ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME® MERCHANDISE & SERVICES


RRW#7 INDY '99 in REVIEW


(David Loehr - dl@jamesdeangallery.com)

The Seventh Annual
ROCKABILLY REBEL WEEKEND
Held June 17, 18 & 19, 1999
at the Fountain Square Theatre Complex, Indianapolis, Indiana


Indy '99 Rockabilly Hall of Fame Review

BY BARRY KLEIN Staff Reporter

Three Other Fine Indy '99 Reviews


If you didn't go to the 7th Annual Rockabilly Rebel Weekend in Indianapolis June 17th, 18th and 19th, all I have to say is "You shouldn'ta missed it!!!" Wonderful venue; fifteen acts, and not one of 'em a "filler"; beautiful weather all weekend; hundreds in attendance every night, but always a place to sit down and plenty of room on the dance floor; good sound system; vendors in the balcony selling all kinds of '50's stuff and tattoos, two bowling alleys, a real diner, a billiard table and an antique store; never more than 15 minutes in between acts; and good dancin' and listening music spun by Michigan DJ, Del Villareal.

I arrived in Indianapolis early Thursday afternoon, and moseyed on down to the Fountain Square Theatre building to check it out. What a sight! The building was originally built in 1928 and current owners Fern and Linton Calvert have done a great job rebuilding the Theater, as well as restoring the diner, bowling alley, antique store, etc. Gregg Stewart, who helps the Calverts run the business, took me on a thorough and informative tour.




THURSDAY NIGHT

The Calverts rent the building out for weddings and private parties, and on most Friday nights they feature swing, while on Saturday nights there is a Rockabilly show. Some of the performers for the Rockabilly Weekend have appeared at the Saturday night Rockabilly shows, including the Roundups, Crown Electric and Michigan's Big Barn Combo. I ate in the diner myself on Friday and Saturday evenings, and it was as close to the 50's as I can remember (I was just a baby!).



Thursday night's performers were The Stillmen, The Riptones, the Cadillac Angels, Mack Stevens and Wanda Jackson (backed by the Cadillac Angels). The Stillmen are an Orange County, California-based quartet who, after previously releasing two vinyl EP's, have just released a CD entitled "Go! Go! Go!" which was available at the CD table after their show. Saturday night performer Deke Dickerson recorded part of their new CD.

The Stillmen specialize in "authentic" 1950's style Rockabilly music, and they even record on all pre-1956 tube recording equipment to emulate the original mono sounds that we heard on the Sun, Star, Fernwood and Meteor labels. The 15 track "Go! Go! Go!" CD is available from Hep Cat Records.

The Riptones are a Chicago-based trio who have just released a new CD called "Cowboy's Inn". Carl Schreiber, guitarist/vocalist for another Chicago Rockabilly group, The DuValls, pays The Riptones the highest of compliments: "They are not only a fine group, but they are cooperative and helpful in any way they can be to us. In some cities it might be 'dog-eat-dog' relative to Rockabilly groups competing with each other, but it just ain't that way with The Riptones."

Speaking of Chicago Rockabilly groups, I met Larry and Sue who are in a Chicago group called Plan 9. Larry, who plays upright bass, tells me they are releasing a new CD entitled "Plan 9 From Outer Space" this summer. I wonder how Ed Wood would have reacted to the group's album title!



The third band on Thursday evening drew hordes of people toward the stage and the dance floor: the Cadillac Angels. Based in Santa Barbara, California, the Cadillac Angels consist of a trio including T. Tarzan on guitar and vocals, Micky Rae on the upright bass and vocals, and Evan Richards on drums. Known at one time as The Roadhouse Rockers, they have been recording as the Cadillac Angels since 1997. They provided a solid set of very entertaining, highly danceable Rockabilly music, and the crowd's enthusiasm brought them back for an encore.

Men and women alike gathered within close proximity to Micky, who is one of the few female Rockabilly bass players seen in the major bands today. She was pounding that bass with the best of them, and the crowd was really into it. I enjoyed it enough to walk back to the table where the music was being sold, and the only CD I could find was, "Rest Stop Dance Party!", which was recorded in '97 and released last year. I note from the band's biography on their web page that they have had a new CD out for about only a month entitled "Nobody Sings Or The Guitar Gets It!" and the drummer is listed as Evan Richards, who apparently replaced Jerome Taylor, who was on the "Rest Stop..." CD. After barely catching its breath, the band came back on stage with Wanda Jackson for Wanda's wonderful set.



Whenever I see a legend who has recorded since the mid 50's, I often wonder how well they will acquit themselves as we near the end of this millenium. I saw Jerry Lee Lewis live in the 60's and 70's, and hewas still fantastic, although I noticed a definitely more subdued performer the last time I saw him in Las Vegas about ten years ago. Such was not the case with Wanda Jackson! She was unbelievable! From the first song, an avalanche of people approached the stage to view this legend, who still sounds like one. I recently saw a documentary about Connie Francis, the many tragedies in her life, and the fact that her voice never recovered from a nose-job-gone-wrong relatively early in her singing career. To hear and see Wanda Jackson belt out hit after hit, and put her own special touch on other country and rock standards, gave me chills. I know I was not the only one there who felt like this: after her set, when she came to the record table to sign pictures, a rush of people were instantly at the table before Wanda even took her seat! The picture in this article corroborates my observation. At Wanda's side was Wendell Goodman, President of Wanda Jackson Enterprises, Inc., and Wanda's husband for almost 38 years.



Wanda was a gracious, humble person to talk to backstage before her performance, and mentioned how much she enjoys playing with the Cadillac Angels, who appear with her frequently during her tours. I told Wanda I had read the chapter about her in Nick Tosches' book, "Unsung Heroes of Rock & Roll", where he referred to her, and I paraphrased the passage, as the "greatest female rock & roll singer who ever lived". Wanda smiled knowingly, and acknowledged she knew what I was referring to, and appreciated my re-phrasing. Now I can share with you what Nick really wrote in his book: "Wanda Lavonna Jackson was, simply and without contest, the greatest menstruating rock & roll singer whom the world has ever known." After seeing Wanda's set, I can't argue! Incidentally, don't hold it against me, but one of my favorite rock & roll songs sung by a female artist was Connie Francis' "Stupid Cupid". To my amazement, that was one of the songs that Wanda did that evening!


With all of the attention Wanda Jackson and the Cadillac Angels received, one might wonder why she wasn't Thursday night's "grand finale" act.The only people who did not second-guess David Loehr's decision were people who had seen Mack Stevens and his band perform in person. For those who read my article for RHOF about Viva Las Vegas two months ago, you know my affinity for Mack Stevens, the man, the musician and the performer. Well, "there's nothing like going to the temple of rock & roll to reconfirm your faith!"

Speaking of religion, I was talking to Mack about several Bear Family box sets I have purchased over the past year, and I was pointing out how much I enjoyed the five CD Jack Scott set, "Classic Scott - The Way I Walk". I told Mack that I loved Jack Scott and the whole box set, but I thought that CD 2 and the beginning of CD 3 were a little too weighted with gospel songs. Without batting an eyelash, Mack shot back "what about 'Save My Soul'?" Well, all I could say was "touchÈ!", because I would drop my nickel in any jukebox at any time to hear that song. (I am not totally unappreciative of gospel songs; I am probably the only Jewish boy in America who bought Merle Haggard's gospel album "Songs For The Mama That Tried" on MCA records in 1981 - yep, still got it!


Anyway, getting back to Mack Stevens, after almost five hours of music, and immediately following Wanda Jackson's great set, Mack wow'd the crowd with his show that was at least as equally intense as Las Vegas, and even longer! After playfully kicking his lead guitarist, Billy, in the butt a couple of times early in the set, Mack finally hauled him down on the ground, picked him up by his legs, and whirled him in circles while Billy continued to play. Just another night on the road for Mack Stevens! Mack performed many of his own compositions, some of the twisted, sardonic nature which is part of his sense of humor. An appreciator of classic Rockabilly, Mack did his great version of "Woodpecker Rock", which is featured on his new CD. Also, Mack did a fantastic rendition of "Baby Please Don't Leave Me" by the Johnny Burnette Rock & Roll Trio. Mack's version was from the alternate take on the Bear Family's 1989 CD that featured raw, guttural growling instead of the chorus lyrics on the original recording. Johnny Burnette would have been proud!

Earlier on Thursday, I met a couple of hep cats from Chattanooga, Tennessee, Shawn and Casey, who are members of the Rockabilly band called the "Chattavegas Aces". I kept running into them all weekend, and Casey was right in front of the stage Saturday night throughout Ray Campi's performance. Casey got on stage and made a major contribution to the last part of Ray's set, but I'll keep you in suspense until that part comes up in the chronology of events.





FRIDAY NIGHT

Friday night's lineup was intriguing to me, for I only possessed one CD of any of the five acts, and that was the self-titled CD of James Intveld. I was looking forward to hearing some new sounds.

The Roundups, who I understand are a local Indiana group, was a country band that had a good opening set featuring country and western bop-type music.

The Billygoats, from Nashville, performed a very energetic set featuring their own material, as well as Ray Price's "Heartaches By The Number", and Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues". I enjoyed them so much I went back to the CD table and bought their self-titled "Billygoats" CD. I notice on the notes inside the CD that Jason Carter, the fiddler for the Del McCoury Band, makes a guest appearance. (Anybody who likes bluegrass and doesn't already have the Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band CD "The Mountain" should stop whatever they are doing and buy it right away.)



The Atomics, a trio that has been together for over ten years, put on a very up-tempo set. I understand that The Atomics have played the Rockabilly Rebel Weekend more than any other group, so the crowd was very responsive to their set. All three of the Atomics CDs were on sale at the table. I understand that six songs from their first CD "Fallin' Like Her Angel" were included in the vampire Rockabilly cult movie "Burnin' Love". Incidentally, I am still trying to find where to purchase a copy of that film and its soundtrack. If anyone knows, please email me at the address listed at the end of this article.

Well, so far so good on Friday night! Between the Roundups, The Billygoats, and The Atomics, there was a lot of good music and great dancing. Then came the two best acts of the evening!

I had heard of The Racketeers by seeing their CD in the Hep Cat and other catalogs. Their set on Friday night was nothing short of fantastic! Great music and each member of the band gave a virtuoso performance. Their lead singer, Dana Stewart, stands up and sings while playing a snare drum, and Spike Katz, the bass player, was slapping that bass and twirling it like a baton! Since James Intveld already is a pretty famous guy, I would have to say that The Racketeers were the major breakthrough surprise of the evening.

Fast forward to late Saturday night, actually early Sunday morning:Just before closing time, when Ray Campi was finishing his set as the last performer, I asked Lori and Mary, who were selling all of the records and CDs, which group sold more music than any other for the entire weekend. After taking a few minutes to tabulate, the winner was The Racketeers, and they were only selling the one CD. I'll tell you one other thing: if they had three different CDs for sale that night, I would have bought 'em all!!



The "clean up" hitter for Friday night was James Intveld, who was so highly spoken of by Billy Poore in his book "Rockabilly: A 40 Year Journey", I already had his self-titled CD. James told me he had recently done a swing CD, and another CD was coming out sometime before the end of the summer. Besides singing and playing guitar, he is a songwriter, a studio musician, and a producer. Although he has appeared in several movies, James' voice was the one used by director John Waters for the musical comedy picture "Crybaby". Johnny Depp starred, but it was James Intveld's vocals being lip-synced by Johnny Depp. Knowing how diverse James Intveld's music is, I was very pleased to see him do an almost all Rockabilly set to close the Friday night show. Wearing black leather pants, a black western shirt with several buttons undone, and sporting his well-coifed Rockabilly hairdo, James fronted a trio consisting of himself on rhythm guitar, a lead guitarist and an upright bass player (no drums). The sound was hauntingly familiar - shades of 1954-1955 Elvis, Scotty and Bill before D.J.! A large crowd gathered around the stage for a firsthand look and the dance floor was filling up too. From James Intveld's performance, and the audience's reception to it, I believe that the career of James Intveld has not peaked yet! Watch out for that new CD!



SATURDAY NIGHT

By Saturday night, I must admit I was dragging. After four hours of sleep Friday night, I got up early to run my every-other-day jaunt of eight miles, which I did at 6:15 a.m. because it was already starting to get pretty warm. Having had an excellent nine ounce cheeseburger deluxe in the Fountain Diner on Friday night that I thought was just fabulous, I moseyed on into the Diner at about 7:00 p.m. Saturday and sat at the counter to order a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and a coke, which brought me back to life. The nice gentleman at the cash register was Lemuel, a brother-in-law of Linton Calvert, who owns the Fountain Square Theatre. I probably wouldn't have remembered his name, except that he told me it appears in Proverbs 31, and despite my hazy memory vis-ý-vis proper names, I am unbelievable at memorizing numbers and dates. If I ever go to prison, I can be the social director because I can memorize all the numbers!



Anyway, getting back to the performances on Saturday night, I was anticipating a good show for Saturday night for several reasons. First of all, I heard that Crown Electric was a solid Rockabilly group from Kentucky, and I almost saw them last fall at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but something happened at the last minute and I couldn't go. I also had heard good things about Hot Rod Lincoln. And, Detroit's own Big Barn Combo was a group I was dying to see because their lead singer, Craig "Bones" Maki, hosts an enormously popular weekly Rockabilly radio show in Detroit, "Rockabilly Roll Call." It broadcasts from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Sundays on Radio station 90.9 WDTR, which is the Detroit Public Schools radio station.

Also, I had high expectations of Deke Dickerson, having just purchased both the new CD, "Number One Hit Record!", and the older Dave and Deke Combo CD, "Hollywood Barn Dance." Finally, I already had several of Ray Campi's CDs before I got to know him in Las Vegas, and I think the world of Ray, both the man and the musician!

Wow, Saturday night just went by toooo fast!! Crown Electric got things off to a great start playing some great up-tempo Rockabilly music, and the dancin' folks stayed on the floor for the whole set. They did a great version of Jimmy Lloyd's old hit, "Got A Rocket In My Pocket".



Hot Rod Lincoln is a group that easily could headline any Rockabilly show. After watching their excellent performance, I purchased two of their CDs "The Boulevard" and "Blue CafÈ", both of which I found to be excellent! These guys do their own material, plus great versions of standards.On the Blue CafÈ CD, the producer is ex Stray Cats bass player Lee Rocker (now fronting and touring with his own group), and the title song was penned by Brian Setzer.

Red was a big color on Saturday night. Craig "Bones" Maki, of Big Barn Combo, was wearing a red shirt, Deke Dickerson was wearing red shirt, red pants, and red boots, and Ray Campi was wearing a red cowboy shirt, red pants, and black & white Cowboy boots.

Big Barn Combo consists of Paul "Smokey Links" Cook on guitar and vocals; Kenny Bruce on bass and vocals; Loney Charles on drums and vocals, and Craig "Bones" Maki on vocals and rhythm guitar. [ED NOTE: Have we got it right now Bones? ;-)] Craig, at age 28, appears to have a wide-open future in store for himself. He is a record producer, (the album he produced of Eddie Jackson & The Swingsters was for sale at the table.) Craig is also an excellent songwriter and many of his vocal performances include songs that he penned. His Rockabilly Roll Call radio show has fanatically loyal listeners, (I record every one, even when I am out of town) and Craig seems to know just about everything connected with Rockabilly music. I once wrote Craig Maki a letter asking him how I could get some of Sonny Fisher's old mid-1950's recordings. A few weeks later, I got a nice letter from Craig telling me about what was on US and European compilations, vinyl, CD, etc., and he even told me about some bootleg European CDs that are hard to come by.

During the weekend, I told Craig that I had been attempting, for the better part of a year, to buy the CD version of an out of print album called "Get Hot Or Go Home - Vintage RCA Rockabillies 1956-1959". Without batting an eyelash, Craig told me to contact the Country Music Association and felt they would have it. Sure enough, the next week I called the Country Music Association, spoke with Jeff in the gift shop, and he told me that he would have a copy to me within a week to ten days! I had tried Hep Cat Records, Every CD, Amazon.com, Roots & Rhythm, Norton Records, and just about every possible source you can imagine, without having any luck until I spoke to Craig!

Of the young and up and coming Rockabilly bands in the Detroit area, I would have to rate the Big Barn Combo and the Twistin' Tarantulas as the most promising groups. Incidentally, the Twistin' Tarantulas have just released their second CD, "Welcome To Our Underworld" and should be available by the time this article appears on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. More about Big Barn Combo a little later - we're not quite done with them yet!



From his resume and reputation, Deke Dickerson had a lot to live up to on Saturday night. Child musical prodigy, 17 year old leader of the now cult garage band Untamed Youth, well-followed co-leader of the Dave and Deke Combo, and a proven and accomplished studio engineer and producer, Deke Dickerson effortlessly lived up to his reputation and them some! As tight and well produced as his new album "Number One Hit Record!" is, I must say that Deke Dickerson's live performance was spectacular! An excellent voice to match his virtuoso guitar playing, Deke turned in a superlative set. He even paused to give the audience a few jokes, e.g., How many rockabillys does it take to change a light bulb? 50 -- One to change it and 49 to bitch about how much better they were in the fifties!



One of the set's highlights featured Deke sitting in a chair, and having his rhythm guitarist lean over him and play the top of Deke's double neck Mosrite guitar while Deke simultaneously played the lower bridge. After that they switched, and eventually the bass player came over and between the bass player, rhythm guitarist, Deke, and the drummer, they were playing musical chairs, with two people simultaneously playing Deke's guitar for the rest of that song! This was worth the price of admission alone!One of the encore numbers included a rendition of "Muleskinner Blues", using The Fendermen's arrangement from the late '50's. If I ever find out Deke Dickerson is performing anywhere nearby, look for me - I'll be there!!

It was indeed fitting that Ray Campi would be the last act on Saturday night to close the Rockabilly Rebel Weekend. I will admit I am biased, for I am a Ray Campi fan, listen to a lot of his music, appreciate his role in the "Rockabilly Revival Era", and perhaps most importantly, after meeting him in Las Vegas in April, I appreciate his personal genuineness, alacrity, and being such a nice down-to-earth type person.
Who better than Rockin' Ronny Weiser to tell about Ray Campi: "Ray Campi more than anybody else must be credited for the resurgence in popularity of Rockabilly music. During the early 1970's when real rock & roll had basically disappeared from the American landscape, we formed a band called the Wildcat Shakers, later renamed Rollin' Rock Rebels and finally Rockabilly Rebels. The original band featured Ray Campi, Johnny Legend, Jimmy Lee Maslon, and Billy Zoom. They would play high schools in Simi Valley (they caused a near riot), county fairs and bars. Bookings were difficult, because the format would not really fit into any club-owners' tidy category: they were oldies, but not!! They were country, but not!! They were rock & roll, but not!! They just didn't fit, after all, they were Rockabilly. Ray Campi's style is varied and versatile, putting soul and guts into many different American music styles: rock & roll, Rockabilly, rhythm & blues, hillbilly, bluegrass, etc."

These comments by Ronny Weiser were printed on the CD of Ray Campi's "Rockabilly Rebellion: The Best of Ray Campi, Volume One" on HMG/High Tone Records. It is one of my favorite Ray Campi CDs, and out of the 20 songs on this CD, Ray actually played all the instruments on nearly half the songs! He and Sleepy LaBeef do the best versions of "Tore Up" and one of his own songs, "Rockin' at the Ritz", was number one in England. Other than the silver hair (hell, after a certain age any color hair is good!), Ray Campi's looks belie his years. As I described earlier, Ray was resplendent in his red outfit, and kept the audience rockin' and rollin' with his set.

One of the evening's surprises was that Big Barn Combo from Detroit, who probably hadn't cooled off yet from the sweat they built up from their own set, provided the very capable instrumental backup for Ray's set. As I mentioned, I love Ray's version of "Tore Up", and my new acquaintance, Casey of "The Chattavegas Aces", was standing right below the stage for Ray's whole set. While Ray was performing "Tore Up", he brought Casey onstage and had him play an important part in recreating the recorded version. On the record, there was a false ending and after a pause, you hear a big tearing sound, and Ray starts pounding out the chorus again. Ray knelt down and picked up the piece of paper that had the set's play list, handed it to Casey, and at the appropriate time Casey made the tearing sound into the microphone. Great job, Casey!!! I'll bet Casey hadn't anticipated playing such a pivotal role in the great closing set of the weekend!


1999 Rockabilly Rebel Weekend was no less than outstanding! It was well planned, well executed, and most importantly, great fun!!! Every night started on time, and did not end at an outlandish hour. The store, the Diner, the bowling alleys, pool table, record table, and vendors on the mezzanine made it a great place to be for six hours or so every day, and even David Loehr himself broke down and had a big tattoo put on his arm on the last night!
Speaking of David Loehr, David has agreed to reserve one free all-weekend ticket to the 2000 Rockabilly Rebel Weekend scheduled for June 22, 23, 24, 2000 to the first person who can answer a trivia question that I devised. Here is the trivia question: THE LAST TWO CLOSING ACTS ON SATURDAY NIGHT OF 1999 ROCKABILLY REBEL WEEKEND IN INDIANAPOLIS COINCIDENTALLY BOTH PLAYED LAST YEAR ON THE SAME CD THAT FEATURED ANOTHER ROCKABILLY PERFORMER RESIDING IN THE SAME STATE. WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE CD, AND WHO WAS THE FEATURED ARTIST?
The first person to contact David Loehr with the correct answer wins one free ticket for the entire 2000 Rockabilly Rebel Weekend. To contact David and to find out about next year's Rockabilly Rebel Weekend, he can be reached via telephone @ (765) 948-3326, fax @ (765) 948-3389, email dl@jamesdeangallery.com




In closing, I would like to thank my wife Shirley for all of her help with this article. (Next year she says she is going to be in some of those pictures with me!!!!) I would also like to thank David Loehr for graciously and patiently accommodating me many times during the weekend.




ED NOTE: To contact Barry Klein, you can email him at bmk@bmkre.com