ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME¨ MERCHANDISE & SERVICES


IN REVIEW ...


at Radio Radio
1119 Prospect Street, Indianapolis, IN 46203
June 23, 24 & 25, 2005

By BARRY M. KLEIN
If I could sum up, in two words, the 13th Annual Rockabilly Rebel Weekend, it would be "Hot Weekend!"

This applies to the hot rockabilly music played over three days and nights, as well as the very hot weather that was omnipresent the entire weekend, including no air-conditioning at the Best Value Inn, where most of the out-of-towners stayed.

As was the case last year, I had a semi-annual Board of Trustees meeting of the Oakland University Foundation on Thursday evening, so I was not able to attend Thursday night's performance. However, due to the assistance of my colleagues at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame®, I will be able to narrate some highlights from Thursday night, as well as include pictures of the performances at Radio Radio.

Each of the three nights' lineups was well balanced and featured talented performers. On Thursday night the batting order started with Ace Brown & The Helldivers leading off, then the Rumblejetts, Art Adams and Lil' Rachel.


ACE BROWN AND HIS HELLDIVERS

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)


ACE BROWN AND HIS HELLDIVERS

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

I had met Ace Brown, Jonny Bones and The Helldivers at Indy Rebel Weekend #12 (www.rockabillyhall.com/indy12.html) and gave a "mini" review of their first CD. The Helldivers celebrated their CD release, "Starlight Rockin' Bop," and performed such tunes as "Feel So Bad," "Chatty Cathy," "Wined and Dined," "Purr Kitty," "Rheumatism Baby," "Jet Plane Jump," and "Water Boilin'."

My associate's notes were very favorable, including The Helldivers' tight sound and great vocals, some featuring 3-part harmonies.


THE RUMBLEJETTS

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)


THE RUMBLEJETTS

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

The next band Thursday was the Rumblejetts, who also performed on Thursday night last year, making me a "two-time loser" for not arriving until Friday both times. The Rublejetts' set included covers by the likes of Johnny Cash ("Cry, Cry, Cry"), Little Richard ("The Girl Can't Help It"), Johnny Carroll ("Crazy Lovin'") and Jimmy Reed ("Honey Hush"). Some of their original songs performed on stage were "Roostina," "Jagged Bottle," "That Girl is Death," and "Rockabilly Lilly." Somebody told me that the Rumblejetts did a Merle Haggard song, although I did find a copy of their set list and didn't see a Merle Haggard song on it. (In the event you haven't read my other reviews, I'm only a fanatic about two things: fanatics and Merle Haggard!)


TWO 50'S ORIGINALS:
JOHNNY POWERS AND ART ADAMS.

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

I really regret not being able to see the Rumblejetts in person again, although I would not look forward to the daunting challenge of trying to get a photo of their exuberant, and constantly-on-the-move guitarist.


ART ADAMS

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)


ART ADAMS WITH MIKE STRAUS ON BASS, MARK CUTSINGER ON DRUMS,
BILL STEWART ON LEAD GUITAR,
AND DANNY THOMPSON OF BIGGER THAN ELVIS SITTING IN.

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)


DANNY THOMPSON, WHO WOWED 'EM LAST YEAR WITH
BIGGER THAN ELVIS, JOINED ART ADAMS.

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

The third act on Thursday night was Art Adams, who I was fortunate to see perform in Green Bay in April. As usual, Art had his regular group that featured Bill Stewart on lead guitar, Mike Straus on bass and Mark Cutsinger on drums. The audience was in for another treat on Art's set as Danny Thompson, the singer from the group Bigger Than Elvis (who knocked 'em dead in Indianapolis last year) took the stage to perform "Tear It Up" with Art and his band. Other songs Art performed included his hit "Dancing Doll," "Sweet Kandi Jean," "Birth of Rock and Roll," "Canadian Lady," and when he did "Hello Josephine," he even bopped right into the audience! I wasn't present for this set, but I can practically guarantee you that the audience was clapping, toe-tappin', dancin' and having one heck of a time.


LIL' RACHEL

(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

Closing the evening was Lil' Rachel, who actually opened the entire festival at Green Bay in April. Although Lil' Rachel lives in Austin now, she was originally from Kansas City, and her group, The Casey Sisters, call themselves that because they are both from KC (Kansas City). So that means that two of the four sets on Thursday night were performed by folks from Kansas City.


LIL' RACHEL HAS A SEXY RED PRINT DRESS

(In Green Bay she wore solid red, not that I noticed.)
(Photo courtesy of Dave Hermsen, USA Assistant for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.)

Lil' Rachel's set included her signature "They Call Me Little Rachel," "Back to KC," "Black Cadillac," "Bang Bang," "Scorched," "I Want to Boogie," and "Your Baby's My Baby Now."


By Friday morning, many of us who were in the steamy Best Value Inn couldn't even get ice in the hotel, and it wasn't long before the adjacent market in the Shell station ran out of ice too. Unhappy but undaunted, the folks sweated their way through the vendor area indoors and saw the Road Rockets setting up for their car show and pinup contest for Saturday.

Meanwhile, at the very crowded pool area, DJ Del Villarreal was on the fly spinning songs, and cooking up burgers and dogs on the barbecue, and I noticed Sweet Pea and others serving beverages (hey, how did they get their ice!?).

The good news about the constant 90°+ temperature is that "the cool" was turned on and working perfectly at Radio Radio, where the Friday night slate included The Freightliners, Billy Poore and Leslee "Bird" Anderson backed by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame band, Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers, and The Twistin' Tarantulas.


THE FREIGHTLINERS


The Freightliners turned out to be, for me at least, the "Discovery" of the weekend. Based in the Indianapolis area, The Freightliners' music has been described as "dieselbilly," "hopped up hillbilly," and "beefed up blue grass." And in fact, two of the four members are actual truck drivers. The band consists of Chad Hasty on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Morrison Foster on double bass, Mark Cutsinger (of Art Adams fame) on drums, and a "Take No Prisoner" guitarist, Mandy Luke, on lead guitar.


THE FREIGHTLINERS


The truck driver motif is apparent in their original material, which includes songs like "Truck Stop Waitress Whose Daddy Owns the Liquor Store," "Truck Drivin' Man," "Cowboy Hat and a Cadillac," "Goin' Back To Texas, " "2 Years, Three Months," "You Ain't Country" and "Tennessee." This is a band that I would definitely like to see again, and I hope it's sooner than later. Check out their web site at www.thefreightliners.com.


BILLY POORE & THE ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME BAND.


The second act on Friday to take the stage was Billy Poore and Leslee "Bird" Anderson, along with the Rockabilly Hall of Fame Band, which featured Bob Timmers on lead guitar, Dave Hermsen on bass, and Justin from the Rumblejetts playing drums. Any non-rockabilly person can find out more about Billy Poore by clicking on www.rockabillyhall.com/billypoore.html, but most people in the rockabilly world are familiar with his easy-to-read book, "Rockabilly ­ A Forty Year Journey."

Among the many things Billy Poore has done with his life in rockabilly has been management, and he managed such artists as Charlie Feathers, Kelly Willis, Johnny Seaton, and his special guest in this set, Leslee "Bird" Anderson.


BILLY POORE AND ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME BAND INCLUDING
(LEFT TO RIGHT) DAVE HERMSEN ON BASS,
JUSTIN FROM THE RUMBLEJETTS ON DRUMS AND
BOB TIMMERS PLAYING GUITAR LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW.


Billy Poore opened this set with three songs, "Flat Out Rock and Roll," "Shake Rattle and Roll" and "Dontcha Call Me Baby." Billy then called up Leslee "Bird" Anderson, who belted out several good selections including "Daddy's A Preacher," "Feelin' Right Tonight," the Brenda Lee hit "Sweet Nuthins" (written by songwriter and Rockabilly Hall of Fame member Ronnie Self), "I Still Can't Forget About You," "Money Honey," a great version of Rosie and the Originals' "Angel Baby," "Pink Slip," "Stuck In a Hole" and "I Need A Man." This set also included Billy and Leslee doing a duet with "No Way Out."


LESLEE "BIRD" ANDERSON


Leslee's rockabilly career has included several performances with the late guitar god, Danny Gatton, and the song that she sang in her Indy set, "Pink Slip," appears on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame CD #4. This anthology of five CD's can be purchased on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame web site: www.rockabillyhall.com/.


WHEN CORNERED, BOB TIMMERS ATTACKS!


As a member and feature writer for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, I believe I am still being objective and accurate when I say that the Rockabilly Hall of Fame band did an excellent job with Billy Poore and Leslee "Bird" Anderson - as a matter of fact, I don't believe I have every seen Bob Timmers in such an animated zone before. He was on fire!


JERRY KING & THE RIVERTOWN RAMBLERS


The next band was Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers. Rivertown is Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Rivertown Ramblers include Jerry King on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, swingin' Dave Johnson on drums, John Pigeon on lead guitar, and the inimitable Jumpin' Jeremiah Brockman on upright bass.


JERRY KING AND JEREMIAH BROCKMAN


I had the pleasure of seeing Jerry King and The Rivertown Ramblers perform at Rockabilly Rebel Weekend No. 12 last year, and I can see why David Loehr invited this group back: these guys can make a zombie jump for joy! The air-conditioning was working very well at Radio Radio, but we could have used some of the air generated by Jeremiah's hair bouncing up and down back at the hot-as-Hades Best Value Inn. Between Jerry King, Jeremiah Brockman and the rest of The Rivertown Ramblers, it was non-stop excitement and energy.

Although I remembered some of the nice tunes I heard last year in their set this year, several other tunes caught my ear: a Conway Twitty arrangement of "Danny Boy," Del Shannon's "Runaway," "Apple of My Eye," "Devil's Child," and "Whose Gonna Rock," among others. The way these guys do "Forty Days," I can see how they have to play their great rendition of the Chuck Berry classic at every show. Come to think of it, I don't think there was anything I didn't like about the performance of Jerry King and The Rivertown Ramblers.


TWISTIN' TARANTULAS


The Twistin' Tarantulas are a group from Detroit fronted by bass banger/singer Pistol Pete Midtgard. Pete, who was at one time with The Frantic Flattops of Rochester, New York, has been the leader of The Twistin' Tarantulas since 1993. A hard-driving rockabilly group with heavy doses of punk, psychobilly, and country, Pete can do a Charlie Rich song and follow it up immediately with a cover of Motorhead, the Ramones, or Tom Jones.

There are several things one can always count on from a Twistin' Tarantulas performance: high energy, loud music, lively performances and an eclectic set list. Pete, who had bladder cancer for which he needed treatment and surgery, seems to show no sign of that crisis. While diagnosed with bladder cancer, Pete even had a benefit that was titled "Bladder Fest," which parallels his direct "in your face" style.

It was nice to see Pete at his best, after not catching his act for almost three years.

It seemed that after two rocking nights with eight high-flying acts, one might wonder if there was enough star power left for Saturday's grand finale. Well, you did not have to worry!


Before we get to Saturday evening, I would like to mention the fun-filled Saturday afternoon outside the Best Value Inn where there was live music by Buck Stevens and the Buckshots, The Honeybees (was I overcome by the heat or were we missing one member of the group?), The Seven Shot Screamers (who now might be old enough to order those 7-shot screamers), The Swamp Rockers, Black Cat Rebellion and The Knuckletones. The pool was still active with food, drinks and music (and it was probably the only place on the property to get cool). After a great car show, food and drinks, we were treated to the famous Pinup Contest (photos of the Pinup Contest were provided by the Indy Road Rockets and can be found on www.indyroadrockets.com/pin_up_contest_and_people.html).


7 SHOT SCREAMERS


BLACK CAT REBELLION


HEIDI ­ PINUP MODEL FOR WILD HARE RECORDS.
(CANDY CIGARETTES!)




THE HONEYBEES






















KELLY, FROM SPENCER, INDIANA, WAS A WINNER IN OUR BOOK!


Some idle thoughts from the afternoon: didn't Eric Reeves, the lead singer for The Swing Rays, look a little bit like the lead singer for The Seven Shot Screamers when they first played Indy several years ago? Although the perennial MC for Rockabilly Rebel Weekend, Ken Motte, was absent due to his tour with the Gin Palace Jesters, I thought Louis Vinci did a nice job. A native of New Jersey, Louis is a singer, DJ, and dancer who handled the chores nicely.


'39 FORD STANDARD


My favorite vehicles at the car show were a '39 Ford Standard (I actually saw two of these) and a '59 Buick Invicta Convertible with a custom Continental Kit.


'59 BUICK INVICTA CONVERTIBLE WITH A CUSTOM CONTINENTAL KIT.


I want to thank The Road Rockets for making pictures available to us of the Pinup Contest, because by the time I got out to the contest area, there was a semi-circle formed with about eight people deep everywhere, and I really couldn't take any good pictures.


THE TWO TIMIN' THREE


The first act Saturday evening at Radio Radio was The Two Timin' Three. The Two Timin' Three, who I saw in the Iroquois Ballroom in Green Bay in April 2005, are a trio who were formed and based in Brighton, Massachusetts in the Boston area; however, by Saturday, June 25, 2005, they were performing in Indianapolis while in the process of moving to Austin, Texas, where they are now based. The Two Timin' Three consists of Eric Laufer on lead vocals and rhythm guitar (born in Buffalo, New York), Jeff Herring on electric guitar (born in Boulder, Colorado) and Shane Kiel on upright bass (born in St. Louis, Missouri).

I noticed on their web site (www.twotiminthree.com) that they "hit the ground running," getting to Austin just in time for their first show, just five days after their Saturday performance in Indianapolis.


LAUREN MARIE JOINS THE TWO TIMIN' THREE ­ A GREAT VOICE!


Their supercharged set included some great songs. "Real Gone Baby" is one I specifically recall, but I didn't get the set list. Great vocals by Lauren Marie on her appearance with the band augmented their already good performance. She has a beautiful voice. Jeff Herring does a great job on lead guitar, and the synergism created by The Two Timin' Three was evidenced by the crowd's response.


LOUIS VINCI FROM NEW JERSEY WAS MC.



THE STAR DEVILS


Kentucky has always been known as a strong breeding ground for pioneering rockabilly performers in the 1950's. This thought went through my mind while watching The Star Devils perform on Saturday night. I could not think of any contemporary rockabilly band that conforms to the orthodoxy of pure rockabilly as The Star Devils do. The Star Devils are Lance Kaufman on vocals and guitar, David Rhodes Brown on lead guitar as well as lap steel, Greg Schramm on drums and Buck Stevens on bass. Buck Stevens (real name Steve Buckel) is also the leader of Buck Stevens and The Buckshots, who performed during the car show Saturday afternoon. I missed Buck's show, but I heard he has quite a good voice.

Lance Kaufman writes most of the songs for The Star Devils, although David Rhodes Brown chips in quite a few tunes too.

One of The Star Devils' CD's, "Diagnosis Dee-Licious," is temporarily sold out.

"The Devils Music" is a great CD that I have reviewed (www.rockabillyhall.com/barrycdreview0504.html) and is a tremendous effort by the band. As a matter of fact, many of the 16 songs in their set were on this CD including "Dickity Do," "Red Hot Ridinghood," "Rollin'," "Buckboard Boogie," "Bobbie Jean," "Off My Rocker," "Flippin' Flo," "Rockabilly Silly" and "Kat Daddy." Lance's vocals, which features his trademarked rockabilly hiccups, are pure in-your-face rockabilly, and somewhere in heaven Johnny Carroll is smiling at the great cover The Star Devils did of "Crazy, Crazy Lovin'." A superb effort, men!


CHRIS CASELLO


I first saw The Starlight Drifters perform about seven years ago at a bar/restaurant about halfway between the northwestern Detroit suburbs and Ann Arbor, Michigan, from where The Starlight Drifters originally hailed. The "Main Drifters" were Chris Casello, who plays lead and steel guitar, and Bill Alton, the group's former vocalist. Chris and Bill parted company about three years ago, and Chris moved to Nashville, where he has been pickin', performin', and recording.


CHRIS CASELLO AND THE STARLIGHT DRIFTERS.


CHRIS CASELLO DEMONSTRATES HIS VIRTUOSITY ON GUITAR.


Chris has recently released a new CD, "Done Moved On," which features 15 tracks, a variety of instrumental and vocal selections that include several of Chris' compositions, as well as classics including Sonny Fisher's "Rockin' Daddy," Merle Travis' "So Round, So Firm, So Fully Packed," and a perky tune penned by Leon Mcaulife and Eldon Shamblin of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, "Twin Guitar Special." Appearing as a Starlight Drifter on Saturday was Mark W. Winchester, a tall, handsome chap with a good voice, who is probably best known as the slap-bass player who frequently performs with Brian Setzer. The drummer for The Starlight Drifters was Mark Horn, who has played with the likes of Sonny Burgess and The Derailers.


SUN RECORDS LEGEND, JOHNNY POWERS, BACKED BY
THE STARLIGHT DRIFTERS.


The cleanup hitter for the entire weekend was Sun Records and rockabilly legend, Johnny Powers. Johnny was backed up by Chris Casello and The Starlight Drifters, who have played and recorded with him for many years.


JOHNNY POWERS:
THE ONLY HUMAN BEING WHO WAS UNDER CONTRACT TO SUN AND MOTOWN.


Born John Leon Joseph Pavlik in East Detroit, Michigan, (now called Eastpointe), Johnny now resides in nearby Utica, Michigan. Johnny came from a musical family (his father's family played music for weddings and local dances). After joining a friend's band as a guitar player in the mid-50's, Johnny shifted from country music to rock and roll when he heard Jack Scott's recording of "Baby She's Gone." Jack Scott, of course, grew up in Windsor and lives in the Detroit area, not too far from Johnny. By 1955, Johnny got an audition with Fortune Records in Detroit, and the owner's wife convinced him to change his name to Johnny Powers after seeing Johnny eating a Powerhouse candy bar. Good things were happening to Johnny after that, and by the summer of 1959, Johnny was signed to a contract with Sun Records. Johnny released a single and flip side "With Your Love, With Your Kiss," b/w "Be Mine." Although several other songs were recorded, another release on the Sun label never followed. With the resurgence of rockabilly in the late '70's and early '80's, Johnny's earlier work, including "Long Blond Hair" and "Rock, Rock" (the original flip side of "Long Blond Hair" that Johnny says was supposed to be the A-side), frequently appear on CD compilations, as well as Johnny Powers CD's.

Johnny is the only artist in our galaxy to be under contract to both Sun Records and Motown, and his five-year tenure at Motown enabled Johnny to develop his talents as a songwriter and producer, and found him working with the likes of Eddie Holland, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder's producer, Clarence Paul. His success as an artist and producer includes publishing companies Powerhouse Music and Jet-Eye Music, and a collaboration with funk musician George Clinton.

I have seen Johnny perform live on several occasions, and his voice, moves and stage presence are tantamount to a person half his age. Johnny performed for over an hour, and the audience was keeping right up with him. He sang some of his older classics as well as newer tunes like "New Spark For An Old Flame" and "I Was There When It Happened." Of course, there was "Me and My Rhythm Guitar," "Rock, Rock," "Mama Rock," "Be Mine," "With Your Love," "With Your Kiss," and he finished with "Long Blond Hair."

This led to an encore consisting of a mini-Sun set that included "That's All Right Mama," "Blue Suede Shoes," "Whole Lot of Shakin'" and "Great Balls of Fire."

With Johnny's performance, Chris Casello's great guitar work, Mark W. Winchester's bass playing and vocals, and Mark Horn's drums, this set was a fitting finale to a fantastic festival of weekend rockabilly.

Barry Klein - bmk@bmkre.com




©Barry Klein & Rockabilly Hall of Fame¨