Feature Column
Exclusive to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame






Column #18 / #19 - published January 5, 1999 - UPDATED February 5, 1999

VIVA LAS VEGAS 1999

About 35 years ago things started falling apart. Rock'n'Roll had been under assault by racist and anti-American forces. Then, after Alan Freed was driven out of the business, the "Philadelphia Sound" took the center stage and cleansed the Black Rhythm & Blues and the White Hillbilly Bop out of our music, and replaced it with a plastic soulless imitation."

As if that wasn't bad enough, next we had the so-called "British Invasion": here were guys with whiny voices wearing little suits, turtleneck sweaters and sissy hairdos. Gone were the tight blue-jeans, the leather jackets, the pompadours and the H-Bar-C Western shirts.

The bottom was yet to come: Haight Ashbury, Woodstock, Anti-Americanism, men dressing like women, psychedelic drugs, disco, synthesizers, what not!

In America the words "Rock" and "Rock'n'Roll" became desecrated when groups like Steely Dan, Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne, etc., usurped the name of our beloved music!! To add insult to injury they started to call our music "Oldies But Goodies"! The Savage Rock of Gene Vincent was called a "Goodie"!!

The 1960s Movement/Culture/Philosophy had massacred the Rock. That's why in my Rollin' Rock magazines in the early 1970s I had a slogan saying: "These Aint Oldies But Goodies, These Are Youngies But Meanies!!" Things looked fairly bleak for Rock'n'Roll in America, until last year that is, when first it was this site, The Rockabilly Hall Of Fame, and then Viva Las Vegas, which came on the horizon to set the record straight, to give The Dream another chance!

And what an incredible Dream that became reality last year, when for almost a week Rockin' Patriots, Rhythm & Blues Allies and Western Bop Loyalists from all over the world came to Las Vegas to show the colors, and draw a line in the sand: Rock'n'Roll Music Will Stand!!

Englishmen Tom Ingram and Barney Koumis are showing America to appreciate its own heritage through their Viva Las Vegas Festivals. Viva Las Vegas 1998 was a tremendous success!! This year promises to be even better. Let's go over the outstanding lineup featured for 1999 in order of appearance:

  • THURSDAY:

    The SINNERS open the Weekender. I have not heard them, but they do have a solid reputation as a hot rockabilly band.

    At this point starts the ROLLIN' ROCK RECORDS SPECIAL with THE SHUFFLE AIRES. This is the band of BIG AL and MARY EK. They have become the Rollin' Rock house band playing on the MACK STEVENS and NARVEL FELTS CDs.


    MACK STEVENS is next, and if you go for savage Hard-core Texas Cat Music, this flesh and blood tornado will not disappoint you!! Mack has been touring the Wild West where his outrageous exciting stage show is rousing the crowds to fever pitch. Almost every club owner has asked him back. In Las Vegas he will be performing his Western Bop hits out of his new Rollin' Rock CD "HARDCORE TEXAS CAT MUSIC" (Rollin' Rock CD-101). Don't dare to miss Mack Stevens!


    MAC CURTIS, the legendary 1950s hero will finish off ROLLIN' ROCK nite. MAC CURTIS together with RAY CAMPI & HIS ROCKABILLY REBELS, during their 1977 ROLLIN' ROCK TOUR of the UK, were resposible for launching the Rockabilly Rebels and Hep Cat Movement (according to the British press). Mac in the 1950s appeared on many Alan Freed shows where he sang his hits "Grandaddy's Rockin'", "If I Had Me A Woman" and "That Aint Nothin' But Right". Watch Mac doin' those, in addition to his Rollin' Rock hits: "Good Rockin' Tomorrow", "Johnny Carroll Rock" and "Rockin' Mother".


  • FRIDAY:

    ROBERT GORDON with EDDIE ANGEL's All Star Band kicks it off. Robert's strong vocals made him a favourite of many.


    JANIS MARTIN, another 1950s legend, of "My Boy Elvis" fame, is someone I've wanted to see for over 25 years!! Can't wait!

    SONNY GEORGE and THE TENNESSEE SONS will please fans of strong Southern vocals and he-man rock'n'roll beat.

    THE DALHART IMPERIALS are to be appreciated for their variety of styles, including Western Swing, Jump Blues, Rockabilly and Hillbilly Bop.


  • JACK BAYMOORE AND THE BANDITS: The first thing you notice about Jack is the greasiest raunchiest nastiest Southern vocals this side of Mack Stevens, simply incredible for this Swedish boy to sound more Southern than 99% of Southern singers. After one gets over the shock of these mean lean vocals, you start to notice the high class and frantic breathless performance of the whole band, and the strength, both lyrically and melodically, of almost every song in their set, and in their 10" LP. A superb act with few equals, a MUST SEE band!!


  • SATURDAY:


    SONNY BURGESS with the original PACERS: One of the most exciting and savage of all the Sun Records legends is SONNY BURGESS. His double sided hit "Red Headed Woman" and "We Wanna Boogie" are examples of the wildest and most raucous Rock'n'Roll ever recorded. Nobody since then has been able to match the explosive energy and raunch of those two '50s biscuits. SONNY BURGESS is truly a Southern hero. Welcome to Las Vegas!!

    RUMBLE KING: I saw RUMBLE KING here in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Cafe and I was very very pleasantly surprised by the band's style: very much in a New Orleans / Fats Domino groove with sax, piano, standup bass and drums. The Big Beat lives!

    THE NICK GILROY KOMBO: an outstanding combo from the UK with a strong individual sound, but yet with a hint of Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps. Tight arrangements, strong original material, hard rockin' beat, a band not to be missed!


    Another 1950s legend, CURTIS GORDON, will be singing his classics "Draggin'", "Rompin' And Stompin'", "Mobile", etc. I am very excited to finally see Curtis Gordon!

    (We start with Mac Curtis, then go to Robert Gordon, and finally end up with Curtis Gordon! Wow!)

    BIG JOE LOUIS and his BLUES KINGS, a phenomenal vocalist shouting out pure raw authentic Blues, I mean this is REAL Blues, not phony 1960s-1970s Hippie "Blues"!!! How long has it been since any of us have heard Real Blues??

    HAL PETERS and the STRING DUSTERS from Finland have built themselves quite a following with their unique brand of Hillbilly Rock!!

    Topping off the evening is WILDFIRE WILLIE and The RAMBLERS: if you like frantic, tear up the roof type rock'n'roll, this bunch is for you!! (And for ME!!)


  • SUNDAY:


    The evening starts off with the superb Doo Wop group THE CLEFTONES whose masterpiece "Heart And Soul" is one of Rock'n'Roll's greatest hits ever. "This Little Girl Of Mine" is another one of their chart topping hits which they will thrill us with.

    SOUTHPAW JOHNNY And His Righthand Man is a young Western Swing / Hillbilly Boogie band with male and female vocalists. Exciting band.

    MARTI BROM is sensational with her sultry looks and sexy sensual vocals!! Better have the fire hydrants ready in case some of the hepcat wolves lose control!


    THE ROLLIN' ROCKS signed autographs for over one hour in Denver. This outfit from Japan who decided to use the name of my Rollin' Rock Records for their band, specialize in Western Swing and Rockabilly. They made me proud in Denver sporting the Rollin' Rock logo. I expect the same will happen in Vegas!

    CARLOS And His BANDIDOS: I have not heard nor seen these fellas yet, however they do have a reputation for being a very raucous and outrageous rockin' outfit and I am looking forward to have a wild time!





  • Featured Disc Jockeys will be: Tom Ingram, Joe Doto, Tex, Jerry's Chatabox, Shorty, Cosmic Keith, Kurt Ohlen, Robin's Bakelite Boogie, Bobby Trimble and Big Bob Chauncey.

  • Also added has been the Jean Rose Burlesque Revue.

  • Many vendors will sell vintage clothing, records, etc. etc.






    NEW this year: more bands in the day time!!
    VIVA LAS VEGAS EAST LOUNGE TIMETABLE:

  • FRIDAY
    12:30 - Tony Maserati (Hot singer!!)
    2pm - Johnny Mercury & Rockets (Excellent new band)


    3pm - Dragstrip 77 (Vegas' premier Rockabilly band. New CD on Rollin' Rock / Dyonisus out soon)

  • SATURDAY
    12:30 - Dusty 45's (From Seattle, highly recommended)
    2pm - RIP CARSON & THE TWILIGHT TRIO (Exciting San Diego quartet. Will record for Rollin' Rock in the summer)
    3pm - Bovine (Fun band!)

  • SUNDAY
    12:30 - Haywoods (A real gone bunch!)
    2pm - Travellers (Swing & Jump Blues from Japan)
    3pm - American Standards (Real nice guys and very hard rockin' cats!)

  • PLUS there will be a Vintage Auto Show, fashion shows, etc.

  • Also, BOB & SONJA TIMMERS, of the ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME, will host a hospitality booth where you can meet many 1950s Rockabilly Legends, take pictures with them, and have them sign your CDs.





    ANCILLARY EVENTS

  • INTERNATIONAL ROCKABILLY REBELS MEET & GREET, at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, March 31 at Rancho Ronny to meet all the Internet cats. See previous month' column.

  • PRE VIVA SHOW organized by KATS LIKE US at "LEGENDS" on Wednesday, March 31 with:

    RANDY RICH & THE POOR BOYS (Traditional Rockabilly from Germany)
    TONY MASERATI (Hot singer!)
    THREE BAD JACKS (Unique vocalist, sense of humor, very strong trio)
    AMERICAN STANDARDS (Real nice guys and very hard rockin')

  • POST VIVA SHOW organized by KATS LIKE US at Rockabilly's on Monday, April 5:
    "A TRIBUTE TO ROCKIN' RONNY WEISER AND ROLLIN' ROCK RECORDS"
    DRAGSTRIP 77 (Las Vegas premier rockabilly band with new Rollin' Rock/Dyonisus CD out soon)

    MACK STEVENS (Savage Texas Hard-core Cat Music, two CDs on Rollin' Rock)

    RAY CAMPI (According to the New Musical Express, the man mostly responsible for starting the whole Rockabilly Rebels and Hep Cat Movement in the late 1970s!!)
    RIP MASTERS (Wild pumpin' piano player & vocalist)

    JOHNNY LEGEND (The outrageous Rockabilly Bastard himself!!!)


    Wheewww!
    Well, that's about it!!
    Can you top it?

  • Visit the Viva Las Vegas Website http://www.vivalasvegas.net

    Always Rollin' The Rock,
    Rockin' Ronny Weiser,
    The Rockabilly Rebel Westerner from Las Vegas,
    The Wild Wild West


    Always Rollin' The Rock,
    Rockin' Ronny Weiser,
    The Rockabilly Rebel Westerner from Las Vegas, Nevada,
    The Wild Wild West
    E-Mail Ronny at Rollin' Rock




  • ROCKIN' RONNY WEISER - See his on-site Rockabilly HOF web page