on to his bum. For his encore, it was the dance floor favourite 'How Low Can You Feel' and the room was shaking when it came to the stomping bit as everyone joined in. Sporting a lurid three-piece pale yellow suit and an expansive growth of hair, the Memphis maestro EDDIE BOND accompanied by Cousin Bo Jack and The Ragtime Wranglers made a welcome appearance. He opened with some delightful honky tonk music in 'Double Duty Lovin', 'Talkin' Off The Wall' and 'Love Makes A Fool Everyday' before blazing down the rock 'n' roll trail with such classics as 'I Got A Woman', Rockin' Daddy', 'Flip Floppin' Mama', 'Boppin' Bonnie', 'Show Me' (the Johnny Paycheck song), two versions of 'Slip Slippin In' and 'Monkey And The Baboon'. Believe me, his voice is in real great shape.
To quote his own words of 'bringing a little colour to the proceedings' was BIG AL DOWNING who also bought his own brand of hard piano thumping great rock 'n' roll. No frills, take no prisoners rock 'n' roll was the order of the day as Big Al tore into 'Georgia Slop', 'Yes I'm Loving You', 'When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again', 'What Am I Living For' and 'Slow Down' pounding the keyboards into submission along the way. The came his unaccompanied tribute to Elvis with 'Loving You' and 'Love Me Tender' before he returned to rockin' it out with 'Rip It Up', 'Land Of Make Believe' and 'Let The Good Times Roll' before slowing down with a great version of 'White Sports Coat And A Pink Carnation. The audience sang along to Al's doo wop medley prior to boppin' away to 'Boogie Woogie Saturday Night', 'Blueberry Hill', I'm Walking', 'Down On The Farm' and What'd I Say' Big Al closed out with an unrehearsed 'Miss Lucy' but it came across real fine. Quite the best I have ever seen him.
The biggest crowds of the festival gathered for the next two acts, the first of whom was THE CRICKETS. Comprising Jerry Allison, Joe B Maudlin, Sonny Curtis and Glen D Hardin, they rocked away with such professional consummate ease. Sonny took all the lead vocals except for Jerry on 'Summertime Blues' and Glen on his version of Floyd Cramers 'Last Date'. Most people will be familiar with the Holly and Crickets song book of such classics as 'Oh Boy', Maybe Baby', More Than I Can Say, 'Think It Over, 'I Fought The Law', 'Everyday', 'It's So Easy', 'That'll Be The Day', 'Peggy Sue' and 'Not Fade Away'. They also included 'The Real Buddy Holly Story' and 'Love is All Around', the last mentioned raising a few eyebrows but as Sonny explained, this kept him in Cadillacs.
From one long established group to another, namely THE COMETS but without Jacko Budding providing his best Bill Haley vocals. The joint was jumping as Marshall Lytle tore into the vocals on 'Shake Rattle And Roll' and 'Eat Your Heart Out Annie'. Franny displayed his guitar virtuosity on 'Steel Guitar Rag' and then Joey Ambrose took centre stage on 'I Want You To Be My Baby'. Okay the gaps between numbers were filled with corny jokes but the quality of professionalism emanating from the stage was amazing and was appreciated by the crowd. Many Haley hits were performed such as 'Crazy Man Crazy', 'Rock A Beatin' Boogie', 'See You Later Alligator', 'When The Saints Go Marching In' and of Course 'Rock Around The Clock'. However they also played several of their recent recordings such as 'Viagra Rock', a stunning 'The House Is Rockin' and 'We Ain't Dead Yet'. There were a couple of bummers in 'What A Wonderful World' and a boring instrumental but in all honesty they carried these off well. The unenviable job of following was down to MARVIN RAINWATER and he sure did try hard and in part succeeded. Kicking off with 'Whole Lotta Woman' and 'Mr. Blues', it was into 'Rovin' Gambler' and 'Dance Me Daddy' before venturing into fairly new and acceptable numbers like 'Rockin' Down The Walls', 'Gonna Get Me A Jet' and 'Rockabilly Music Coming Down'. After this it was a return to the more familiar material of 'Boo Hoo' and Kaw Liga' before we encountered a fairly dreadful version of 'Ol' Time Rock And Roll'. 'Wild Man' and a fine 'Hot And Cold' followed before we got 'Gonna Find Me A Bluebird', sung part in German and also containing an average Fats Domino impression. Thankfully we got an excellent reprise of 'Hot And Cold'.
One of Detroit's finest came on next, namely JOHNNY POWERS and it was into another no holds barred rockin' set with 'Mama Rock' and 'Trouble'. From the energy being expended, it was difficult to appreciate that Johnny had suffered a serious heart attack two ears ago. This was a set complete with Presley mannerisms and little subtlety. After 'You Win Again' it was back into the Power catalogue for powerful readings of 'Mean Mistreater', 'Be Mine, all Mine' 'Rock Rock', 'Me And My Rhythm Guitar', 'Waiting For You', 'With Your Love, With Your Kiss'. He then served up ''I Was There When It Happened' from his brand new CD and then it was time for his first Fortune record 'Honey Let's Go (To A Rock 'n' Roll show), before we got a beautiful new ballad in 'Three Little Words' which was ideal fifties recording material for Presley. An enjoyable set closed out with 'New Spark From An Old Flame' and 'Long Blond Hair'.
The final live music for yours truly for this night was from ERSEL HICKEY. After a stunning version of Thurston Harris's 'Do What You Did' complete with plenty of movement and the classic poise, it was into 'Bluebirds Over The Mountain' and 'Goin' Down That Road'. So far so good, in fact very good, but the set started to go to pieces with the next number, 'Mona Lisa' (Carl Mann style). The band was all over the place, this throwing Ersel. From hereon it was pretty chaotic. It was a bit difficult to hear Ersel and one number was started several times before it was nailed . I think 'Shame on Me' and 'You Threw A Dart' were included and there was a pretty wild tune with a Bo Diddley beat (possibly 'Due Time'?). After a pause, Ersel left the stage and the band performed an instrumental. Ersel came back on and repeated 'Do What You Did' and that was it, an abrupt ending. Moments of fragmentary brilliance throughout but clearly there were problems.
Friday, 12th July
The organisation at this festival was a joy. Virtually every act started and finished on time and there was no more than thirty minutes between each performance. The Casino security was evident but, apart from one incident where they got a bit over zealous with the autograph line, they kept a friendly low profile.
The day's rockin' got off to a flying start with a performance from ROCKY BURNETTE, PAUL BURLINSONN, D J FONTANA, KEN CURTIS and THE DEMPSEYS. The last mentioned were two young guys who gave a decidedly physcobilly thrash to the proceedings but the whole set went down well. All the favourites that Rocky has performed on his recent European jaunts were included such as 'Honey Hush', The Train Kept A Rollin', 'Lonesome Train', 'Tear It Up', 'You're Sixteen' and 'Lonesome Tears In My Eyes'. The only other no show was Don and Dewey, again on health reasons. Accordingly Texas band HIGH NOON filled in and then reappeared for their scheduled appearance later that night.
The next act seen was RUDY 'TUTTI' GRAYZELL (taking time out from appearing in a play on Broadway, New York) backed up by The Tin Stars and he gave his usual high energy performance working the stage like a demented maniac on 'Tutti Frutti', 'Hearts Made Of Stone', 'Why Why Why', 'FBI Story', 'There's Gonna Be A Ball', 'Money Honey', 'Let's Go Wild' and of course 'Ducktail'. A most enjoyable set from a guy who was there at the beginning of rock 'n' roll. SONNY WEST then took the stage and performed a similar set to that seen at Hemsby earlier this year. Probably it was more cohesive this time around but it was one heck of a show. He naturally featured 'Oh Boy' and 'Rave On' along with 'Cast Iron Arm', 'All My Love (Oh Boy)', 'Baby Bessie Lee' the marvelous 'I've Had It' (not the Bellnotes tune), 'Sweet Rockin' Baby' and 'Rock-Ola Ruby'. On the last mentioned, Sonny commented that to buy an original copy of the record now costs more than the session at which it was recorded. He had some boxes of the disc but misguidedly threw then away quite a while back. This was a splendid set from a real nice guy. Hope I am able to see him again.
To quote her own words, the 'mean ol' raunchy broad' JANIS MARTIN took the hall by storm and again demonstrated why she is one of the top female rock 'n' roll stars treading the boards. She was pure dynamite and one heck of a sassy lady as well. The voice was awesome and the stage presence a joy to watch. All the classics she recorded for RCA such as 'Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll', 'Good Love', 'Billy Boy', 'Oobie Doobie', 'Bang Bang', 'Let's Elope Baby', Crackerjack', Will You Willum', and 'My Boy Elvis' were featured along with a newish number 'Hard Rockin' Mama' that perfectly sums her up. Oh dear, I'm in love again.
Probably the only act to play 1-14 hours was the blond bomber from Texas, RONNIE DAWSON. As you probably know, Ronnie has been rather ill recently but he promised to make it for Green Bay and he sure made good on that promise. Backed up by High Noon augmented buy the lovely Lisa Pankratz on drums (how can such a talent look so divine?), this set was pure vintage Dawson with powerful vocals complete with all the set angular poses we have come to expect and enjoy. This was powerhouse rock 'n' roll all the way at fever pitch excitement. As for the numbers performed, well it kicked off with 'Red Hot Mama' and then into 'Shim Sham Shimmy', 'Crazy Shoes', 'It Wouldn't Do No Good', 'Congratulations To Me', 'Yum Yum', 'Fish Out Of water', 'V8 Ford Boogie', 'Knock Down Dragout', 'Veronica', 'Sinners' and 'Action Packed'. Sean Mencher of High Noon took many of the guitar solos but an unusual feature of the act was a guitar/drum duet between Ronnie and Lisa. Ronnie is back big time!
JOE CLAY had a hard job following this but he gave it a more than adequate shot. Working the stage well, it was another no frills rock 'n' roll show with ditties such as '16 Chicks', 'Don't Mess With My Ducktail', 'Jelly Bean', 'Linda Lu', 'Slippin' Out, Slippin' In' and a medley of 'Flip Flop And Fly/Shake Rattle And Roll' (I do not want to hear the last mentioned song for quite a while) before he took over on drums. Joe kept up the hard rockin' pace with 'Crackerjack', 'Get On The Right Track Baby', 'Lucille' and 'Doggone It'. On the last mentioned, he did his customary leap from the stage into the audience still singing. He closed out with a reprise of '16 Chicks'. A reformed RESTLESS were next on and gave a crowd-pleasing show.
Saturday, 13th July
Another feature of this festival had been the generally high quality of the backing musicians. I have mentioned Wild Fire Willie, Ragtime Wranglers and Deke Dickerson and to that list should be added Nick Curran and quite a few others.
This was especially true of the band backing BARRENCE WHITFIELD who was a personal first time of seeing for myself. I had heard good reports of his stage act and boy were they certainly true. This was high-energy rock 'n' roll come rhythm and blues with bags of stage presence and a powerful screamin' voice, a visual joy. Barrence took 'King Kong' up to Big T Tyler standards and there was no stopping as he rocked the stage with 'Mad House', 'Stop Twisting My Arm' and the great humorous 'Mama Get The Hammer, Fly's On Baby's Head'. Hope he can get back to Europe before not too long. Another act I witnessed for the first time was JAMES INTVELD from Los Angeles. Complete with his own musicians, this guy has star quality in abundance. I guess the closest comparison I can make is that he is in the same sort of bag as Dwight Yoakham but the voice is more powerful and not so nasally. Featuring many original numbers like 'Write Me One Sweet Letter', 'Love Calls A I Listen', 'Crying Over You', 'I Came All The Way From Memphis', 'Lets Get Started' and 'Standing On The Right', James proved to be a unique and original talent, working the stage well. He also sang some well known tunes in the form of 'Stop The World And Let Me Off', Modern Don Juan', 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl' and 'Not Fade Away' but breathed new life into each song. Watch out for him if he comes your way, you will not be disappointed.
The final act that I saw at this festival before I retired to my hotel rocked out was YOUNG JESSIE and what a great closing set he performed. He commenced with 'Hit Git and Split' and flowed on with great performances on such as 'I Smell A Rat', 'Catch Up With You Baby', 'Painted Desert', 'Mary Lou', 'Don't Think I Will, 'Too Fine For Crying and 'Don't Happen No More'. Rockin' R&B at a peak by a veritable master.
That was it, the curtain was bought down and it was all over. The conclusion has to be that this was the best rock 'n' roll festival I have ever attended. It was something else and contains oh so many treasured memories that will be with me for the rest of my days. The quality of music and performances was generally of the highest standard, something such as this I will never probably see again but I can hope.
© August 2002
BILL HALEY AND HIS COMETS
'Vive La Rock 'n' Roll'
Big Beat BBR 00073, Playing Time: 52.01 minutes
Saints Rock And Roll/Shake Rattle And Roll/Rudy's Rock/For You My Love/Beecher Boogie Woogie/I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter/Jump Children/I'm In Love Again/Mambo Rock/See You Later Alligator/Rock Around The Clock/Beecher Boogie Woogie/Rock A Beatin' Boogie/Razzle Dazzle/Tequila/Giddy Up A Ding Dong.
Any new release by Bill Haley and His Comets is always welcome, especially when it is a set of recordings when Bill was at his rock 'n' roll peak. From 'Saints Rock And Roll' through to 'Rock around The Clock' Roll', in the list of the above titles, were cut live at a performance at the Olympia Theater, Paris, France on 14th October 1958 whilst the date for the remainder is uncertain but is thought to be the next day. This was the tour of Europe that has gone down in rock 'n' roll infamy as when it wound on to Germany, there riots (especially at the Sportspalast, Berlin on 26th October 1958) during which theatres were wrecked and the resulting filmed footage still being shown to this day.
If there is any doubt that Haley and His Comets were a rock 'n' roll machine of the highest order, then a listen to this CD will quickly dispel same. This is premium quality rock 'n' roll performed by one of the originators. The band is oh so tight and the vocals, not all of which are by Bill, are spot on. This line up of the Comets consisted of Johnny Grande on piano, Billy Williamson on steel, Rudy Pompilli on saxophone, his brother Al Pompilli on upright bass, Franny Beecher on lead guitar and Ralph Jones on drums. An incendiary set of musicians if there ever was one. The music simply exudes excitement as the beat pounds along. One has to remember that live rock 'n' roll in Europe in 1958 was not exactly commonplace and when rampaging teens got at a taste of the real thing, well they rampaged.
Most of the numbers performed will not need any introduction but this set reveals that Haley & The Comets were not averse to slipping in new numbers or non hits (for them). 'Beecher Boogie Woogie' (aka 'Guitar Boogie'), blistering guitar instrumental lead by Franny is served up twice but each performance varies whilst Al Pompilli takes the lead vocals on 'For You My Love', an R&B for Larry Darnell in 1959. Billy Williamson also shares the vocal spot with good treatments of The Flamingos 'Jump Children' and Fats Domino's 'I'm In Love Again' and aurally it is him on 'Giddy Up A Ding Dong, these are all good. One other surprise is the workout on 'Tequila' lead by Rudy Pompilli. This is no slavish copy of the record by The Champs but an inspired original treatment.
The audience reaction has not been edited out and one can sense the excitement and tension building throughout. There are attempts by both Bill Haley and Billy Williamson to get the crowd to calm down - then what do Bill and His Comets do next? They launch into some more blistering rock 'n' roll, hardly crowd pacifying tactics. In terms of live rock 'n' roll performances, this has to rank up there with the best. File under essential.
The CD is generally only available by mail order and can be obtained at 23 Euros post paid from Big Beat Records, BP 27, Paris 75518, Cedex 15, France or at £14.99 from Big Beat Records, 270 Carlton Road, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S81 7LQ, England. Alternatively contact their web site at www.bigbeatrecords.tm.fr
© Tony Wilkinson
THOMAS LA VELLE & THE WAYNE HOPKINS COMBO
The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Kent, England
Sunday, 26th May 2002
It was a return to The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent after a gap of three months to catch an in house performance by recent Hemsby headliner and general rock 'n' roll extrovert MATT LUCAS. The venue again impressed with good acoustics and atmosphere plus a well stocked bar at very reasonable prices. Audience attendance was down but this did not affect the guys performing on the stage, they gave 110% and were clearly enjoying themselves.
The opening set was by Thomas La Velle on piano along with the Wayne Hopkins Combo including the marvellous Dave Briggs on guitar and a guy by the name of Steve on harmonica. Good tight blues tinged rock 'n' roll. The guys then returned to the stage for show time, the guy with maniacal energy and a thousand stories, Matt Lucas. The drum set was positioned right up at the front of the stage which was just great as Lucas seemingly performed with even more showmanship than at Hemsby and the performance was clearly visible to all. The opener was 'Oobie Doobie' followed by 'Ubangi Stomp' and 'Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee Oh Dee' complete with high pitched squeals. The drum sticks were being wielded like a pair of whirling dervishes, the leg was being kicked out, the head held back and then held low over the cymbals. This was take no prisoners and allow no mercy straight ahead rock 'n' roll. The non-stop music continued with a frenzied work out on 'Put Me Down' and a quite unique interpretation of 'Mystery Train' with tasty controlled drumming.
This time around, Matt included a couple of blues tunes in his performance, namely 'Ugly Blues which he advised he made up on the spot and contained humorous lyrics, and an excellent 'Sweet Home Chicago'. The backing was spot on, especially with the addition of the harmonica player. But it was soon back to hard rockin' with Lucasised stylings of 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Down The Line' and 'Maybelline'. Regarding the last mentioned, Matt advised that he had cut this at Roland Jane's Sonic Studio on Madison Avenue, Memphis in 1962 with Travis Wammack playing lead guitar. The set then closed out with a high energy workout of Matt's biggest hit, 'I'm Movin On', originally recorded for Renay Records but then picked up by Smash Records, with plenty of vocal squeals and train imitations sounds. For an encore, it was a marvellous reading of 'Midnight Special'. The performance can best be summarised as high energy rough edged roadhouse rock 'n' roll, just as I like it. Even Mrs. Wilkinson was full of praise and that denotes the ultimate seal of approval.
© Tony Wilkinson
REVIEW: Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Weekender No. 28
At Hemsby #28, l. to r.: Narvel Felts and Lew Williams with Rod Pyke's very rare South African "78" of Cry, Baby, Cry. This is the first time Narvel has ever got to hold one of his own 78s.
Photo: Rod Pyke
THE BEST HEMSBY YET?
7th May - 12th May 2002
Once again, it was time to jump in the chariot and head up the road to the Pontins Holiday Centre at Hemsby to recharge the rock 'n' roll batteries. This one had the potential of being one of the best so far and, on reflection, it realised this exalted achievement. Indeed, it has to be regarded as possibly the best Hemsby yet. Clearly the international malaise that affected the last event, which was shortly after the shocking crazy events on September 11th, had been discarded and come the Saturday, the house full signs were in evidence.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
This Hemsby kicked off on the Tuesday evening with the appearance of HOT ROCKIN', a UK band from Norwich, who proved popular with the early arrivals. They were followed on Wednesday by THE SUGAR CREEK TRIO and GENE GAMBLER & THE SHUFFLERS. The last mentioned contained two members of The Rimshots who are one of the best bands on the UK scene. Thursday night saw the festival crank up a few gears with the appearance by THE TINSTARS from Holland who gave a lively performance with their versions of some rockabilly classics such as Wynn Stewart's 'Come On' and Roy Orbison's 'Mean Little Mama. Good lead guitar but possible a little too much thrash. The boys returned to the stage to support the first of the American visitors ALVIS WAYNE.
This guy is a true rockabilly originator from Texas and on the previous occasions I have seen him, he has turned in powerhouse performances. Sadly, this was not to be one of them. He stepped on stage with an out of tune guitar, which he corrected, and it was then into his unique brand of music with 'Swing Bop Boogie' and 'Rockabilly Daddy'. I guess that everyone has an off night and it quickly became evident that this performance was falling into that bag. The previous killer edge was just not there, coupled with a lot of talk between numbers. The set consisted of a mixture of his originals for the Westport label such as 'I Gottum', 'Lay Your Head On My Shoulder', 'Don't Mean Maybe Baby' and 'Sleep, Rock-a-Roll Rock-A-Baby' together with selections from his two albums for Rollin' Rock Records in the form of 'Here I Am', 'You Can Have Her', 'Those Lonely Lonely Teardrops', Johnny Horton's 'Honky Tonk Man' and Ernest Tubb's 'Thanks A Lot' before closing out with 'I'm Movin' On'. I look forward to seeing an on-form Alvis the next time around.
THE RIMSHOTS commenced Friday night's proceedings in the main ballroom with a really solid set. These guys just go from strength to strength and enhanced their reputation with this crowd-pleasing set. Walking onto the stage next was the Arkansas piano player TEDDY REDELL, looking totally resplendent in a white suit. He demonstrated his virtuosity on the ivories by performing solo on some untitled boogie woogie instrumentals and vocalising on such as 'Got You On My Mind', 'Baby What You Want Me To Do' and 'Sitting On Top Of The World' before being joined by the backing band, Sweden's Wildfire Willie And The Ramblers. Boy, Teddy sure can play the 88 keys but this solo section probably went on a trifle too long for a main hall performance. However this was quickly overcome as he and the boys launched into the catalogue of music that he had laid down for the Vaden, Hi, Rimrock and Atco labels in the late fifties and early sixties. Opening up with 'Knocking On The Backside', 'Before It Began (Shame Shame)', 'Corinna Corrinna', it was into such goodies as 'Gold Dust', Pipeliner', 'I Want To Hold You' and 'I Sail My Ship Alone'. This was glorious mid tempo piano lead rock 'n' roll. Next up was the newish number 'Boogie Woogie Bill From Shelby County Tennessee'. Special mention must be made of the spot on backing throughout this portion of the show from Wildfire Willie and The Ramblers, once again they had done their homework. This was followed by 'Judy', which of course has been recorded by Elvis, before Teddy closed out the set with 'Brain Cloudy Blues' and a reprise of the aforementioned 'Boogie Woogie Bill'.
The next American visitor was Memphis born extrovert MATT LUCAS. This is the first time I have witnessed a guy screamin' out exhilarating rock 'n' roll whilst pounding the drums at the same time throughout the set. Matt is a total professional and, from the outset, he gave 110% with oodles of visuals. The opener was 'Oobie Doobie' followed by 'Ubangi Stomp' and 'Drinkin' Wine Spo Dee Oh Dee' complete with high pitched squeals. The non stop rockin' music continued with a frenzied interpretations of 'Put Me Down' and 'Mystery Train' before he slowed the pace down a little with 'Baby, What You Want Me To Do. But that could have only been a pause for breath as he then launched into his own unique stylings of 'Sweet Little Sixteen', 'Down The Line' and 'Maybelline'. The in sync. backing was provided by Wayne Hopkins and The Hemsby House including Thomas Lavelle on piano and Dave Briggs from The Avengers on guitar, they were clearly all having a ball. Matt had been the drummer in the Narvel Felts band when he broke into the American charts with his styling of 'I'm Movin' On' and, for this occasion, Narvel joined him on stage to play the lead guitar, wonderful moments. The set concluded with a marvelous workout on 'Midnight Special. The whole set can best be summed up as high energy roadhouse rock 'n' roll. Performances on Friday came to an end with a fine hillbilly, rockabilly and western swing tinged set from LYNETTE MORGAN & THE BLACK WATER VALLEY BOYS. Lynette is charismatic and possessing a great voice. Hopefully she will succeed in her selected music styling. Before we leave Friday night, special mention must be made of a fairly momentous event: Dave Travis of Stompertime Records went up to the bar and bought a round of drinks. I was there when it happened!
The live music on Saturday commenced in The Queen Vic Pub, normally reserved for disc jockies to play first rate rockin' wax but at ear splitting volume. First up was The Sugar Creek Trio who had been previously seen in the ballroom. They were followed by IAN CALFORD & THE BRAKEMEN who have the Johnny Cash sound down to a fine art. Overall, a pleasing and enjoyable performance and worth a ballroom performance next time around. The show in the main hall was lead off by THE SEAT SNIFFERS (I kid you not!). This is a Belgian roots music band whose musical style is loosely in the Barrence Whitfield and Blasters bag, certainly different. Next up was Swedish band WILDFIRE WILLIE & THE RAMBLERS, an exciting band, who laid down a highly visual selection of rock 'n' roll with a mixture of originals such as 'Go Mad Cat' and covers like 'Let Me Slide'.
Then came the unique talent that is LEW WILLIAMS, backed up by The Rimshots. As one has come to expect, Lew's performance is based on his original song stylings that he cut for Flair, Imperial and Hamilton in the fifties. Impeccably dressed and looking a young 68, it was straight into 'Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop' followed by 'Don't Mention My Name' and 'I'll Play Your Game. This was Texan rock 'n' roll colliding head on with jive talk. Lew again appeared a little nervous but he had previously confided that this was his natural styling, whatever it was appealing. With short jerky movements he followed with 'I'll Play Your Game', the classic 'Abracadabra', the great 'Teenagers Talkin' On The Telephone' and the beat balladry of 'I Saw You Crying In The Show'. Lew was performing one great number after another as he served up 'Centipede', 'Gone Ape Man', 'Something I Said' and the classic 'Cat Talk'. The enjoyable set closed out with two more readings of 'Cat Talk' and further versions of 'Something I Said' and 'Teenagers Talkin' On The Telephone'. He certainly is different and totally authentic. After a break, The Rimshots returned to the stage to once again back up the show stopping NARVEL FELTS.
I have seen Narvel on quite a few occasions previously and he has never failed to excite with a breath taking performance. It was no different this time and quite rightly he is known as Narvel The Marvel. The rockin' opened up with 'Go Go Go', 'Kiss A Me Baby', 'Baby Let's Play House' and 'Pink And Black Days' before slowing down for a tremendous treatment of 'My Prayer. I know that The Platters had the original on this but Narvel's interpretation makes the song his own. Looking every inch a top rock 'n' roll star and using the stage with style and high energy movement, it was quickly back up to top gear with 'Rockin' Daddy' and 'Cindy Lou' before singing a tribute to his son, the late Albert Narvel 'Bub' Felts Jr. with the moving ballad 'Even Now'. 'Foolish Thoughts' and the show stopping 'Since I Don't Have You (which had to be reprised twice there and then) came next along with frenetic vocalising on 'My Babe' and 'Great Balls of Fire' before a version of his biggest ever hit 'Reconsider Me', a tune first performed by the tan canary Johnny Adams but which has now been well and truly 'Narvelised'. The Rimshots were providing great backing as Narvel launched into 'I'm Heading Home', 'Lonely Teardrops' and another show stopper the cult 'Did you Tell Me' from his days at Sun Records. Matt Lucas then joined Narvel on the stage to play drums on 'Tongue Tied Jill' before the set closed out with an unrehearsed but near perfect treatment of Roy Orbison's 'Crying'. On a scale of ten, this show earned ten, pure magical moments. Narvel will be back in the UK in October as the support act on the Slim Whitman tour, go and see him. The final live act for the night was Chicago resident NICK WILLETT, a young singer who has all the female hearts fluttering. He is the natural successor to Jack Baymore and is loaded with talent.
Gene Gamblers & The Shufflers gave another performance in the Queen Vic Pub before the proceedings in the ballroom kicked off with THE HOEDOWNERS from Finland, a trio in the High Noon bag. They were then followed by Texas rock 'n' roll originator SONNY WEST who wrote and recorded the original version of 'Rave On' and penned another Buddy classic with 'Oh Boy'. The performance had a tentative start with three West originals 'Dire Need', 'A Bad Case' and 'The Rave Is Gone' before igniting with Sonny's work out on Peanut Wilson's 'Cast Iron Arm'. It then started to go into the stratosphere with 'Big City Woman' and 'Big Bessie Lee' before exploding with 'I've Had It'. The last mentioned is a song from Roy Orbison and Peanuts Wilson and is not the same as the hit record from the Bell Notes. Sonny has a great rock 'n' roll voice and is fortunate to have plenty of original material, none better than the dynamite versions of ''Rave On', the cult 'Sweet Rockin' Baby' and a first rate work out on 'Oh Boy'. The set finalized with two work-outs on the classic 'Rock-Ola Ruby. I look forward to seeing Sonny again over here again after the most enjoyable performance.
Although billed as the doo wop band for the festival, MAURICE WILLIAMS AND THE ZODIACS were more that that, indeed they were more than a vocal group, they were a marvelous show band. Still containing three original members from their hit making days, the outfit quickly showed why they are an in-demand must see group on the 'Shag Scene' that exists down in the Carolinas. The started with 'Shoop Shoop' from their Excello days as The Gladiolas and then went into perfect harmonies on the Drifters 'This Magic Moment'. The stage was full of changeover movements as the group, in their sparkling suits, went into 'Come Along' and 'I Remember' from their days at Herald Records and then into an extended doo wop medley of 'Tears On My Pillow/Silhouettes/Cherry Pie/For You My Love'. The harmonies were spot on and the visuals were pulsating. Seemingly back in the USA the group is a self-contained outfit providing their own backing but for this night The Swing Kings provided the backing. Uplifting the tempo a Little Richard medley followed with great treatments of 'Tutti Frutti/Good Golly Miss Molly/Long Tall Sally' before it was a return to the tight harmonies on the ballad 'We're Lovers'. Then it was the turn of Hank Ballard's 'Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go' and still there was no let up in the excitement being emitting from the stage. 'The group's performance was so polished and professional that they even got away with the rather hackneyed 'Unchained Melody' before a spell binding 'Stay' which thankfully was longer than the original 1.28 minutes of the recording. For an encore, Maurice sang 'Little Darlin', which is his original composition, before the group finally exited the stage with a short version of 'Shout'. I have said previously that the vocal group spot at Hemsby has been filled by some wonderful acts but Maurice Williams And The Zodiacs is one of the best yet. This performance was near perfect, another ten out ten. Hopefully they will be back in the UK before not too long, please Mr. Promoter.
The final live set for this Hemsby was by SOPHIE GARNER & THE SWING KINGS, a fine mixture of R&B and swing music.
To reiterate, this was a first rate Hemsby with a good selection of musical styles and a wedge of stand out performances. The line up for next October's (3rd to 7th) Hemsby is again mouth watering with Jack Earls, Billy Adams and his own band The Rock-A-Teers, Hayden Thompson, Freddie Bell, The Edsels and the original line up of Restless. I am so determined to be there that I have insisted that my daughter has her wedding the following weekend. See you there ...
© Tony Wilkinson, May 2002
HUELYN DUVALL - CDs
"She's My Baby"
Brazos Valley Records BV3020 Playing Time: 28.28
She's My Baby/Face To Face/Magic spell/My Love/It Wasn't Me/Surrounded/I Love Her So/Let's Make A Block/Does She Love Me/Hey Brutus
"The Best Of Huelyn Duvall 1957 - 1958"
Brazos Valley Records BV 3030 Playing Time: 27.59
Three Months To Kill/Little Boy Blue/Teen Queen/Comin' Or Goin'/Boom Boom Baby/Pucker Paint/Juliet/Friday Night On A Dollar Bill/Hum-m-m-m-Dinger/You Knock Me Out/Fool's Hall Of Fame/It's No Wonder/Susie's House
Hot on the heels of Huelyn's triumphant headlining performance at the UK Hemsby rock 'n' roll festival in October 2001 comes two new CD releases. "The Best Of " compilation is, apart from two tracks, taken from the master tapes of the recordings he made for the Challenge label in Nashville and at the Gold Star Recording Studios, Hollywood during 1957 and 1958. As such, the quality is crystal clear and represents some marvellous rock 'n' roll recordings. The European cult rockin' classic "Three Months To Kill" cut at his final recording session for the label never sounded better and neither has the jerky vocals on "Pucker Paint," "Juliet" or "Boom Baby" (subsequently a hit for Crash Cardiac). Also included is the great rocker "It's No Wonder" and the equally good "Susie's House," both cut in Texas in 1958. Essential.
With the new recordings on the "She's My Baby" CD Huelyn has clearly set out to capture the spirit of his fifties recordings and it is pleasing to be able to say (like the recent recordings by both Vernon Taylor and Billy Adams) he has succeeded. Recorded this year in Texas, Huelyn has employed some choice musicians including a reunion with hot piano player Charlie O'Bannion who was an original Chapparals. The title track rocks away like crazy whilst "Face To Face" is an almost chalypso number and suits Duvall's jerky vocal style as does "Magic Spell", a nice mid-paced rocker. "My Love" is a teen beat ballad and "It Wasn't Me" is a nice bouncy rockin' number. A personal favourite is "Surrounded", which is a fine up tempo rocker, whilst the rockabilly workout on "I Love Her So could have been recorded for Challenge, it is that good. More good rock 'n' roll is served up with the dance tune "Let's Make A Block" and "Does She Love Me" which is a slowish almost beat ballad. "Hey Brutus", complete with a Bo Diddley type beat, was originally a fifties demo but this time around has a fuller sound and is the better for it. A most enjoyable release which comes complete with some tasty photos from the fifties.
Both CDs can be obtained direct from Huelyn at Brazos Valley Records, P.O. Box 246, Springtown, Texas 76082, USA or check out his web site at www.HuelynDuvall.com
© Tony Wilkinson
The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Kent
Sunday, 24th February 2002
It was first time for rock 'n' roll at a new venue, namely The New Circle Club, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent. Swine of a place to find, as is virtually anywhere in this area of south east London/Kent due to lack of sign posting, but once inside the efforts were clearly worth while. Nice acoustics and atmosphere plus a well stocked bar, near paradise.
For the opening night, the acts were THE HOUSEROCKERS and, making a quickish return visit after his successful headlining appearance at Hemsby last October, Texas rock 'n' roll legend HUELYN DUVALL. The Houserockers were first up on stage for their own set and clearly tailored their act to the audience in that it was more Rockabilly orientated than the blues driven performances by the outfit that I have seen in recent times. This was a tasty set by Rob Glazebrook and the boys, an ideal warm up for Huelyn. Their efforts were clearly appreciated by the applause gained.
Then it was time for the star of the evening, Huelyn Duvall, and from the outset he demonstrated that he was clearly enjoying himself. He kicked off with 'Susie's House' and 'Teen Queen' and then followed this with 'Let's Make A Block' from his CD of new recordings titled 'She's My Baby'. This is a fine rockin' number and Huelyn explained that the title means let's get going, the block in question being the way the streets in the USA are set out. Next was Huelyn's excellent workout on 'Friday Night On A Dollar Bill' and his interpretation of 'Bertha Lou' which he aligned with the Clint Miller version and this was good. Perhaps, Huelyn make care to record this tune one day.
By now the pattern for the night was established, a mixture of his Challenge and Starfire cuts from the fifties, selections from the aforementioned 'She's My Baby' CD and his interpretations of other rock 'n' roll classics. Duvall was perhaps even more inspired than his Hemsby appearance as his increased confidence was apparent. There were bags of his unique jerky stage movements and his voice had not lost any of its urgency from the fifties. The Huelyn originals rolled on with 'She's My Baby', his biggest seller 'Little Boy Blue', a splendid 'I Love Her So', and top notch treatments of 'Comin' Or Goin' and 'Pucker Paint' which drew an enthusiastic response from the punters at this well attended event. The backing was provided by The Houserockers augmented by Thomas LaVelle on piano who provided solid support. 'Pucker Paint', 'Juliet', 'Down The Line/Go Go Go' and 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy' came next before launching into a top notch 'It's No Wonder'. The set closed out with 'Three Months To Kill', which was slightly marred by a tempo change part way through, and a fine 'Lotta Lovin'.
I have been an admirer of Huelyn Duvall's music since I first heard 'Three Months To Kill'. This and his Hemsby performances served to cement this fondness, he is great on both record and stage. For those interested, check out his web site at check out his web site at www.HuelynDuvall.com.
The next American original to appear at The New Circle Club is Matt Lucas on Sunday, 26th May 2002, see you there.
© Tony Wilkinson,
'40 Years Later'
Debra DEB 3002 CD - Playing Time: 59.38
You/Forty Years Too Late/Seeing Is Believing/I Love How You Love Me/Crazy For You/Happy Happy Birthday Baby/What A Guy/One Little Kiss/My Treasure/Share/To Know Him Is To Love Him/Dance With Me/It's Not Easy Letting Go/Our First Kiss/It Must Have Been A Dream/She's The One For Me/Born In Brooklyn/Time Stood Still/Every Time/I Can Still Rock And Roll All Night/Baby Please (Not While I'm Driving)/I'm Movin'/Wanted
The Aquatones are back and have returned with a vengeance. The hit making vocal group who scored a big USA national chart hit in 1958 with 'You' on the small New York based Fargo label effectively disbanded in 1961, hence the title of this CD '40 Years On'. Originally founded in 1956, as an all male outfit, they subsequently added the wonderful voice of femme singer Lynne Nixon (who sadly died in January 2001) which eventually led to a recording contract with Lou Fargo and the classic 'You' which had the sweet singing of Lynne as the lead vocal. This disc was issued in Europe under the legendary London American logo where the flipside, the hard driving 'She's The One For Me' featuring the voice of Dave Goddard, achieved cult status. Six further singles followed before they called it a day although member Gene McCarthy did on occasion lead various formations of The Aquatones at concerts.
In 1999, Dave Goddard linked up with femme singer Colette Delaney and made some demo recordings of the earlier Aquatones music which received drew such a good reaction that Dave decided that it was time for The Aquatones to get back in the studio. Accordingly he and Colette along with original members Larry Vannata and Gene McCarthy laid down a selection of tracks during 2001 in Scranton, Louisville and New York, the outcome of which is presented on this CD and boy it is good.
On the vast majority of tracks the vocal group have successfully captured both the spirit and sound of the late fifties, there can be no greater praise! Some of the early Fargo recordings, such as the endearing ballads 'You' and 'Crazy For You', 'My Treasure' plus the solid rockin' 'She's The One For Me', 'Every Time' and 'Wanted (Solid Gold Cadillac)' have been re-cut for this release and they sure do stand up well. For a further selection, the group have recorded their versions of other fifties vocal groups hits such as a marvellous 'Happy Happy Birthday Baby', a haunting 'I Love How You Love Me' and 'To Know Him Is To Love Him', the up tempo 'What A Guy' and the truly harmonic 'Share' which was originally by Frankie Lymon. On all the last mentioned cuts, the voice of Colette is majestic and raises the hairs on the back of the neck. What a find.
Of the remainder, all are composed by Dave Goddard who also takes many of the lead vocals. Special mention has to be made of '40 Years Too Late', 'Seeing Is Believing', 'Dance With Me', and 'It's Not Easy Letting Go', beautiful ballads in which the feel, sound and harmonies evoke memories of the fifties recordings oh so well. 'I Can Still Rock And Roll All Night' is what many of use wished was possible (the spirit may be willing but the body ain't), a fine rockin' work out as are the humorous 'Baby Please (Not While I'm Driving)' and 'I'm Movin', a real good jiver as we used to say back then.
Hopefully we may be able to witness The Aquatones gracing the stage over here in Europe at one of the rock 'n' roll festivals but in the interim this highly recommended CD, which is well worth the effort seeking out, will have to wet the appetites. Contact Debra Records at 219-221 Linden Street, Scranton, PA 18503 (fax. 570 341 2000).
© Tony Wilkinson
'She Walks Right In'
Ray Records 101 - Playing Time: 45.16
She Walks Right In/Since I Met You Baby/Let It Rock/Boogie Woogie Country Girl/Rock 'n' Roll Dance/Lucille/My Prayer/Fannie Brown Got Married/You Got Me Reelin' 'n' Rockin'/Rollin' River Blues/Can't Believe You Wanna Leave/200lb Of Hard Time/I'm Feeling Down/Real Gone Lover/Cry Me A River
'K*** Pat Boone'
Big Hat BHATCD 001 - Playing Time: 45.25
You Need Help/Dead-End Job In A One-Horse Town/Every Night In The week/Ernest Borgine, Jack Palance And Me/Everybody's On The Make/Someone Up There Doesn't Like Me/Goodbye Ramona/I'll Walk Alone/Guilty/I Don't Believe It/Murder Ballad #3 (The Devil's Own)/Baby's Got A Thing About Pat Boone
The above are two prime examples of the good rockin' music that is coming out of the UK currently, albeit from somewhat different spectrums in that The Avengers tend to the jump jive and R&B side of rock 'n' roll whilst The Rhythmaires lean towards rockabilly. But what the heck, it really does not matter if the music is good and it sure is with both of these releases from latish 2001.
The CD from The Avengers is in essence is their current stage act and as anybody who has been fortunate enough to see them will know, it is excitement from beginning to end as lead vocalist Cliff Edmonds wails away whilst the rest of this eight piece band support with pure professionalism. The varied selection ranges from the totally atmospheric 'Lucille' and 'Can't Believe You Wanna Leave' (treatments which the great Little Dick himself will be proud of) through swinging 'n' jumping workouts on 'Fannie Brown Got Married', 'She Walks Right In', 'You Got Me Reelin' 'n' Rockin', 'Rock 'n' Roll Dance' and 'Real Gone Lover' to the pile driving rock 'n' roll of Chuck Berry's 'Let It Rock' and Joe Turner's 'Boogie Woogie Country Girl'. On the slower sides of things, there are great readings of the Platters 'My Prayer', Ivory Joe Hunter's 'Since I Met You Baby' and Julie London's 'Cry Me A River'. There is also a few originals in this set with the R&B tinged 'Rollin' River Blues' and '200lb Of Hard Time' and the more rockabillyish 'I'm Feeling Down'. All in all, marvelous stuff.
With the set from The Rhythmaires, you get a set of total original songs performed with a great rockin' beat with styles ranging from out and out rockabilly in 'Ernest Borgine, Jack Palance And Me', 'I Don't Believe It' and 'Someone Up There Doesn't Like Me' through the country tinged rockin' 'Murder Ballad #3' and blues coated 'Guilty' of to the jump jive tinged 'Every Night Of The Week' and 'Goodbye Ramona'. Whilst I normally prefer plaintive lyrics like 'I got a girl name bony Moronie, she's like a stick of macaroni' I have to take my hat off to the songs of Rhythmaires lead singer and composer Stuart Warburton, who also possesses a good hard edged rockin' nasal voice. The words are great, entertaining and often provocative. For example take the sampling of 'You Need Help' with the lines 'You've got breath like fire, hair like wire, your skin looks like a contour map of Venezuela, and your wardrobe's a failure, You need help but I don't need you' of which are set against a pounding beat . Hey what about that title, this refers to the song 'Baby's Got A Thing About Pat Boone' which too has great lyrics 'He's cheesy, queasy, he's a born again square, I pointed this out but she just don't care''. A great number and first rate rock 'n' roll as well (Thought, wonder what song Stuart could come up with about Bobby Vee?). Of the thirteen numbers on this album, eleven were composed by Stuart. A fine set, worthy of attention.
Both of these CDs are available direct from the bands themselves. For the set by The Avengers, contact Terry Earl, PO Box 2764, London N9 7XD, England (web site: www.theavengers.org) whilst the Rhythmaires CD can be obtained from Big Hat Records, P O Box 55, Bury, Lancashire, BL8 2GG, UK (Tel: 44 (0) 161 763 9169)
© Tony Wilkinson
ROCKY BURNETTE, DARREL HIGHAM
& THE ENFORCERS
'Hip Shakin' Baby' CD
Rockstar RSRCD 021 Playing time: 57.19
Hip Shakin' Baby (Rocky & Darrel)/Believe What You Say (Rocky)/Kiss Me Sweet (Rocky)/Hey, Pretty Baby (Darrel)/Here Comes That Feelin' (Darrel)/Gypsy Woman (Rocky)/Bertha Lou (Rocky)/My Heart (Darrel)/Whenever You're Ready (Darrel)/Don't Leave Me This Way (Rocky)/It's Late (Rocky)/Pure Love (Rocky)/My One Desire (Darrel)/Just A Little Too Much (Darrel)/Waitin' In School (Rocky)/One Of Those Mornings (Darrel)/Tear It Up (Rocky)/Lonesome Tears In My Eyes (Rocky)/Please Don't Leave Me (Rocky).
As stated on the cover, this CD by Rocky and Darrel is a tribute to Johnny & Dorsey Burnette as well as the talent of Rocky himself and boy does it succeed in capturing the rock 'n' roll spirit that was the illustrious and legendary Rock 'n' Roll Trio. Whilst the vocal chores are split between Rocky and Darrel, it is the guitar playing of the latter that is feature on all tracks including the three ('Tear It Up/Lonesome Tears In My Eyes/Please Don't Leave Me') cut in March 2000 for a live broadcast on Big Mike Destiny's radio show in San Francisco. Of the rest, all but five were laid down in the UK on 1st and 2nd November 2000. The remaining five ('Just A Little Too Much/My One Desire/Here Comes That Feelin'/One Of These Mornings/Hey, Pretty Baby') were recorded on 20th November 2000 at the same studio, namely 'Sweet Georgia Brown's'. Each of these rock up a storm and are totally in keeping with the remainder of music on this release.
The songs 'Believe What You Say/Gypsy Woman/Waitin' In School/Don't Leave Me This Way/It's Late' reveal a substantial raid on the compositions of Johnny and Dorsey Burnette and made international hits by the late Ricky Nelson. However, these are no slavish copies but are each provided with a fundamentally different arrangement, much as the Rock 'n' Roll Trio may well have recorded them. 'Believe What You Say' is provided with 'Lonesome Train' overtones whilst 'Gypsy Woman' is given a whole new life, marvellous stuff. The treatment provided to each of these numbers really works.
The title track, Roy Brown's 'Hip Shakin' Baby' moves along like a French express train as does the cult rocker 'Bertha Lou' and Curtis Lee's 'Pure Love', all chock full of rockin' menace and excitement. On a slightly more lighter treatment note are Bob Luman's 'Whenever You're Ready' and Johnny Garner's 'Kiss Me Sweet' whilst Gene Vincent's 'My Heart' is provided with latin overtones.
This is a great CD and should be in every rock 'n' roll collection. Crikey, 2002 has hardly started and here we have an album of new recordings which will be hard to top.
© Tony Wilkinson
Review: Rhythm Riot No. 5
Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
23rd to 26th November 2001
By Tony Wilkinson - This year down at Camber Sands, the weather was in the main just fine and inside the halls at the Holiday Centre it certainly was "Rockin' Is Our Bizness" at the fifth annual Rhythm Riot. As usual for this event, there was a wide ranging variety of artists playing rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, hillbilly boogie, jump and jive, rhythm & blues down to the "blooze". For sure, there was some hot music and sparking performances.
It is always difficult being the opening act at any festival of this ilk but THE HI-FLYERS from Italy kicked off the event with an acceptable performance. They are a jump jive R&B band with a greater accent on the musicians rather than the vocals. Featuring some originals, there was a heap of covers such as "Boogie Woogie Country Girl", "Rocket 69", "Good Rockin' Tonight" (Roy Brown style) and a great "That Mellow Saxophone". The next act up was THE LARIAT 5 from Scotland who I suppose could be best described as electric bluegrass meeting rockabilly. They featured a mandolin as one of the lead instruments and were lead by an attractive young lady vocalist. Theirs was an okay set with songs such as "Mr. Whizz", "Four Big Brothers", "Shame On You", "Crazy Over You" and "Lovesick Blues". They could probably do with a bit more rehearsal and would do well to drop the fake American accents.
A 72 years young CHUCK RIO of The Champs was the first of the visiting American acts and I had the pleasure of talking with him. Both he and his wife are real lovely people. Backed by the hard working house band, The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm, it was a fine selection of numbers mainly from the Champs catalogue. Opening up with "Tequila", it was swiftly followed by hard rockin' latin tinged rockers such as "Sky High", "Too Much Tequila", "Night Train", "Midnighter", "Train To Nowhere" "Sombrero" and "La Cucarcha". Every year the Rhythm Riot features a saxophone player of repute and Chuck can justifiably stake his claim with those who have preceded him, his musicianship was great. There was a splendid workout on "Margarita" and "Chariot Rock", the latter including a vocal version lead by his wife. For Chuck', his only vocal number of the night was "Don't Go Baby" which he released under the name of Danny Boy. The enjoyable set closed out with a reprise of "Tequila" but not before Chuck was presented with his certificate of entry, along with The Champs, into the NDT Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame. With the aid of the backing band, this was as close to the sound of the Champs that one could have hoped for and it was good. Hopefully Chuck will visit these shores again soon.
The closing act on Friday was American KENNY BLUES BOSS WAYNE who now bases himself in Canada. He appeared at the Rhythm Riot two years back and went down a storm. This time around, he passed all expectations with a performance that can only be described as faultless. Dressed in a bright red suit and hat together with a shirt that one had to wear sunglasses to look at, he came on playing by walking through the crowd. Once on stage, he played a New Orleans style number albeit with sparse vocals but in essence a pounding piano lead boogie woogie instrumental. He then followed this with a Fats Domino styled tune "Don't Knock On My Door", great voice, and a real extended but totally exhilarating "Blues Boss Boogie" in which he pounded the piano into submission. He was working The Rhythm Riot Kings of Rhythm hard but clearly they were really enjoying themselves. This was followed by "She's A Potential Danger" and his own song "Nadine" (not the Chuck Berry tune) which segued into "Jambalayua" During the show, he picked up a somewhat peculiar instrument which was a miniature keyboard with a sax/flute type arrangement on the top. Blowing, singing and playing, he left the stage followed by the two sax men and paraded through the crowd for an extended "When The Saints Go Marching In". For an encore, he returned to the stage for a great jump blues boogie number and a sparkling rendition of Blueberry Hill". He left the audience yelling for more, no mean feat at 3.00 am in the morning. He is a master showman.
The opening act for Saturday was THE ALABAMA SHAKERS, who sadly I missed but reports were that they were good. They were followed a new to myself act, namely MISCHIEF from Holland. These guys were a rockabilly trio, with the guitar player handling the lion share of the vocals and he has a good r 'n' r voice. Plenty of energy and good stage presence with numerous Carl Perkins wiggles thrown in. The act was a mixture of originals and covers with "I Can't Fly", "Wake Up" and "Maybe Baby" (not the Holly song) as examples of the former and fine readings of "I'm Coming Home", "Hot Rod", Hey Mae" "Sweet Love On Your Mind", "Rip It Up" (Everlys style) and "Justine". Certainly a band with potential and one to look out for.
I was not too sure what to expect from THE BOBBETTES but any doubts were soon dispelled. They are now down to a foursome with two original members plus the sister of another original. Dressed to kill, the girls started off with "Ain't That Good News" which was followed by "Revival Days". The vocals were spot on and the songs were performed with fine co-ordinated routines. These were followed by "Zoomy". "You Are My Sweetheart", "Rock And Ree-Ah-Zole " and "Don't Say Goodnight". This was a finely balanced set between rockers and ballads as was amply demonstrated by "Come-A, Come-A", "Look At The Stars", "Have Mercy Mercy Baby" complete with gospel overtones and "Oh Mein Papa" which worked surprisingly well. A highlight of the set was "Dance With Me Georgie" but "Mr. Johnny Q" and Speedy" should also not be overlooked. The lead vocals alternated between the various members and this splendid set climaxed with "Mr. Lee" linked straight into "I Shot Mr. Lee". Come back real soon please ladies, you are the business.
Maybe I was expecting too much from JIMMY McCRACKLIN, but in all honesty he was disappointing. There were good moments for sure but the set came over as somewhat self indulgent and disorganised, certainly he and the band were not as one at times. He started off with "The Wobble" before sitting down at the piano for "Reconsider Baby" and ten into "The Walk". This was followed by "After Hours Blues" and "Baby What You Want Me To Do" before following with "Georgia Slop". In reality, this was thrown away as he performed it standing up whilst the song demanded his good piano playing. "Think" came next before he then re-performed "The Walk" (better this time around) and "After Hours Blues". Other numbers performed included "I Gotta Know" and "Every Day I Have The Blues". The final act of the night was RAY COLLINS HOT-CLUB, a jump jive outfit from Germany who were entertaining.
Sunday saw BIG JOE LOUIS perform a solo set at lunch time although he was joined towards the end by Rob Glazebrook and his fellow Houserockers. This was good. The evening's entertainment commenced with JP & THE WISEGUYS, a British R&B / jump jive group who were just fine on "JP Boogie", Mad At You", "Bim Bam" and a first rate "Mambo Rock" complete with the sax player laying on his back honking away. They were followed by the UK roots blues outfit THE MARQUES BROTHERS whose set got better as it progressed.
Next came another highlight act, the undisputed queen of rock 'n' roll, WANDA JACKSON. Backed up by the house band, she launched "Rockabilly Fever" complete with raunchy strutting, she carried on with "Stupid Cupid", "Mean Mean Man" and "Hot Dog That Made Him Mad". Boy, her strangulated tonsil style of made this old man feel young again and smile knowingly at She Who Must Be Obeyed. These were followed by her tribute to her roots with moving song tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams before launching into "I Gotta Know". At this point, she received her plaque denoting her entry into the NDT Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame, the elite body for real rock 'n' roll. Gaining further inspiration she carried on with. "Funnel Of Love" followed by "Riot In Cell Block No. 9", "Right Or Wrong", a good workout of Presley's "One Night" and an absolutely splendid "Fujiyama Mama". She then performed her normal religious number 'I Saw The Light' with the set then going into the stratosphere with a dynamic "Let's Have A Party" and closing out with 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. Baby, that was rock 'n' roll.
The final American visitor for this festival was H BOMB FERGUSON. He is a great entertainer wearing various coloured wigs throughout his set which contained his interpretations of songs made famous by others mixed in with a selection of his own material. In essence, he is a blues shouter extraordinaire who plays a good piano. This was amply demonstrated on "Please Me", "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and "I'm In Love Again", the last mentioned undergoing subtle lyric changes into "I'm Drunk Again". H Bomb was accompanied by The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm and his own guitarist Lance Boyd who sang a couple of numbers such as "Kansas City". The set also included "Midnight Ramble", "Baby What You want Me To Do", "Bad Bad Whiskey", "No More Dogging", "I'm Walking", "Fine Brown Frame" "I Ain't Mad At You" and "Romp Baby Romp. With the band all wearing sparkly wigs, he concluded with "Shake Rattle And Roll" and Tutti Frutti" complete with his own lyric transformations such as "got a gal named Ida who smells like apple cider". Good entertainment from a fine artist, performed with bags of humour and plenty of facial expressions. The festival closed out with THE RHYTHM RIOT RHYTHM & BLUES REVUE, basically the house band (they sure did work hard over the weekend) with guest appearances from the likes of the aforementioned Big John Lewis of the Rimshots. Overall it was a splendid event.
Rhythm Riot 6 is to be held at the same venue between 22nd and 25th November 2002. Headliners so far announced are Lewis Lymon and The Teenagers and Jimmy Cavello but I understand that negotiations for several other top acts are well advanced and should be announced soon. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact the web site www.rhythmriot.com for information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson
American Music Magazine
"She's My Baby"
Brazos Valley Records BV3020 Playing Time: 28.28
She's My Baby/Face To Face/Magic spell/My Love/It Wasn't Me/Surrounded/I Love Her So/Let's Make A Block/Does She Love Me/Hey Brutus
"The Best Of Huelyn Duvall 1957 - 1958"
Brazos Valley Records BV 3030 Playing Time: 27.59
Three Months To Kill/Little Boy Blue/Teen Queen/Comin' Or Goin'/Boom Boom Baby/Pucker Paint/Juliet/Friday Night On A Dollar Bill/Hum-m-m-m-Dinger/You Knock Me Out/Fool's Hall Of Fame/It's No Wonder/Susie's House
Hot on the heels of Huelyn's triumphant headlining performance at the UK Hemsby rock 'n' roll festival in October 2001 comes two new CD releases. "The Best Of " compilation is, apart from two tracks, taken from the master tapes of the recordings he made for the Challenge label in Nashville and at the Gold Star Recording Studios, Hollywood during 1957 and 1958. As such, the quality is crystal clear and represents some marvellous rock 'n' roll recordings. The European cult rockin' classic "Three Months To Kill" cut at his final recording session for the label never sounded better and neither has the jerky vocals on "Pucker Paint", "Juliet" or "Boom Boom Baby" (subsequently a hit for Crash Craddock). In essence this is a reissue of the CD "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't" which appeared on the US Sundazed label in 1996. However the alternative versions of "Teen Queen" and "Fools Hall Of Fame" have been dropped in favour of the great rocker "It's No Wonder", which was released on the Starfire label, and the equally good "Susie's House", both of which were cut at the Clifford Herring Studios, Fort Worth, Texas in 1958. This is the best that they have ever sounded. Sleeve notes this time around are by Dave Burgess, the head honcho for The Champs, who remarks that Huelyn was on the final yell on "Tequila" and was one of the back up vocalists on the flip "Train To Nowhere". File under essential.
On the CD of new recordings, "She's My Baby", Huelyn has clearly set out to capture the spirit of his fifties recordings and it is pleasing to be able to say (like the recent recordings by both Vernon Taylor and Billy Adams) he has succeeded. Recorded this year in Azle, Texas, Huelyn has employed some choice musicians including a reunion with hot piano player Charlie O'Bannion who was an original Chapparals. The title track rocks away like crazy complete with a pounding of the eighty eights and some great lead guitar from John MacDonald. "Face To Face" is an almost chalypso number, written by a very young Johnny Vallis, and suits Duvall's jerky vocal style as does "Magic Spell", a nice mid-paced rocker. "My Love" is a teen beat ballad and "It Wasn't Me" is a nice bouncy rockin' number. A personal favourite is "Surrounded", which is a fine up tempo rocker, whilst the rockabilly workout on "I Love Her So could have been recorded for Challenge, it is that good. More good rock 'n' roll is served up with the dance tune "Let's Make A Block" and "Does She Love Me" which is a slowish almost beat ballad. "Hey Brutus", complete with a Bo Diddley type beat, was recorded as a demo in the fifties but on this occasion has a fuller sound and is the better for it. Huelyn's voice has got a little deeper since he first recorded but is still packed with his unique styling. A most enjoyable release which comes complete with some tasty photos from the fifties.
Both CDs can be obtained direct from Huelyn at Brazos Valley Records, P.O. Box 246, Springtown, Texas 76082, USA or check out his web site at www.HuelynDuvall.com
© Tony Wilkinson
Early Rock & Roll From
New Zealand Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4
THE KEIL ISLES
"Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 1 & 2"
Collector Records CLCD 7753/A/B
Total Playing Time: 137 minutes
60 tracks including: Say Mama/Bullmoose/Flip Flop & Fly/Ruby Ann/Twist and Freeze/ Be Bop Boogie Boy/Crazy Dream/Don't You Know/Pretty Susie Sunshine/Please Don't Tease/Cinnamon Cinder/Say Yeah/Come On And Get Me.
"Early Rock & Roll From New Zealand Vols. 3 & 4"
Collector Records CLCD 7754/A/B
Total Playing Time: 124 minutes
54 tracks including: SAM MATAPARAE - Rockin' Rockers/RON MAXMAN - Cool 'n' Crazy/MAORI TROUBADORS - Shakin' In The Shaky Isle/RED HEWITT - DJ Blues/CLYDE SCOTT - Gravediggers Rock/BOBBY DAVIS - Able Mable/TONI WILLIAMS - Is A Blue Bird Blue/MEL ROGERS - China Doll.
It used to be said that New Zealand was about five or six years behind the UK but these two collections of rockin' sides from the Windy Isles, generally dating from the late fifties/early sixties, show that often they were the equivalent of the musical output of Great Britain at the time. There are some outstanding cuts, many sides that are reasonable to good and, as is generally the case with collections such as these, a few clunkers.
The Keil Isles were lead by the Keil Brothers, who were born in the Samoa Islands, and this is a collection of their early sides mainly recorded in Hamilton, New Zealand. There are some sparking cuts such as their workout on Gene Vincent's "Be Bop Boogie Boy" (two versions included), their interpretations of the Conway Twitty songs "Crazy Dreams" and "Don't You Know" and the original sax lead instrumental "Shakey". Whilst the notes claim that 20 tracks were either previously unreleased or alternative takes, noted New Zealand rock 'n' roll historian John Fletcher puts the total at considerably less. However that is really a moot point as most of the material will not have been heard far outside New Zealand which is a shame as the band certainly had a rockin' talent. A tasty release.
Volumes 3 and 4 in this series is a various artists collection and the musical quality fluctuates considerably more from the excellent to the plain bloody awful than the release by The Keil Isles. When it is good, it is like Mae West, very good but when it is bad, then it is simply dreadful. "Rockin' Rockers" by Sam Mateparae with the Rockin' Rockers is a crude slow pounding rocker but reeks atmosphere. This track is probably worth the double CD alone. The same band, this time lead by Roy Steedman also turn in a most creditable version of The Champs "Subway". The Kiwis also had their own answer to Brenda Lee in the delectable Carol Davies who is represented by five tracks including the nice bopper "Little Bit" Red Hewitt & The Buccanneers come up with a real nice treatment of "Tennessee Waltz", owing a passing debt to the Bobby Comstock treatment, whilst "Bluebird" by Clyde Scott & The Clansman is a great moody mid-paced rocker. There is quite a bit of very obscure rock 'n' roll on this release but do be prepared to hit the reject button on occasion.
Both these double CD compilations retail for the price of a single CD release and so overall represent good value for money. I look forward to more in the series.
© Tony Wilkinson/ October 2001
Review: GENE VINCENT,
"The Town Hall Party TV Shows
Rockstar Video RSRV 2002
Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Be-Bop-a-Lula / High Blood Pressure / Rip It Up / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Dance To the Bop / You Win Again / For Your Precious Love / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Rocky Road Blues / Pretty Pearly / Be-Bop-a-Lula / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / High School Confidential / Over The Rainbow / Introduction (Jay Stewart) / Roll Over Beethoven / Over The Rainbow / She She Little Sheila
Approximate Viewing Time: 45 minutes. Hot on the heels of the Eddie Cochran "Town Hall Party TV Shows 1959" video (Rockstar RSRV 2001) comes a follow up starring one of the greatest rock 'n' roll originators, Gene Vincent. Our thanks have to go to the good people at Rockstar Records for their considerable effort in overcoming the numerous obstacles and making this video available to us, the panting rock 'n' roll fraternity. This issue contains three performances by Gene on the famous Town Hall Party television show broadcast from Los Angeles, and the first is oh so historically important as it features Vincent with one of the line-ups of the famous Blue Caps.
First broadcast on 25th October 1958, it has Johnny Meeks on lead guitar, Grady Owen on electric bass, Clyde Pennington on drums and Cliff Simmons on piano and they rock out well on a selection of six numbers, two of which were not normally associated with Gene. These are "You Win Again" (performed a la Jerry Lee Lewis style) and Vincent's hair tingling vocalising on "For Your Precious Love," a vocal group classic which was originally by The Impressions featuring an 18 year old Jerry Butler.
The other songs comprise two of the more obscure songs from Vincent's catalogue, "High Blood Pressure" and "Rip It Up" (obscure as they are better known by versions from Huey Smith and Bill Haley/Little Richard respectively) and two of Gene's classics in "Be-Bop-A-Lula" and "Dance To The Bop." The sound and vision are a trifle dodgy on this set but it does not hardly detract from the electictyfying performance being played out before our eyes as frontmen Vincent, Meek and Owen bop away with Messrs. Simmons and Pennington providing the beat. The video is worth it for this set alone.
The last mentioned numbers were all included on the CD issue "The Town Hall Party TV Shows" (Rockstar RSRCD 016) but that is not the case with the second performance from 25th July 1959. On this occasion, Gene was backed up by Town Hall Party regulars such as Merle Travis on lead guitar, Jimmy Pruitt on piano, Harold Hensly on fiddle and saxophone, Cliff Crawford on trumpet, Johnny Bond on rhythm guitar, Skeets McDonald on electric bass, Pee Wee Adams on drums and Rose Maphis providing the hand claps. From the performance, it can be assumed that little or no rehearsal tookplace as the backing musicians are somewhat all over the place. That is apart from Jimmy Pruitt who on more than one occasion holds the song together with some masterful pounding of the 88 keys, especially outstanding on "Rocky Road Blues." Again a mixture of numbers, some well associated with Vincent such as the afore mentioned and a further "Be-Bop-A-Lula" workout whilst "Over The Rainbow" and "Pretty Little Pearly" are lesser known. That does not detract from Gene's performance and indeed it is good to see such numbers, especially the former which suits Vincent's ballad styling oh so well. Regrettably "High School Confidential" does not really work.
For the third set, which was shown on 7th November 1959, Jimmy Pruitt and Pee Wee Adams are retained but Gene's friend Jerry Merritt takes over on lead guitar whilst the bass guitar is played by Pat Patterson and the hand clapping is provided by Fiddlin' Kate and Jeannie Sterling. Of the three shows, this is probably the most satisfying with both Gene's vocals and Merritt's guitar playing being absolutely spot on. All three numbers, "Roll Over Beethoven" / "OverThe Rainbow" / "She She Little Sheila," are excellently performed by all concerned, a real joy to watch and listen to.
Like the previously mentioned Eddie Cochran video, this part of rock 'n' roll history and is available in both VHS PAL and American formats. Copies can be obtained from Rockstar Records, c/o 96D Southchurch Road, Warrior Square East, Southend on Sea, Essex, SS1 2LX, England at £14.50 (UK) or £16.00 (Europe), both prices include postage. These two videos are pretty much fundamental.
"The Wild One - The Life And Times Of Johnny O'Keefe"
by Damian Johnstone & published by Allen & Unwin.
"Long Distance Information - Chuck Berry's Recorded Legacy"
by Fred Rothwell & published by Music Mentor.
In recent times there have been all too few good books about real rock 'n' roll and especially it's originators. However there are two recent exceptions which are real beauties. which can proudly sit up on the shelves along side the ground breaking works of such as Peter Guralnick and Nick Tosches.
The first of these is 'The Wild One - The Life And Times Of Johnny 'Keefe' by Damian Johnstone. For far too long, the contribution to rock 'n' roll music by artists in the southern hemisphere has been sadly neglected and overlooked. There were some great r 'n' r originators down under such as Col Joye and The Joye Boys, Johnny Rebb and Johnny Devlin but the guy who stood head and shoulders above the chasing pack was Australia's Johnny O'Keefe. Boy, from his recordings it is clear that O'Keefe could rock out with the best of them and indeed he is credited with originating one of the classic songs, 'Wild One' - which is perhaps better known as 'Real Wild Child' from the recordings by Jerry 'Ivan' Allison and Jerry Lee Lewis. It is clear from the text, which really flows, that author Damian Johnstone has really done his research on the subject and the results come across as a real labour of love, albeit a sympatheticwarts 'n' all portrait of O'Keefe. He really gets under the skin of the singer and as such his talent and frailties are revealed to all. This is no coffee table book but is a serious and always interesting attempt to tell the story of O'Keefe. The book chronicles Johnny's early days from when he started out as a Johnny Rayclone through his development into a rock 'n' roll singer and his successful attempts to introduce the big beat into the land of Oz. Along the way, Johnstone vividly paints a portrait of the Australian music scene in the fifties into the sixties and beyond. It is all here in the book, O'Keefe's rise to fame, the struggles along the way, near fatal car accident, several nervous breakdowns, career nose-dives and the fights back to the top again. It is evident from the story that Johnny, whilst perhaps being somewhat neurotic, tested himself to the limit in pursuit of his career and at times was his own worst enemy. A particularly significant aspect of the book deals with O'Keefe's attempts [in reality all unfortunate failures] to establish himself as an international star, especially his visits to Great Britain and the USA. During the latter, he was signed by Liberty records and Snuff Garrett assigned to manage the wayward protégée. Clearly Snuff could not handle the Wild One and the story relates several incidents which, in hindsight, are hilarious. All in all, this is a cracking god read and congratulations are due to Damian Johnstone for scribing one of the best books of its kind in recent years. Available from all good book importers or direct from the publishers Allan and Unwin at web site www.allenandunwin.com
The second book under review here is 'Long Distance Information - Chuck Berry's Recorded Legacy' by Fred Rothwell. Over the years there have been several attempts at telling the story of Chuck Berry, including his own autobiography but, all in all, they failed to reach the mark as they either concentrated on his life [including various unsavory incidents] tot he detriment of his music or contained in accuracies which cast doubt on the authenticity of the story. With Mr. Berry, the thing that matters most is his recorded legacy for without doubt it is one of the most important in the history of rock 'n' roll. He was responsible for creating many r 'n' rclassics and it was his music that influenced oh so many others, not his personal life style. In this book, author Fred Rothwell concentrates on this aspect and through it manages to convey the musical importance of Chuck. However, the Chuck Berry story has to be put in its correct perspective and in a few short pages, Rothwell succinctly tells the tale including briefly telling about the spells in prison and outlines the reasons why. However thereafter, and for the vast bulk of the book, Fred analyses each and every Chuck Berry recording session from the first in August 1954 in St. Louis, where Chuck was a sideman on a Joe Alexander session, through to that in August 1998 in Esbjerg, Denmark. Some 93 sessions in all. Each session is detailed into the date(s), which musicians participated, where held and the tracks cut. This is then followed in each instance by a critical and fair review of the musical content together with a commentary on important and related facts. As such, I feel this book provides a better insight into Chuck Berry than any other book that has gone before, fascinating and interesting stuff. Author Rothwell clearly knows his subject and imparts the knowledge in a clear and concise but readable fashion. The book also includes the most complete Chuck Berry discography that I have ever seen together with summaries of Berry's chart successes and television, film and video appearances. In addition there are short chapters on important cover versions of Chuck Berry songs and the artists/songs which influenced our Chuckie boy. It is all pretty fascinating stuff, very interesting and never dull. It probably cannot be read and absorbed in one or two readings but as a reference book with a good cross index, it is invaluable. It should be available from any decent book shop but can also be obtained direct from the publisher at Music Mentor Books, 69 Station Road, Upper Poppleton, York YO26 6PZ or contact web site go.to/musicmentor.
Hemsby Rock & Roll Weekender #27
4th October to 7th October 2001
The six months since the last Hemsby came around all to quickly but that did not prevent the relish and anticipation of witnessing some first rate rock 'n' roll performances plus meeting up with old buddies again. We were not disappointed. Numbers attending were slightly down on the October Hemsby in year 2000 but that has principally to do with all the craziness going on in the world at this time, it certainly had nothing to do with the strength of the bill as will be revealed during the following commentary.
This Hemsby kicked off on the Thursday evening with the appearance of THE PROWLERS, a UK outfit who played with plenty of vigor, thrash 'n' bash. They were followed by one of the most seasoned veterans on the rock 'n' roll scene, namely CHARLIE GRACIE, a guy who first toured Great Britain back in 1957, honeymooned in the UK in 1958 and in recent years has been a regular visitor to these scepter isles. This was a consummate, enjoyable and totally professional show. Charlie, backed up by the Hemsby Houseband, tore into "Rockin' Is Our Business" and "Jump Jive And Wail" before performing one of his hits "Just Looking". This established the pattern for the performance, a couple of his more obscure numbers and one of his chart successes (all the latter were included in a lengthy but varied compilation). He rocked; he rolled and played a masterful lead guitar, this being particularly evident on the work out of "Honky Tonk". The set also included a couple of numbers from his latest CD including "I'm Gonna Love You" and the title track "I'm All Right", a tribute to Eddie Cochran, before concluding with real rock out treatments on "Tootsie", Heart Like A Rock" and "Shake Rattle And Roll. I have seen Charlie on stage quite a few times but this was one of his best shows.
The Friday's night show in the main ballroom had CHECK CROSBY & THE RED HOT WRANGLERS, a new band fronted by Paul Crosby who has lead Rusti Steel & The Tin Tacks, as the opening act. They were followed by the first of the evening's headliners, JOHNNY VALLIS from Canada. Johnny is a youngish guy who clearly has a passion for rock 'n' roll music. Backed up by The House Rockers, he sang well and utilised the stage to a maximum with an energetic performance on such numbers as Ersel Hickey's "Goin' Down That Road", Glen Glenn's "Blue Jeans & A Boy's Shirt", "Rock Around With Ollie Vee", "You're So Square" and "Was It Something I Said". I know that Vallis was a personal friend of the late Buddy Knox and Johnny included a selection of his songs with "Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep", "Hula Love", Rockhouse", "Party Doll" and Somebody Touched Me". The set closed out with a reprise of "Blue Jeans And A Boy's Shirt" to enthusiastic applause and squeals from the fairer sex, no doubt there were some moist knickers around after this show.
Next up was show business veteran YOUNG JESSIE who was making a welcome return to England since his last appearance at the Electric Ballroom in 1983. Backed up by the excellent Swing Kings, he turned in a first rate performance of rock 'n' roll, R&B and outright blues concentrating on the sides he recorded for Modern in the fifties. Opening up with "Hit Git & Split" this was followed by "Don't Happen No More" and then the highlight of this performance, a marvelous work out on ""Lonesome Desert". Boy, this slowish blusey number amplified the considerable talents of Obediah Jessie and the band really cooked. Other numbers included "Do You Love Me", "Don't Think I Will" "Oochie Coochie", "Mary Lou" and "Here Comes Henry". I think "Rabbit On A Log" was there before Young Jessie looked at his watch and concluded with "I Smell A Rat". There was to be no more, not even "Shuffle In The Gravel", but despite this somewhat abrupt ending it was a fine fine show. The evening closed out the BLUE STAR BOYS, a good UK rockin' band who seemingly are on the point of dissolving.
Onto the third night, Saturday, and the rockin' live shows commenced with SNAKE HIP JAKE, a British swing and Jump jive band who are known for their high energy performances. On this particular date, 6th October 2001, England owes two debts of gratitude to Sweden. One is for the Swedish coach of the English football (soccer to our colonial friends) who helped our national team reach the World Cup Finals next year that day. The other is for the Swedish band The Ramblers who provided the backing for visiting star HUELYN DUVALL. They had really done their homework and everything was spot on, the guitar breaks were note perfect and where a song called for vocal back up, it was there in faithful recreation. This clearly inspired Huelyn into giving, for this writer, the stand out performance of this Hemsby. It simply was brilliant from beginning to end. All the jerky stage movements were there and Huelyn's voice was just like his recordings. The set started out with "Susie's House", "Teen Queen" "Boom Boom Baby" (a hit for Crash Craddock), "Friday Night On A Dollar Bill", his original version of "Modern Romance (made famous by Sanford Clark), "You Knock Me Out" complete with great vocal harmonies from The Ramblers, "It's No Wonder", "Little Boy Blue" and then really ignited on "Juliet". The jet propelled show carried on with "Pucker Paint", "Coming Or Going", "Sweet And Easy To Love" (the Roy Orbison tune) before concluding with the classic "Three Months To Kill". However such was the audience reaction that Duvall had to come back on and perform no less that four encores. These were "Humdinger", "Hey Brutus", "Blue Lawdy Blue" and "She's My Baby", the last mentioned being from his CD of new recordings available November 2001. A great great show.
The next act up only served to increase the excitement; ROBERT GORDON clearly was in a good mood and intent on enjoying himself. Backed by Rob Glazebrook and The House Rockers, Gordon was in great voice and this was amply demonstrated on a wide and varied selection of numbers such as "I Just Found Out", "Hello Walls", "I Was The One", "The Fool" and The Worryin' Kind". "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" was followed by a magnificent "Driving Wheel" before Gordon sang a request of Marty Wilde's "Bad Boy". The set included some first rate up tempo rock 'n' roll in the form of "Bertha Lou", "Look Who's Blue" and "Rockabilly Boogie" which sounded better than the record. At times Robert forcibly grabbed the band into jumping around the stage with him, this served to uplift the witnessing pleasure. The set closed out with "The Way I Walk", "Look Who's Blue" and "I Was The Last One To Know". "Red Hot", which sadly did not come off, and "Mystery Train" were encores and then sadly it was all over. Robert was a real crowd pleaser. The final act for Saturday was DALE ROCKA & THE VOLCANOS from Sicily and, clearly, they too gave a rousing show as mention of their performance was being made the next day.
The final nights show opened up with THE ROCKATS, a four piece band with two members from London and the other two from New York City. They played with plenty of visuals and dancing on a varied selection of original songs and covers, mostly up tempo, such as "Driving Wheel", "Downtown Saturday Night", "Blue Tears", "Rockabilly Doll", ""Rocky Road Blues" and "Crazy Baby". A tight band who gave a good show. The vocal group spot at Hemsby this occasion was taken by WILLIE WINFIELD & THE HARPTONES. The group comprised three original fifties members, Willie Winfield, William Dempsey James and Raoul J Cita plus Marlowe Murray who has been with the group for 27 years and the lovely Vicki Burgess. However the performance was cabaret inclined and even included three Tamla Motown numbers plus one of Chuck Jackson's soul efforts. The show was a bit slow paced and only really included one jump jive number in "High Flying Baby", performed excellently. They sang well and in fine harmony on numbers such as "The Shrine Of Saint Cecilia", "Sunday Kind Of Love", "Since I Fell For You", "Life Is But A Dream" and "Three Wishes". Vicki Burgess gave a sharp outing on "My Foolish Heart" but overall the performance from the group was a trifle flat. Certainly it was not up to the standard set by the likes of The Jacks/Cadets or The Calvanes. The concluding act for this Hemsby was the SMOKIE MOUNTAOIN BOYS, a British yodeling hillbilly outfit and who provided a good contrast to the preceding acts of this evening.
Overall this was a first rate Hemsby with a good selection of musical styles and some really stand out performances. The line up for next May's Hemsby is mouth watering with Teddy Redell, Narvel Felts, Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, Lew Williams, Alvis Wayne, Sonny West and Matt Lucas headlining. See you there.
© Tony Wilkinson
Photos: Rod Pyke
Five Days, Five Days of
Rockin' 'n' Rollin'
VIVA LAS VEGAS 4 The Gold Coast Casino and Hotel Las Vegas 12th - 15th April 2001. Whilst I and younger offspring were all for returning to the bright lights of Las Vegas for the rockin' delights Viva Las Vegas 4, She Who Must Be Obeyed was not quite so enthusiastic. However steady cajoling and some outright bribery worked wonders and the end result that was that we were Vancouver and Las Vegas bound at the beginning of April. After spending a week sampling what the marvelous city of Vancouver and surrounding area had to offer, including acouple of visits to 'Krazy Bob's' at Langley, pure vinyl heaven and whose proprietor had a great line in chat such as 'how do you confuse the lead guitarist of a rock band? - put some sheet music in front of him', we boarded the aircraft for the flights to Vegas. Once there, we were again the guests of Chuck and Linda Baker. Chuck played on the session that produced Hugh Barrett's & The Victors 'There Was A Fungus Amongst Us' for Madison Records and he also produced the Barrett follow up on Lucky Four Records as well as making the answer version 'Return Of The Fungus'. Today he is a respected writer, journalist and TV presenter as well as running his own newspaper for US armed forces veterans.
Thefirst of five days rockin' in Vegas commenced with a pre-festival party and a meet 'n' greet session at Ronny 'Rollin' Rock' Weiser's rancho on the Wednesday afternoon at which all were made welcome. Paradise, meeting personalities such as Matt Lucas, sipping beer in pleasant sunshine and watching the gathered musicians jamming together.
That night at Gilleys in the Frontier Casinoon the strip, this is the establishment where Elvis made his first Vegas appearance, there was a five act line up headlined by HAYDEN THOMPSON. This was a particularly good set from Hayden and covered the majority of his Sun / Phillips International recordings. He was backed up by a trio lead by UK's Malcom Chapman and together they shone on 'Love My Baby', 'Fairlane Rock','Blues, Blues, Blues' and 'Rockabilly Gal'.
The'Viva Las Vegas 4² festival commenced at the Gold Coast Casino on Thursday, 12th April and at checkin, it became apparent that the event was a sell out. Up in the ballroom, performances commenced with 13 STARS who were followed by the HAYWOODS, both being young rockabilly bands from California. The latter was especially good on 'Drinking, Crying And Moaning' and 'Broken Hearted' and bodes well for their forthcoming UK appearance. This evening was closed out in the ballroom by the British act CARLOS & THE BANDITS who turned in a performance that was still being talked about at the end of the weekender.
However as with last year, the Rockabilly Internet Hall Of Fame were also staging shows in the West Lounge and for this evening they included DAVE CRIMMEN, THE LUSTRE KINGS, MARCO DiMAGGIO and, for myself a real revelation, BILLY ADAMS. For some time now there has been considerable confusion as to whether Billy was still with us or had departed this earth. The truth of the matter is that there were at least two Billy Adams. One recorded for Sun and Pixie Records and it was he who unfortunately died in 1986. The Billy who is still with us is he of 'Rock Pretty Mama', 'You Heard Me Knockin', and 'You Gotta Have A Ducktail' fame, all of which he performed with consummate rockin' perfection. Boy, this guy is good and possesses a powerful voice together with playing a mean marvelous lead guitar. On the guitar boogie instrumental 'Mama Don't Allow', he really shone and I noticed Paul Burlinson in the audience looking on with keen interest. Billy looked every inch of a fifties rocker and was dressed in a white jacket and shoes with black trousers and shirt. He sang and picked great versions of 'C C Rider', '9-lb Hammer' and 'Mystery Train' which were served up with originals such as 'Honey Bee', 'Sweet Sugar Blues', 'If You Run With The Wolves', 'I Feel Old Memphis Calling Me', 'That's My Baby' and 'I'm Gonna Leave This Lonesome Town'. For sure, he is areal rockin' talent and thankfully for us in Europe there is talk of a possible UK appearance next year.
Friday saw the festival accelerate away at a pace that was to be continued for it's remainder, literally there was rock 'n' roll music everywhere you turned. The main shows were held in the upstairs ballroom whilst new bands were demonstrating their talents in the downstairs dancehall together with afternoon performances taking place in the east lounge. In the west lounge, Bob Timmers and the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame [RHOF] crew continued with their evening shows featuring a mixture of seasoned veterans and new acts. Like last year, most of my time was spent dashing between the upstairs ballroom and the afore mentioned west lounge which was at the other end of the casino. By the end of Viva Las Vegas [VLV], I certainly ended up a slimmed down sex machine but was bloody nackered at the same time.
A suggestion for next year, the wealth of talent on display in the West Lounge makes it worthy of moving this part of festivities to a larger hall within the Gold Coast. People were tripping over themselves at times in the West Lounge.
Up in the ballroom, the evening show kicked off with the SKINNY McGEE AND THE MAYHEM MAKERS who were followed by Britain's own BLUE STAR BOYS. They have impressed previously but on thisoccasion they pulled out all the stops demonstrating their authentic sound and are one of the few acts not to include a drummer. Their set was nice and varied in tempo and included a mixture of covers and originals such as 'Rock 'n' Roll Ruby', 'I'd Rather Be Safe Than Sorry', Long Gone Daddy', 'If You Don't Know, 'All I Could Do Is Cry', 'Half Hearted Love' and 'Love Love Love'. Next up was the legendary MARVIN RAINWATER who commenced his set with rather subdued interpretations of 'Roving Gambler [Gamblin' Man]','Whole Lotta Woman' and 'Mister Blues'. It then kicked up several gears with 'Dance Me Daddy' which Marvin explained had originally been titled 'Rock Me Daddy' but the executives at MGM fearing charges of contaminating American youth insisted on the change. The pace and uplifted excitement continued with 'Rockin' Down The Walls' a new number from his forth coming CDa nd then went into a tasty bluesy feel with 'Why Did You Have To Go And Leave Me' and 'Moanin' The Blues'. By now the set was rattling along nicely and nearly went into orbit with 'Boo Hoo' but then went off boil with 'Gonna Find Me A Bluebird' which was served up complete with changes in tempo and a Fats Domino impression. However it was back to full throttle with 'Hot And Cold'. After a short break, it was another new number 'I'm A Wild Man' followed by reprises of 'Rockin' Down The Walls' and 'Hot And Cold'. Overall, an enjoyable set but I have seen Rainwater better.
However the direct opposite has to be said for the next turn in the ballroom, MARTI BROM. I first saw her at the Vegas festival in 1999 and was bowled over then. In the ensuing two years, she has come on leaps and bounds and is now an even better performer on stage. She looks delicious and has a singing voice that angels would kill for. Backed up by The Barnshakers, she launched into 'Welcome To The Club' and followed this with a great mixture of numbers like 'Crazy For Loving You', the immaculate 'Blue Tattoo' and 'No Good Lover' Demonstrating her full versatility, she sexily strutted around the stage singing Eartha Kitt's 'Loving Bug Itch' before switching the pace again for 'Love Hound', 'I'm Drinking Too', a marvelous 'Tom Cat' and a great interpretation of Loretta Lynn's 'Fist City'. The set rolled on and on with the audience getting more and more enthusiastic as Marti performed her own' Unproclaimed Love', 'You're The Boss, a tremendous workout on Joyce Green's 'BlackCadillac' and LaVern Bakers 'Voodoo Voodoo' before climaxing with 'Boo HooB oogie' and 'Here Today and Gone Tomorrow Love'. Marti Brom is a natural successor to the likes of Wanda Jackson and has talent by the bucket load. The final act in the ballroom for this evening werethe FLEA BOPS who came complete with a lady upright bass player. This gave a whole new connotation to the word slap.
However things had also been rockin' away nicely back at the RHOF presentations in the West Lounge all evening. LOU HOBBS came on and performed a few numbers. Clearly he is an unwell man and it took a lot of courage to stand up there and perform. He did a reasonable version of 'Great Balls Of Fire' as well as a selection of his own numbers. He was followed by the by MARCO DiMAGGIO who picked away nicely at a selection of Eddie Cochran numbers before being joined on stage by GARY LAMBERT. The pair of ace pickers performed a selection of dueling guitar instrumentals as well as 'Mystery Train' (this had to be the most repeated number during the festival, I must have heard at least ten different interpretations of it). On their final number, they were joined byt he sax player from the Lustre Kings and collectively they knocked out a powerhouse performance and duly received astanding ovation.
After a respectable interval to cool things down a bit, MATT LUCAS stepped foot on the stage. He socked out a selection of rock 'n' roll standards such as 'Roll over Beethoven', 'Kansas City', 'Memphis', 'Ruby Baby',' Roll Over Beethoven' together with his unique interpretations of 'Oobie Doobie' and 'I'm Movin' On' before finishing with 'Matchbox'. Matt told me that he is UK bound next year and based upon this performance, I will be there for sure.
The final act that I saw for this night was a portion of ROCKIN' ROARYfrom Germany. He worked hard and eventually won the crowd over with a performance based on the boogie side of rock 'n' roll. I went to bed a tired but happy bunny.
Due to personal considerations, I had to miss the first two acts in the ballroom on Saturday who were the Denver based BLUE RIBBON BOYS and CAVE CATT SAMMY but was there for the performance by the FABULOUS HARMONAIRES from Dallas, Texas. These are a young multi-racial doo wop group, dressed in plaid jackets and really looked the part. Their harmonies on 'Shrine Of St. Cecilia' were spot on. They then attempted a few original numbers such as 'It's Been Too Long' and 'You Want To See More Of Me' but they and the backing band were at odds on occasion which detracted from otherwise excellent performances. Observing this, the group stuck to tried and tested numbers like 'When You Dance', Little Girl Of Mine', 'Gee', Tell Me Why' and 'Daddy's Home'. However the co-ordination problem with the backing band continued which presumably more rehearsal would have solved. The Fabulous Harmonaires have the potential to be a killer act but do need to learntheir trade a bit more.
Next on stage was BIG SANDY AND THE FLYRITE BOYS (2001) including the great Jimmy Roy on steel guitar. Previously I haven ot been too sold on Big Sandy's performances but on this night he won me over completely, especially with the new Flyrite Boys line up who were so slick and competent. Gone was the frantic thrash to be replaced a balanced set. There was a tasty mixture of western swing and honky tonk boogie with ditties such as 'Blackberry Wine', 'It's A Mystery', 'Honky Tonk Queen', 'True Blue Poppa', 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', 'Hot Water','Let's Drink Some Juice' and 'I Can Hear Tequila Calling'. These were followed by 'Hey Girl, Hey Boy' and 'Baby, Baby Me' a couple of real nice duets with a delightful young lady whose first name was Vicki, and a doo wopish ballad in 'I Can't Believe I'm Saying This To You'. The set concluded with a great workout on 'Jumping From Six To Six'.
The Flyrite Boys returned to the stage to back the next act, the incomparable WANDA JACKSON who can do little wrong in my book. Opening up with 'Rockabilly Fever' complete with slinky movements, she then proceeded into 'Stupid Cupid', 'Mean Mean Man' and 'Hot Dog That Made Him Mad' in which her growling tonsils were well to the fore. Boy the hair on the back of my neck was standing upright by this time. To change the pace, she then went into intense tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams before launching into 'I Gotta Know' which drew such a crowd response that the number had to be instantly reprised. Wanda was well and truly cooking by now and number after number followed in her own inimitable manner. 'Tunnel Of Love' was followed by 'Riot In Cell Block No. 9', 'Right Or Wrong', a splendid 'Fujiyama Mama', 'Hard Headed Woman', a bluesy workout on 'Trying To Get To You' before her normal religious number 'I Saw The Light'. The set exploded into a savage 'Let's Have A Party' and concluded with 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. Without doubt, she is the Queen of rock 'n'roll. The shows in the ballroom concluded this evening with performances bythe ROYAL CROWN REVUE and Sweden's own JACK BAYMORE. Many described the last mentioned as having a great stage presence with an excellent sound.
However things had not been quiet at the RHOF stage in the West Lounge. The first act that I was able to catch herewas part of a set by SUE THOMPSON, a lovely friendly lady to talk to and who performed her hits. Next up was GLEN GLENN who, backed up by GARY LAMBERT, rocked his little socks off. For sure, 'Everbody's (was) Movin' with 'One Cup Of Coffee' along with 'Laurie Ann' in 'Blue Jeans And A Boy's Shirt' whilst 'Baby Let's Play House' concluded the set. Good stuff indeed.
There then followed a number of acts under the general heading of the 'Rollin' Rock Review' who were there to celebrate thirty years of the existence of Rollin' Rock Records. RAY CAMPI performed at the Vegas festival for the first time and pulled all the stops out with his crowd pleasing performance. Newish Rollin' Rock artist RIP CARSON gave his all whilst JOHNNY LEGEND came across as acomplete nutter. A totally wild and original act, this was top notch enjoyment and concluded with 'Rockabilly Bastard'. They don't make them like Mr. Legend anymore, sad to say. The Rollin' Rock tribute concluded with a sparkling rockabilly set from ALVIS WAYNE who seemingly goes from strength to strength. Opening up with 'Swing Bop Boogie', he proceeded to fully arose the crowd with 'Rockabilly Daddy', 'Here I Am' and 'Thanks A Lot'. He then performed a couple of duets with Jessica Ruth on 'These Lonely Teardrops' and' You Can Have Her' before throwing the set list way and graciously letting Jessica sing a solo 'In Care Of The Blues'. We then got the classic 'Sleep, Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby', 'Lay Your Head On MY Shoulder and 'Don't Mean Baby. People were standing, dancing and cheering. A standout performance.
The last act that I saw on Saturday night in the West Lounge was a complete surprise, and a most welcome one at that. The legendary band THE FIREBALLS stepped onto the stage lead by George Tomscoand with Chuck Tharp, Paul Goad and Dan Aguilar. They looked every inch seasoned professionals and presented themselves in matching outfits, even down to the guitar straps. The set was a mixture of vocals like 'Bottle Of wine', Rockin' In The 50's', 'Oobie Doobie', 'That'll Be The Day', 'Susie Q', 'Sugar Shack' and a number they credited to The Crickets 'Most All Of The Time'. Instrumentals obviously could not be left out and these included 'Vaquero', 'Bulldog' and 'Torquay'. These were played with routines described as being those originally performed on Dick Clark's 'American Bandstand'. Certainly it made one wonder if the Shadows had ever seen these little workouts as they did bear similarities. A nice tight set which sent me off to dreamland in a happy frame of mind.
I also caught part of the [American] Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame induction show on television. The Flamingos were on and sang an emotional 'I Only Have Eyes For You'. In addition, Paul Simon was being inducted and his thank you speech, he made several references to Alan Freed. He said that in return for a cash payment and signing over the composers credits to the flipside, Freed played their [Tom & Jerry] first record 'to death' and thus 'Hey School Girl' became a hit. He concluded by saying that he wished that the same scene existed today. Paul Simon also declared that it was his wish that one day he will make the peace with his long time singing partner but then added, after a pause, 'no rush'. I switched off when Aerosmith started to crucify 'The Train Kept A Rollin'.
Sunday,the final night of the festival saw acts such as CARI LEE, the BARNSHAKERS [great set], the SATELLITES and the FLATFOOT SHAKERS [both from Australia] plus the INFERNOS and the RACKETEERS rockin' away in the ballroom. However when one of the all time great groups of rock 'n' roll, the CADILLACS bounded on to the stage, it was obvious that we were in for something special. Lead by Earl 'Speedo' Carroll, the four man outfit were nattily dressed in lilac pink suits and had their own musical director and band. What a performance, undoubtedly the best ofthe whole VLV, they rocked, they rolled and sang their hearts out complete with great stage presence and routines. Opening up with 'Peek A Boo' and 'No Chance' it was great to see that they were oh so tight with the band and arrangements. This was followed by some great harmonies on 'The Girl I Love' before rockin' out again on 'Zoom' and the ballad 'You Are'. Next up, Earl Carroll demonstrated the years he spent as part of the Coasters by taking the lead on 'Yakety Yak' and 'Charlie Brown'. These were great performances for sure but I personally would have preferred numbers such as 'Please Mr. Johnson' or 'Jaywalker', however that is rather churlish of me and is a only a minor gripe. The set continued on with rockers and ballads such as 'Betty My Love' which was announced as an answer version to the Teen Queens 'Eddie My Love', 'Down The Road' and 'Gloria' before climaxing in 'Speedo' which segued into 'Shout'. The audience was going wild and each movement was being rapturously received, the Cadillacs were in total control. Sadly there was only one encore, 'Speedo Is Back' but what an act, what a performance. Literally, showstoppers.
Meanwhile back in the West Lounge, RUSTY EVANS commenced the proceedings with a very very Johnny Cash style show. I think this is the same guy who recorded 'I Got My Eye On You' for Eagle Records back in the fifties but tonight it was J C style all the way and he turned in a pleasing and relaxing performance with numbers such as 'Five Feet High And Rising', 'Big River', 'Get Rhythm', 'Sea Of Heartbreak', Ring Of Fire and 'Cocaine Blues'. There were first rate versions of 'Ghost Riders In the Sky' and Folsom Prison Blues'.
Next up was veteran RUSTY YORK who performed okay versions of many rock 'n' roll standards like 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy', 'Peggy Sue', 'Teen Angel', 'Oh Boy' and 'The Girl Can't Help It' before really igniting on 'Sugaree'.
There then followed another musical highlight of VLV. Backed up by the likes of Rick Keen on rhythm guitar and harmonica, one time Blue Cap Bill Mack on bass and Marco DiMaggio on lead guitar and, wearing a pork pie hat, BILLY SWAN took the stage and produced a spell binding set. Starting out with 'Spoonful', he proceeded with 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It' and a powerful 'Rockhouse' before taking over the piano. He then tore into' Lover Please', 'Shake Rattle And Roll, 'I Love Paris' [from the forthcoming' Sunatra' album] and a slow jazzy workout on 'Heartbreak Hotel'. Reverting to a guitar, it was time for 'Bop To Be', 'Driving Wheel', Since I Met You Baby' and 'I Can Help' His section of the show concluded with a pounding Jerry lee style interpretation of 'Me And Bobby McGee'. This guy is so talented, I only hope we can get him over here again before not too long.
The RHOF shows at VLV closed out with another set from MARCO DiMAGGIO during which he was joined by ROCKY BURNETTE and PAUL BURLINSON for fine versions of 'Tear It Up' and 'The Train Kept A Rollin'. That was it for another year and once again, it was a fine fine festival which rocked from start to finish. Hopefully we shall be able return.
The Town Hall Party TV Shows 1959"RockstarHome Video RSRV 2001
Approximate Viewing Time: 30 Minutes
Introduction (Jay Stewart)/Instrumental (Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers) /Introduction (Dick D'Agostin) /C'mon Everybody/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/Don't Blame It On Me/Summertime Blues/Interview (Johnny Bond)/Introduction (JayStewart)/Night Walk (Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers) /Introduction (DickD'Agostin)/School Day/ Be Honest with Me/Money Honey/C'mon Everybody
Well after over two years in the making, to use movie speak, the long promised footage of Eddie Cochran backed by Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers recorded live at The Town Hall Party on 07 February 1959 is finally available for all to savour, drool over, enjoy and perhaps regret that Eddie is no longer with us to realise the esteem in which he is held. I am aware of many hurdles that have been placed in the way of Rockstar Records in trying to release this video and our thanks has to go to all concerned that we are able to hold the finished product in our grubby mitts. The footage is in monochrome but that only adds to the atmosphere that oozes from the screen, for sure this is the real thing. Genuine fifties live rock 'n'roll from one of its leading exponents ably backed by Connie 'Guybo' Smith and Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers. The show is split into two shows, both initially introduced by a cool looking JayStewart and on each occasion this is followed by an instrumental from Dick D'Agostin & The Swingers. The first has no known title but the second is the tight raspy sax lead menacing 'Night Walk'. For the first show, after a brief welcome from Dick D'Agostin, Eddie Comes on an launches into the classic 'C'mon Everybody'complete with the aforementioned D'Agostin pounding away at the piano which certainly enhances the performance. This is followed by a meaningful reading of the ballad 'Have I Told You lately That I Love You'. Next up is a powerful rendition of Fats Domino's 'Don't Blame It One Me' complete with growling vocals. Eddie breathes life into this song, simply an outstanding performance. The first set closes out with a rockin' treatment of the teens call to arms 'Summertime Blues'. At the mid-way point, there is a back stage interview between Eddie and Johnny Bond together with Dick D'Agostin and one of the Swingers. Nothing too starling in this but they do talk about Jimmy Rodgers and others. Bond unfortunately comes across as somewhat 'squareish' and radiates an image of a country singer who as late as 1959 could not really come to grips with this new fangled rock 'n' roll music as late as 1959. This is all the more surprising from the guy who went on to record and hit with 'Hot Rod Lincoln'. However it was soon back to rockin' and, after a muffled start, the sound and sight of a sparkling work out by Eddie on Chuck Berry's 'School Days' is evident. This is followed by another ballad, this time Gene Autry's 'Be Honest with Me' complete with a tasty sax break from D'Agostin. It is then time for a raunchy and bluesy treatment of 'Money Honey' before closing out with a reprise of 'C'mon Everybody', which at the time was Eddie's current release. This material is historically important in rock'n' roll history but, above all, it is oh so enjoyable. [This augers really well for the Gene Vincent video, due in early June, which will feature live performances from the same TV show]. Whilst this video is available in European VHS PAL format, North American fans need not despair, as it will shortly be in also in their NSTC system. The video can be obtained from Rockstar Records, c/o 96D Southchurch Road, Warrior Square East, Southend on Sea, Essex SS1 2LX, England at £14.50 (UK) or £16.00 (Europe), both prices include postage.
To paraphrase Gene Vincent,'Get It'
ROCKIN' AUSTRALIA - PART TWO
JOHNNY O'KEEFE & THE DEE JAYS"Rockin'" Spin D46 109
Total Playing Time: 114.23
JOHNNY O'KEEFE - You Hit The Wrong Note Billy Goat/Am I Blue/Over The Mountain/The Wild One/Lawdy Miss Clawdy/I'm Still Alive/So Tough/That'll Be Alright/I Ain't A Gonna Do It/Peek-A-Boo/What Do Ya Know/You Excite Me/Swannee River/Shout Parts 1 & 2/Just A Closer Walk With Thee/What'd I Say/Jubilee/Shake Baby Shake/Flip Flop And Fly/Diana/Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On/Ain't That A Shame/Silhouettes/Little Bite Pretty One/Six O'clock Rock/Rock Time/Roll Over Beethoven/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/Comfort In My Heart/By The Light Of The Silvery Moon/Save My Soul/Ooh Poo Pah Doo
THE DEE JAYS - Twistin' Drums/Off Shore/Big Daddy/Topsy Parts 1 & 2/Straight Flush/Hoots Mon/It Must Be Love/California Sun/When The Saints Go Marching In/Scanlen's Twist Medley
COL JOYE AND THE JOY BOYS:Spin D80665
"Yes Sir That's My Baby"
Total Playing Time: 176.46
64 tracks including: Bye Bye Baby Goodbye/Rock 'n' Rollin' Clementine/Oh Yeah Uh Huh/Teenage Baby/Bad Man/Makin' Love On A Moonlight Night/Yes Sir, That's My Baby/Sweet Little Sixteen Twist/Goin' Steady/Today's Teardrops/Sweet Dreams Of You/Living Doll/Starlight Of Love/Just A Little Too Much/Hermit Of The Rose Tree/Mary Ann/You're The One/Take Me Back To Rock 'n' Roll/Be My Girl/Raining In My Heart/Love Me/Fraulien/That Rugged Old Cross/Sixteen Candles/Goin' Down Town To See Miss Brown/Ah, Poor Little Baby/Be Bop A Lula/Dance To The Bop/Rocky Road Blues/Melbourne (Kansas) City/Keep On Rollin' N.S.W./Trouble/The Bluebird, The Buzzard And The Oriole/Movin' On/This Little Boy's Gone Rockin'/Pretty Girls Everywhere/Stagger Lee.
VARIOUS ARTISTSSpin D46097
"Bandstand's Singing Sweethearts"
Total Playing Time: 150.39
60 tracks including: CANDY & MANDY LEE, Clickety Clack/THE TAYLOR SISTERS, He Is The Boy/THE TUNETTES, I Wonder If I Care As Much/THE PONI-TAILS, Mexican Drummer Man/LANA CANTRELL, Mama May I/RONNIE & THE RAJAHS - Never Leave Me/TONI LEONARD, Bye Bye Love/ROBYN ALVAREZ, Love Of The Loved/DONNA GAYE, Norman (Normie)/SANDY EDMONDS, When You Walk In The Room/JANICE SLATER, Don't Let Me Misunderstood/JUDY CANNON & THE THUNDERBIRDS, Laughin' On The Outside/DIANNE HORDER, Don't Bother Me/THE EXECUTIVES with CAROL KING, Sit Down I Think I Love You/SHARON BLACK, Someday Soon
VARIOUS ARTISTSSpin D26299
Playing Time: 77.13
JOHNNY CATFISH PURSER, Topsy Parts 1 & 2/LAURIE THOMPSON, Sing Sing Sing & Golden Wedding/JOHN BOGIE & MILAN TROHA, In A Persian Market/JOHN BOGIE, Caravan/THE JOY BOYS, Istanbul & Skin Deep & (Theme From) Anthill/THE DEE JAYS, Drums Are My Beat & Twisting Drums/LEON JACKSON & THE DEATHBARRELS, Let There Be Drums/SONNY PRATT, Little B. & Besame Mucho/THE ATLANTICS. Bombora & Stompin' Time/Keith Hammond Wipe Out/PAUL KNIPE, PETEHOOD & STEVE HOPES, Star Wars/TERAPAI RICHMOND, Snare And The Pussycat & Surf Dub 2000/ZEEL'S BEEK U, Want Chilli/MARLO MILLO & THE MEN FROM MARS, Horsemen To Symphinity
NOLEEN BATLEY "Australia's Little Miss Sweetheart"Spin D46113
Total Playing Time: 155.47
66 tracks including: Barefoot Boy/When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold/Starry Eyed/Soldier Won't You Marry Me/Steady Johnny/A Letter Full Of Tears/Don't Play No. 9/September In The Rain/Little Sir Echo/Surfer Boy/Baby I'm Losing You/Don't Say Goodnight And Mean Goodbye/Over The Rainbow/Evening Star/Padre/You Made Me Love You/When You Wore A Tulip/Meet Me In St. Louis
When we last reviewed a batch of releases onthe Australian Spin label of Oz rock 'n' roll from the fifties and early sixties, mention was made of the fact that this southern hemisphere arena of rockin' music was unjustifiably overlooked. This viewpoint is totally substantiated by these new issues as some of them rock like crazy. The leading talent in Aussie r 'n' r simply had to be the late Johnny O'Keefe who died on 06 October 1978, a sad sad loss. From the opening note of his cover of Bill Haley's 'You Hit The Wrong Note Billy Goat to 'Ooh Poo Pah Doo', some 32 tracks later, this guy belts out his rock'n' roll message like a screamin' messiah. It is not often one is able say that such a vast array of tracks covering various facets of rockin' music, with the one exception of 'Have I told You Lately That I Love You' where he goes horribly off key, are of such aconsistently high standard. No O'Keefe collection would be complete without a version of his calling card song 'The Wild One' (probably better known as 'Real Wild Child') and here we have a live interpretation which rocks like nobody's business. Other O'Keefe originals such as 'That'll Be Alright', 'I Ain't A Gonna Do It', 'Rock Time', 'Six O'clock Rock' and 'So Tough' are just so good. He also obviously carefully selected numbers to cover and turns in marvelous versions of Jack Scott's 'Save My Soul', 'Flip Flop and Fly' with a passing nod at the Johnnie Ray interpretation, the Cadillacs 'Peek A Boo' and Johnny And Joe's 'Over The Mountain'. Indeed with Frankie Avalon's 'You Excite Me', O'Keefe knocks spots off the original. This set proves that Johnny O'Keefe can rightly take his place on the podium with other rock 'n' roll originators, he was that good. The O'Keefe double CD is rounded out with ten tracks by Johnny's backing group The Dee Jays which in the main are tasty instrumentals and include a surprising cover of Lord Rockingham's XI 'Hoots Mon'. I guess that Johnny's big rival in the popularity stakes in the land of Oz had to be Col Joye. If O'Keefe were to be compared in wildness terms with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, then Col's style would be in the same bag as Ricky Nelson or early Cliff Richard. This 3 CD set covers a whole range of styles with each CD developing a theme of it's own. The first disc deals with the hit Aussie 45's whilst the second tends to deal with ballads and the softer side of rock 'n' roll.
The third CD is titled Rockers & Rarities and as this suggests contains some sparkling rockin' performances. Included is Col's cover of the UK smash hit by Cliff Richard, namely 'Living Doll', which has more rockin' guitar picking that Cliff's. 'Bye Bye Baby Goodbye' is in a similar vein whilst 'Oh Yeah Uh Huh' would have been suitable for Adam Faith. There is a good cover of Ricky Nelson's 'Just A little Too Much' and his interpretation of the Gene Pitney song, made famous by Roy Orbison; 'Today's Teardrops' is fine. 'Rockin' Rollin' Clementine' rocks alongj ust fine but the best rocker of the lot is 'Goin' Down Town To See Miss Brown', boy this is good. Also worthy is Joye's version of Crash Cradock's 'Ah Poor Little Baby'. Col clearly was a Gene Vincent fan and turns in sparkling treatments of 'Be Bop A Lula', 'Dance To The Bop' and 'Rocky Road Blues. The 3 CD set is titled 'Yes Sir That's My Baby' and his hit version is naturally included. Very similar in treatment to the rocked upstyling provided in the UK by Johnny Kidd And The Pirates, it is a first rate reading. In fact, if memory serves me right, Col's record was issued in the UK on the Top Rank label. Overall whilst not as strong as the O'Keefe compilation this set has some great moments. Both the 'Bandstand's Singing Sweethearts' and the Noeleen Batley sets are femme teen beat come girl group sounds and eac hcontains some entertaining moments. Certainly they will appeal to collectors of those genres. Toni McCann has tough voice and her treatment of the Drifters 'If You Don't Come Back' is good. I never thought that the Animal 'Please Don't Let Me Be Understood' would be turned into a soft lush ballad but it is by Janice Slater Both the two tracks by The Executives, Sit Down I Think I Love You/Friday's Child' feature Carole King, but it is not the American singersongwriter of the same name. That said, this Carol has a beguiling style. The Everley Brothers 'I Wonder If I Care As Much' is provided with a Chordettest reatment by The Tunettes whilst The Poni-Tails come across similar to the femme chorus on Duane Eddy's 'Dance With The Guitar Man'. The Taylor Sisters on 'He Is The Boy' and Jackie Weaver with 'Something's Got A Hold On Me' could easily be American girl groups; they have so effectively captured that sound. Noeleen Batley is afforded a 2 CD set in her own right and was a household name in Australia. She scored many hits down under and was the first Australian lady to have issued an LP. This compilation reveals a lady with a teen beat styling and anyone who likes the music of Linda Scott, Joanie Summers or Marcie Blaine will enjoy this set. Her cover of the Gladys Knight and The Pips song 'Letter Full Of Tears' was quite unique. The liners notes inform us that she is married and settled in the county of Essex in the UK, crikey we might even be near neighbors! Instrumental sets are not that uncommon but such a compilation featuring the drums, apart from the odd Sandy Nelson release, as the lead instrument is pretty rare. Unlike most of the releases on the Spin label, which are solidly locked into recordings from the fifties and sixties, this release starts out in those eras but then proceeds on with a selection of tracks right through to the year 2000. Johnny Catfish Purser was the drummer with Johnny O'Keefe's backing group The Dee Jays and here he serves up tasty renditions oft he Cosy Cole hit 'Topsy Parts 1 & 2' plus Sandy Nelson' 'Drums Are My Beat'. Also by Catfish is 'Twistin'Drums' which, despite its title, is more a kin to a jump jive tune. John Bogie was the man on the skins behind Col Joye and his work here is represented by rather jazzy 'In A Persian Market', Caravan', 'Istanbul' and 'Skin Deep' whilst '(Theme From) Anthill' owes more to bongo player Preston Epps. The two Laurie Thompson tracks 'Sing Sing Sing' and 'Golden Wedding' are much in the combo sound of someone like Gene Krupa or Louis Prima. If drums are your beat music wise, then overall this CD is a fine set.
The other new release in this series is a 3 CD set by song thrush Judy Stone entitled '4,003,221 Tears From Now' (Spin D46112). Apart from the Jo Ann Campbell inspired 'You're Driving Me Mad' and 'Mommie & Daddy Were Twistin', this set is fairly firmly rooted and competently performed in a middle of the roadcome sixties ballad styling. Nothing wrong with that if it's your bag but it ain't rock 'n' roll.
Now back to play that Johnny O' Keefec ompilation, that does warm my rockin' soul. I understand that Spin Records are planning to shortly release a CD of Johnny Devlin's Prestige label rockin' sides, me I cannot wait. All of the foregoing available from:
P O Box 16, Pyrmont
New South Wales 2009
EDDIE SULIK / THE ECHOES
HardRock Hattie LS 1000-002
The Echoes: Bye Bye My Baby/Do I Love You?('Deed I Do)/Loving And Losing/Ecstasy
Eddie Sulik: Wishing (I Wish)/My Lonely Heart/Who/Mmm-Hmm, Oh Boy/Loving And Losing (demo)/Just A Dream/Do I Love You? ('Deed I Do) (demo)/You Oughta' See My Baby/Bye-Bye My Baby( demo)/Andrea/Sweet Memories
I first became aware of the considerable talents of Eddie Sulik when I received, listened to and raved about the first release ('A Farewell Legacy' - Hard RockHattie LS 1000-003) of his music last September. At the time there was mention of a follow up release to including the tracks that Eddie recorded as part of the Echoes duo in November 1959 and released on the Columbia label in 1960. Well this has quickly come to fruitionand the results are this impressive shiney wonder which includes all four tracks released as the Echoes plus a further eleven solo Sulik recordings. All titles are presented in re in crystal clear sound quality. The Echoes sides, on which Eddie is partnered by George Kiriakis, reveal an Everly Brothers styling especially on the first rate plaintive ballad 'Loving And Losing.' The issued cut of 'Bye-Bye My Baby' is a snappy light rocker whilst 'Do I LoveYou? ('Deed I Do) is more solid and features a cracking guitar break. Wonderful stuff. The remaining Echoes title is aptly described by the printed Billboard review as a Latin tinged relaxed ballad with a nice harmony reading in front of guitar support. I cannot top that description except to say that this is somewhat understated. All of these four tracks were recorded in Nashville accompanied by Hank Garland and Grady Martin on guitars, Buddy Harmanon drums and Joe Zinkan on bass. Each of the afore mentioned titles is also included in their demo mix form and stand up in their own right. Clearly the aforementioned cuts were indicative of the Eddie Sulik special ability as more of the same is served up on the remaining titles. 'Wishing (I Wish)', 'Mmm-Hmm, Oh Boy' and 'You Oughta' See My Baby' are all good country tinged rockers with tasty backing. However the fine Marty Robbin-ish emotive quality of Sulik's voice really shines through on the ballads which are represented by 'My Lonely Heart', 'Just A Dream (not the Jimmy Clanton number but a Sulik original) and the title track 'Sweet Memories'. These are just fine, especially the last mentioned, and makes one wonder what would have been if Eddie's talent had become better known. For sure, it wast here in bucket loads. However from a record collectors point of view, the best has been saved to last and this is the packaging on this release. All comes complete in a 45 rpm size gate-fold sleeve with good informative notes on Eddie and the track selections plus some very tasty colour photographs. Inside, there is a foldout poster containing some more photographs and a made up jukebox strip. Then as an added bonus, there is a special edition vinyl 45 record of 'Bye-Bye My Baby' and 'Do I Love You? (Deed I Do)'. Believe me, this is something else and is a fitting tribute to the voice of Eddie Sulik. The CD is available from Hard Rock Hattie Productions, LLC, P O Box 147, Plymouth, Connecticut 06782. USA who can also be contacted by e-mail email@example.com. There is also a web site at www.eddiesulik.com which is worth a visit.
© Tony Wilkinson
I'm Gonna Keep A Knockin'/Honey Bee/That's My Baby/Sweet Sugar Blues/Uh Uh Honey/Hey Jesus/I'm Gonna Leave This Lonesome Town/Goodbye Loraine/Rock Pretty Mama/If You Live With The Wolves/Hold On/I Feel Old Memphis Calling Me/You Gotta Have A Ducktail/I'm Walking/Tougher Than Nails/Rockabilly Special/You Heard Me Knockin'
There has been a mystery for quite a while nowregarding whether Billy Adams was still with us or had departed thisearth. This was not helped by the issueof the LP 'Rock Pretty Mamma' on Domino DLP 1012 a few years back which categorically stated that he had died on 03 December 1984. Recently the above CD was issued and oncontacting Billy, it was determined that obviously, and thankfully, he was and is still with us. The explanation is that there were at least two Billy Adams, the one who made this CD and who recorded for Nau-Voo, Dot, Decca and the Memphis based guy who recorded for Sunand Pixie. It is the latter who has unfortunately died (the aforementioned Domino LP had tracks by both Billys). That said, the musical content of the CD under review is high quality rock 'n' roll and rockabilly. It contains some of the best tracks of this genre laid down in recent times. It was recorded at the Sun Studio, Memphis and all titles were composed by Billy with the exception of the Fats Domino song 'I'm Walking' which is given an inspired rockabilly style workout and is closer to the Ricky Nelson version. One of Billy's cult recordings is the mid-tempo bluesy 'You Heard Me Knockin' which is not only revisited to fine effect on this set but is supplied with the answer version 'I'm Gonna Keep A Knockin'. Billy also retreads his 'Rock Pretty Mama' and 'You Gotta Have A Ducktail', both of which rock out well especially with the sympathetic and understanding feel provided by the backing band lead by James Lott on lead guitar.
© Tony Wilkinson
Winter Party Rockers Reunion Review
Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading, England
Saturday, 20th January 2001
Chris Black and Blackcat
by Tony Wilkinson
This is the second time that the annual Rockers Reunion has been held at the Rivermead Leisure Complex which is a relatively spacious centre about 30 minutes drive/train ride west of London and easy to get to. The acid test, after the move to this venuelast year, was whether a large audience would again be attracted for a one off show outside the capital. Thankfully this proved to be the case, indeed there was an increased attendance and generally a fun time was had by all. The sound system was just fine and security was efficient but friendly.
Complications prevented myself arriving in time for the first two acts and consequently I missed the Welwyn Garden City outfit PINK CADILLAC making their farewell performance plus sixties hitster TOMMY BRUCE. By all accounts, both gave competent performances with Bruce achieving a reasonable rapport with the audience, especially with his 1960 million seller 'Ain't Misbehaving'.
Next act up was CHRIS BLACK and BLACKCAT or Chris Black and Orchestra as the compere announced. Whatever, the band tore into fine versions of 'Peter Gunn' and Johnny and The Hurricanes 'Crossfire'. This was followed by the likes of okay versions of 'No Particular Place To Go'. 'The Wanderer' and 'Tore Up'. This group, which included two good saxophone players in its line-up, shonebetter on rockin' instrumentals, especially with their work out on The Champs 'Midnighter'. Towards the end of theact, Chris Black announced that they would perform a tribute to the late Screamin' Lord Sutch and were joined on stage by a guy dressed in a leopard skin coat and top hat who was announced as Gerald Lucifer and in straight Sutch style launched, or perhaps shouted his way, into 'Roll Over Beethoven' and 'Great Balls Of Fire'. Gerald then grabbed his big sword for Sutch's biggie showpiece routine 'Jack The ute has possibilities but does require some more work. Before Black closed out his act, he was joined on stage by WEE WILLIE HARRIS for 'Bony Moronie' and 'Johnny B. Goode'. Willie announced that there was a good possibility that he will be performing at next year'sRockers Reunion backed by the Alabama Shakers.
A solo GRAHAM FENTON backed by Rob Glazebrook's Houserockers was the following act. In essence this was a tribute performance to the late great Gene Vincent and boy did Graham carry it off well. He worked the stage and gave out with exemplary treatments of Vincent classics such as 'I Got A Baby', a great 'Rocky Road Blues', 'She She Little Sheila', 'Blue Jean Bop' and the rockers anthem 'Be Bop A Lula'. Mixed in with this were great treatments of Billy Lee Riley's 'Flying Saucers Rock 'n' Roll, Carl Perkins 'Put Your Cat Clothes On' and the Johnny Burnette Trio's 'Please Don't Leave Me' plus the inevitable 'Rockabilly Rebel'. A high energy performance, which gained good audience reaction, from a guy who clearly lives rock 'n' roll.
The star of this Rockers Reunion was the r 'n' r originator SONNY BURGESS who was, like Fenton, backed by The Houserockers. From the outset, the magic was there with Sonny in fine voice and the band totally with him. Burgess roared into the likes of 'T For Texas', 'My Bucket's Got A Hole In It' and the rarely performed 'Find My Baby For Me'. Believe me it was worth being there just to hear the last mentioned number. The set was blazing away like a forest fire when Thomas Lavelle came on stage to pump the ivories for an exceptional treatment of 'We Wanna Boogie', this was straight ahead no hold barred rock 'n' roll at its finest. The tempos were finely judged and a few slower country tinged numbers such as 'The Chokin' Kind' and 'Wings Of An Angel' worked nicely into the set. However the rockin' carried on like crazy with 'Shake It Up And Go' plus 'Red Headed Woman'. There were plenty of visuals onstage as well as fine fine music with Sonny performing his little jump dance and on occasion sitting on the edge of the upright bass playing a blistering solo whilst Wayne, the bass player, was lying horizontal on the stage plucking away for all he was worth. Towards the end of the set, Bob Fish of Johnny & The Roccos joined the assembled multitude on stage and sang lead on 'Good Rockin' Tonight'. The set closed outwith a medley of 'Tear It Up/Shake Rattle and Roll/Jenny Jenny/Red HeadedWoman'. I have seen Sonny perform quite a few times but believe me, this was one of the best shows - simply rock 'n' roll as it should be from a true master of his craft. Rumour has it that Burgess and The Pacers may well be appearing at the Americana Festival in 2002, now that should be something else based on their performance in Las Vegas at Easter 1999.
The final act of the evening was The Rapiers. Now these guys are a competent and professional band and are good at what they do. However what they do is, in essence, sixties beat music and so I left with my sweet memories of Sonny's show unsullied.
Overall a thoroughly enjoyable evening and well worth making the little bit of effort to get out of London for. I look forward to next year's Rockers Reunion but of course there is plenty of good rock 'n' roll heading our way before then, especially Hemsby in May.
©Tony Wilkinson - January 2001.
RHYTHM RIOT No. 04Camber Sands Holiday Centre, Rye, England
26th to 29th November 1999
The catch phrase adopted by the Rhythm Riot is "Rockin' Is Our Bizness" and this was clearly demonstrated at the fourth annual event by a whole slew of acts encompassing rockabilly, rock 'n' roll, hillbilly boogie, jump and jive, rhythm & blues right down to gut bucket blues. Whilst the rain poured down outside at times, in the main hall the temperature was constantly soaring from good music.
The opening act on Friday night was the five piece German jump and jive outfit BIG DEAL. It is always difficult to be first on the bill as friends greet each other and chew the fat over. The band gave a solid and workmanlike performance, without setting the woods on fire, featuring such numbers as "Mama We're all Crazy Now", "My Babe" and "Juke Joint Jumping". However things improved considerably with the Dutch hillbilly boogie outfit THE BARNSTOMPERS. This was an enjoyable set from beginning to end and the band had an oh so tight sound. The tunes ranged from "Luther Played The Boogie" through great interpretations of "Whirlpool Of Love", "Dig Boy" and "Weep and Cry". Most numbers were served up with lashings of steel guitar and a sparkling lead guitar. A fine group.
The Barnstompers returned to the stage to back up the first of the American visitors, SID & BILLY KING. An added touch was the band being augmented by two saxophone players from The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm when the original recordings featured this instrument. Sid and Billy rocked out with a great sound, Sid being in fine voice and Billy demonstrating some mean rockabilly guitar picking. The set opened up with "Purr, Kitty Purr" and bopped along with fine renditions of such goodies as "I've Got the Blues", "Booger Red", "Put Something In the Pot Boy", "Good Rockin' Baby" and "Drinking Wine Spoli Oli". Billy's great musicianship was amply demonstrated on the instrumental "The Little Willie Boogie". The set blazed away with "I Like It", "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight" and "Sad, Drag And Fall" before concluding with "Oobie Doobie" and "Flip Flop And Fly". Friday closed out with a performance by DIZ WATSON (previously with Diz and The Doormen) locked solidly in New Orleans style sounds and featuring classics such as "Sick And Tired" and "Blow Wind Blow". The piano playing by Diz was well to the fore, especially on "The House Is Rocking" and "She Walks Right In, She Walks Right Out".
Saturday lunchtime witnessed a solo performance by Johnny Bach who is better known as John Lewis, lead singer with The Rimshots. I was unable to make it along but I am assured by reliable sources that it was one heck of a pleasing performance. The same can be said for Saturday's night opening act GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT who put over a straight ahead no nonsense rock 'n' roll performance including a nearly note perfect version of Rusty And Doug Kershaw's "Hey Mae". They were followed by HIGHWAY 51. This is a band fronted by House Rockers Rob Glazebrook and was locked solidly in a Chicago blues format. Opening up with a solo number by Glazebrook, he was then joined by a harmonica player and the duo performed together before being joined by an upright bass player and drummer. It was blues, blues blues all the way except for a rockabilly tinted version of Slim Harpo's "Shake Your Hips". Part way through their act, the sound system seemingly experienced a power surge, which had a profound effect on the next act THE MEDALLIONS. Their stage entry was delayed whilst the sound men tried to sort out the problems Eventually they appeared looking very natty in white suits and went straight into the up tempo "Speedin'". For this performance The Medallions were fronted by Billy Foster, as Vernon Green is still seriously ill, with some lead vocals also being handled by Billy Brown. The last mentioned totally looks the part and in fact could be brother of the late Kid Thomas and at various time has appeared with The Rivingtons, The Coasters and The Dukes. It is a known fact that the line up of doo wop groups are somewhat interchangeable and this was clearly demonstrated by this line up which included two members of The Jacks/Cadets who were seen over here last month at Hemsby. As with The Medallions set in as Vegas last Easter, it was a mixture of up tempo numbers such as "Push Button Automobile", "Coupe de Ville Baby" and "I Wonder Wonder Wonder" together with moody slow ballads like "Magic Mountain", "The Letter" and an extended work out on "Did You Have Fun". There were bad sound problems throughout their act and this at times seem to unsettle the group; certainly their stage co-ordination was occasionally somewhat disjointed. Still overall, it was enjoyable especially with Billy Brown's lead vocals on the jumping "Give Me The Right" and "Seven Steps". No Medallions performance would be complete with the classic "Buick 59" and "Volvo 59" and these were served up with plenty of visuals. Having seen SAM BUTERA & THE WILDEST in Las Vegas a few years back, I was tuned into what their performance would be and I was not disappointed. From the outset, these guys demonstrated pure 100% professionalism and what a tight sound they had. Earlier I had the opportunity to chat with Sam and I remarked that I had seen and spoken with him in Las Vegas when he was with Keely Smith. He told me I was wrong; Keely Smith was with him - a smacked wrist for this reviewer. The performance had little to do with rock 'n' roll, apart from two renditions of "Bim Bam", but boy it was exciting and very much in a Las Vegas style. The set opened up "When You're Smiling" and was followed by "White Cliffs Of Dover" and a superb "Jump Jive And Wail". There were a couple of splendid instrumental workouts on "Night Train" and "Tiger Rag". No Sam Butera performance would be complete with "Just A Gigolo", "Marie", "Angelina", "Robin Hood" and "Buena Sera". Also featured was a great version of "The Closer To The Bone, The Sweeter The Meat". Sam was finally permitted to exit the stage after a rather jazzy version of "Down At Mabel's Grill". This was undoubtedly the crowd pleasing highlight act of the whole weekend.
The final act for Saturday was Italy's STARLITERS who are a five piece band complete with steel guitar. Like The Barnstompers, theirs was a rockabilly come hillbilly boogie set including "Catfish Boogie" and "Let's Take The Long Way Home".
Sunday's first act was THE RAILSPILITTERS and they were followed by THE BLUE FLAMES who came across as a white rockabilly band playing blues but very well. An entertaining set. Next up was the penultimate American star of the weekender, namely HAL SINGER who of recent years has concentrated on jazz but for this occasion was playing R&B, albeit with a pronounced jazz tinge. Let there be no doubt, he is a brilliant honker but the numbers such as "Whisky Drinkin' Mama", "Elmer's Tune" and "Everyday I Have The Blues" did tend to go on for rather a long while and thus loose their cutting edge. All together, there was around eight numbers in a 45 minute plus set. He was followed by the great ROSCO GORDON, a guy who started out in Memphis way back when but who has resided in New York since 1963. Pumping away at the piano and backed by The Rhythm Riot Kings Of Rhythm fronted by Big Boy Bloater, Rosco's opening tune was "Just A Little Bit" which was followed by "Honky Tonk Woman" and "I Want To Get Her". Boy this guy was cooking and demonstrating his experience earned by many years in show business. I particularly enjoyed the number from his Sun days, "Cheese And Crackers" and "No More Doggin'" was sublime. I have often thought that Rosco's music shows some Jamaican stylings and this was well evident in the jumping "Surely I Love You". This was followed by several blues tunes and then it was into "Rosco's Boogie" and "Down In New Orleans". There the set should have finished but the crowd reaction was that such that he had to reprise "Just A Little Bit", Surely I Love You" and Honky Tonk Woman". A veritable show from a consummate performer. The final performance was by THE EXTRAORDINAIRES, the UK's own doo wop cum jump jive vocal group. They gave it their all and have really improved since I last saw them, they are now really getting close to that New York sound. A good close out act, plenty of tasty vocals and good stage presence.
That was it for a fine three days of music but Rhythm Riot 5 is to be held at the same venue between 23rd and 26th November 2001. Whilst the line up has not been announced, I understand that negotiations for several top acts are well advanced and should be announced soon. Telephone (0)20 8566 5226, fax (0)20 8566 2525 or contact e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org for information and booking details.
© Tony Wilkinson
Spo-Dee-O-Dee - Texasbilly Rockers - Foggy Mountain Rockers
'Nite-Out In Coolsvile'
Part LP 335.001
Dear John/Coolsville Bop/Bandstand Doll/Thinkin' Man's Woman/Rockin' With Rhythm & Blues/All Night Long/A Too Fast Past/Foolish One/Dear Hearts And Gentle People/Flat Tire Boogie.
THE TEXABILLY ROCKERS
'There's Gonna Be A Ball withÉ'
Part LP 338.002
There's Gonna Be A Ball/Jump From Six To Six/When I Found You/Hold Me Baby/In The Mood/Draggin'/Who Was That Cat?/56 Days/Snake Dance Boogie/Mr. Whizz
FOGGY MOUNTAIN ROCKERS
Part LC 5767 Teddyboy Rocker/A Piece Of Heaven/Don't Hang Around Me Anymore/Try To Be The Only One
Three pieces of vinyl freshly available from the German Part label. The 12" album from Spo-Dee-O-Dee is a piece of modern rockabilly cum rock 'n' roll by the trio and consists of a number of originals together with their interpretations of some numbers from quite a way back.
In the former camp, "Flat Tire Boogie" swings like crazy, "Coolsville Bop" has a tasty riff throughout whilst "Rockin' With Rhythm & Blues" is okay but a little too derivative of many other numbers. With regard to the updates the opening track "Dear John", originally by Tex Ritter, is a real tour de force being turned into a mid tempo piece of rockabilly really worthy of the name. "A Too Fast Past", from the pen of Merle Travis, and the cover of Carl Mann's "Foolish One" together with "Dear Hearts And Gentle people" are served up as country tinged gentle-ish pieces of music and are most enjoyable. Whilst the cover of Johnny Carroll's "Bandstand Doll" loses its Gene Vincent influence, nevertheless it really works and comes across as a moody rocker complete with a sparse backing. "Thinkin' Man's Woman" has duet for lead vocals and chugs along nicely. The final track "All Night Long" is okay and has a good dance beat but does sound like a lot of other numbers. Overall, a most satisfactory LP.
"There's Gonna Be A Ball With" The Texabilly Rockers is a ten track 10" album and opens up with a version of Rudy Grayzell's "There's Gonna Be A Ball which moves at a fast tempo. This is true for much of the rest of the titles and unfortunately one number does tend to blur into the next. However one cut that does work is the rockabilly treatment given to the standard instrumental "In The Mood". This is really different, quite original and probably worth the whole album for this one track. The L.P is well produced and will appeal to fans of modern rockabilly music.
The Foggy Mountain Rockers are a five piece band and serve up a tasty E.P. of rockabilly tinged rock 'n' roll. Again this is modern music and is good, not too frantic and the finished output shows that care was taken with the recordings. Stand out track is "A Piece Of Heaven" which has a Johnny Cash chicka boom rhythm with a muted vocal and an unobtrusive chorus.
Oh, before I forget, the previously reviewed album from the soundtrack of the movie "Teenage Cruisers" is also available in a limited 500 copy 10" vinyl edition. That is worth getting for sure.
All the foregoing can be obtained from Part Records, Waldstrasse 10, 69234 Dielheim, Germany. Their web site and ordering facility is www.rockin-rollin.com
© Tony Wilkinson
Also See Archive #1
© Rockabilly Hall of Fame ®