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    HEMSBY 20: IN REVIEW

  • by Rod Pyke - When Willie Jeffery first booked the acts to appear at the 10th Anniversary of EuropeĖs number Rock 'n' Roll weekender, he could not have envisaged how things would turn out. All four of the original proposed headliners were destined not to appear. Carl Perkins, the king of rockabilly, sadly died. Willie Lewis had to withdraw due to ill health. Popular band High Noon decided to go their separate ways and split up. Then a few days before the event the lead singer with the Rivingtons, Al Frazier, suffered a heart attack forcing their cancellation. Replacements were found in the shape of The Collins Kids, Sleepy LaBeef, The Horton Brothers and the Extraordinaires.

    Despite all the early setbacks Hemsby 20 lived up to its reputation and provided four days of breathtaking entertainment for the visitors from the Four Corners of the Globe. Even the weather helped out with un-seasonal temperatures up into the 70's and cloudless blue skies. An estimated 3,500 people were to attend the anniversary party.

    Still more drama was to befall Hemsby when Rocket 3 failed to turn up and then the Skiprats lead guitarist was rushed to hospital prior to the group performing. Add to this the Razorbacks pulling out at short notice, things were still not going well for the organisers.

    But the show must go on, and on it went. The Skiprats bravely went ahead with a substitute lead guitarist and a fine improvised set they performed for the Friday audience. As other commitments stopped me from attending Thursday's entertainment I canĖt give my own account but sources tell me that the Western Bops and Carlos and the Bandidos kicked off the proceedings in great style. The latter taking the stage to the strains of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Dressed in Mexican gear, they lived up to their name.

    The Highlight of Friday night for me was the appearance of The Horton Brothers from America. Having met them earlier at the press reception at the Waverley Hotel they came across as very charming individuals, You could sense their enthusiasm and wanting to do well, and they did just that. The band from Austin, Texas consisted of Bobby Horton (Guitar), Billy Horton (Double Bass), Shaun Young, ex High Noon (Drums) and Derek Peterson (Guitar). This is a band that has a great future ahead of them. They cover all aspects of Rockabilly and to pick a few of my favourite numbers by them IĖd go for "The Phantom of Rock ÎnĖ Roll", "Roll Hot Rod Roll" and "Jack In The Boogie Box". A smart, neat looking band that gave the fans what they wanted. The introduction of Shaun Young to guitar and vocals for two numbers added to the band's versatility. The tremendous applause that they left the stage to ensured them they had made many friends and guaranteed them many future bookings in Europe.

    A large crowd stayed behind into the early hours to be entertained by Sweden Ės great band The Go Getters (Friday) and the Arousers (Saturday) from Britain.

    Saturday was the big night for most people and the three acts that I caught never disappointed me. My evening kicked off with the Ranch Girls and the Ragtime Wranglers from Holland. The girl were dressed in knee length yellow dresses with red trimmings and with red tassels. Their voices blended beautifully in their harmonies and the Wranglers brilliantly backed them. Early numbers included Way Down Yonder, Fiddle Diddle Boogie, Move Over Rover, Kawliga and Oh Monah. The Ragtime Wranglers then did a Medley of Instrumentals including Hey Little Dreamboat and Roundup of Fun.

    Caroline and Mary returned to the stage having had a change of uniform. This time they were in a black top, jacket and shorts all lined in gold. You could not fault the girls for their stage sense, they performed as one, their movement, actions and vocals were impeccable. They started with Hey, Sheriff followed by, I ain't worried, So Long Baby So Long and Sweet Thing. A surprise number Dance To The Bop, a Gene Vincent classic followed. Encores were inevitably called for and Rock-A-Bye-Baby and Hillbilly Gal brought their act to a close, to everybody's disappointment. A sad note to end on is that it is probably the last time many people will see Caroline and Mary together as Caroline is venturing out on a solo career. A replacement has been found and the current singer from Boogaloo will partner Mary.

    A thirty minute break saw the ballroom almost fill to capacity as next on stage were The Collins Kids. The roof was almost lifted as they appeared and greeted the audience. Larry with his twin necked guitar and Lorrie with her original acoustic. First up was Mercy, followed by Hop Skip and Jump and In My Teens. Having been performing together for 40+ years it really showed and professionalism is the best way to describe it. All the favourites were being played Rock Boppin' Baby, Beetle Bug Boogie and Just Because. Larry the master on guitar threw in Flyin' Fingers and they certainly were. Heartbeat showed Lorrie's voice had lost nothing over the years, it seems to get better and better. Next up were Hot Rod, Whistle Bait and Hoy Hoy. I am sure The Collins Kids would be the first to praise the excellent support they got from the Ragtime Wranglers and LarryĖs guitar duets with their lead guitarist were breathtaking. The guitar highlight of the night was Larry's playing of the lightning quick Rockin' Gypsy which due to non-stop cheering brought about a second rendition. Time was passing quickly at this, their third Hemsby appearance. Larry and Lorrie had to bring their show to an end and they chose Shortening Bread Rock to do so. Everybody knew that they were not going to leave without one more number and I can't recall such a volume of noise at Hemsby as they appeared again on stage. Party was the encore number and party was the mood everybody was in as they all joined in. The thing that stood out to me during the performance was how much they enjoyed it and how close they were to each other as brother and sister. They interrupted their act to do a spoken tribute to Carl Perkins, whose place they were taking. They said they would not sing one of CarlĖs songs, as they could never match the performance that he would have given. A worthy tribute indeed. Larry and Lorrie spent about two hours with their fans in the foyer after leaving the stage signing autographs, posing for photos and generally chatting.

    Still there was more to come, the big man himself, Sleepy LaBeef. It was midnight when he appeared in front of the Hemsby thousands. Sleepy did not have his own band to back him but a set of assembled musicians who were available on the night. On bass was Wayne Hopkins of the Playboys. On Piano was John Lewis of The Rimshots, Guitar was Dave Travis (Stomper Time Records) and Hemsby soundman. Lastly Shaun Young stood in on drums. All thrown together to back Sleepy, all totally unrehearsed and had none of them never playing together before.

    Sleepy, as those who have seen him before know, never uses a set play list. He does everything by instinct and how the mood takes him. He plays everything from Rockabilly, Rock ÎnĖ Roll, Country, Gospel etc. He loves all kinds of music. His range tonight was from Bo Diddley to Sister Rosette Tharpe. My pick of his numbers were Tore Up, Shame Shame Shame, Ride On Josephine and Strange Things happening Every Day. His choice of songs may not have been to everybodyĖs taste but I thoroughly enjoyed his performance and credit must also go out to his stand in band. Especially John Lewis who plugged on even though nobody could hear is piano. Other numbers covered by Sleepy included Big River and Bo Diddley Is A Gunslinger, which unbelievably were done as a medley. Sleepy was enjoying himself and was running overtime. When he came off after eighty minutes the inevitable encore was called for. He returned to the stage for what normally is a one number encore but Sleepy's one song consisted of a medley of nine and lasted fifteen minutes. The crowds loved it but it gave the organisers a few headaches.

    Sunday Night was not to be for me, as whilst watching Crazy Jay and the Partytimers a colleague of mine was taken ill and I had to drive him back to the Hotel. Here I was to meet up with Sleepy LaBeef and Dave Travis and we sat talking all night. People returning to the Hotel after the night's events were saying what a great night they had witnessed. Sophie Garner & Her Swing Kings with their Swing and Jive numbers. The RivingtonsĖ replacements The Extraordinaires who by all accounts gave a masterful exhibition of numbers by The Coaster, The Drifters, The Moonglows and The Dominoes. Most people I spoke to said that their highlight on Sunday were the Haystack Hi-Tones another girl led group from Holland who performed a very strong rockin' set and are destined for bigger things. Another band at Hemsby that most people missed because they were performing at 11pm on Wednesday night, before most people had arrived at Hemsby were the Nu Niles from Spain. I have had several good reports on them and they are definitely in line for a future Hemsby booking.

    I would like to give a round of applause to the DJ's this year a big improvement in the choice of material and the sound level was much better. It was possible to hear what people were saying to you this year.

    So another Hemsby is over and as I look back I try to recall the highlights for me. Being allowed to watch The Collins Kids rehearse in the basement of the Hotel and then seeing them live. Taking Sleepy LaBeef into town and having a seafood lunch with him on a bench in the Market Square. Spending time chatting to the Horton Brothers and then seeing live on stage, To me they are stars of the future.

    Now we await Hemsby 21 in October and probably the best line up for a long time. Merrill E Moore, Sammy masters, Joe Clay and Otis Williams. If only we can have the same weather in October as we did at Hemsby 20.



    THE HEMSBY 20 PHOTO ALBUM

    photos by Rod Pyke


    Larry Collins




    Ranch Girls, Carolyn & Mary Ann --- John L Lewis (Rimshots) backing Sleepy --- Carolyn & Mary Ann again



    Sleepy LaBeef --- Dave Travis (Stomper Time Records) backing Sleepy



    LEFT: Lorrie, Larry & The Ragtime Wranglers
    RIGHT: Derek, Shaun, Bobby & Billy (Horton Brothers) at Press Reception at Waverley Hotel



    LEFT: Bobby & Billy Horton
    RIGHT: Shaun, Bobby, Derek & Billy (Horton Brothers) at Press Reception at Waverley Hotel



    Derek Peterson



























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  • HEMSBY 21 - 8th / 11th OCTOBER 1998
    The Following acts are now confirmed to appear at Hemsby 21 - 8th/11th October 1998. Merrill E Moore, Sammy Masters, Joe Clay, Otis Williams & the Metrotones, Jack Baymore & the Bandits, Tennessee Boys, Curfew, Little Boy Arnold & the Western Oakies, Rimshots, Crazy Cavan & the Rhythm Rockers, Hicksville Bombers, Surfing Gorillas, Black Eyed Peas, Rockets + Mouse's Rock'N'Roll.