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ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME

REVIEWS


LARRY SHELL'S GOOD ROCKIN' REVIEW:

ROCKIN' THE NIGHT AWAY
WITH LINK WRAY & KIM LENZ

What to do? What To Do? I felt guilty, a message had been posted on the Rockabilly list by Bob Timmers that Kim Lenz called him for my number as she wanted to get in touch with me. I figured, to see if I was coming to see her show tonight at the Rodeo Bar in NYC. I had already made plans to go see the legendary Link Wray that evening. I considered skipping Link but that would've been unthinkable, he's a guitar great of the first order.

I left early to catch dinner at a fine Chinese eatery across the street from Club Bene which was located in South Amboy, NJ. To my chagrin, the place was closed for remodeling, there was a huge dumpster of debris outside its door. I took a ride further down the highway and decided to eat at the Club as the food looked decent and I'd never tried it despite a number of visits. As I got to the door, the sounds of Link filled the air from the showroom. As I was led to my table, I saw to my delight that Link was doing the soundcheck with his band (bass & drums) and the curtains were open. This is usually not the case! I sat in the second row of tables, about 8 feet in front of the stage, right in the center. A perfect spot! I was grinning from ear-to-ear at this chance to get a little extra dose of Link! I noticed after a few minutes that a lady was sitting across from me, hey that was no lady, that was Link's wife! Link went on to do "Rumble" and "Ace of Spades," before ending and then was approached by a guy asking him to sign his guitar, a cool idea to be sure. Several others got on stage and talked to the Link and his missus and were informed that he'd be signing after the show.

After a lovely dinner of steak and veggies followed by desert and lots of coffee, I looked around the room at the sparse crowd which rivaled the one at the same club for the Blasters/Beat Farmers show there for low attendance. I estimated about 90 people tops, none of whom I knew. Link's last area show at Tramps in NYC was filled to the rafters, so this was a poor showing indeed although it being a Thursday probably didn't help it any.

A surf instrumental band, THEE CASINO ROYALES, from Red Bank, NJ opened the show with "Pipeline" and performed a serviceable set of classics and originals. They bent the strings for about thirty minutes and then broke down the stage for the main attraction.

LINK WRAY came out and opened up with his big hit, "Rumble." The man has held up well for a guy with one lung and no career until the big instrumental/surf revival of a few years ago. He looked great in his black sleeveless tee sporting a ponytail which went down to his butt. He followed up with a decent vocal rendition of "King Creole," with plenty of guitar licks tossed in. As good as Elvis' version was, I was thinking how cool it would've been to have Link backing the King on it, Yow! Link roamed the stage with a smile on his kisser the entire time leaning over the edge numerous times. His set included "Ace of Spades," "Rawhide," "Batman Theme," "Jack The Ripper," "Run Chicken Run," and other Link Wray staples.

Vocal tunes included Hank Williams' "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You," Elvis' "You're So Young & Beautiful," Ferlin Huskey's "Somebody Lied," and Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild." The latter and King Creole were the best of the bunch as far as Link's vocals went. The others sung slowly were at times a mite painful but you could tell they were heartfelt. The encore repeated 4-5 tunes already played but it was great to hear them again! The whole performance was excellent and you could certainly see where Heavy Metal came from listening to Link play all his classic tunes like "Rumble" and "Ace of Spades," the whole musical genre came out of the stylings of one man, Link Wray, the rockinest guitar man of them all!!!

The show ended shortly before 11pm, and I thought to myself, hey Kim Lenz's show at the Rodeo Bar probably started around 11, I could make it into NYC for her second set at midnight if I took off right away. Now I am, if anything, not a spontaneous kind of guy so I surprised myself and was kind of giddy over this decision. I hopped on the highway, made my way to the Turnpike and arrived in the city in record time getting there just a few minutes past midnight. I made it into the club and saw some familiar local faces, Gregg and Joanne, Jessi K, and Josh. I was told that Kim didn't think there would be a second set as attendance was sparse and people had left once the first set finished. I went up to Kim to inform her I had arrived, gave her a peck after a minor berating for putting Link Wray over her, all was forgiven. I guess it was my puppy dog expression that got to her as happily she and the Jaguars did go on to do a second set to my delight and might I say that this band has gotten much tighter from their time on the road! It was not the same unit that played hesitatingly at VLV due to a replacement guitarist with less than 2 days rehearsal to learn the tunes, they rocked baby!!! Kim as always was a sight to behold, a lovely vision in red western wear and a smile that lit the room. Kim and the Jaguars smoked the joint with their new guitarist, whose name I didn't catch hopping all over the place ending up standing on the drums a few times. At one point Kim asked if anyone was from Texas, and some clown in the back of the bar yelled out, "Fuck Texas!" Kim lured him up to the front of the stage and smacked the guy one. Don't mess with Texas around this gal!

The brief second set included Elvis' "Trouble," Ray Smith's "You Made A Hit," the swell original "Saturday Jump," Johnny Carroll's "The Swing," and several others. Kim looked like she was having a ball ever second she was on stage. A rockin' lady of the first order. I cannot wait untilI see her again! Wotta woman!!! Pick up her new CD on Hightone Records pronto! You won't be sorry!

Whew! What a night, Link Wray and Kim Lenz in one evening. No stopping this rockin! But one could expect no less from the Jersey Wildcat!!!

© 1998 Lawrence A, Shell, All Rights Reserved. Reprinting without permission is verboten