There's a plethora of possible ways to describe, in a few words, what happened at the Oneida Casino in Green Bay during their "Fabulous 50's Fest" the week of July 7, 2002: The Woodstock of Rockabilly; Hoards of Hillbilly Hell Cats from Hepcat Heaven; Camp Rockabilly; The Titans of Twang; The Gathering of Guitar Gods of the Gyrating Generation. Since there is really no way to briefly describe the magnitude of talent packed into three venues for seven days, I'm going to take the long and winding road and review the week's activities as I saw and heard them.
Beware, I cannot review all 117 performances, excluding DJ's, that appeared for seven days on the 3 Clans Stage, the Iroquois Ballroom and Purcell's Lounge. Since so many acts were concurrent, I felt that it was an accomplishment that I even was able to experience approximately 80% of the acts, and I missed seven or eight by not arriving until late Monday afternoon.
On Monday morning I checked my computer for emails before departing from Detroit's Metropolitan Airport to fly to Green Bay. At 10:12 a.m. Monday, The Rockabilly Hall of Fame e-group received the following e-mail from Bob Timmers.
"WOW", I thought, it's really happening!From: Bob Timmers [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2002 10:12 AM
Subject: [RaB-HoF] Green Bay Update
The crowd was much better than expected for the first night, the 3 acts, Bobby Caraway, Huelyn DuVall, and Royal Crown Review all did very well, had looong autograph lines, great hepped-up crowds.
The casino is beautiful, the people who work here are super friendly, ballrooms are brand new and first class, big TV screens to view on stage performers, I can't say enuff.
This place is jumping, rockabilly legends everywhere you look: Billy Lee Riley, Lew Williams, Mac Curtis, Glen Glenn, Gene Summers, Deke Dickerson, Big Sandy, on and on ... it can only get better - I hope we can handle it.
This is freakin' awesome. More later, gotta run, I might miss something.
After arriving in Green Bay and checking in at the Radisson, I made my way to The Rockabilly Hall of Fame table. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted with a handshake and a hug from a living legend, California's Glen Glenn. From then on, everything was magic.
PAUL BURLISON, LEGENDARY GUITARIST FROM THE ROCK & ROLL TRIO,
WAS ONE OF THE FIRST PERFORMERS I ENCOUNTERED MONDAY.
The first act I saw on the 3 Clans Stage was Sonny Burgess & The "Original" Pacers. Although Sonny's original trumpet player has been gone for many years, Kern Kennedy and Bob Crafford are among The "Original" Pacers, plus Jim Aldridge on saxophone, harmonica and vocals, who has been with Sonny for many years. Although in recent years Sonny Burgess's sets have included covers of non-Sun material, he did not disappoint fans, such as I, who still get a get a kick out of his performing the likes of "We Wanna Boogie", "Ain't Got a Thing", "Red Headed Woman", Ain't Gonna Do It", etc. Heck, so much of his 1996 CD on Rounder sounds just as good as his 50's stuff, so all I can say is "more power to Sonny Burgess!"
SONNY BURGESS AND THE PACERS
After Sonny Burgess's performance in the 3 Clans Stage area, I bopped down the hall to the Iroquois Ballroom where The Barnshakers kicked off that venue's week by turning in a spirited set, with material from several of their albums, but also including some of the great songs on their new Goofin Records release, "Five Minutes to Live". You can see my review of this CD along with other CD's featuring Green Bay groups by clicking here: www.rockabillyhall.com/barrygbcdreview.html.
The Barnshakers are clearly one of Europe's finest rockabilly groups. They hail from Finland and feature Vesa Haaja on vocals and rhythm guitar, Jussi Huhtakangas, also known as Lester Peabody, on lead electric guitar and steel guitar. Rounding out the group are Mika Liikari on upright bass, and Mike Salminen on drums. Joining The Barnshakers on piano is Harri Saanio, also known as Boogie Boy Harris. As the newest member of The Barnshakers, Harri adds yet another dimension to an already fabulous group. Not only was the The Barnshakers' set as good as it gets, they reappeared several times to back up other performers, including Marti Brom.
While on the subject of European rockabilly groups, I would like to make an observation that I believe is shared by many of the attendees at Green Bay: Although rockabilly, like jazz and blues, are products of American culture, the quality of European rockabilly groups is now on a standing equal with those of our native continent. If one looks at the top twenty money winners on the United States Golf Tour in recent years, one will observe that non-American golfers comprise at least 50 percent of the top twenty list. With groups such as The Go Getters, The Barnshakers, Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers, Jack Baymoore & The Bandits, Ike and The Capers, Spo-Dee-O-Dee, and The Tinstars, not to mention the native Europeans who are prominent in U.S. groups such as Big Sandy, Lloyd Tripp and others, it is easy to make a case that our European brethren can boast as many excellent groups as we Americans are proud to have right here in this part of the world. This is another reason why the Oneida Casino's Rockin' 50's Fest was truly a world-class event.
RENE FROM THE WILD WAX COMBO IS A WELL-LIKED MAN
Getting back to the planet earth as it existed in Green Bay, I observed a majority of the audience was hard-core rockabilly/roots fans who were familiar with the performing artists and their material. There was, however, a decent amount of people who attended who were familiar with 1950's rock and roll music, but not to the extent that they knew a majority of the performers as household names. It was good for the rockabilly "movement" to attract these people, and our industry in general benefited from this exposure. Many people in the audience were musicians who perform in the U.S. and Europe, and who may or may not have played at this festival.
Following The Barnshakers on Monday night at the Iroquois Ballroom was Cave Catt Sammy. This quartet from San Antonio, Texas features Beau "Sammy" Sample on vocals and upright bass (he writes most of the songs), Stephen Scott on electric guitar, Dustin "Ol Smoky" Hutchinson on acoustic guitar, and Paul Ward on drums. I have been a fan of Cave Catt Sammy since I saw them perform at the Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend No. 8 in 2000 www.rockabillyhall.com/BarryIndy2000.html.
CAVE CATT SAMMY
Their third CD, "Love Me Like Crazy", has had rave reviews, including mine www.rockabillyhall.com/barrycdreviews.html, and these young men have really "arrived" in the world of rockabilly music. I read in a recent interview by Ken Burke in Blue Suede News that Cave Catt Sammy does over 250 shows per year now, which is extraordinary for a rockabilly band. Four stars boys, keep up the good work!
After Cave Catt Sammy, I moseyed back to the 3 Clans Stage to catch the act that I probably looked most forward to seeing, The Collins Kids. Since I did not attend Viva Las Vegas I, I missed their performance and had yet to see them in person. And since Larry tells me they only do about 6 shows per year, I just had to see this one! A very pleasant surprise was that Deke Dickerson took the stage with Larry and Laurie Collins, which I guess made everything "full circle". After all, Joe Maphis was the original guru of the double-neck Mosrite guitar and, as a regular of the old Ranch Party TV show from the 50's, Joe became a mentor to Larry Collins while he and Laurie were also regulars on that show. Deke Dickerson considers Joe Maphis a hero and an influence, and Larry Collins confessed on stage that he paid Deke the highest compliment by unconsciously
THE COLLINS KIDS WITH DEKE DICKERSON
Well, my expectations were high, and I was not disappointed! Laurie was very lovely and in great voice. Larry, now a mature and ruggedly handsome adult, had considerable stage presence and even hopped and shuffled around as he did when he was 11 years old, although, perhaps wisely, not for the entire duration of a song. I'm not saying that Larry isn't athletic anymore: he confessed to me that he is a single digit handicap golfer, which means he would probably have to give me at least a stroke per hole if we ever played together! While Larry enjoys a life of semi-retirement, golf and occasional performing, Laurie maintains a busy schedule with her career in real estate. They both now live in Reno, Nevada. When I told Larry that my "day job" was in commercial real estate, he told me that Laurie does both residential and commercial properties, and has been very successful with her career. The way they performed on July 8th in Green Bay, I believe they can be successful in whatever they choose to do. It was indeed a magic moment!
LAURIE AND LARRY COLLINS CAN SPEAK TO ME WITH
EXPERTISE ABOUT REAL ESTATE AND GOLF.
DOUBLE-DOSE OF DOUBLE-NECK MOSRITE GUITARS
LARRY AND LAURIE COLLINS WITH DEKE DICKERSON
No rest for the weary: I just had to catch The Ranch Girls and The Ragtime Wranglers, who I had the pleasure of seeing twice last year. The first time was at the Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend No. 9, and then a week later in the Detroit Suburbs. They are very talented singers and performers, and The Ragtime Wranglers, led by Joe Sixpack on lead guitar, are an unbeatable combination. For some reason, I was not 100% happy with the sound system in the Iroquois Ballroom for the first few days, in particular how the vocals sounded, but The Ranch Girls were just lovely and wonderful as usual. And, they finally had a CD released on American soil!
THE RANCH GIRLS WITH ONE OF THEIR MANY FANS
THE RANCH GIRLS & THE RAGTIME WRANGLERS
After the Ragtime Wranglers, I ran back to the 3 Clans Stage to see Gene Summers, who was a big hit in The Rockabilly Hall of Fame East Lounge show at Viva Las Vegas V http://www.rockabillyhall.com/barrykleinvlv5.html. Gene has great stage charisma, and did all of his 50's hits, and once again won over an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd.
The other acts I was able to catch on Monday night included Sonny Rogers and The King Pins, Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Trio, The Blacktop Rockets, and The Bellfuries.
THE BLACKTOP ROCKETS FROM ATLANTA
DO A GREAT SET IN PARCELL'S LOUNGE
I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation of Big Sandy. He has a great voice, excellent stage presence, and always seems to use the finest musicians in America. Whether it's swing, rockabilly, old rock and roll, or the blues and doo-wop set he did on July 13, Mr. Robert Williams can always be counted on for an outstanding, first-rate performance.
The Blacktop Rockets are an excellent rockabilly group from Atlanta, Georgia, and I saw them several times at Viva Las Vegas, as well as at the Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend, so I was not at all surprised to see them pull out all the stops in Purcell's Lounge on July 8. Covers, original songs, good singing, great pickin' and an excellent rhythm section characterized their show. Can't ask for much more, except maybe the lead singer's cool hat.
GLEN GLENN AND GARY LAMBERT: TWO TRUE FRIENDS OF THE
ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME
GUITAR BUFFS GARY LAMBERT AND PAUL "SMOKEY LINKS" COOK,
COMPARE NAIL FILE TECHNIQUES FOR THEIR DAMAGED FINGERS
LINDA SHOPS FOR SUNGLASSES IN THE VENDOR AREA
NO MATTER WHAT FRAN AND I DO, WE'VE ALWAYS GOT
BOB LOOKING OVER OUR SHOULDERS!
The Bellfuries are a group that has had a lot of good press in the Austin, Texas area, and I purchased their first CD via the Texas Jamboree Catalog this past winter. Very unique sound, and I think we are going to hear a lot more from them.
Every person has limitations. My limitation vis-a-vis rockabilly music is that I run 8 miles every other day, usually very early in the morning to beat the heat, and Tuesday morning was my "due date", so I had to miss Darrell Higham, who I had never seen before (but have some of his CD's), my beloved Go Getters (I have all of their CD's and I love these guys), Wayne the Train Hancock, who I enjoyed about three summers ago in Pontiac, Michigan, and The Rockats, who I would have liked to have seen for the first time. Also in this prohibitive time period was Rockin' Ryan & The Real Goners, who I had the pleasure of seeing in Viva Las Vegas. I still didn't fall to sleep until well past Cinderella time, and when I was in my running gear and out of the room just before 6:00 a.m., going through the lobby I met up with Sonny Burgess, who was checking out and catching a shuttle to the airport. About 65 minutes later, as I returned to the lobby soaking with sweat after my 8-mile run, I looked up - way up - and saw that I was standing next to Sleepy LaBeef, who was just checking in. I told Sleepy not to shake my hand because I was literally all wet, and he told me, "Why you better go upstairs and take a shower before you get sick!" I told Sleepy that I had seen Sonny Burgess checking out a little over an hour ago, and now I saw him checking in, so we had Arkansas folks comin' and goin'!
TUESDAY, JULY 9, 2002
Tuesday was another star-studded day in all three venues. In the 3 Clans Stage, the Silverjets, Alvis Wayne, Sid King & The Five Strings. Jimmy McCracklin, Sanford Clark & Al Casey, Lew Williams, Dale Hawkins, Narvel Felts, Charlie Gracie, The Polecats, and Junior Marvel provided enough entertainment in that ballroom alone to fill a bill on a 3-day rockabilly festival. In the Iroquois Ballroom, one of my "top five" favorite European groups, Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers, led off in the early evening, followed by Marti Brom, backed as she has for many tours and recordings by The Barnshakers, and then came Rockin' Lloyd Tripp & The Zipguns (see my review of their new CD in the special Green Bay CD review column: www.rockabillyhall.com/barrygbcdreview.html, Jack Baymoore & The Bandits (the other band JJ from Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers plays lead guitar for), and to close out the night, Ray Condo & His Ricochets. In Purcell's Lounge, which is located in the Radisson Hotel area of the complex, we had California's Hot Rod Lincoln, Detroit's Bones Maki & The Sun Dodgers, the Starline Rhythm Boys, and Sean Kennedy & The King Kats.
The Silverjets, led by lead guitarist Jerome (Rockin' Ryan and the Wild Goners), made an avalanche of appearances at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame West Lounge Show at Viva Las Vegas V over Easter 2002, both with solo sets and providing the music for several rockabilly legends. Green Bay 2002 Rockin' 50's Fest was no exception for The Silverjets, who seemed to be on stage almost every day.
Alvis Wayne got the early afternoon crowd rocking immediately with a very spirited set backed up by Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers. Alvis is "the real thing", and I recommend all of his Rollin' Rock CD's. Call (702) 739-6213 to order.
ALVIS WAYNE AND WILDFIRE WILLIE & THE RAMBLERS
- WHAT A COMBUSTIBLE COMBINATION!
JACK SCOTT PATIENTLY SIGNS RECORDS AND PICTURES FOR A LOOOOOOONG LINE OF FANS
Following Alvis Wayne was Sid King & The Five Strings, which in this case included Sid's brother Billy, who has toured with him for years, and members of The Ragtime Wranglers. Much of Sid King and the Five Strings' classics are memorialized on the Bear Family CD, "Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight". Sid did many of the songs he recorded in the fifties, including his versions of "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee", "Blue Suede Shoes", and "Ooby Dooby". He and Billy also performed the songs for which they were most known by, including "Booger Red", "Who Put The Turtle in Myrtle's Girdle", and many more. Just about my favorite song of theirs, "Good Rockin' Baby", was also included in the set, for which I expressed my gratitude to Sid. Although it has been documented that Sid and his brother Billy spent most of their adult lives owning a barbershop, Sid and Billy have been playing music on the road for many years. These Texas natives built an important bridge in the early and mid 1950's for the transition from country and western music in the south toward the more rhythm and blues sound that became rock and roll. It was a pleasure to see Sid and Billy perform, as well as meet them and see them attending many of the other performers' shows in Green Bay.
SID AND BILLY KING PLAY WITH THE RAGTIME WRANGLERS
SOME OF OUR ALL-AMERICAN ROCKABILLY FANS ENJOYING GREEN BAY
It was nice to see Sanford Clark and Al Casey on the stage together. Sanford, who was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had his first major hit on the Dot label with "The Fool" in 1956. Al Casey, who played guitar on the original recording of "The Fool", is a well-known Arizona-based guitarist. Much of Al Casey's guitar work appears on a recent Bear Family compilation, "Rockin' and Boppin' In The Desert - Arizona Rockabilly Volume I.
SANFORD CLARK AND AL CASEY PLAY TO AN APPRECIATIVE CROWD
Besides "The Fool", Sanford Clark was also well known for "Lonesome For A Letter", which was actually the flip side of "The Fool" the second time it was released. Sanford Clark is a big man with a big heart and a soft-spoken manner who is well liked by his peers. Sanford is always a draw, and packed the house in the West Lounge over Easter at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame stage in the East Lounge of Viva Las Vegas V.
SLEEPY LaBEEF BARELY RECOGNIZED ME TUESDAY NIGHT -
HE SAW ME AT 7:00 A.M. RETURNING FROM AN 8-MILE RUN,
LOOKING A LITTLE DIFFERENT.
THE SILVERJETS PLAY THE IROQUOIS BALLROOM TUESDAY
The next act in the 3 Clans Stage was Lew Williams, who I was looking forward to seeing since I missed him at the main show in Viva Las Vegas IV, due to my emcee duties at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame show. Lew was born in Texas in 1934 and, like many of his peers, grew up listening to country artists like Ernest Tubb and Jimmie Rodgers. After also being exposed to the music of Gene Autry, he started listening to black singers do what was then called "race music" when he was in high school. Eventually, in the 50's, Lew pioneered an early rockabilly sound. After some sessions in 1953, Lew recorded "Cat Talk" in mid-1954, and subsequently wrote and recorded some great rockabilly songs in the mid to late 50's.
LEW WILLIAMS WAS A CROWD-PLEASER
For most of his adult life, Lew Williams has been, and still is, in the commercial mail order business. He confessed to me that for almost 40 years he did not sing, "not even a note in the shower!" That all changed when Bear Family Records released a 29-song CD in 1999, and demands were made for Lew to appear at some large festivals in Europe. Lew told me that he had to "learn how to sing all over again", and after satisfying himself that he had relearned his old vocation, he started to make appearances again. Prior to Green Bay 2002, Lew's major appearance in the United States was at Viva Las Vegas IV. It's nice to see Lew back on the circuit!
In the early evening, Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers were introduced by Del Villarreal to open the evening's program in the Iroquois Ballroom. The last I time I had seen Wildfire Willie & the Ramblers live was at Viva Las Vegas in 1999, and that was the only act I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning to see that year www.rockabillyhall.com/BarryKleinVLV99.html.
DEL VILLARREAL INTRODUCES SWEDEN'S
WILDFIRE WILLIE AND THE RAMBLERS
Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers are a group from Sweden that was actually started over a decade ago by brothers Jyrki "JJ" Juvonen, the lead guitarist, and his brother Markku Juvonen, the drummer. Anders "Pee Wee" Backberg helps the backbeat with his upright bass, and Jan Svensson (Wildfire Willie) handles the vocals and acoustic guitar. One of the most animated and wildest acts on any continent, Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers never fail to give anything less than an outstanding performance on stage, whether it's before 50 or 500 people. Jan (Willie) is so extremely knowledgeable of the history of rockabilly, its artists and songs, I would have to pay him the high compliment of lumping him into the same category as Craig "Bones" Maki, the Detroit-based leader of Bones Maki & The Sun Dodgers, who used to host rockabilly radio shows in the last several years in the Detroit area.
Just before Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers took the stage in Green Bay, I found several fans dressed in T-shirts that read "Sweden Rocks Wisconsin", so I had to include this picture in the article.
"SWEDEN ROCKS WISCONSIN" ... I'LL SAY THEY DO!
"JJ" JUVONEN, LEAD GUITARIST FOR WILDFIRE WILLIE & THE RAMBLERS
JAN SVENSSON IS THE LEAD SINGER AND RHYTHM GUITARIST FOR
WILDFIRE WILLIE AND THE RAMBLERS
MARKKU JUVONEN, JJ'S BROTHER WHO PLAYS DRUMS,
IS A CO-FOUNDER OF THE GROUP
WILLIE STANDS UP ON BASS, ABOVE GUITARIST JJ
BARRY TRIES HIS HAND KEEPING UP WITH MARSHA
HARRY AND MARSHA BURN UP THE DANCE FLOOR
The big crowd in the Iroquois was going crazy over Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers. But there was no bigger fan in the audience than I, who kept standing on a chair and screamin'.
It is European groups such as Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers, The Barnshakers, The Go Getters, and Ike and The Capers that mandate my previous observation that we in the western hemisphere must accept that our brothers and sisters in Europe are as deserving of recognition and attention as our great groups are in North America.
Wildfire Willie only has two CD releases available in the United States, "Getting' My Kicks" on the Lenox record label, and "Rarin' To Go" on the Sunjay label.
As a postscript, Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers played a small venue the Tuesday after Green Bay in Ferndale, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. I told Jan before they did their set that I would like to hear their version of the Maynard Horlick classic "Do The Bop Bop Bop Bop Bop" and Jan confessed that he hadn't done it for a long time. After briefly repeating out loud the lyrics to me from his memory, Jan performed that request as the first of two encores demanded by the crowd that night at the New Way Bar in Ferndale, Michigan.
For those who might visit Detroit any time in the near future, usually every Thursday night is rockabilly night at the New Way Bar, featuring an excellent rockabilly group, Nobody's Business, as well as a jam session. Members of The Starlight Drifters and Bones Maki & The Sun Dodgers are just some of the folks who have hopped up on stage to participate during the Thursday night jam sessions. Although it does not appear on any CD's available in the states, Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers usually perform "Dog My Cat" as their encore song, and it is truly a classic! They did it in Green Bay and Ferndale.
Back in the 3 Clans Stage, Dale Hawkins took the stage and entertained the audience with not only his own brand of "swamp rock" rockabilly, but some interesting anecdotes from the past. Besides "Susie-Q", for which he is best known, Dale had several other excellent songs including "Tornado", and a not-very-rockabilly-sounding song that I always had a weakness for, "La-Do-Dada", which also came out on Checker, in 1958.
DALE HAWKINS CIRCA 1957
Jumping back into the Iroquois Ballroom, I caught Austin, Texas singing star Marti Brom, taking the stage with The Barnshakers. What an unbeatable combination! I remember sneaking upstairs from my emcee duties at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame stage at Viva Las Vegas IV to see The Barnshakers perform and they asked Marti on stage to do a couple of numbers with them, which was a real treat for me. Marti has played and recorded with The Barnshakers in the past, and their CD on the Goofin' label entitled "Snake Ranch" is a couple of years old, but still very enjoyable to listen to.
MARTI BROM BELTS ONE OUT WITH HER FRIENDS, THE BARNSHAKERS
WHAT WOULD ROCKABILLY BE WITHOUT DANCERS!?
WHAT WOULD ROCKABILLY BE WITHOUT DANCERS!?
TAKING A PICTURE OF DEL TAKING A PICTURE OF MARTI BROM
Immediately after Marti Brom and The Barnshakers, I had to jump back to the 3 Clans Stage to see the inimitable Narvel Felts. A true Memphis rockabilly legend, who also made it to the big time in country music in the 70's, Narvel has been performing since 1956, and rather than dwell on his long history as a rockabilly and country singer, I would like to focus my attention on the great performances he pulls off every time he takes the stage today. Not since Roy Orbison have I seen any singer do encores of a song verse after a thunderous applause, but I have no temerity in mentioning Narvel Felts and Roy Orbison in the same breath because I have seen them both in person, and I feel very comfortable in putting Narvel in this category.
IT DOESN'T TAKE LONG FOR NARVEL FELTS TO EARN THE FANS' LOVE
Although I had met Narvel and had dinner with him in 2000 in Indianapolis, I did not see him perform until the following year. He was also one of the few performers I made a point to sneak upstairs to see at Viva Las Vegas V during my emcee duties at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame stage. He IS that good!! Narvel, keep it goin', man!
Having not seen Charlie Gracie other than in the 1957 movie "Jamboree", I just had to stick around and see him follow Narvel Felts. Charlie did a great set, backed by The Silverjets, and he not only looked good, but his voice was very strong and powerful, and projected very well. There was much positive feedback on that performance.
CHARLIE GRACIE SHOWS THE FOLKS HE'S "STILL GOT IT"!
THE SILVERJETS PLAY WITH HIM.
I don't know how I managed it, but I did get into Purcell's Lounge between 10:15 and 11:00 p.m. to see Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers perform. I have reviewed their performance at Viva Las Vegas V www.rockabillyhall.com/barrykleinvlv5.html as well as reviewed their new self-titled CD www.rockabillyhall.com/barrycdreviews.html and all I can say to the folks who missed their show is, "you can still buy their terrific new 14-song CD" (12 of them written by Maki himself). It's available from Hepcat Records.
BONES MAKI & THE SUN DODGERS
I was disappointed that I could not get in to see Hot Rod Lincoln perform earlier at Purcell's Lounge, but I was struggling just to see approximately 80% of all the acts that performed in Green Bay, and I missed everything on Sunday and the first four a cts on Monday! Hot Rod Lincoln is an excellent rockabilly group and I have two of their CD's. I reviewed them when they played Indy in 1999 www.rockabillyhall.com/Indy1999.html.
I did catch Jack Baymoore & The Bandits at the Iroquois Ballroom on Tuesday night, and I remember them opening the Viva Las Vegas II in 1999, when it only took about one and a half songs for me to mosey over to the CD table and purchase their first CD. I also bought the second the instant it was released. Jack has a good voice and stage presence, and the group features JJ from Wildfire Willie as a member of the band. JJ spent quite a bit time in Green Bay performing either lead guitar or pedal steel, not only for Wildfire Wille and Jack Baymoore & The Bandits, but several other performers, including Jack Earls, who affectionately calls him "Tiny".
JACK BAYMOORE AND THE BANDITS TURN IN AN EXCELLENT SHOW.
YEAH, JJ'S IN THEIR BAND TOO!
TWO GREAT PERFORMERS, NASHVILE'S SONNY GEORGE (PLANET ROCKERS)
AND DETROIT'S JOHNNY POWERS, JOIN ME AT THE
ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME TABLE
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10, 2002
Sleepy LaBeef opening a matinee show in the middle of the week? Yep folks, I guess the lineup for the Rockin' 50's Fest in Green Bay was THAT good! Sleepy LaBeef is one of my favorite people, as well as one of my favorite performers in all of rockabilly. Born on July 20, 1935 in Smackover, Arkansas, Sleepy has been recording and touring since 1955. He has recorded for the Starday, Mercury, Columbia and Dixie labels, and that is just a partial list. Although there is a cornucopia of definitive rockabilly songs in his musical history, Sleepy LaBeef, like Johnny Cash, has long since transcended being earmarked as a particular type of singer, although many disciplines love to embrace both Johnny Cash and Sleepy LaBeef as "one of their own". Bear Family Records has immortalized much of Sleepy's first 25 years of recording in their five-CD set entitled "Larger Than Life", but that doesn't tell the entire story. Sleepy, who has been nicknamed the "human jukebox" because of his repertoire of between 5,000 and 6,000 songs, is one of the most fascinating live acts in the history of popular music. In recent years, Sleepy has added the role of lead guitarist in his own shows, so it is even more fascinating to see him perform. Many recordings have flattered his talent, but there is just about nothing that beats seeing Sleepy LaBeef perform in person. His live shows are usually 2+ hours in length, punctuated by only a 10-minute break during which he will sign CD's and pose for pictures. At 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, Sleepy, as usual, took the stage in a timely manner and squeezed as much music into a 45-minute set as humanly possible. When someone at the side of the stage flashed the "five-finger sign" indicating 5 minutes until departure, Sleepy was sitting in on drums for a couple of songs and I could have sworn I did not see him see the man flashing the sign. After the number ended, Sleepy put his guitar strap back on, approached the microphone, and said, "I saw that five minute sign, so we're gonna keep playin' until then". Sleepy's set was spontaneous, and he had confessed to me before his performance that he had no idea what he was going to play, but his "ad-hocing" just adds more charm to the show. He played an eclectic potpourri of blues, rockabilly, country/western, and even grooved into a great rendition of my favorite Link Wray tune, "Rawhide". Eddie Angel told me in my Green Bay interview with him www.rockabillyhall.com/EddieAngel.html "I think I've played 'Rawhide' more times than Link Wray".
SLEEPY LaBEEF USUALLY PLAYS 2+ HOURS, BUT HE HUMBLY
KEPT TO HIS ALLOTTED TIME.
One of these days I would like to see Phil Doran, Tom Ingram, Dave Loehr, or someone doing a big rockabilly festival book Sleepy LaBeef and just let him take the stage for the equivalent time that 2 or 3 acts would usually take. Then everybody could see and experience Sleepy LaBeef as many lucky people such as I have.
SLEEPY LaBEEF IS OFTEN BILLED AS "THE HUMAN JUKEBOX" -
YOU NEVER KNOW WHICH OF THE 6,000 SONGS IN HIS REPERTOIRE
HE WILL PERFORM.
After Larry Donn followed Sleepy LaBeef, Jack Earls & The Jimbo's took the stage. Jack Wayne Earls was born on August 23, 1932 in Woodberry, Tennessee. In about 1949, Jack moved to Memphis, found himself a lovely girl named Dorothy, and they were married in 1950. I don't recall if Jack had more hits or children, because he had a lot of both. When Sam Phillips heard his voice in 1955, he asked Jack to record for him. One of his first songs, "Hey Jim", impressed Sam Phillips so much that he named the backing group "The Jimbos". I have a CD compilation on the Charley label that has Jack's complete Sun Records recordings, including "Hey Jim", his version of "Crawdad Hole", "Slow Down", "Let's Bop", and, if you pardon the pun, his "signature" tune, "Sign On The Dotted Line". Jack still possesses a very strong, powerful voice and he might be even better known to European audiences than he is in the U.S.A., but that is changing. After excellent notices in several U.S. rockabilly shows including Rockabilly Rebel Weekend in Indianapolis, Jack's appearances in the U.S. are increasing now also. The Jimbo's when Jack appeared in 2000 in Indianapolis consisted of The Big Barn Combo. At Green Bay the group included Loney Charles on drums and Rudy Varner (former Starlight Drifter) on bass (they are part of Jack Scott's band, The Top Ranks), and former Big Barn Combo lead guitarist, Paul "Smokey Links" Cook on guitar. Smokey and Loney were members of Big Barn Combo, and along with another singer/guitarist, Matt "Savage" Strickland, and Rudy Varner, they also perform as The High-Q's, based in Detroit. Does everybody have that straight now? At any rate, Jack Earls did a great job and was very well received by the audience. Besides his rockabilly songs, Jack did a little Chuck Berry medley, including "Roll Over Beethoven" (Billy Lee Riley did that one too).
FORMER SUN RECORDS STAR JACK EARLS PLAYS WITH RUDY, LONEY AND SMOKEY FROM DETROIT.
THAT'S JAN SVENSSON, WILDFIRE WILLIE'S LEAD SINGER
(HE ALSO FRONTS THE Hi-WINDERS).
It was at the Jack Earls show that I first noticed a tall gentleman in a suit with a "Beatle" haircut standing in front of the stage vigorously dancing, and making moves as if he was shadowboxing. I later learned that this fellow was known as "Beatle Bob", a St. Louis, Missouri personality, who has a radio show on KDHX 88.1 FM community radio. Beatle Bob made several appearances on stage during the week, including some moments on stage with the dynamic Rudy "Tutti" Grayzell on Friday. When I caught The Blue Moon Boys later at their 9:00 p.m. Purcell's Lounge show, I heard Nic Roulette say, "Hey, Beatle Bob's back!", while they were in the middle of a number.
Following Jack Earls was another Sun, as well as Dot, recording artist, Vernon Taylor. I had the pleasure of seeing Vernon Taylor perform at the 2000 Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend. Playing with Vernon Taylor, as usual, is the very talented Nashville guitar picker, Dave Moore. As a matter of fact, Dave Moore also accompanied rockabilly legend Billy Adams on Thursday, and a brand new CD that was sold at the Green Bay show, "Hot Guitars, Legends and Legacies", was the brainchild of Dave Moore and features the likes of Vernon Taylor, Billy Adams, The Hale Bops, Spit Fire and several other groups, with appearances by Dave Moore, who wrote several of the songs. This CD is produced by NBT Records and can be ordered via phone: (304) 258-3656 or by e-mail at NBTOYS@INTREPID.NET. Getting back to Vernon Taylor, Vernon always puts on a very professional performance, and draws upon his years of recording experience with Dot, Sun and Eagle Records. In the 50's, Vernon recorded with the likes of Floyd Cramer, Charlie McCoy, Hank Garland, The Jordonnaires, Jimmy Van Eaton, Billy Lee Riley and Charlie Rich! Not one to rest on the laurels of yesteryear, Vernon released a CD a couple of years ago on the Run Wild Record label entitled "Daddy's Rockin'". That one included some good covers of such classics as "Sugaree" (written by Marty Robbins but made most famous by Rusty York's version), Sanford Clark's "The Fool" and "Lonesome for a Letter", and Bobby Darin's (recording as The Rinky Dinks) "Early in the Morning". Most of the mid-50's rockers are now north of 60 years old, and when I see people like Vernon Taylor, Narvel Felts, Sleepy LaBeef, Jack Scott, Rudy Grayzell, etc., performing so well, I hope it encourages our younger rockabilly generation to take good care of themselves so that they can enjoy life and keep rockin' in the coming years.
VERNON TAYLOR, WHO RECORDED FOR SUN AND DOT.
THAT'S DAVE MOORE ON THE LEFT,
WHO PLAYS WITH VERNON AND BILLY ADAMS.
SID KING, BARRY, AND BILLY KING
While watching Vernon Taylor finish his set, I ran into Sid and Billy King, and I saw them on several other occasions diggin' other people's shows.
After Vernon Taylor, I made a beeline over to the Iroquois Ballroom to catch Rosie Flores and The Falcons, because I had never seen Rosie perform in person. Rosie put on a good show, and was gratified that so many fanatical fans had come to see her. Rosie's new version of the old Corky Jones (Buck Owens) rockabilly song, "Hot Dog" was featured a few months ago on the Today Show.
ROSIE FLORES LED OFF THE IROQUOIS BALLROOM ON WEDNESDAY.
Zigzagging back to the 3 Clans Stage, I caught Hayden Thompson, and all I can say is, "He's still got it!" Hayden was backed by The Barnshakers, and if a war could be won by music, I sure would like to have The Barnshakers on my side! Hayden is originally from Boonville, Mississippi, but moved to Memphis at a young age after "getting hit by the music bug early in life". Although Hayden only cut seven songs for Sun Records, in recent years that has catalyzed a renewed interest in him by rockabillies. In the 60's, however, Hayden was doing a lot of country, and by 1976 he quit the business. But the rockabilly revival in Europe in the early 80's brought him back, and you would never know that he ever left the music business. His Sun recordings include "Fairlane Rock", "Blues Blues Blues", "Mama, Mama, Mama", "You Are My Sunshine", "One Broken Heart", "Love My Baby" (with Roland Janes on guitar, J.M. Van Eaton on drums, and Jerry Lee Lewis on piano), "Rock-A-Billy Gal" (which included Roy Orbison on harmony vocals), "Don't Worry", and "Congratulations to You Joe". A few years ago, I purchased a 33-song compilation of Hayden Thompson music that came out on the Gee Dee Record label in Germany. It includes all of his Sun and Phillips International recordings. Hayden looked very much in command on stage, and his voice projected very well.
HAYDEN THOMPSON SHOWS HE'S STILL GOT IT!
Knowing Billy Lee Riley would be appearing on the 3 Clans Stage shortly, I jogged over to the Iroquois to catch Levi Dexter, with whom I was very impressed when I saw him at Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend in 2001. Levi was backed up by The Silverjets, and it was difficult to take a picture of him, due to all of his movements and gyrating which is so much fun to watch. As his set went on, Levi took off his western suit jacket, then during each song he abdicated more clothing, until he looked very comfortable.
LEVI DEXTER, BACKED BY THE SILVERJETS,
CAN ALWAYS BE COUNTED ON FOR AN "UP" SET.
PAUL BURLISON AND ROCKY BURNETTE CHECK OUT
MY "ELVIS CROWN ELECTRIC" SHIRT.
PAUL, AND ROCKY'S DAD, JOHNNY, WORKED FOR THEM TOO!
Moving on back to the 3 Clans, I saw Billy Lee Riley, who I had the pleasure of meeting and seeing perform in Indianapolis in 2001. Billy always seems to get one of the largest crowds when he performs, and he never fails to put on a pumped-up, energetic set. When Glen Glenn sang "Everybody's Movin'", I'm sure he meant Billy Lee Riley! Of course, "Red Hot" and "Flying Saucers Rock & Roll" must always be part of Billy Lee Riley's set, and indeed they were. While Billy Lee Riley was rocking away on the 3 Clans Stage, Chicago's very gifted Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms entertained the crowd in the Iroquois with their jump-blues style.
BILLEY LEE RILEY CAN ALWAYS BE COUNTED ON FOR A SUPER SHOW.
THE BLUE MOON BOYS RIP IT UP IN PURCELL'S LOUNG ON WEDNESDAY.
Following The Blue Moon Boys' 9:00 p.m. set in Purcell's lounge, two of southeastern Michigan's best groups performed, The Starlight Drifters from Ann Arbor, and The Twistin' Tarantulas from the Detroit area. Although Pistol Pete, the leader of the Twistin' Tarantulas, has changed the lineup of his trio on more than one occasion in the last few years, he really scored a coup d'etat this time when he landed Scott Spears of Kalamazoo, Michigan's Wild Woodys as lead guitarist and sometime vocalist. I believe that the Twistin' Tarantulas are better than ever, and we are going to see a lot more of them!
Following Billy Lee Riley on the 3 Clans Stage was a true living legend, Jack Scott, from the Detroit area. I do not know of any legitimate rock and roll singer who had more hits in the critical years that Elvis was in the army than Jack Scott (all right, maybe Ricky Nelson). Although Jack's more well-known among the "oldies" crowd for his many top selling "A-side" ballads ("My True Love", "What in the World's Come Over You", "Goodbye Baby", "With Your Love", "Burning Bridges", etc.), people like me who bought the records did turn them over and discover the likes of "Leroy", "The Way I Walk", "Go Wild Little Sadie", "Geraldine", "Save My Soul", and other great rockin' sounds. For the last couple of years, Jack has performed regularly at some nightspots in Detroit, and I was fortunate enough to see him perform four times in the year preceding Green Bay. That is why I got to the front of the stage and did not leave for his entire set. His backup band, The Top Ranks (named for one of Jack's labels), consist of four great musicians, Steve Nardella on lead guitar, Loney Charles on drums, and Rudy Varner on standup bass. Eric Schabo, the saxophonist, is a recent addition to this group, and they all participate in the backup vocals, doing justice to the sound of Jack's original back-up vocal group, The Chantones. I would "bet my bottom dollar" that anyone who saw Jack Scott's set had to rate it in the top five of the entire week's shows. On more than one occasion Jack sat down to sign autographs, even a couple of days before his performance, and the line was always over 60 feet long. Not only a true legend, but a great entertainer and songwriter too, and I do not believe there was another solo entertainer at the entire Green Bay week who had more top 20 hits on the charts t han Jack Scott.
JACK SCOTT, CENTER, STEVE NARDELLA ON LEFT,
RUDY VARNER ON RIGHT.
NOT SEEN: LONEY CHARLES ON DRUMS AND ERIC SCHABO, ON SAX.
ERIC SCHABO ON SAX AND STEVE NARDELLA ON LEAD GUITAR ARE
PART OF JACK SCOTT'S REGULAR BAND, THE TOP RANKS.
THAT'S LONEY CHARLES ON DRUMS.
JACK SCOTT SOUNDS JUST AS GOOD AS HE DID IN THE 50'S AND EARLY 60'S.
If 1950'S rockabilly were a religion, Robert Gordon would be the second coming! Starting in the late 70's, no one on this continent did more to catalyze the rockabilly revival in the last 25 years than Robert Gordon. His performance at Viva Las Vegas II in 1999 packed the house, and the same thing happened in Green Bay. There is some irony that many of the people whose songs were covered by Robert Gordon in the 80's, including Jack Scott and Billy Lee Riley, were performing on the very same night in Green Bay, but more about that in a little while. Robert Gordon had an all-star band including members of Big Sandy's Fly-Rite boys, and no less than Marco DiMaggio AND Eddie Angel on guitars. Despite a delay in the start of his set, and some apparent problems that Robert had with the sound on the stage monitors, Robert Gordon had the audience in the palm of his hands right off the bat. After a couple of songs, he looked at the audience and asked, "What do you wanna hear tonight?" From then on, the crowd kept shouting out requests, and Robert tried to respond. Actually, as the time went on and there was only time for one song, I had been yelling out "Driving Wheel", and continued until the last song, and I had a little help from at least two other people also shouting out for that song (you know who you are; email me!). Well, we ruled by plurality, and Robert finished his set with my favorite song in his repertoire, "Driving Wheel".
However, "Driving Wheel" wasn't the last song. For an encore, Robert Gordon brought back Billy Lee Riley and they did a version of "Red Hot" together. Ironically, it was a black artist who recorded for Sam Phillips in the early 50's, Billy Lee Emerson, who originally wrote and recorded it for Sun. But, obviously, "Red Hot" had become a signature song for Billy Lee Riley in the mid-50's, and for Robert Gordon when he recorded it during the "revival" era, and seeing them do the song together was a spectacular surprise!
ROBERT GORDON HAS BOTH MARCO DiMAGGIO AND EDDIE ANGEL ON GUITAR.
HE ALWAYS SEEMS TO GET THE GREATEST GUITARISTS!
ROBERT GORDON STILL HAS THE ROCKABILLY SWAGGER!
FOR THE ENCORE, ROBERT GORDON HAS BILLY LEE RILEY JOIN HIM
FOR "RED HOT". BILLY LEE EMERSON ORIGINALLY WROTE AND RECORDED
IT FOR SAM PHILLIPS.
Well, since Thursday morning was another 5:30 a.m. wakeup call for an 8-mile run, I retired at about a quarter past Cinderella-time. What a great day Wednesday was! My biggest disappointment is not being vertical when Big Sandy came on, but I was lucky enough to watch his entire blues/doo-wop set on Saturday, and what a treat that was.
THURSDAY, JULY 11, 2002
Even though the first scheduled performance on Thursday was at 2:00 p.m. featuring Billy Adams, my first great rockabilly experience occurred at breakfast at the buffet in the Radisson. Sitting at the table across from me were three of The Comets, Joey D'Ambrosia, Johnny Grande, and Dick Richards, who are respectively the saxophonist, pianist and drummer. I had met Joey two years ago at Ronny Weiser's home, and we connected again last year when The Comets appeared in Royal Oak, Michigan at the Motor City Spin-Out www.rockabillyhall.com/BarryKMotorCity.html. I told Joey I have enjoyed many of The Comets' hits and I have the Decca Years Boxed Set from Bear Family, but I said there is something about "Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie" that I have always particularly liked. Joey said they might be playing it later.
The Comets still do about 60 shows per year, and in November they are going to do a tour of the United Kingdom and Europe with stops in London, Paris, Berlin and Switzerland. More about The Comets when I get to their performance.
LEFT TO RIGHT: BOB TIMMERS, RAY CAMPI, SONNY WEST,
BILLY LEE RILEY, GLEN GLENN, ALVIS WAYNE, BARRY KLEIN
Billy Adams first hit it big in 1958 with his Dot Records release, "You Heard Me Knocking". Forty-four years later, backed by his new group, The Rock-A-Teers, featuring Dave Moore on guitar, he is still rockin'. He did a song called "Rockabilly Rocket" and then delved into some oldies including "That's My Baby", "You Gotta Have a Ducktail", and "True Love Will Come Your Way". Adams brought on Larry Donn to join in on Piano for a version of Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle and Roll", and when Larry got up to leave, Billy told him to "sit back down and keep playing!"
Included in the set was a ballad from 1960 entitled "Blue-Eyed Ella". Billy also performed a faithful rendition of Carl Perkins' "Match Box", which was heard at least one more time during the week.
BILLY ADAMS, IN THE WHITE JACKET, WITH DAVE MOORE ON GUITAR.
I had the pleasure of seeing Billy perform on the Rockabilly Hall of Fame stage at Viva Las Vegas, and his voice is just fantastic.
LARRY DONN, WHO PERFORMED ON WEDNESDAY,
SITS IN ON PIANO FOR BILLY ADAMS' SET.
One of my favorite people in rockabilly, Ray Campi, followed Billy Adams on the stage. I have had the pleasure of seeing Ray Campi perform on many occasions. Although born in New York City, Ray moved to Texas with his family during World War II. In Texas, influenced by western swing, Ray formed Ramblin' Ray & The Ramblers. In the 50's, Ray began to play and record rockabilly, and there is a wonderful interview with Ray by Ken Burke that appears Blue Suede News No. 59 (with Ray's picture on the cover). Three years ago Ray told me that he always stuck to his "day job" as a teacher in California throughout his singing career. When Rockin' Ronny Weiser of Rollin' Rock Records began to record him during the beginning of the rockabilly revival period, that and some older material that was released during the revival, created a boost for Ray's recording and performing career.
ROCKABILLY LEGEND, RAY CAMPI, IS SUPPORTED BY THE TINSTARS.
Although well known for his stage antics, complete with bright western wear and his jumping on the upright bass, Ray is quite a musician and singer, and is at home with rockabilly, country and western swing. His popularity has been at its zenith in recent years, particularly among the rockabilly cognoscenti, so Ray obliges his audience and gives them what they want!
BARRY CORRALS THE SURE-HANDED SLINGERS OF SCANDINAVIA,
J. J. JUVONEN AND JUSSI HUHTAKANGAS (Lester Peabody).
Next on the 3 Clans Stage was another true rockabilly legend, Eddie Bond. I had the pleasure of interviewing Eddie about three years ago /www.rockabillyhall.com/BarryKEddieBond.html and it was nice to see Eddie and his wife, Gladys, spend some time at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame table in Green Bay. Not only did Eddie's singing voice sound almost exactly like his many hits, his backup band included Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers PLUS Lester Peabody of The Barnshakers on peddle steel guitar. I don't know if it was on his play list, but I did yell out for "Boppin' Bonnie" and Eddie obliged me. "Rockin' Daddy", "Slippin' In", all the hits, a great set, great music!
EDDIE BOND DOES JUSTICE TO HIS ORIGINAL RECORDING OF
ONE OF THE BEST ALL-TIME ROCKABILLY SONGS, "SLIPPIN' IN".
ON HIS MERCURY HIT, HIS BAND INCLUDED CHARLIE FEATHERS' MUSICIANS
JODI CHASTAIN AND JERRY HUFFMAN
BEATLE BOB WARMS UP FOR THE NEXT ACT.
I have many recordings of Big Al Downing both as a rock & roll and country artist, but I had never even seen him in person until I saw him checking in at the Radisson. It was truly a pleasure to hear Big Al perform and play the piano. Backed by Big Sandy's Fly-Rite Boys, who are a great band anyway, Big Al just ate up the scenery with his rendition of Larry Williams' "Slow Down" (that was the second time I had heard it played during the week), Little Richard's "Rip It Up", and of course many songs that he made famous such as "Down on the Farm". Just a fabulous show, and I was so glad to see him perform.
BIG AL DOWNING WAS A CROWD-PLEASER.
I always enjoy seeing The Raging Teens, so just as Al Downing's show ended, I made my way to the Iroquois Ballroom to catch their show. I have written about The Raging Teens in at least two other articles, but I will never get tired of watching them perform. It is nice to see a woman hold down an integral position in a rockabilly band, and regardless of gender, Amy Griffith is truly an outstanding guitarist, and it is always enjoyable to watch her play. When you couple Amy's considerable talent and enthusiasm with Kevin Patey's animated style on vocals and rhythm guitar, it's an unbeatable combination. If I have any complaint about The Raging Teens, it is only one: it has been almost two years since their second CD release, and my ears are longing to listen to a new CD by them. Come on folks, let's get crackin'!
BOSTON'S THE RAGING TEENS ALWAYS PUT ON A LIVELY SHOW.
I made it back to the 3 Clans Stage in time to see a very enthusiastic crowd listening to The Crickets. The emotions in the audience were running high and it stayed that way for The Crickets entire set.
Having seen The Comets perform in 2001 at the Motor City Spin-Out www.rockabillyhall.com/BarryKMotorCity.html, I knew that their performance would have the largest crowd of the whole week (I was right), so after The Crickets' performance I made my way to the stage and did not leave. I knew these guys were going to tear it up, and you find yourself NOT saying, "Wow, these guys are pretty good for their age". No, we find ourselves saying, "These guys are still as good as ever!" They are still sharp in every way, shape and form, while not losing their sense of humor. When I spent some time with Marshall Lytle before The Comets checked out, he was speaking to several people and did not forget a single person's name. When, during their performance, Marshall shouted out, "Let's do Rock-A-Beatin' Boogie", Joey D'Ambrosia immediately turned his head toward me, pointed his finger at me and said, "That's your song"! He remembered that was the one song I requested earlier that morning, and found me in the big crowd to tell me.
JOEY D'AMBROSIA DOES THE VOCALS ON THE
LOUIS PRIMA CLASSIC, "BUENA SERRA"
Always putting on a great show, they infused a little humor when they introduced two songs off the new CD, "Viagra Rock", and the David Crimmen-penned song, "We Ain't Dead Yet." To see a review I made of their newest CD about a month before Green Bay, click here: www.rockabillyhall.com/barrycdreviews.html.
JOEY BLOWS THAT SAX AS GOOD AS EVER!
COMETS' GUITARIST FRANNY BEECHER JUST CELEBRATED HIS
60TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY.
MARSHALL LYTLE PLAYED BASS AND SANG MOST OF THE SONGS.
JOHNNY GRANDE ON PIANO.
THAT'S MARSHALL'S LEGS HOLDING THE UPRIGHT BASS
WHILE HE PLAYS ON HIS BACK.
DICK RICHARDS ON DRUMS.
Just prior to The Comets' signature song "Rock Around the Clock", Bob Timmers, Marco Di Maggio and Phil Doran from the Oneida Casino approached the stage to present each of The Comets individually an Induction Certificate to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. From the thunderous ovations and cheers of the crowd, I would have to rate this single show as the most popular of the entire week.
BOB TIMMERS, ALONG WITH PHIL DORAN AND MARCO DI MAGGIO,
PRESENT THE ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CERTIFICATES
TO EACH OF THE COMETS.
THE COMETS ACKNOWLEDGE THE LOUDEST CHEERS OF THE WEEK.
THE COMETS' SET AT THE AUTOGRAPH TABLE WAS LONGER THAN THEIR ONE-HOUR SHOW!
Marvin Karlton Rainwater was born in Wichita, Kansas on July 2, 1925. Marvin's pedigree is one-quarter Cherokee, and once his career in music was established, he parlayed the Indian image into his musical act. At one time, in the early 1950's, the legendary Roy Clark was a picker in Marvin's band. Many of his rockabilly and country songs for which he is known were his own compositions, including "Hot and Cold", "Mr. Blues", "Whole Lotta Woman", and several others. The genesis of Marvin Rainwater's professional career occurred with an appearance on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Show in 1955, which in turn led to appearances on the Ozark Jubilee, an ABC TV network show hosted by country star Red Foley (Pat Boone's father-in-law). Despite the originality of "Hot and Cold" and "Mr. Blues", it was "Going to Find Me a Bluebird" that broke out on the country market, where it peaked at Billboard's #3, and on the pop charts reached #18. Marvin played Viva Las V egas IV in 2001, and was very well received. For days he hung around the Rockabilly Hall of Fame shows which were then in the West Lounge of the Gold Coast, mingling with other rockabilly veterans and their fans. Judging from the strength of his voice during his set in Green Bay, it was hard to tell that he had just celebrated his 77th birthday!
ONE-QUARTER INDIAN, MARVIN RAINWATER GETS SOME HELP FROM
JOE SIXPACK AND THE RAGTIME WRANGLERS.
Meanwhile, just prior to Marvin Rainwater's appearance at the 3 Clans Stage, Deke Dickerson played, as usual, a spirited set in the Iroquois Ballroom. Always coming up with something special at rockabilly festivals, Deke started calling up every major "name" guitarist on the stage to play his double neck Mosrite and another guitar, and before this little exercise was over, there must have been eight guitarists picking two guitars on the stage under Deke's direction. Deke's fourth solo CD is due out in September.
DEKE DICKERSON STARTS TO CALL UP GUITARISTS TO PLAY TOGETHER.
LESTER, SEAN, JJ AND A LOT MORE JOIN IN THE GUITAR GRAND FINALE.
THE BARNSHAKERS DO THEIR SECOND SOLO SET.
I have a trivia question for you: Who is the only artist who recorded for Sun Records in the rockabilly days and was also signed to a contract by Detroit's Motown label? The answer is Johnny Powers, who still makes his home in the Detroit area. With a self-confident swagger about him, and wearing black leather jeans, Johnny performed a dynamite set, backed up by Ann Arbor, Michigan's Starlight Drifters. It was a magic moment to see him do "Long Blond Hair". Johnny has a new CD out, "I Was There When It Happened", which was just released by Jet-Eye Records. It's a great CD with backing by The Starlight Drifters, Leather and Lace, Mary Lou Livingston on background vocals and harmony duets, and George Canterbury on piano. For more information email JetEyeMusic@hotmail.com or look for the CD at your favorite on-line music store.
JOHNNY POWERS WAS DAMMED GOOD!
THAT'S STARLIGHT DRIFTER CHRIS CASELLO ON THE LEAD GUITAR.
One of the nice things about Green Bay was the double appearances of The Barnshakers, which was pre-billed, and High Noon, which wasn't. (High Noon's first set, a spontaneous set of mostly older material, occurred when illness forced the cancellation of Don and Dewey on Friday.) I still would suggest that if we are fortunate enough to repeat the Rockin' 50's Fest next year, that several groups, including the ones that come on so late at night or early in the afternoon, can also perform at a different time. Although I wasn't running Friday morning, I was simply too pooped to stay up late on Thursday, and I missed The Planet Rockers and Ike & The Capers. I was especially disappointed to miss those two groups.
Ironically, I reviewed (very favorably by the way) The Planet Rockers new CD on my special Green Bay CD review article rockabillyhall.com/barrygbcdreview.html, which includes, besides The Planet Rockers new CD "Hillbilly Beat", High Noon's "What Are You Waiting For?", Sonny George's "Live At The Tennessee Prison For Women", and an objective, but very favorable review of the Bob Timmers' CD, "Pickin' With My Friends", as well as five other CD's featured at the Green Bay festival.
THE NU NILES PLAY THE IROQUOIS
FRIDAY, JULY 12, 2002
Don't ask me why, but there is something about Friday that made me feel so happy. The crowds each day got bigger, and Friday seemed to be the peak for the week. Maybe it was how the day started out with The Rock and Roll Trio, featuring Paul Burlison, Elvis's original drummer D.J. Fontana, and Rocky Burnette; perhaps it was the surprise performance of High Noon at 3:15, subbing for Don & Dewey, but not giving up their regular 8:15 p.m. spot; maybe it was seeing Rudy "Tutti Grayzell", Sonny West, Joy Clay, Restless, The Barnstompers, and The Hi-Winders for the first time. Perhaps it was Janis Martin sounding better than ever, or Ronnie Dawson sounding great again backed with High Noon and Lisa Pankrantz on drums. Enough to make tears well in your eyes! Maybe it could have been The Barnstompers sounding just as good, perhaps even better than their great recordings. Seeing Jan from Wildfire Willie in his other group, the oldies/60's band, The Hi-Winders; seeing Nick Curran.
As I said, the very first set at 2:00 p.m. consisted of Paul Burlison, DJ Fontana and Rocky Burnette performing as the Rock & Roll Trio, with the addition of Brad Brikedahl and Slick Joe Fick from the Demseys on guitar and bass respectively. Incidentally, I obtained from Paul Burlison a cassette tape that was recently released, which Paul Burlison produced. It's called "Paul Burlison and The Dempseys - Introducing Paul Burlison Jr. On The Harmonica". This cassette was recorded at Sam Phillips Recording, Inc. in Memphis and engineered by another Sun Records alumnus, engineer and guitarist, Roland Janes. This 18-song set features several of the Rock & Roll Trio's hits, but also includes some rockabilly classics such as "Matchbox", "Dixie Fried", "Race With The Devil", and "Twenty Flight Rock". Quite a performance!
Speaking of performances, the boys started with "Tear It Up", and that's exactly what they did!
When I introduced Paul Burlison and Rocky Burnette as the Rock and Roll Trio at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame Stage Shows at Viva Las Vegas III and IV, the experience sent shivers down my spine. When you add Elvis Presley's original drummer, DJ Fontana, to the equation, it just adds more magic to the equation. Although I did not write down every song, I believe they managed to play every popular Rock & Roll Trio song with the sole exception of "Please Don't Go", which some people may not know was a cover of a Fats Domino original. The addition of two-thirds of The Demseys brought a little bit of the "Neo" sound to the rockabilly, but Paul Burlison seemed to be getting a real charge out of trading guitar licks with Brad, and the whole experience was very enjoyable. As it always seems to happen, one lady called out for Rocky to do "You're Sixteen", and while Rocky acknowledged that this million seller of his dad's, covered by Ringo, wasn't rockabilly, it was worth slowing things down a little bit, and the crowd gave Rocky quite an applause when he finished the song.
ROCKY BURNETTE, JOHNNY BURNETTE'S SON, OBLIGES A FAN'S REQUEST
FOR HIS DAD'S HIT, "YOU'RE 16"
SEEING D.J. FONTANA, ELVIS' ORIGINAL DRUMMER, PLAYING WITH
PAUL BURLISON AND ROCKY BURNETTE WAS PURE ROCKABILLY HEAVEN.
BRAD BIRKODAHL AND SLICK JOE FICK OF THE DEMPSEYS JOIN PAUL,
ROCKY AND D.J. WITH THEIR "TAKE NO PRISONERS" PLAYING STYLE.
PAUL BURLISON WAS HAVING ALMOST AS GOOD A TIME AS HIS AUDIENCE.
Boy if you can kick off 2:00 p.m. with Paul Burlinson, D.J. Fontana, Rocky Burnette and The Demseys doing such a fantastic set, you know it is going to be a good day!
The next scheduled act at the 3 Clans Stage was Don and Dewey, but because of an illness, they had to cancel. By a stroke of luck, High Noon appeared in Don and Dewey's time slot and announced that this set would be completely different from the original set scheduled at 8:15 p.m., and High Noon proceeded to please their many fans with a collage of their older material.
High Noon's newest CD on the Goofin label, "What Are You Waiting For?", is on my Green Bay CD review column www.rockabillyhall.com/barrygbcdreview.html. Let me give you a little hint: I loved it. Fifteen songs, all originals written by either Shaun Young or Sean Mencher, and it is wonderful to see three men each with tremendous individual talent pool their gifts so that the final product sounds perhaps even better than they could do individually. High Noon is a reunion that had to happen!
WATCHIN' THE SEANS SHINE! HIGH NOON: THEY'RE BAAACK!
HIGH NOON 2002: LEFT TO RIGHT
SEAN MENCHER, SHAUN YOUNG, KEVIN SMITH
IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS!
SEAN MENCHER TAKES OFF!
Following High Noon's first of two performances on Friday, was legendary rockabilly star, Rudy "Tutti" Grayzell. Rudy wrote the song, "Ducktail", that Joe Clay also parlayed into a big hit. Rudy told the story of how he got his nickname.
THAT'S TJARKO JEEN OF THE TIN STARS PLAYING LEAD GUITAR
FOR RUDY GRAYZELL
Elvis was in the audience circa 1956 when he saw Rudy sing Elvis' arrangement of Little Richard's classic, "Tutti-Frutti". After Rudy's performance, Elvis approached him and said, "Man, you do that song so good they ought to name you Rudy "Tutti" Grayzell". From then on the nickname stuck!
RUDY "TUTTI" GRAYZELL WAS A REAL PISTOL!
HE SURE LIVED UP TO HIS REPUTATION.
During Rudy's career, in which he performed in both country and rockabilly veins, he appeared on such labels as Sun, Starday, Abbott, and Award. Most of the rockers, including "Ducktail" and "Let's Get Wild", were on the Starday label. Elvis and Rudy saw a lot of each other during their early careers - they both appeared together several times on The Louisiana Hayride.
RUDY CALLED UP BEATLE BOB TO DANCE ON STAGE WITH HIM.
LET'S GET WILD!
SOME ALL-STARS DO AN IMPROMTU JAM SESSION IN THE VENDOR AREA FRIDAY.
LONEY CHARLES IS DOING PERCUSSION SEATED BY THE COLUMN,
AND SEAN MENCHER IN THE RED SHIRT IS ON GUITAR.
SCOTT SPEARS SEATED AT LEFT, PISTOL PETE ON DOGHOUSE BASS ON THE RIGHT.
THEY'RE BOTH FROM THE TWISTIN' TARANTULAS.
The next act at the 3 Clans Stage was Sonny West. Sonny West is a true original: he co-wrote "Oh Boy" and "Rave On" that turned into big hits for Buddy Holly, and he also wrote and recorded "Rock-Ola-Ruby" and "Sleep Rockin' Baby". He also recorded the rockabilly classic "Cast Iron Arm". Sonny's set included "A Bad Case", "Sweet Rockin' Baby", Big City Woman", "The Rave is Gone, "All Night Long", "Cast Iron Arm", "I've Had It", "Rock-Ola Ruby", "Oh Boy", and "Rave On", followed with an encore of "Bessie Lee". Except for "Cast Iron Arm" and "I've Had It", all the tunes were Sonny's compositions. Sonny's backup group was King Memphis from Maine with Matt, Chris and Gary. It was a great set, and I enjoyed hearing Sonny recreate the history that he made in the 1950's.
FRIENDS, YOU'RE WATCHING LIVING HISTORY HERE!
SONNY WEST DOES "OH BOY", "RAVE ON", "ROCK-OLA-RUBY", ETC.
HE WROTE 'EM ALL! HE WAS THERE! RIGHT OUT OF NORMAN PETTY'S STUDIO!
Sonny later told me that "Cast Iron Arm" was originally recorded by Peanuts Wilson at the Norm Petty Studio in 1957. The song was written by Roy Orbison and passed on to Wilson, who had been a member of Roy Orbison's band, The Teen Kings. Sonny also said that Wilson went on to become a songwriter of note until his death in 1980. Sonny recorded "Cast Iron Arm" in 2002 and it is featured on his "Dire Need" CD, as well as his new CD on The Rollercoaster label.
Speaking of the Norman Petty sound, Ace records put out a great CD in 1999 entitled "West Texas Bop" that features late 50's rockers from the Norm Petty tape vaults. This CD includes a few songs from Sonny West, Peanuts Wilson, Weldon Rogers, Sonny Curtis, and others. It also has Weldon Rogers' "So Long, Good Luck and Goodbye", a song I have always really loved, and, to my knowledge, not covered by any famous rockabilly artist of this era. Actually, now that I notice, that's Sonny West's picture on the left side of the cover of the "West Texas Bob" CD!
After seeing Janis Martin perform at Viva Las Vegas II in 1999, I don't know how she could have possibly performed any better. Guess what? In Green Bay 2002, she was even better! I guess if you ask 100 diehard rock and roll fans who the greatest female rock and roll voice of all time was, 50 would probably say Janis Martin, the other 50 would say Wanda Jackson. All I can say is, thank God for the talent possessed by these ladies and how utterly fabulous they still sound today! Janis Martin also had a great backup group, Big Sandy's Fly-Rite Trio.
JANIS MARTIN WAS WONDERFUL! EVEN BETTER, IF THAT'S POSSIBLE,
THAN VIVA LAS VEGAS II.
Meanwhile, things were not too placid in the Iroquois Ballroom on Friday. They led off with a great set by The Barnstompers, not to be confused with Finland's great rockabilly band, The Barnshakers. The Barnstompers are a "westernbilly" band from the Netherlands. I have always enjoyed listening to The Barnstompers music, but this was my first chance to see them in person. They're great! I'm a big lover of classic country, and there's definitely a country flavor to the delicious licks these guys put out.
THE BARNSTOMPERS FROM THE NETHERLANDS DO WESTERN-FLAVORED ROCKABILLY
- AND THEY DO A FIRST-RATE JOB!
I have reviewed The Barnstompers latest CD, "The Barnstompers Present ŽWestern Rhythm'", and you see my review of this CD on the special Green Bay CD review article www.rockabillyhall.com/barrygbcdreview.htm. Seventeen songs, many originals, covers of tunes by Hank Penny, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash. 'Nuff said!
Speaking of Johnny Cash, during their Green Bay set, The Barnstompers did a great cover of the Johnny Cash song "Luther Played The Boogie", as well as other country classics like "I Still Miss Someone" and "Six Pack To Go".
I had the pleasure of running into Marc and Gaby Bristol from Blue Suede News several times during the week. It is always nice to see them, and I faithfully read every issue of their publication. I have every issue they ever published!
And speaking of Blue Suede News, I also ran into one of my favorite people, Dennis DeWitt, who writes for Blue Suede News, as does his brother Howard. Dennis showed me a copy of the book and he and Howard just had published, "Stranger In Town": The Musical Life of Del Shannon. Dennis couldn't sell me a copy because the first edition is already sold out. To get more information about how to obtain a copy of the book, Dennis suggests to look up www.delshannon.com on the internet. Congratulations Dennis!
The Casey Sisters followed The Barnstompers in the Iroquois Ballroom. Rachel and Caroline are indeed sisters, and they hail from Kansas City, which is how they got their name "Casey". They now live in Austin, Texas, and I was lucky enough to see them to be backed by the great San Antonio rockabilly group, Cave Catt Sammy. I came home with over 20 CD's, but somehow I neglected to get a copy of The Casey Sisters new CD. For others who might be interested, you can order it from Hepcat Records.
THE CASEY SISTERS, RACHEL AND CAROLINE,
PROVIDE SOME SWEET HARMONIES IN THE IROQUOIS BALLROOM,
BACKED BY CAVE CATT SAMMY.
Speaking of Hepcat Records, its owner, Gabby, told me that his niece, Jasmine, from whom I have ordered scores of records, is now out on maternity leave. Congratulations Jasmine! Most of the CD's by the rockabilly artists who performed in Green Bay are available at Hepcat Records. Their toll free number within the United States is (800) 404-4117, and from outside the U.S., (714) 490-5520.
PAUL GALAXY AND THE GALACTIX GET THE DANCERS UP
AT PURCELL'S LOUNGE ON FRIDAY.
Following The Casey Sisters in the Iroquois Ballroom was The Hi-Winders. The Hi-Winders are an oldies/60's band fronted by the lead singer of Wildfire Willie, Jan Svensson. The Hi-Winders present a different theme in repertoire than Wildfire Willie, but some very entertaining songs.
YEP, THAT'S JAN SVENSSON, LEAD SINGER OF WILDFIRE WILLIE,
PROVIDING LEAD VOCALS FOR THE 60'S-STYLE GROUP, THE HI-WINDERS.
Nick Curran & The Nightlifes followed The Hi-Winders in the Iroquois Ballroom. Nick Curran, before going out on his own about two years ago, was once the guitarist for Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars. Nick has built a solid reputation doing blues-flavored music, and as I walked into the Iroquois, he was doing an arrangement of "Louie Louie" that sounded more like Richard Berry than The Kingsmen. Nick also got to demonstrate his talent on Saturday at the Casino Pavilion during the blues/doo wop show. Since their shows were concurrent, I had to leave Nick Curran a little early to catch Rip Carson's show at Purcell's Lounge.
NICK CURRAN AND THE NIGHTLIFES BOOGIE THE BLUES
IN THE IROQUOIS BALLROOM.
BARRY CONGRATULATES RUDY GRAYZELL FOR A GREAT PERFORMANCE.
OH, MAN, THIS GIVES ME THE SHIVERS!
RONNIE DAWSON, COMING BACK FROM SOME HEALTH PROBLEMS,
SOUNDS FANTASTIC, WITH EXTRA SYNERGY PROVIDED BY HIGH NOON AND
LISA PANKRANTZ ON DRUMS.
THIS ONE WILL STAY IN MY MEMORY BANK FOR A LONG TIME!
I have written at over 25 articles, interviews and reviews for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and I'll bet I have written about Rip Carson at least 5 or 6 times. He is a great talent and always puts on a good show. I always try to stay 'till the end of his shows, because he always has some surprise at the end, and this one at Purcell's Lounge was no different. I was pleasantly surprised to see Paul "Smoky Links" Cook playing guitar with Rip. On Rip's final song, "Bop A Lena", he lit his crotch area on fire (and the fly on his pants was already unzipped), and he put on quite a "floor show", practically having a sadomasochistic experience with the microphone impersonating a lady, and finishing it all off with a backward flip that I captured with my camera. Rip is just not to be missed!
EVEN WITHOUT THE STAGE ANTICS, RIP CARSON IS
ONE HECKUVA SINGER, SONGWRITER AND MUSICIAN.
RIP CARSON HAS A BURNING SENSATION IN THE GROIN AREA.
RIP CARSON COMPLETES A BACKWARD FLIP DURING HIS
ZESTY RENDITION OF RONNIE SELF'S "BOP-A-LENA".
Getting back to the 3 Clans Stage, after Janis Martin's great set, High Noon came on stage and once again knocked Žem dead doing plenty of material from their new CD "What Are You Waiting For?" Just when they had left the crowd in a frenzy, they stayed on stage to back up the legendary Ronnie Dawson. Ronnie, a child prodigy of rockabilly a-la Larry Collins (he was once known as "The Blond Bomber"), is still a great performer who seems to get better all the time. He has had some health problems recently, and I was very pleased to see Ronnie in tip-top form with a band that consisted of High Noon plus Austin's legendary Lisa Pankrantz on drums. When Ronnie did "Yum-Yum" (an old Joe Tex song), I am sure that's how the audience felt. Lots of material from many CD's over the years, and there was hardly any room for all the enlarged hearts in the audience who were so happy to see Ronnie at his best.
I had heard recently that Joe Clay was doing shows, but I had not known of any until I saw him billed on Green Bay 2002. Backed by Big Sandy's Fly-Rite Boys, the popular RCA recording artist from the 50's belted out song after song sounding almost exactly as he did in the RCA days. "Ducktail", "Sixteen Chicks", "Slippin' Out and Sneakin' In", "Did You Mean Jellybean", "Cracker Jack", he did'em all! Joe is energetic, looked good, and that voice! This guy still sounds almost exactly like he did in the late 50's. Let's take our hats off to Joe Clay for laying it down just like he did about 45 years ago!
JOE CLAY FROM RCA - GREAT SHOW!
VOICE IS EXACTLY LIKE THE RECORDS!
After Joe Clay, I caught the Di Maggio Brothers in the Iroquois Ballroom. Based in Florence, Italy, Marco performed with his brother Massimo and Matteo Gianetti on bass. Anyone interested in seeing a real guitar virtuoso must catch Marco in person, and I guess it was no surprise to see Marco and Eddie Angel on stage with Robert Gordon on Wednesday, since Robert Gordon only plays with the best guitarists in the world (Link Wray, Danny Gatton, etc.). The crowd kept increasing throughout the Di Maggio Brothers' set, and everyone who saw this set was glad they came.
THE DI MAGGIO BROTHERS ATTRACT FANS IN THE IROQUOIS BALLROOM.
LEFT TO RIGHT: MASSIMO AND MARCO DI MAGGIO
WITH MATTEO GIANETTI ON BASS.
I discovered the English group "Restless" while browsing a Hepcat record catalog a few years ago. They had at least 6 CD's in the catalog, so I took it upon myself to order one. Although much of their material is a little on the "neo" side, I must admit I always liked these guys, and I was glad I caught their act. Mark Harmon is the lead vocalist and lead guitarist, and his brother Paul Harmon plays bass. I believe it was still Ben Cooper playing the drums, but these guys are looking just a little bit older than they do on the "Why Don't You Just Rock!" CD cover.
THE LEGENDARY ENGLISH BAND, RESTLESS,
TRIED TO PACK ALL OF THEIR HITS INTO A 45 MINUTE SET.
That's not to say that they all don't look just great! Considering they have been around for about 20 years, they looked, played and sounded just as good as ever. "It's a Scam", "Why Don't You Just Rock", they played 'em all. They sounded great and were bouncing around the stage just about as much as The Demseys! Great Show!
THE LEGENDARY D.J. FONTANA IS THE NICEST GUY YOU COULD MEET.
DITTO FOR HIS WIFE, KAREN.
SATURDAY, JULY 13, 2002
Yours truly actually did not get out of bed 'til 8:00 a.m. to do the every other day 8-mile run. It was sunny and pretty hot outside at 8:00, but I managed to run just fine listening to a mini-disc that I had recorded, at random, from a 300 CD carousel, mostly comprised of rockabilly CD's.
The "Casino Pavilion", a large tent with a stage, vendor area, dance area and seating pavilion in the rear, was pretty well set up on this hot, sunny day. Having already sweated off a few pounds from my run, I did not feel like dancing because of the temperature, but I thought that the setup in the tent was pretty nice overall, and an appropriately unique setting for six hours of rhythm and blues and doo-wop entertainment.
I know that at Viva Las Vegas and Indianapolis Rockabilly Weekends, Tom Ingram and David Loehr respectively have infused acts that were not "pure" rockabilly, and I thought it was a very nice touch at Green Bay to devote a whole day to the black rhythm & blues and doo-wop sounds that are part of the history and heritage of rockabilly music.
Perhaps sometimes we are all too familiar with the "billy" side of rockabilly, but we forget where the "rock" really comes from. This compels me to ask my fearless leader, Bob Timmers, the curator for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, if we have yet inducted Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner or Wynonie Harris into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for their profound influence on the early rockabilly sound.
Okay, it's off of the soapbox and back to the Casino Pavilion. Prior to reviewing the first live act, I must thank D.J. Chauncey for fulfilling my request in playing Weldon Rogers' "So Long, Good Luck and Goodbye", which was being played in the 3 Clans Stage on Friday, but "bumped" when the next act was about to be introduced. Way to go Chauncey! I never get tired of listening to that song.
The Lonely Blue Boys kicked off the show in the Casino Pavilion at 3:00 p.m. An L.A.-based doo-wop/roots group, these boys do great vocal harmonies. They gave very nice renditions of The Del Vikings' tune "Whispering Bells", and I loved their arrangement of the Cleftones' classic song "Little Girl of Mine". And, perhaps demonstrating the source of the group's name, they finished their set with Conway Twitty's "Lonely Blue Boy". Conway Twitty first recorded "Lonely Blue Boy" on November 11, 1959 at the Bradley Studio in Nashville, Tennessee. He had the late Grady Martin on guitar, and Floyd Cramer on piano for that song. The Lonely Blue Boys did a great job, and I would certainly enjoy seeing them again.
THE LONELY BLUE BOYS FROM THE LEFT COAST (L.A.)
OPEN SATURDAY'S R & B SHOW
ROBERT WILLIAMS AKA BIG SANDY IS A VERY GOOD MC,
BUT IS ALWAYS KNOWN AS A SUPERB MUSIC-MAKER AND SINGER WHO CAN
REALLY PUT TOGETHER AN ALL-STAR BAND.
ERICK AND ANNA HERBST FROM VIENNA, AUSTRIA CAME FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK.
At 4:00 Nick Curran and the Nightlifes returned for another set, and they stuck around for a good part of the afternoon to play with some of the other groups. Leave it to Big Sandy, who emceed the R & B show, to do a set of choice material, and dressed in his white tuxedo jacket, did his usual excellent job. Big Sandy also put quite a bit of thought into his material, often taking "the road less traveled", including the flip side of the Penguins' big hit "Earth Angel".
NICK CURRAN AND THE NIGHTLIFES DO ANOTHER SET AT THE R & B SHOW.
BIG SANDY JOINS NICK CURRAN.
Now for a little trivia: When "Earth Angel" was originally released in 1954, "Hey Senorita" was supposed to be the "A" side when it was released in September, but by Christmas time and beyond, the flip side, "Earth Angel", rose to the No. 8 position on the Billboard charts.
Following Big Sandy, Shaun Young and Sean Mencher introduced the Extraodinaires, with whom they performed at the Hemsby Festival in England. Originally starting off as dancers, Gabriel, Mark and Roy were quickly discovered in the clubs of London. They also became a singing group, originally performing as an "a capella" vocal group. They added a band, and came out with a vinyl EP record on the All Nite Long Records label. In April 2000 they released their debut CD. The Green Bay crowd was fascinated by their singing and dance routines, and the music was great. I always loved listening to the Turbans' 1956 hit "When You Dance", and the Extraordinaires did a wonderful job with it.
SHAUN YOUNG AND SEAN MENCHER
INTRODUCE THE EXTRAORDINAIRES
AND THEY WERE EXTRAORDINARY! THEY DANCE
AND THEY SING!
While the Extraordinaires were doing their set from 6:00-6:45 p.m., James Intveld opened up the entertainment for the evening in the Iroquois Ballroom. I first sang the praises of James Intveld when I met him and saw his performance at Indianapolis Rockabilly Rebel Weekend #7 in 1999 www.rockabillyhall.com/Indy1999.html. The guy just has unbelievable talent: songwriting, singing, guitar playing, stage presence, and the looks of a movie actor. Actually, he IS a movie actor. Although it's only his voice we hear in the John Waters' rockabilly-type movie "Cry Baby", as the singing voice of Johnny Depp's character, James Intveld recently had a part in Billy Crystal's cable movie about the 1961 home run race between Roger Marris and Mickey Mantle called "61". He portrayed the person who caught Roger Marris' 61st home run.
JAMES INTVELD WAS A COMMANDING STAGE PRESENCE.
AS I SAID IN MY INDY '99 REVIEW - "HE'S GOT IT ALL!"
But enough of that trivia. James put on an excellent show, and he sounded wonderful on all of the songs, but I particularly enjoyed his singing "Stop The World and Let Me Off", and "I Came All The Way From Memphis".
As an encore, James did his own unique arrangement of the Buddy Holly song, also memorialized by The Rolling Stones on the first cut of their first U.S. album, "Not Fade Away". Both the Holly and The Rolling Stones' versions were under two minutes, but James' unique arrangement probably exceeded six minutes. Great performer; great talent; the women love him, and the men think he's cool too! After his show, James graciously autographed his CD's and willingly ran around the security area to pose for pictures whenever asked - he seems to be just a great guy too!
Moving out of the air-conditioned Iroquois Ballroom and back to the Casino Pavilion, I caught Barrence Whitfield and The Savages. Actually, The Silverjets provided most of the backup music for Barrence Whitfield. Barrence Whitfield started singing in a gospel church as a young child, and he belonged to bands in his high school years as both a singer and a drummer. Although he initially molded himself after Little Richard and James Brown, he embraced many professional role models such as Duke Ellington, Slim Gallor, Thelonious Monk, The Funkadellics and Raymond Scott. Barrence came to Boston, where he was well received, but he made it very big in Europe due to Andy Kershaw, a well-known DJ in England, who helped promote his career there. Barrence Whitfield has even appeared on a Merle Haggard songwriters' tribute CD entitled "Tulare Dust", on the Hi-Tone record label. The song he sang, "Irma Jackson", was a controversial interracial love story that Merle tackled early in his career. Barrence Whitfield's set was lively and entertaining, and he particularly floated my boat when he sang "King Kong".
BARRENCE WHITFIELD AND THE SAVAGES -
WITH NICK CURRAN AND THE SILVERJETS.
Back at the Iroquois Ballroom, the German group, Spo-Dee-O-Dee, who has released many good CD's, did a very enjoyable set. They do mostly cover songs, but they do them well whether it is in the rockabilly vein, western, etc. They even tapped a song performed and written by Sonny West, who had done it on Friday night, "Rock-Olo-Ruby". I enjoyed Spo-Dee-O-Dee's arrangement of the Sonny West classic, and Spo-Dee-O-Dee continues to perform well and release excellent CD's.
SPO-DEE-0-DEE FROM GERMANY: AN EXCELLENT ROCKABILLY GROUP
A BLOCK OF CHOPPERS AT THE PAVILION SATURDAY
Following Spo-Dee-O-Dee in the Iroquois Ballroom was Number Nine. Number Nine is an English group that centers around the talents of vocalist Paul Ansell. Number Nine mixed rock and roll, rockabilly, country, blues and some swing into their repertoire. They really did a good set at Iroquois, and it was nice to finally see in person this group about whom I had heard for quite a spell.
The last act the Casino Pavilion was Young Jessie. Obediah Jessie has been around for decades, and his well-known song, "Mary Lou" (not the Gene Pitney composition), was successfully covered by Ronnie Hawkins in 1959. Other songs Young Jessie is known for include "Lonesome Desert", "Don't Think I Will", "I Smell A Rat", "Oochie Coochie", "Hit Git And Split", "Hot Dog", and "Do You Love Me". Ace has a CD compilation of Young Jessie's works entitled "I'm Gone" that has been well reviewed. Young Jessie put on an excellent show, backed by Nick Curran and his band.
YOUNG JESSIE, WHOSE SONG "MARY LOU" WAS
COVERED BY RONNIE HAWKINS IN 1959
Saturday night was yet another strong night for Purcell's Lounge, and as the week grew, so did the crowds in this bar on the Radisson side the Oneida complex. The acts at Purcell's on Saturday night included Chicago's Nick Willett, a rapidly rising rockabilly star from Chicago, who assembled a first-rate band consisting of Eddie Angel on guitar, Jimmy Sutton on bass, and Jimmy Lester on drums. By the way, Jimmy Sutton performed on stage throughout the week with various acts.
CHICACO'S NICK WILLETT HAD AN ALL-STAR BAND WITH HIM
AT PURCELL'S LOUNGE:
EDDIE ANGEL, JIMMY SUTTON AND JIMMY LESTER
Following Nick at 10:15 p.m. were the Casey Sisters, who had also performed in the Iroquois Ballroom on Friday. Their new CD is available from Hepcat Records, and I, unfortunately, did not obtain a copy for my Green Bay CD review www.rockabillhall.com/barrygbcdreview.html.
The next act was the always popular Josie Kruezer, who also drew large crowds at Viva Las Vegas III and V at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame Stage (She's returning next year too!). Josie looked and sounded great, and her new CD, "Beggin' Me Back", might just be her best yet.
JOSIE KREUZER PACKS 'EM IN AT PURCELL'S LOUNGE.
The week's closing act at Purcell's was The Santa Cruz, California based The Haywoods, who do just a wonderful job with their "billy"-based rockabilly sound. The group features Chad Silva on vocals and acoustic guitar, and he is a terrific vocalist. The entire band sounds great together, and California just seems to be a country in and of itself as far as the number of good rockabilly bands it produces.
At the Iroquois Ballroom the good shows did not stop after Number Nine. The Paladins, that very popular rockabilly/roots rock trio from San Diego, California assembled a huge crowd of loyal and new fans to their show. I thought I saw more Paladins shirts, jackets, T-shirts and other apparel merchandise in Green Bay than I see Burberry trench coats on 5th Avenue in New York in December! Anyway, Brian, Dave and Thomas, during their always consistently good stage performance, called Annita Hudson, the singer for Annita & The Austin Playboys, to sing with the band. Annita is from Holland, but is now based with her band in Austin, Texas. I happened to meet the Austin Playboy's drummer, Buck, at the Green Bay airport just after I landed.
THE PALADINS ALWAYS DRAW A BIG CROWD.
ANNITA HUDSON OF THE AUSTIN PLAYBOYS LENDS HER GREAT VOICE
TO THE PALADINS.
During the encore, Dave Gonzalez brought out several other performers to join him on stage, including Phil Doran from the Oneida Casino, and they performed "Money Money Money".
DAVE GONZALEZ OF THE PALADINS CALLS UP SOME OTHER PERFORMERS
TO JOIN HIM ON STAGE.
It all goes to show, never miss a chance to see the Paladins!
The Tinstars from Holland did a very good set of straight-up rockabilly. The lead singer's wife Esther even joined in for some delightful singing during their set. Tjarko Jeen, the Tinstar's lead guitarist told me he was from Amsterdam, living in upstate New York, and in the process of moving to Austin, Texas. I don't know what that means for The Tinstars as a group, but I'll certainly try to keep you posted. Tjarko handled the lead guitar chores for several rockabilly legends during the week at Green Bay, including Ray Campi.
THE TINSTARS FROM HOLLAND DO A
GOOD SET OF STRAIGHT-UP ROCKABILLY.
TJARKO JEEN OF THE TINSTARS MADE SEVERAL APPEARANCES DURING THE WEEK.
HE'S MOVING TO AUSTIN SOON.
The Racketeers closed the show at the Iroquois Ballroom, but before this writer nodded off in a chair like our friend Rene pictured here, I was in a horizontal position in a more private environment.
ON THE SEVENTH DAY GOD SAID, "LET MAN REST".
If I were Catholic, I would go to the confessional and ask for forgiveness for missing several performances, including Boston's Racketeers, King Memphis, the very gifted Carl Sonny Leyland (whose great piano playing has opened the doors for several other pianists to be included in rockabilly groups now using the piano such as The Barnshakers and Wildfire Willie), Ike & The Capers, The Planet Rockers, The Go Getters, and a few other bands that performed after midnight. I was fortunate to see approximately 80% of the 117 performances, meet new friends and fans, chat with many of the performers, visit the vendor area many times, and hang around with all my associates at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, except, unfortunately, Kay Wheeler, who had to stay in California. Green Bay 2002 Rock'n 50's Fest was undoubtedly the greatest assemblage of talent put in one venue for an extended period of time in the history of the western hemisphere!
Editor's Note: Barry Klein writes for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, and his book, "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll", was published in 1997. To contact Barry, email him at email@example.com
For a list of Barry's other articles and interviews for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, go to