Rockabilly Hall of FameŽ Archives
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28, October, 1997 -
BIG BEAT '97 IN AUSTRALIA by Peter Scanlon ( - Well, for a long time I have read with envy all the reviews of gigs and weekends here. Now its my turn. Last weekend I flew to Melbourne to the Big Beat 97. This was the second annual Big Beat show put on by the Australian Rock 'n' Roll Appreciation society. For those not familliar, the Society has been around for 22 years or so. Started in Melbourne, has a magazine, The Big Beat now at edition 79, and has a radio show, Shake Rattel and Roll, which has aired continuously for almost all those years every week, on Melbournes 3CR AMradio. The Big Beat 97 is the closest we get here in Australia to a RAB weekender. It was an "All Day" show. 2PM till about 2AM. 10 bands and DJs and lots of cool cars outside, and cats and kittens dressed up to kill.

The show opened up at 2 O'Clock on a hot saturday afternoon. The crowd was light, I guess many took advantage of the hot weather to make a first visit to the beach for the season. First band up was "Jump & Jive". An unenviable task to be first on a bill of 10 bands. They were good solid straight ahead rock'n'Roll. Lots of Eddie & Gene. Next up was "Louis King & The Liars Club". Rockers with a bluesy beat. Covers of a range of clasic rockers and R&B like Bullmoose Jackson and Joe Turner. They were followed by a band called "White Lightnin" who I really liked. They did a range of songs, in a traditional guitare and bass trio style. I remember thinking that their choice of material was good. There were some songs you don't usually hear done by RAB bands.

Next up was a band called "The Redliners" who apparently normally play as a blues band at the Station Hotel on sundays. They played a range of bluesy rockers and strollers. Then came a real highlight for me - "The Starliners." These guys are right up there in the Hillbilly Boogie/Western Swing stratosphere like "Big Sandy" & "Dave & Deke." They have new CD and did a lot of the tracks from it. By this time it was about 7.30 pm. I sat down to eat some food while I listened to the loverly vocal harmony of "Dr. Doo Wop and the Ultrasounds." Why these guys don't have a record out is amazing. I would have thought their more commercial sound would have been attractive to the nostalgia types.

Next on was a band called "Rockability." This was the only band I did not enjoy. They were I guess, in a Psychobilly mould. I have been told that they can play more trad style, wish they had done so. This was the cue for me and many others to wander out to the car park to did the sounds, smells, and sights of the Caddies, Pontiacs, and Chevs, and FJs. Back inside for the next band: "The Straight 8's." I don't remember much about their set, However you can always rely on Vic O'Neil and his boys to put on a good show. Only trouble I have with the "Straight 8's" these days is that with so many bands writing so many good originals, these guys do all covers.

Two bands to go, and here comes a real highlight: "Slap'n'The Cats." These guys were the only band from out of town. They come from Warnambool, a sea-side town a couple hundred miles from Melbourne. A 3-peice outfit guitars and slappin' bass. They performed a range of stuff from rocked up Johnny Cash and Elvis numbers like "Teddy Bear". They did this one with a few changes to the words like, "Put a ring around my neck, and tie me to the bed, I wanna be your Teddy Bear". They had some Hot Rod songs, and after all, they come from a surfing town, couple of surf tunes. I look forward greatly to their forthcoming CD. Top of the bill, Melbourne's latest rockin' sensation. "Hank's Jalopy Demons." Great vocals from Hank, great guitar from Dave Cantrell. Lots of Hot Rod songs, And of course all the tracks off the new 7 inch EP. And during the Jalpy set, they invited a young lady called Kylie to the stage. She wowed us with two songs, Wish we had more female artists.

All in all, a very successfull day. About 400 people I am told. Thanks must go to President Jamie Supper and his crew of hard workers. Also note that the Aust. R&R Appreciation Society will soon be represented on the WWW, and maybe soon you'll be able to hear the radio show on the WWW with Real Audio. -Peter S.