at Radio Radio
1119 Prospect Street, Indianapolis, IN 46203
June 24th, 25th & 26th

IN REVIEW ...
    Back Home Again in Indiana:
    Rockabilly Rebel Weekend No. 12

By Barry M. Klein

Okay, okay! I know that invoking Jim Nabors' rendition of the song "Back Home Again In Indiana," which he sings prior to all of the Indianapolis 500 car races, might seem to be a poor way to describe returning to a Rockabilly Rebel Weekend in Indianapolis after a two year absence, but lend me your ear for a minute!

After all, anyone who has attended one or more of David Loehr's Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekends knows what a unique experience it is: much different than the larger festivals of Hemsby, Las Vegas, and Green Bay. These weekends orchestrated by David Loehr combine the advantages of a well-planned, talent-ladened weekend with the intimacy of a venue that takes part in one hotel location during the day, and another location for the rockin' and dancin' in the evenings. This smaller, more intimate, and easy-to-navigate location, plus David Loehr's solid production of talented musicians, gives rockabilly fans an opportunity to dance, listen, watch and enjoy their favorite beverage without having to leave one place.

David Loehr, internationally known as the owner and operator of the James Dean Gallery (which recently moved from Fairmont, Indiana to Gas City), must love what he is doing. There is so much effort that goes into the booking, planning and execution of these weekends that could ever be possibly rewarded by steep financial gains. What we have here is a man who loves what he does, and believes in the product he provides to its beneficiaries.

Even though I personally missed the Thursday evening performances, within five minutes after I checked in to the Country Hearth Inn and Suites on Friday afternoon, I felt like I was coming home for the holidays.

Before we get into the reviews and descriptions of activities, I must, on behalf of all the attendees, thank David Loehr and Lenny Prussack for their hundreds of hours of work in providing musicians, fans, vendors, dancers and the nice folks just looking to have a good time with consistent, well-organized and well-executed weekends full of great music, darn good dancin', interesting shopping, and fantastic car shows.

A brief word about the newer venue for Rockabilly Rebel Weekends, Radio Radio: I will not lie and tell you that I didn't miss the Fountain Square Theatre, and as I first set foot in Radio Radio, I underwent a brief bit of "culture shock" because of the size of the venue. Fountain Square Theatre was not only much roomier, but there was also a balcony, a basement with game rooms, a diner serving real 50's style food, and a room full of merchandise and antique furniture which I am not sure still exists.

That said, Radio Radio provided a clubby, crowded atmosphere whose only limitations were good sight lines to the stage and a little lack of room for the standing audience and dancers. Knowing the economics of producing a weekend featuring that many talented performers, we have to put our trust with David Loehr to do everything he can do to pull these great weekends off.



THURSDAY

As I indicated, I was unable to attend the first night of Rockabilly Rebel Weekend XII, Thursday, due to a semi-annual meeting of the Board of Trustees for the Oakland University Foundation (since we meet only twice per year, I could not skip that one). However, the distinguished curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Bob Timmers, attended the performances of The Wakefields, The Roundups, The Rumblejetts, and Nick Curran and the Nitelifes, so I am able to describe some of Thursday's highlights.


THE WAKEFIELDS
(Photograph provided by Joe "Jomama" Hadden)


THE WAKEFIELDS
(Photograph provided by Bob Timmers, Curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame)

The Wakefields are a Seattle-based group, but two of their members have Indiana roots. Bob noticed that they did a lot of their own material, and much of their set list appeared to be their own songs. The first five songs of their set were "Sittin' and Thinkin'," "Invitation to the Blues," "Never Me," "Every Time," and "Big Door." Other songs in their set, which are not commonly covered by other bands, included "Watcha Gonna Do" and "Sweet Sweet Girl." Unfortunately, I could not find any web site for The Wakefields to give you more information, but Bob indicated that they delivered a fine set, and the crowd enjoyed them very much.


THE ROUNDUPS
(Photograph provided by Bob Timmers, Curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame)


THE ROUNDUPS
(Photograph provided by Bob Timmers, Curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame)

The next set featured The Roundups, who are hometown boys from Indianapolis. Bob describes them as a 40's-50's style country band, similar to groups that were on the Town Hall Party or the Grand Ole Opry in the early 50's. In addition to the l ead singer/guitar player, they have a drummer, steel guitar player and an upright bass player. Some of the songs in their repertoire included "In The Jail House Now" (the Webb Pierce version, as opposed to the Jimmie Rodgers version) and "Peroxide Blonde."


THE RUMBLEJETTS
(Photograph provided by Joe "Jomama" Hadden)


THE RUMBLEJETTS
(Photograph provided by Bob Timmers, Curator of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame)

The third band on Thursday was the Rumblejetts, who hail from Kansas City. I recall from the way Bob Timmers was describing them to me, using words like "very good," "animated," and "Grade-A performance," and that he really liked them, inasmuch as I do not know Bob to engage in hyperbole. Actually, when I brought up their web site, there were some moving targets and I was unable to get too much information about the band. However, there was a place provided for me to contact the band, which I did. Almost immediately, I received a voicemail message from Cilla at Big Top Productions, telling me she was sending some information on the band as well as a new 4-song CD entitled "Fourplay," which arrived at my office promptly. Incidentally, the Rumblejetts CD was reviewed in the current issue of Blue Suede News, and the Rumblejetts, along with Friday night's opening act, Jerry King & The Rivertown Ramblers, were two bands from the Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend XII that were invited to take part in the July 5, 2004 Sun Studio "Big Bang" sponsored by Sun Studio celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the recording of "That's All Right Mama" by Elvis, Scotty and Bill.>br>
The Rumblejetts' lively set included such standards as "Big River" (Johnny Cash), "Crusin'" (Gene Vincent), "Thirty Days" (Chuck Berry), as well as their own compositions including "Big Bouffant," "Roostina" and "Rebel/Jagged Bottle." After listening to their CD myself, I sort of agree with Blue Suede News in that, on their own compositions anyway, the Rumblejetts sound a little bit like The Stray Cats, which is a compliment as far as I am concerned. They do have a good, up-tempo rockabilly sound, and their repertoire includes song covers from the likes of Johnny Burnette, Sid King, Link Wray, Jerry Reed, and even the Reverend Horton Heat.

It looks like I might have to do a make-up class, after missing Thursday night!


NICK CURRAN AND THE NITELIFES
(Photograph provided by Bob Timmers, Curator for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame)

The "clean up" act on Thursday night was Nick Curran and The Nitelifes. I know Nick Curran as a Texas-based blues guitarist who performed at the Green Bay Rockin' 50's Fest in 2002. As a matter of fact, I believe I saw Nick appear in at least three sets that I attended there, and his talent is in such demand, he might have appeared on even more sets than I saw. Bred on blues from his father, Nick also played guitar with Ronnie Dawson, after which he had quite a stint with Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars. Since then he has been releasing CD's for approximately five years, and I believe his newest CD is "Player."



FRIDAY, JUNE 25

Now we begin my actual first-person narrative account. As I pulled in to the Country Hearth Inn and Suites in mid-afternoon, the first thing I observed was the Road Rockets beginning to organize their Saturday car show in the parking lot. After checking in, the first table in the vendor area I encountered on the way to my room was, of all things, the Rockabilly Hall of Fame table hosted by our leader and curator, Bob Timmers. It was there that I met Art Adams, who I learned had performed at a pre-Indy weekend show on Wednesday, and then I was introduced to Roc LaRue and his wife Pat.

I had only learned of Roc LaRue's existence about two years ago on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame e-group. Roc, whose real first name is Roger, had recorded rockabilly records in 1957 and 1958 including "Baby Take Me Back," "Teenage Blues" and "I'm Not Ashamed" on the RAMA label, and "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine" and "If I Were In Your Shoes" on the Holland label in 1958. He again released some music in 1967 and l968 including one dynamite yodel song called "Cute Little Yodeler," which tore down the house later that evening during his set at Radio Radio. More about Roc and his enthusiastically received set on Friday in just a little bit.

While in the vending area, I met Joe "Jomama" Hadden who volunteered to send me pictures from the show on Thursday night, and promptly kept his word immediately after the festival. That afternoon I also met Jeff Potter, who plays keyboards and harmonica with The Lustre Kings, who not only performed on Saturday, but also backed up Wanda Jackson in her set. Jeff, who was smoking a Dunhill English-made pipe, is from North Hampton, Massachusetts.

Also at the vendor area, I saw Victor J. Skelly, who I have known for a few years as "Vic." A fellow Detroiter, Vic is an expert vintage clothing entrepreneur who is just opening a store at 23902 Van Born Road in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.

I arrived at Radio Radio a little after 4 PM to meet Bob Timmers and the All Star Band that was scheduled for a sound check prior to the show for the Roc LaRue performance. Radio Radio, while admittedly not having the beauty, wide open spaces, and amenities of the Fountain Square Theatre, was nevertheless well set up for sound and stage. Speaking of sound, as wonderful a job as Dave Loehr does with these Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekends, the one person most on the spot who has to adapt quickly during every second of each night is Stu Standers, who again was in charge of the sound, as he has been for every Indy Rockabilly Rebel Weekend that I have attended. Hats off to Stu!!


JERRY KING AND THE RIVERTOWN RAMBLERS
MAKE CINCINNATI PROUD


The first act on Friday night was Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers from Cincinnati, Ohio. What a way to start the day! While I have not had an opportunity to listen to any of their recorded music, their energetic and well-played set foreshadowed the great performances that I observed all evening. The Rivertown Ramblers consist of Jerry King on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Jason Roeper on lead guitar, Lonesome Chewy on acoustic guitar, Dave Willman on drums, and Jeremiah Brockman on upright bass. I have run into Jeremiah before, and like an old Steve Martin skit, he's one "wild and crazy guy!" On stage the entire band launched a spirited set, featuring such songs as "Raging Sea," "Rubbed Off," "Mean Lil' Mama," "It's All Over," a Chuck Berry tune covered by Ronnie Hawkins called "Forty Days" (it's the same song as "30 Days" - perhaps it earned interest), "Go Fast," "Hold My Baby," "Right Behind You," "Crazy Woman" and "Money Honey." Great music, animated performances, just a great way to start gettin' the folks on the dance floor! Actually, Jerry was into the spirit of things so much that he brought his act into the audience as well.


JERRY KING, JUST BEFORE JUMPING ONTO THE DANCE FLOOR!

In between the performing bands, DJ Del Villarreal, the pride and joy of Ann Arbor, Michigan, did a good job spinning the grooves so we all could hear more of the sounds that motivated our move to Indianapolis this weekend.


DJ DEL VILLARREAL,
THE PRIDE AND JOY OF ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN.

(Photo courtesy of Bob Timmers)


LEFT TO RIGHT: CHRIS, ROC, PAT AND ROGER LaRUE.


THREE LOVELY LADIES FROM COLUMBUS, OHIO.


BIGGER THAN ELVIS

Friday's second band was Bigger Than Elvis. I believe they had performed at other Rockabilly Rebel Weekends, but earlier in the series before I began attending. The band consists of Danny Thompson on guitar and vocals, Mark Cutsinger on drums, and David "Tufty" Clough, the bassist, who just so happens to also own Radio Radio, and I hear that Bigger Than Elvis performs regularly there. Danny Thompson looms large on the stage both physically and musically, and the song selection, arrangements and Danny's spirited guitar playing and vocals, added with a great rhythm section, made this experience one of the best sets of the weekend.


IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG FOR BIGGER THAN ELVIS
TO GET THE FOLKS ROCKIN'.


Although we got a hunk of Elvis, including "Hunk of Love," "Blue Moon," "My Baby Left Me," and other songs that were recorded by Elvis, we also heard Ray Price's "Crazy Arms" (Jerry Lee Lewis had a hit with it too), and the Beatles' "I'll Cry Instead." Also of note was the Rock and Roll Trio's "My Baby's Got Nothing But Sweet Love On Her Mind," Roy Orbison's "Running Scared," and also Jerry Lee Lewis' "Wild One" and "Whole Lot of Shakin'." It takes both guts and talent for someone to sing Roy Orbison's "Running Scared," but in the end, the guys in the audience were screaming just as loud as the gals - Danny Thompson is a huge talent (no pun intended here)!


CAVE CATT SAMMY: THAT'S STEVE SCOTT ON LEAD GUITAR,
AND BEAU "SAMMY" SAMPLE ON BASS AND VOCALS.



BEAU POUNDING THE BASS AND SINGING, WITH PAUL WARD ON DRUMS,
AND DUSTIN "OL SMOKEY" HUTCHINSON ON RHYTHM GUITAR.


The next band, Cave Catt Sammy, was a band that we have all seen before, and look forward to seeing again. A few years ago, Beau Sample and his bandmates were not old enough to drink in most states, but even then they had an enormous amount of talent. Already veterans in their mid-20's, Cave Catt Sammy has released three CD's, the last two of which, "Love Me Like Crazy" and "Whiskey and the Devil," are on Rubrick Records and both have been favorably reviewed by me in previous columns.


A PLETHORA OF PEOPLE ENJOY
A CLOSER LOOK AT CAVE CATT SAMMY.


After accumulating stage savvy from a heavy tour schedule these past few years, I noticed that there were more folks coming up close to the stage to watch them perform, as opposed to dancing. Beau's vocals came through very well on the sound system, and their set list (which I was unable to obtain) appeared to give us a potpourri of material from standards such as "Wine Wine Wine" to hits from their prior releases, including "Sticky Fingers" and "I Hate You Gin."

Despite a wealth of their own original material, the fellows had a good time with standard rockers including the last song of the set, Ronny Self's "Bop-A-Lena," and their encore number "Hard Headed Woman." It is interesting to note that on Friday night, two of the five bands were fronted by lead singing bass players.


THAT'S DAVE MOORE PLAYING GUITAR FOR ROC LaRUE.
DAVE ALSO HAS TOURED WITH BILLY ADAMS,
AND NOW PRODUCES FOR WILD HARE RECORDS.



DAVE MOORE PLAYED GUITAR AND PRODUCED A 4-SONG VINYL EP
JUST RELEASED FEATURING ROC LaRUE.
THAT'S CHRIS LaRUE ON KEYBOARDS.



ROC LaRUE TORE 'EM UP! THAT'S SON ROGER ON DRUMS,
ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME'S BOB TIMMERS ON GUITAR,
AND JOHNNY BONES OF THE HELLDIVERS ON BASS.


Because they never did get their sound check, I did not see the All Star Band assembled for Roc LaRue's performance until they took the stage for their show. What a band!! Roc Roc LaRue, of course, was on vocals and guitar. You can see that with his cool blue jacket and great stage appearance, Roc was going to give us a good show, and that band was something else! Dave Moore, on guitar, I had seen in Green Bay in 2002 playing for Billy Adams. Subsequent to Green Bay, I reviewed CD's in which Dave Moore was involved, and I will spend more time later on telling you what Dave Moore has been up to lately. Also on guitar was the Rockabilly Hall of Fame's own Bob Timmers, and I love to see two lead guitar players working together, as I will also talk about Mark and Graham from the Lustre Kings a little later. Also in Roc's band were his two sons, Chris on keyboards and Roger on drums. Roger is actually Roger LaRue Jr., named after Roc's given name. It was Roc's son's discovery of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the reverence many rockabilly fans today have of his dad that led to Roc coming out of retirement for our benefit. Johnny Bones of the Helldivers was on bass and rounded out this rockabilly super group. More on Johnny Bones, Dave Moore, Wild Hare Records, and Ace Brown and his Helldivers a little later.


PAT LaRUE'S FACE AT THE MOMENT
ROC WAS TELLING US ABOUT HIS FAMILY,
AND ROGER AND SHELLYE'S EXPECTING TWINS.



ROC LaRUE . . . THEN


ROC LaRUE . . . NOW

Roc's first three songs, "Get a Little Closer," "One More Time," and "We're Going To Move," got the audience going, and then Roc spoke to the crowd a bit, telling them about his history in the 50's and 60's, and how he came to appear on the stage that evening. He then introduced the members of the band, including his two sons, as well his wife, Mary, in the audience. After mentioning that son Roger and his daughter-in-law, Shellye, were expecting twins, which would double the amount of grandchildren, I saw the proud look on Mary's face and had to capture that moment with a picture of her. I hope she didn't mind my being a little like Ron Galella, the paparazzo photographer who hounded Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but I thought it was a great moment worth capturing.

After that, Roc rocked! Resuming his set with his first hit in 1956, "Baby Take Me Back," he mixed it up with a little bit of rockabilly, country, and rock and roll with such songs as "I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine," "I'm Not Ashamed," "What Am I Living For" (several versions of that song, but Roc seemed to emulate Conway Twitty's arrangement), "Baby Let's Play House," "She's My Woman," and his last planned song of the set, "Cute Little Yodeler," which he recorded for the Wyncotte label in 1967. Boy, he's still got it! MC Ken Motee didn't need to give the audience much encouragement, as they were not going to let Roc walk away without an encore.

This was truly one of the musical highlights of the weekend.


ART ADAMS, WHO PERFORMED AT THE PRE-INDY PARTY ON WEDNESDAY,
FINDS A FAN ON HIS LAP FRIDAY NIGHT.



WELL, LOOKEE HERE - NOW IT'S SWEET PEA!
THAT MAN HAS CHARISMA.

Rounding out the evening's performances were the Moondogs.


THE MOONDOGS ... THAT'S JIMMY SUTTON, OF COURSE, ON BASS AND VOCALS,
AND STEVE SZCZEBOWSKI ON GUITAR, NOT WELL-SEEN, BUT HEARD, ON DRUMS IS PERRY LaFINE.


Led by Jimmy Sutton on vocals and bass, the Moondogs also features Perry Lafine on drums and Steve Szczebowski on guitar (I think it's a Gretch). Jimmy Sutton is well known as a complete musical talent. In addition to singing and playing bass, Jimmy is known for his proficiency in many musical genres, including rockabilly, blues and jump blues, as well as producing (I believe he produced a CD for Craig "Bones" Maki's former group, Big Barn Combo).

Jimmy Sutton has an excellent resume as a performer, having been a member of the Mighty Blue Kings, The Rockin' Blue Notes, The Rebel Rousers and Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms prior to the current incarnation of The Moondogs. This is actually the second time around for The Moondogs; their first was prior to the formation of The Mighty Blue Kings. I guess what goes around comes around, eh!



SATURDAY, JUNE 26


THAT'S CASH O'RILEY, WHO I HOOKED UP WITH SATURDAY IN THE VENDING AREA.


DIG THAT SHARP 1954 PONTIAC CATALINA AT THE ROAD ROCKETS SHOW.


THE COLUMBUS KITTENS AT THE ROAD ROCKETS PINUP CONTEST.
(Photo courtesy of Joe "Jomama" Hadden.)


ANOTHER STAR AT THE PINUP CONTEST. TWO STARS, THAT IS!!
(Photo courtesy of Joe "Jomama" Hadden.)


SHE STOLE THE SHOW AGAIN: LURLENE THE TRAILER COURT QUEEN -
AKA LYNNE GREENAMYRE FROM KANSAS CITY.

(Photo courtesy of Joe "Jomama" Hadden.)


I HEARD THAT THESE CARS ARE STILL IN GOOD SHAPE,
EXCEPT FOR THE WORN REAR SEATS.

(Photo courtesy of Joe "Jomama" Hadden.)


THAT FELLA IN FRONT OF THIS STREET ROD
LOOKS LIKE HE MISSED BREAKFAST!

(Photo courtesy of Joe "Jomama" Hadden.)


ALSO SPOTTED IN THE VENDING AREA:
CRAIG "BONES" MAKI, GRAHAM TICHY AND KEITH JASON.

Being an early riser and figuring that the daily activities would not start until the afternoon, I remembered that there was a Cracker Barrel about five or six miles from the hotel, so I moseyed on over there and indulged myself in a Truck Driver's Breakfast consisting of pecan pancakes (with plenty of pure maple syrup), turkey sausages, orange juice and coffee. Before I left the hotel parking lot, I noticed that the Road Rockets were already busy lining up additional cars and preparing for their big show. After returning to the hotel, I said hello to old and new friends at the vendor area and came upon Dave Moore, who as I mentioned earlier, is a heckuva a guitarist, in addition to being on a mission to promote old rockabilly music legends as well as introduce the world to his newer discoveries.


FRANK FROM D.C. ATTRACTS A CROWD, INCLUDING ROC LaRUE AND DAVE LOEHR,
IN THE VENDORS AREA WITH HIS CARD TRICKS.



WILD HARE RECORDS
FRONT ROW LEFT: NIC ANTONETTI, FRED "THE OAR" BORJA,
BACK ROW: BOB TIMMERS, JOHNNY BONES,
KIERSTEN PRUETT, DAVE MOORE, ACE BROWN


I learned from Dave Moore that he is now producing records for Wild Hare Records of Berkley Springs, West Virginia. Boy, has he been keeping busy! He just released a new four-song Roc LaRue 45RPM EP, "Get a Little Closer," and has been working with old timers like Joe Penney, Fidlin' Joe Shewbridge (played for Patsy Cline), rockabilly legend Pat Cupp, and two CD projects for Billy Adams, for whom Dave has been playing guitar including at the Oneida Casino's Green Bay Rockabilly spectacular in 2002. In addition to the new Billy Adams CD, Dave is organizing a tribute CD to Billy Adams with both newer and older rockabilly artists appearing on this album. Dave's mission statement for Wild Hair Records is simple: Draw attention to living legends, and discover new artists. Dave's newest discovery, Ace Brown and His Helldivers, played at the Road Rockets show Saturday afternoon, and I had an opportunity to listen to the CD after I returned home. The 12-song set featured mostly songs written by Ace Brown, along with some by Johnny Bones, as well as a couple of collaborations between Ace Brown and Johnny Bones. The 12-song set supposedly ends with Mack Self's "Vibrate," but there's a "radio interview" at the end, with a disc jockey sounding a lot like Dave Moore, and it turns out to be a promotional piece in a humorous vein, with Dave taking the part of the deejay interviewing the band, who say nice things about Dave as well as promote their upcoming appearance at the Indianapolis Rockabilly Weekend 12. The CD is a classic rockabilly sound, with drums and bass integrating very well, along with Ace's vocals and guitar, giving us a very authentic, mostly up-tempo, rockabilly sound. It's toe-tapping, danceable music, and I think we are going to hear a lot more about Ace Brown and his Helldivers.
Incidentally, the name "Helldivers" came from the U.S. Navy dive-bomber plane from World War II. In addition to Ace Brown on guitar and vocals and Johnny Bones on bass and backing vocals, the group also includes Fred the "OAR" Borja on drums (the OAR stands for Original Asian Rocker), and joining the group recently (not pictured on the CD, but pictured here) is rhythm guitarist Nic Antonetti. Anyone wishing further information about Ace Brown and the Helldivers or the activities at Wild Hare Records can contact Dave Moore at " wildharerecords@aol.com, or call (304) 258-0014. The Helldivers have their own web site at www.thehelldivers.com.


CASH O'RILEY (right) AND THE DOWNRIGHT DADDIES.

Later Saturday afternoon at the Road Rockets car show, Cash O'Riley and The Downright Daddies performed. Cash O'Riley and The Downright Daddies consist of Cash O'Riley on guitar and vocals, Johnny Itch on doghouse double bass, and Slim Stickman on drums. I have written about them many times, so let's talk about the great set they did at the Road Rockets show in Indianapolis on Saturday. In addition to their own compositions, Cash and the boys played an enthusiastic set that included two Johnny Cash songs ("Big River" and "One Piece At a Time"), and they seldom do a set without invoking Ted Nugent's "I Love Rock and Roll." An appreciative crowd responded favorably to their hardworking set.


KUDO'S TO DAVE LOEHR AND LENNY PRUSSACK FOR
YET ANOTHER GREAT ROCKABILLY REBEL WEEKEND!



THE "BETTER HALF" OF THE HONEYBEES:
DRUMMER THERESA ON THE LEFT, WHO I MET AT INDY 5 YEARS AGO,
AND BARBARA AND RACHEL ON VOCALS.



THE HONEYBEES IN ACTION,
EXCEPT WE CAN'T SEE THERESA IN THIS PICTURE.



THERE SHE IS!

Moving on to the evening activities at Radio Radio, I arrived early enough to observe a sound check with the Honeybees. The Honeybees are a Chicago-based rockabilly sextet featuring two ladies on vocals, Barbara Clifford and Rachel Decker, and Theresa Drda on drums; male members include Shawn Koch on lead guitar and vocals, Michael Hogeorges on bass, and Mark Braun on rhythm and pedal steel guitar. I had met Theresa at Rockabilly Rebel Weekend VII, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to see her perform. The Honeybees, like Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers on Friday night, were an excellent group to start the evening off, turning in an excellent set. In addition to songs such as "Sugar 'n Spice," "Road Trippin'," "A Fool Like You," and "Cherries Jubilee," they did great covers of Carl Perkins' "True Love," and the Ricky Nelson hit penned by the Burnette Brothers, "Believe What you Say." Just five days after their performance at Rockabilly Rebel Weekend, I was traveling and missed their stop at the New Way Bar in Ferndale, Michigan on July 1, which was part of their "She-Demons Rockabilly" tour that included the Casey Sisters from Austin, Texas and Dawn Shipley and the Sharpshooters from Los Angeles. I would have loved to catch that date on their tour.

The second group taking the stage Saturday was Bones Maki and the Sundodgers.


GRAHAM TICHY ON LEAD GUITAR, BONES MAKI ON VOCALS AND RHYTHM GUITAR,
KENNY BRUCE ON BASS: THAT'S BONES MAKI AND THE SUNDODGERS.


In the approximately forty articles I have written for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame during the last six years, I have probably written about Craig "Bones" Maki in about 25% of them. Not that he doesn't deserve it: Bones is a good singer and songwriter, his knowledge of rockabilly past and present is nonpareil, and he's a nice guy. When you add one of the best bassmen in the business, Kenny Bruce, and purebred lead guitarist Graham Tichy, you get a combustible combination that can burn up any dance hall in the country. Beginning their set as the trio they are, and have recorded as on two CD's, they were soon joined on stage by Keith Jason on rhythm guitar, and Jason Snay of the Lustre Kings on drums. I have previously mention Keith Jason in my Jack Earls' birthday party article. He is a country music deejay from WSDS of 1480AM in the Ypsilanti, Michigan area that is broadcast on the internet (www.WSDS1480.com), and Keith also plays guitar, mandolin and sings.


A PHALANX OF FANS CROWD THE DANCE FLOOR TO WATCH
BONES MAKI AND THE SUNDODGERS.



KEITH JASON JOINS BONES AND THE GUYS.

The music was nothing short of outstanding, and drew from much of Bones Maki's compositions, including "Red Eyed Handsome Man," "Up Through the Gears," "Boppin' Jeannie" (a big favorite of mine), and several others. He also sang old favorites that his band has performed or recorded, including "Woodpecker Rock" and "Rock 'n Roll Baby," a classic tune by the late Detroit star, Eddie Jackson (Craig Maki actually produced and released recordings of Eddie Jackson material that contributed to a resurrection of Eddie's career prior to his passing away recently). Judging by the screams, thunderous ovations, and crowded dance floor, it was obvious that Bones Maki and the Sundodgers had once again made a big mark at a Rockabilly Rebel Weekend. It was nice to see that Bones included several songs from the Sundodgers' second CD, "Ride Again." The only problem Bones is going to have in a few years is figuring out his song sets - he already has recorded so much original material on CD's featuring Big Barn Combo and Bones Maki and the Sundodgers, it's going to be a challenge to pick out which songs to play on any given night (not to mention the requests that are shouted from the floor). I guess that's a good problem to have! By the way, there are some weddings coming up - for Bones and Graham in early fall (not to each other). Maybe I'll be next!


BOB BENDSTON FROM MINNEAPOLIS WAS THE
WINNER OF THE ELECTRIC GUITAR DRAWING.



THE LUSTRE KINGS - BOY, WERE THEY GOOD!

The Albany, New York based band, The Lustre Kings, is a rockabilly band I have enjoyed listening to for several years, and they have played at just about all of the major Rockabilly festivals. Led by Mark Gamsjager, the Gretch-toting guy who plays guitar and handles most of the vocals, the Lustre Kings mainly consist of Mark and Graham Tichy on guitars, Jim Haggerty on upright bass, Mark Foster on drums, and Jeff Potter on harmonica and keyboards. However, in the newest Lustre Kings' CD, "That's Show Biz," there is a list of erstwhile Lustre Kings that includes at least a dozen more names, including Kenny Bruce, Eddie Angel, John Tichy (former Commander Cody member and the proud father of Graham Tichy), Bill Kirchen (another former Commander Cody guitarist) Graham Tichy, lead guitar, and Cliff Lyons, who plays the tenor sax on some songs on "That's Show Biz." I have always enjoyed listing to the Lustre Kings, and I have a deep respect for Mark Gamsjager's passion and perfectionism for putting out high-grade performances. I must say, however, that the two sets the Lustre Kings played on Saturday, June 26, their own set and as the participating band for Wanda Jackson's performance, were better than ever before. About half of the Lustre Kings' set consisted of Songs from the new CD, "That's Show Biz," including "The Livin' End," "You Don't Call," "Set You Free," "Maybe Little Baby" (a George Jones composition), and "Little Baby" (a Buddy Holly tune). Playing as a quintet, their set was excellent in every way: Sound, vocals, instrumental integration, variety, two excellent guitars including "Graham Cracker Boogie" featuring Graham Tichy, and I guess it's just a case the sum of all the parts being even greater than the individual components. With two great lead guitarists, a solid rhythm section and Jeff Potter adding variety with his harmonica and piano, it was just outstanding!


THAT'S JEFF POTTER, ON KEYBOARDS AND HARMONICA, WITH THE LUSTRE KINGS.

Apparently, the Lustre Kings are in high demand for personal appearances, because when I checked their www.LustreKings.com, I found them to be booked almost half of the month of June. After such a sweaty set, including on the stage and dance floor, the Lustre Kings sure did not lose their groove for the Wanda Jackson set that followed.


I WAS LUCKY TO GET THIS CLOSE FOR A PICTURE OF THE FABULOUS WANDA JACKSON


SEE WHAT I MEAN!

In 1999, Wanda Jackson appeared as the major star at Rockabilly Rebel Weekend VII. At that time, no one could dispute her status as an icon in popular music, including rockabilly, rock and roll, and country and western music. After her memorable set with the Cadillac Angels, with whom Wanda has worked for many years, from the line at her autographic table, it was as if the President or the Queen of England was present.

Indeed, Wanda Jackson IS royalty. I did not believe it was possible for her to become even more popular in the last five years, but that indeed has happened. After winning many awards and rave reviews for her CD last year, "Heart Trouble," Wanda Jackson has more fans now than at any other time in her life. In my hometown of Detroit, Martin Bandyke of the Detroit Free Press gave Wanda Jackson's "Heart Trouble" a maximum 4-stars. Barry Klein's review: "Heart Trouble" has it all: great song selection featuring 16 tracks; a healthy helping of rockabilly rockers; songs penned by the likes of Cowboy Jack Clement, James Intveld, Carl Perkins, Buck Owens, Rosie Flores, Lee Burn Stohler, The Louvin Brothers and, of course, Wanda Jackson. The performing guest stars on this CD appearing with Wanda include Elvis Costello, James Intveld, Lee Rocker of The Stray Cats, Poison Ivy and Lux Interior of the Cramps, Dave Alvin, Mickey Rae and other members of the Cadillac Angels, and Rosie Flores, with whom Wanda has had a professional relationship, as well as a good friendship, for ten years.

"Heart Trouble" was very likely the catalyst in what has become a sustaining renaissance in Wanda's career. Much media mania has been drawn to Wanda, and even the premier magazine of the alt-country world, No Depression, dedicated a major feature on Wanda in issue No. 48, November-December 2003. All of this made Wanda's return to the Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend XII so special, because I would guess at least half of the people attending No. XII were also at No. VII.

I do not know how many times Wanda has played with the Lustre Kings, but there was a sizzling synergism between the two. Although it did not appear on the set list I obtained, Wanda performed a duet with Jim Haggerty on "It's Crying Time Again" that had the crowd screaming. There were so many people flocking toward the stage that there was hardly room for the dancin' folks to do their thing, and it was not easy to be in a position to see much more than Wanda's face, but boy did those vocals stand out! That strong-as-ever voice came through loud and clear on such numbers as "Rockabilly Fever," "Mean Mean Man," I Gotta Know," "Heart Trouble," the Louvin Brothers "Cash on the Barrelhead," "Fujiyama Mama," "Hot Dog That Made Him Mad," her biggest country hit "Right or Wrong," "One Night" (a song that had been done by Elvis Presley and Sonny Burgess, among others), "I Saw The Light," and "Let's Have A Party."

Wanda indicated that some of her songs in this performance were "flip sides" for other people and wondered if the crowd would know who did the song "It'll Be Me." I definitely remember the Jerry Lee Lewis version (I own all three Bear Family Box Sets), and I wasn't sure if anyone else had done it, so I approached an expert, Craig "Bones" Maki, and asked him if Jerry Lee Lewis was the one, and he nodded.

The only way I can describe this set was "pure magic!" I had not danced to any songs in this set, trying to stick to my job as the scribe for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, but when Wanda and the Lustre Kings were called back up for an encore, I grabbed the hand of my friend and great dancer, Marsha from Chicago, to dance the encore number, not knowing it would be about a ten-minute long medley consisting of "Whole Lot of Shakin'," "Rip It Up," "Let's Have a Party," and I forget what else! I'm just glad that I stay in shape!


JERAMIAH, A WELL-KNOWN BASSMAN, CAVORTS WITH ROC AND MARY LaRUE.

For anyone reading this article who did not attend Rockabilly Rebel Weekend XII, you should have more than some regret that you didn't go! Once again, aided by her ever present husband and manger, Wendell Goodman, Wanda signed pictures, LP's, CD's and other items for the scores of people standing in line.


WANDA JACKSON SIGNS A VINYL L.P. FOR KEITH JASON.


DEKE DICKERSON IS ALWAYS A GREAT CLOSING ACT -
WHO WOULD WANT TO FOLLOW HIM ANYWAY?



CHRIS "SUGARBALL" SPRAGUE ON DRUMS AND JIMMY SUTTON ON BASS,
ROUND OUT QUITE A TRIO FOR DEKE DICKERSON.
CHRIS, A 60'S SURF LEGEND, HAS BEEN WITH DEKE IN THREE BANDS. CAN YOU NAME THEM?


David Loehr has been putting together these shows for many years, and he does a great job. So who in the heck was David going to burden with the responsibility of following Wanda Jackson? Well, David had the right answer: Deke Dickerson and The Ecco-Fonics. Actually, the Ecco-Fonics in this case consisted of Jimmy Sutton on bass and vocals (who led the Moondogs to close the Friday Show) and Chris "Sugerball" Sprague on drums. It would take an article of equal length to this entire review to describe the talent, versatility, humor and showmanship qualities of Deke Dickerson. Whether it's rockabilly, country, western swing, surf music, or hillbilly bop, Deke infuses his savvy, knowledge, talent and showmanship in all these genres when he performs.


DEKE DICKERSON NEVER FAILS TO GIVE
AN OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE.

The last several times I have seen Deke, he has brought other "pickers" to the stage to join in, often having several pickers working on one guitar in simultaneous groupings, and he again orchestrated another "All Star Game."

Well, that's all I have to say for now. For any omissions or errors, please forgive me and/or notify me. I missed Rockabilly Rebel Weekends No. 10 and 11, and it was great to get back in the groove! Hope to see everyone soon.


Barry Klein - bmk@bmkre.com





©Barry Klein & Rockabilly Hall of FameR