Autumn in Hemsby, those blues are rocked away.
Hemsby Rock 'n' Roll Show No. 47
Seacroft Holiday Centre
5th to 10th October, 2011

It was October yet again and therefore this meant it was time to pack a suitcase and head northwards for Hemsby leaving a smiling Mrs. Wilkinson behind - no doubt salivating about receiving her forthcoming bi-annual bunch of flowers upon my return (I do know how to ingratiate myself). On arrival, the rockin' scene was once again in place and attendance levels were at their highest yet for October Hemsbys'. Yes, it has been said before but worth repeating that this is THE place to be for rock 'n' roll music. Hemsby continues to be the festival covering all shades of rock 'n' roll and promoter Willie Jeffery maintains that winning streak.

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An expanded bill on Thursday night saw the first waves of live music for early arrivals. Such was provided by local Norwich based Dynamite Horton plus The Rhythm River Trio. In addition, there was Rudy La Crioux & The Allstars, a band of seasoned musicians who have been treading the boards at rock 'n' roll clubs throughout Europe for the past eleven years.


Friday, 7th October 2011 (ooh my soul, it's time for rock 'n' roll...)

In the smaller Harlequin room, Hemsby 47 took off like there will be no tomorrow with a sizzling performance from ace guitarist, and also good vocalist, Chris Casello who was backed up by the Hemsby House Band. He demonstrated his excellent talent by performing a selection of instrumentals like 'Opus de Otis' and vocals such as 'All Messed Up' and 'Rockin' Daddy'. In all honesty, his talents were somewhat wasted in the small hall, he should have been up there on the main stage in The Starlight Ballroom. He was followed by Knocksville, a trio from the south coast of England who has been rockin' for the past two years.

The evening's events kicked off in the Starlight Ballroom with an exhilarating performance from Mike Bell & The Belltones, a seasoned and professional rockabilly band from Finland. The guys had a no frills rockin' approach and delivered the goods with a slick and polished style. They were an ideal warm-up band. Next up on stage were Chris Casello and the Hemsby House band who were providing the backing for the top notch rocker from Detroit - Johnny Powers. However to set the scene, Chris and the guys delivered a superb version of the Link Wray instrumental 'Rawhide'. Johnny then took centre stage and rocked all our socks off with blistering performances of 'Rock Rock', 'Honey Let's Go To A Rock 'n' Roll Show' and 'New Spark From An Old Flame'. This was a vintage Powers performance, full of arrogant poses and pelvic thrusts - great stuff. Perhaps I should also say that he was in great voice. The song selections left nothing out as we were served up the likes of 'Be Mine' (finished off with a segment of 'Be Bop A Lula'), 'Long Blond Hair', 'Mean Mistreater' and 'With Your Love, With Your Kiss'. Mixed in were a few that I do not recall having previously seen in a Johnny Powers performance such as a slow heavy pounding 'You Win Again', 'Have I Told You Lately That I Love You' and 'Treat Me Right'. That was rock 'n' roll.

Next artist has had a recent name change. When he first played England in November 2010 at the Rhythm Riot, he was known as Bobby Brooks Hamilton but this has now been modified to Bobby Brooks Wilson. This is no doubt due to his father being named as Jackie Wilson and that Bobby looks and sings like Jackie. Backed up again by a band lead by Big Boy Bloater, Bobby gave it his all. He knows how to use the stage and charmed the ladies in no uncertain way. His selection of material was in the main faultless and we were treated to excellent versions of 'Lonely Teardrops', 'Etcetera', 'Doggin' Around' and 'Reet Petite' from the Jackie Wilson songbook. We also had both sides of his single and I do feel that his version of Larry Birdsong's 'Little School Girl' is one of those great records of recent times. Two Sam Cook tunes, 'You Send Me' and 'Twistin' The Night Away' along with 'Shout' from the Isley Brothers were also included. This was another great show from a superb artist.

Close out act for Friday night was The Keytones, a trio who first came on the scene back in the eighties. They are another act who know how to give a professional performance and they certainly varied the content with numbers ranging from 'Volare' through 'Shake Your Hips' to Miserlou'. Yes, it had been a great night for rockin' music and performances.


Saturday, 8th October 2011 (rockin' around the clock.... ).

Down the road a (little) piece at the Copacabana Hemsby Beach, Kav Kavanagh held the first of two Jive Lessons, the second being on the next day, all of which climaxed with the festival's now legendary Jive Contest in the main Starlight Ballroom. In the Harlequin ballroom, which was located adjacent to the record and vintage clothes stalls, music was served up by top DJs accompanied by live performances from The Doggone Honkabilly Band, a four piece rockabilly come honky tonk band out of London but lead by Bavarian born Frank Riedell. East Anglian favourite Johnny Gunner & The Raiders also played a set of rockin' R&B tinged music that the programme aptly described as a blend of Big Joe Turner meeting Ronnie Self.

Over in the main hall, the opening act was The Infernos from Yorkshire. This band is one of the best rockabilly come rock 'n' roll outfits currently on the UK scene. They play quality music, keeping it authentic but at the same time stamping it with their own brand. Not too many originals in their set but great, both musically and visually, treatments of such as Big Bopper's 'Crazy Blues', Bob Doss's 'Don't Be Gone Long', a magical version of Marlon Grisham's 'Ain't That A Dilly' and pulsating renditions of The Phantom's 'Love Me' and Jimmy Patton's 'Yeah, I'm Moving'. This band had been booked to back the next scheduled artist Jack Earls. Unfortunately, at short notice, Jack had to drop out due to health issues. He has been battling colon cancer and we all, of course, wish him a full recovery and express the fervent hope that he will be back soon rockin' away on UK stages. Stepping into the breach was Paul Ansell's Number 9. Most of the musicians appeared to have changed since I last saw this act - but the new guys, especially James Compton on lead guitar and piano, were real quality and as for Ansell - dressed from head to foot in white - he was simply the best that I have ever seen him. He is another of those consummate artists who know how to use the stage for impact and his vocals were spot on. He, as always, varied the style and content of songs in this act ranging from 'I'll Cry Instead' through 'Ruby Don't Take Your Love to Town' and 'Sea Of Heartbreak' to the likes of 'Rockin' And Rollin' In Memphis' and 'Lonesome Train' He also included two tributes to Jack Earls with first rate versions of 'Hey Slim' and 'Rock Bop'. Responding to a request, his included a stormin' version of 'Passenger' - a song that he has virtually made his own. He closed out this remarkable performance with 'Red Light Spells danger' and 'Big Ten Inch'.

The other main headliner for the Saturday night was The Truly Lover Trio whose membership comprises leader Marcel Riesco from Uruguay on vocals and guitar plus Ricky McCann (ex Big Town Playboys and now resident in the USA) on drums and Randy Stanton on bass. They have played Hemsby and the Americana Festival previously, both of which served to reinforce their reputation as a fast rising and extremely talented band. This was further enhanced with this second Hemsby appearance. The vocals from Marcel, with Roy Orbison overtones on occasion, coupled with his guitar playing should result in a future super star. The Orbison selections included were predominately from his Sun catalogue with such as 'Ooby Dooby', 'Go Go Go' and 'Domino' but Marcel, on 'Uptown' and 'Running Scared', had the ladies screaming with delight. Great versions of 'Rockhouse', 'Cast Iron Arm' and 'Besame Mucho' were also included in this fast moving act. The final act for Saturday, The Caezars, came with reputation of being a wild on stage rockabilly act but also with unpredictability that included cussing and swearing at their audience. The brand of music exhibited at this Hemsby was sixties prototype garage. I shall say no more except to comment that I was not moved or excited.


Sunday, 9th October 2011 ( this Hemsby closes out in style .....).

The Sunday commenced with the regular boot fair and a few bargains to be had. During the afternoon, it was time for the regular rockin' sold out boat cruise on the nearby Norfolk Broads, organised by Liz Holt and Andy Molyneaux. This had live music provided by Rudy La Crioux & The All Stars plus wax spun by the inestimable Wild Cat Pete. Back at the camp in the Harlequin Room, there was the customary Jam session followed by a set from the Brazilian The Old Stuff Trio lead by Sapucaia Do Dul. They gave a spirited and enjoyable performance in which they held nothing back.

Opening act in the Starlight Ballroom was Howlin' Lou & His Whip Lovers from Italy. They are big on the European scene and, judging from this show, it is easy to understand why. From the outset, here was a band who wanted to rock you in no uncertain way - the way being good, professional and hitting all the right spots. They were augmented for the night by The Don of saxophone players, Clive Osborne, who matched the big voice vocals of Howlin' Lou superbly. All excelled themselves on 'Uranium Rock' 'She Wanna Rock' and 'Rockin' Up A Storm'.

Then it was time for the this night's headline act but, first, the UK's The Roomates took the stage and warmed up with their own set that included 'I Wonder Why', 'Flakey John', marvelous versions of Gene Vincent's 'Baby Blue' and 'Lotta Lovin' plus 'Wow Wow Baby'. Great stuff. The band and singers stayed on stage to provide the vocal and instrumental backing for Sweet Jeena from Finland. This young lady was simply doll like, gorgeous to look at and she could sing. No complaints with any aspect. For her song selection, she concentrated on material from the late fifties/early sixties such as Brenda Lee's 'That's All You Gotta Do', Ricky Nelson's 'Poor Little Fool' 'Bobby Darin's 'Dream Lover' and 'Come Go With Me' from the Del Vikings. I particularly enjoyed her treatments of 'Angel Baby', 'Teardrops', 'Wonderful Dream' and 'Guardian Angel'. This was sufficiently different from the hard driving big beat of most of the weekend but still rock 'n' roll. Variety is the spice of life.

That was it - with the reality of a return to the current very hard outside world but it had been both good and beneficial to have chilled out to the rockin' beat for three days. It all happens again between 11th and 14th May 2012 when the next Hemsby includes the great Robin Luke on his first time visit to the UK, Texan rocker Gene Summers, the wonderful Eva Eastwood from Sweden and vocal group The Velours amongst the sixteen acts so far announced. Make a note in your diaries and go to web site www.hemsbyrocknroll.co.uk for further details.


й Tony Wilkinson

November 2011