IN REVIEW ...
Clarion Hotel & Conference Center
June 21, 22 & 23, 2007
By BARRY M. KLEIN
Barry's 40th Column for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame®. He started with us back
in 1999 at VLV)
"ROCKABILLY REBEL WEEKEND NUMBER FIFTEEN
- WHAT A PARTY!"
I haven't missed too many
Rockabilly Rebel Weekends since 1999, but Number Fourteen in 2006 was one of
them. David Loehr has produced all
15 of these fantastic weekends, and attending Number Fifteen reinforced to me what
a great thing David has going in this very successful series.
For the first time that I know of,
David Loehr was unable to attend this weekender due to illness, but several of
the performers related that they had spoken to David, and assured us that he
would be up and at 'em very soon.
With Lenny Prussack holding the
fort and emcee Ken Mottet back in the saddle as the MC, the show went on with
nary a glitch.
Maynard Shepard dancin' and playin' on top of a table.
Thursday's show opened with Garnet
Hearts, a Baltimore based quintet that features Eddie MacIntosh on lead vocals,
guitar and rhythm guitar, Mark Pettijohn on drums, Alex Fine on lead guitar,
John Bozarth on bass, and "The Legendary" Maynard Shepard on stunt guitar.
The Garnet Hearts provided a great
start to a talent-laden weekend.
Playing a number of tunes from their new CD on the Wild Hare Records
label, we were treated to good singing, great picking, a very good rhythm
section, and Maynard Shepard strummin' and dancin' all over the place.
Their set included some standards such
as "Lonesome Train," but also some new tunes such as "Lucky Number Seven," "The
Drunkard and the Poet," "Ain't Crazy," "Scotch Whiskey" and the standard, "Just
Because." If you can't find their
CD, "Life Behind Bars," from your favorite store or internet provider, contact
Wild Hare Records at their web site:
Mandy Marie & the Cool Hand Lukes
The next act was Mandy Marie and
the Cool Hand Lukes. I saw Mandy
Marie playing guitar for The Freightliners at Indy Number Thirteen two years
ago, and I described Mandy then as a "take no prisoner" guitarist.
Well, now she has graduated and become
the lead vocalist and lead guitarist for Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand
Mandy retained her rhythm section
from The Freightliners, which includes the inimitable Mark Cutsinger (Art
Adams) on drums and Morrison (Mo) Foster on upright bass.
Rick Weaver is the other guitarist in
the group, and these folks can really tear the place up.
Mandy's set consisted of a terrific balance
of standards, coupled with many originals.
Mandy's set included two Webb Pierce songs, "Teenager
Boogie" and "There Stands the Glass," "He's Got It," originally recorded by
Little Richard as "She's Got It," Billy Joe Shaver's "Georgia On a Fast Train,"
and new songs such as "600 Pair of Boots," "I'm Going To Drink You Out Of My
Mind," and "White Line Fever" (not the Merle Haggard standard about truck
driving, but the foibles of cocaine use).
Also, Mandy performed that Detroit delight "One Piece at a Time," the
Johnny Cash classic. Mandy was at
all times a smiling, gracious and very entertaining performer.
You could tell that the audience was
drawn to her, and this is certainly a woman and a band on their way up!
After their set, left to right: Mark Cutsinger on drums,
Rockabilly Hall of Fame's Barry Klein, Mandy Marie,
Rick Weaver on lead guitar, and Mo Foster on bass.
By the way, Mandy's husband is none
other than Danny Thompson, the lead singer for "Bigger Than Elvis," who I
reviewed in Indy Number Twelve. I
would pay to hear their conversations about music at the dinner table!
It didn't take me very long on
Thursday night to realize that Dave and Kiersten Moore of Wild Hare Records
have been very busy recording great groups.
Buck Stevens with Eddie MacIntosh on rhythm guitar,
Mark Pettijohn on drums and John Bozarth on bass.
The third set on Thursday evening
was all about Buck Stevens, "The Kentucky Marvel," yet another Wild Hare
Records recording artist. Buck, as
I recall, was a member of the Star Devils, and performed at the car show in
2005. This time, fronting his own band,
Buck had the opportunity to showcase his talents as a singer and lead
guitarist. He can do it all -
honky-tonk, hillbilly, rockabilly - Buck Stevens is the real deal!
I remember that this set had a
particularly good sound, so kudos to Dave.
Every song Buck sang was excellent, and the song selection
was pretty darn good: Pat Cupp's
"Long Gone Daddy," Roc LaRue's "Baby Take Me Back," Eddie Bond's "Boppin'
Bonnie," Don Woody's "Bird Dog," Orangie Ray Hubbard's "My Baby's Got Nothin'
But Sweet Love On Her Mind," the great Jimmie Logsdon classic, "Rocket In My
Pocket" and their encore number was "Mean Little Woman."
It looks like Buck has a new CD
coming out this summer, and judging from his outstanding performance in Indy,
it should be a winner!
By the way, kudos to Buck's backup
band, which included Eddie MacIntosh on rhythm guitar, Mark Pettijohn on Drums
and John Bozarth on bass.
Left to right: Mark Braun, Barbara Clifford, Theresa Drda,
Rachel Decker, Michael Hogeorges and Manny Guevara.
"Cleanup hitters" for the evening
were The Honeybees, a Chicago sextet
featuring the lovely harmonizing vocals of Barbara Clifford and Rachel Decker,
with the rest of the band including Michael Hogeorges on bass, Theresa
Drda on drums, Manny Guevara on electric and acoustic guitars, and Mark Braun
on electric and steel guitars.
Michael is one of the newer members of the band, and his presence now
gives The Honeybees a husband-and-wife rhythm section, as Michael joins his
wife, drummer Theresa Drda.
I have seen The Honeybees perform
in person several times in the last few years, and they just keep evolving and
improving to a point where, on June 21, 2007, they were sooooo... good!!
The set included everything from 1960
hits like "Cool Jerk," "Money," and "I'll Cry Instead," self-penned songs on
their new CD, "Hive Jive," such as "Grey Lady," "Sweet, Sweet Baby," "Cheat,"
"Headstrong," "One Bad Habit" (that one written by Gin Palace Jester Ken
Mottet), "Leave My Kitten Alone," and the list goes on! The "Hive Jive" CD is
on El Toro records, and was produced by Billy Horton, one of the Horton
Brothers of Austin, Texas. You'll
Sweet Pea and Lynne Greenamyre
Dance the Honeybee Beat.
Their first song, and it is also on
their new CD, "What A Bee," sounded like it was adapted from a song by an
unknown artist titled "What a Beat," which is on the Bear Family Sun Studio
compilation, "That'll Flat Get It Volume 14."
Another great song was "Please Give
Me Something" that was recorded in 1958 by Bill Allen on the Imperial
label. The Honeybees do a terrific
job on both the covers and their own tunes, and the song selections and
arrangements of the covers were great.
Rocko-o-does "Train KeptA-Rollin'" with
The Honeybees really had the crowd
going, and they wound up doing so many encore songs that I can't remember how
many there were, but one of them included
"R O C K." Another
of their encore numbers was Roy Brown's "Hip Shakin' Baby."
I always thought that The Go Getters
"owned" that song, but after listening to The Honeybees do it, I'm not so sure
anymore (both groups should be very proud of how they do "Hip Shakin' Baby").
The boys from Garnet Hearts dance to the Honeybee Beat.
Another word about a new band
member, Mark Braun, who is a pal of Michael and Theresa's.
He wound up making a temporary gig more
permanent, and along with Manny Guevara, I believe The Honeybees have "arrived"
as true headliners in the world of rockabilly and rock and roll music.
Here's Slick Andrews performing in Royal Oak, Michigan in 2001.
Left to right: Paul "Smokey Links" Cook on lead guitar,
Loney Charles on drums, Slick on guitar and vocals, and Rudy Varner on
On Friday I noticed the arrival of a rockabilly and
honky-tonk player/singer who is pretty well known in rockabilly circles, Slick
Andrews; I first saw Slick perform
with some great Michigan musicians at the Motor City Spin-Out in Royal,
Michigan in 2001. Well, shortly
after returning to Michigan, I received the new Slick Andrews' CD, "Let's Beer
It Up With Slick Andrews."
I shouldn't have been surprised to see this record was
produced by Wild Hare Records, inasmuch as many of their stable of stars
performed at Indy 15. The 12 songs
on the CD included very danceable, up-tempo rockabilly cuts, as well as some
songs I would put in the honky-tonk category.
It is a "good listen" and I enjoyed it while doing some
expressway driving in my car.
Incidentally, Slick had the benefit on this CD of a plethora of stars
from the Wild Hare Records studio including Eddie MacIntosh, Mark Pettijohn,
John Bozarth, Buck Stevens, Bob Myers, and the sound engineers were Dave Moore
and "The Legendary" Maynard Shepard.
Nice effort folks! All but
one of the tunes were written by Slick Andrews.
The Johnny Powers' merchandise table
in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame vending area.
Practical joker Bob Timmers wants to send this photo to
Big Sandy asking him if this is his new Tour Bus!
Caddy Coupe from the Road Rockets Car Show
DeSoto - 1953?
At Rockabilly Hall of Fame table - Left to right:
Bob Timmers, Johnny Powers, Art Adams and Barry Klein.
TWANG at its best: The authentic country and rockabilly
sounds of those Beantown Boppers, The Stumbleweeds.
Kicking off Friday evening was The
Stumbleweeds, a group I have enjoyed for several years, and I was happy to
learn that they would be playing at the weekender.
This Boston group released its debut CD, "Pickin' and
Sinnin'," in 2001. Their latest
CD, "Evil On Your Mind," was released last year on the Spinout Record label,
which is the label owned by Planet Rockers and Los Straitjackets lead
guitarist, Eddie Angel, and his wife Melanie.
The Stumbleweeds gig often in their native Boston area and
surrounding states. They also play
at major rockabilly and rock 'n roll festivals around the world, and they're booked
to play at Viva Las Vegas in the main ballroom in 2008, as well as the Red Hot
& Blue weekender in Montreal next year.
On the east coast they are planning to open shows for Wanda
Jackson in the near future.
Unidentified lady and Sweet Pea enjoying another tune.
Singer Lynette Lenker belts out another tune.
The Stumbleweeds regular lineup
consists of leader and lead singer, Lynnette Lenker, on lead vocals; backing
vocals by Lisa Beauregard; Dennis Kelly on lead guitar; Jack Hanlon on bass and
John Cote on drums. Sometimes,
when the band travels well beyond Beantown, some allowances must be made, and
at Indy we had Lynette still fronting the group on lead vocals, her husband,
Phil Lenker on bass, Jim Gaudette on lead guitar and the regular band drummer,
I just love listening to this
band! They can do country,
rockabilly, their own songs, standards - they do it all!
The Stumbleweeds did a great rendition
of the Leon Payne song, "I Love You Because," and that song has been previously
recorded by Hank Snow,
Jan Howard, Stevie Wonder, Elvis
Presley, Celine Dion and Jim Reeves.
This arrangement was standout Stumbleweeds!
When Lynnette Lenker asked the
audience, "How many women sing Webb Pierce songs?", I realized there were not a
lot of woman who covered Webb Pierce songs.
On this rockabilly weekend, we were treated to two women
covering Webb Pierce songs: Lynnette
Lenker of The Stumbleweeds and Mandy Marie of Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand
Lukes. How about a tip of a hat to
these ladies! The Stumbleweeds'
set also included the songs "Famous Last Words," "Foot Stompin' Friday Night,"
"Honky Tonk Merry-Go-Round," "Wasted," "Evil On Your Mind," and "Dog Gone
What a great way to start theweekend!
The Rumble Club, from the north Kentucky/Cincinnati area,
take no prisoners in their cranked-up set.
Left to right: Alex "Bones" Becket, Tim Heinrich,
Jack Coray, and Jay "Chewy" Clark.
The next group to take the stage was
Rumble Club, a quartet out of the north Kentucky/Cincinnati area.
This group was definitely one of the
more fast-tempo groups of the weekend.
Rumble Club's leader is Jack Coray, who sings and plays lead guitar, Jay
"Chewy" Clark on rhythm guitar, Alex "Bones" Becket on standup bass, and Tim
Heinrich on drums. The Ruble Club
set included "Chicken Pickin'," "Gamblers Regret," "Rockin' Billy Rooster,"
"'59 Caddie," "Wreckin' Ball," and "Drive 'em On."
Even when they covered such classics as "All I Can Do Is
Cry" and "Ring Of Fire," their edgy sound put their own brand on them.
The Rumble Club has shared the
stage with such other "forward" style rockabilly (dare I say "Psychobilly?")
groups as The Meteors, The Reverend Horton Heat and The Twistin' Tarantulas.
If I have not done an adequate job
of describing The Rumble Club's music, allow me to quote a publicity ditty
supporting their second full-length CD, "In Case of Rumble:"
"Whether it's Fisticuffs, Murder Ballads
or Hellbillies in a '59 Caddie,' Rumble Club once again delivers their edgy
rampaging sounds on their second full-length CD, 'In Case of Rumble'"
The Rumblejetts, who hail from Kansas City, put on a great show.
Left to right: Jim Holopter on guitar, Judd Kite on drums,
and Pedro Mora on bass and lead vocals.
They really did "Give Us Something to Remember You By!"
I was really looking forward to
seeing The Rumblejetts, because I hadn't seen them in person since they
performed at the Rockin' Fifties Fest II in Green Bay in 2005.
The Rumblejetts are a trio from
Kansas City and feature Pedro Mora on standup bass and vocals, Jim Holopter on
lead guitar and Judd Kite on drums. They write much of their own material, and
there just ain't nothin' they do that I don't like!
Pedro Mora has an excellent voice, and can slap that bass
pretty well too. Judd Kite on
drums is a stand-up style drummer who plays great and puts on a good show to
boot. Some of The Rumblejetts
songs were covers, such as another great version of Bill Allen's "Please Give
Me Something," a terrific rendition of "Baby Please Don't Leave Me," the Rock
& Roll Trio song. Pedro did
the outtake version that wasn't released until the early 80's in which the
singer keeps making a growling soundÖit was terrific and it got people jumping
to the dance floor! Another great
cover I remember was The Rumblejetts' version of Johnny Carroll's "Crazy Crazy
Some of the original material
included "Click Clack," "That Girl Death," "One Eye Drunk," "White Hot,"
"Rollin'," and "Liquor Up."
Talent, stage presence and great
execution - you can't do better than that!
Look who we ran
into! It's that animated bass man,
Jerimiah Brockman with two of his children, Killian and Lydia.
A marriage full of talent: Mandy Marie of
Mandy Marie (and the Cool Hand Lukes), with husband
Danny Thompson of Bigger Than Elvis.
The Starlight Drifters were definitely
in the top 5 acts for thunderous ovations.
Following the Rumblejetts was The
Starlight Drifters. The Starlight
Drifters were originally an Ann Arbor, Michigan based quartet led by two front
men, Bill Anton on lead vocals, and Chris Casello on electric and steel guitar.
When the group broke up, Chris Casello
moved to Nashville and started a new version of The Starlight Drifters.
As was the case when I was last in Indy
in 2005, celebrated bass player/singer/songwriter Mark Winchester was on bass,
and Mark Horn played drums. Mark
Horn's resume includes playing for the Derailers as well as rockabilly legend
Starlight Drifters got the dancers on the floor too!
Having heard them before, my
expectations were high, and lo and behold, it was even better than I
expected. They were very, very
well received by the crowd. In
fact, my notes reminded me that they were probably, according to the audience
response, one of the top five crowd pleasers for the whole festival.
Chris is such a talent on electric and
steel guitar, and his confidence and virtuosity showed well.
These three musicians not only play
great, but they play great together!
Their set included a great cover of
Jess Hooper's classic "All Messed Up," "Hillbilly Train," "Hole," "Buck's
Polka," "Cold Fish," "Girl Like You," and "Rooster Rock."
The climax of the set was a song called
"Ain't Got Time for Love" (extended version) that was written by Chris and
Mark. The drummer keeps asking,
"Can you play like ... ?" As the
drummer reels off the names, Chris plays exactly like that particular
guitarist. I don't have it, but I heard something like this, by former
Commander Cody member, Bill Kirchen, on an extended version of "Hot Rod
Lincoln." The irony here is that
both Bill Kirchen and Chris Casello got famous while they were living in Ann
Arbor, Michigan (Kirchen with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen).
Anyway, some of the artists that Chris
would imitate during the song "Ain't Got Time For Love," featured in the
soundtrack of the movie "Stepdaughter," included Chet Atkins, Hank Garland,
Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, "The Three Kings": Freddie King, Albert King, and B.
B. King. We even heard Chris imitate the guitar licks of Ted Nugent, Keith
Richards and Eddie Van Halen.
By this time Chris, Mark and Mark
had worked the crowd way up to quite a climactic crescendo, and like I said
before, this group was definitely in the top 5 in audience feedback.
After a brief but well deserved
intermission, The Starlight Drifters returned to the stage as the band for a
singer, songwriter and performer who is truly a living legend, Johnny Powers.
MC Ken J. Mottet introduces Johnny Powers,
backed by the Starlight Drifters.
Starlight Drifters' leader Chris Casello with alumnus Kenny Bruce.
Kenny (Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers) also
plays with a Canadian group, The Silvertones.
I last wrote about Johnny Powers
when he was the cleanup hitter at Rockabilly Rebel Weekend Number Thirteen (www.rockabillyhall.com/indy13.html),
and many readers already know that John Leon Joseph Pavlik was born in East
Detroit, Michigan. Johnny has
recorded for such iconic labels as Fortune Records in Detroit, Sun Records in
Memphis and Motown Records in Detroit.
He's still got it! Johnny Powers with the Starlight Drifters.
Johnny Powers could prepare a long
set list just from the earlier recordings in 1957 and 1958:
"Long Blond Hair," "Rock Rock," "Mama
Rock," "Honey Let's Go," "Mean Mistreater," "Someones Gonna Hurt You."
In 1959 Johnny recorded at Sun Records,
and some of the musical backers on his demos included Charlie Rich, Billy Lee
Riley, and Jimmy Van Eaton, including his song, "Me and My Rhythm Guitar."
Over the years, Johnny has produced
his own records, including the Jet-Eye Records CD, "I Was There When It
Happened," featuring the self-penned title song.
On a more recent CD on the School
Kids Records label entitled "New Spark (for an Old Flame)," Johnny performs
with the likes of George Clinton and Ann Arbor, Michigan's guitar great, George
Bedard. This CD has 21 cuts and
provides 73 minutes of very good music.
Go Johnny Go!
Johnny's one-hour set was an
animated, well-executed, jumpin' and jivin' show that had everybody movin',
dancin' and toe tappin'. His set
included "Rock Rock (originally slated to be the A-side of his double sided hit
that included "Long Blond Hair"), "Honey Let's Go," "Trouble" (the Leiber/Stoller
tune that Elvis Presley sang in the movie King Creole), "Mean Mistreater,"
"Waiting For You," "Be Mine," "With Your Love," "Me and My Rhythm Guitar,"
"Mama Rock," "Rocker Billy," "Good Gracious Me Baby," "I Was There When It
Happened," "Ooo," "Give It To Me Baby," and his ubiquitous blast "Long Blond
Great show, Johnny and Starlight Drifters!
50 years performing!
For the past two or three years,
Johnny has been the subject of a one-hour DVD documentary called "Rockabilly,
the Johnny Powers Story." The DVD
includes interviews, live performances, and biographical information about
Johnny Powers and his epic career.
Written, produced and directed by Tom Conner, in cooperation with
Johnny's Jet-Eye Music, the DVD can be ordered by calling 1-800-728-2614.
Saturday promised to be a long,
action-packed day, and I started it off by waking up very early.
I went into the buffet breakfast that
the Clarion gives to its guests a little after 7 a.m., and after having some
cereal and coffee, I noticed that rockabilly/country music legend Narvel Felts
had also come in to have breakfast.
After saying hello to Narvel, Narvel joined me at my table along with
his long-time friend, Huey Long.
With a name like Huey Long, I asked him if he was any relation to the
famous/infamous former governor of Louisiana, and I found out that Huey's
father was a first cousin of the very same governor, Huey Long.
Narvel, Huey and I must have
visited together for about an hour and a half, and the time just seemed to fly
by so quickly. Narvel is a very
intelligent and sensitive person, and he still has a thirst for knowledge about
the music industry. We talked
about almost everybody from Woody Guthrie to Jimmie Rodgers to Hank
Williams. And Narvel didn't just
sit around talking about himself and his own career - he asked questions, still
seeking more knowledge about the music that he loves so much.
Horse Cave Trio opens the Road Rockets Show Saturday,
just as the rain subsided.
Late Saturday morning, the rain brought
good-sized crowds in the vendor area.
After breakfast and a shower, I
moseyed on over to the vendor area, which had a moderate traffic flow at the
time. I then walked outside and
saw the scores of cars appearing at the Road Rockets Car Club of Indianapolis show
in the parking lot of the Clarion Hotel.
The Road Rockets also had some musical acts.
The first act was the Horse Cave Trio, and then the rain
started coming down pretty hard.
This meant good business in the vendor area, which benefited from the
big crowd that came through the lobby to the vendor area.
In the vendor area, I saw Stephanie, a hair designer
who specializes in hairstyles from the 1930's-1950's.
Lo and behold: She's from the Detroit area and works out of
London Calling Salon in Roseville, Michigan.
Call Stephanie Williamson at (586) 778-6379 for an appointment.
At Indy, she was booked solid!
The Star Devils play their Saturday set at the Road Rockets
Show outdoors. Despite a recent downpour,
a substantial crowd enjoyed a great show.
During the afternoon the rain
subsided, and I saw two particularly good musical sets.
The first was performed by The Star
Devils, who closed the show late Friday night/early Saturday morning.
The Star Devils are a group that I have
seen many times, and they never fail to put on a good show.
The Star Devils are:
Lance Kaufman, singer and rhythm
guitarist - his very good voice and animated stage presence are always top
notch; David Rhodes Brown is a tall fellow who plays the steel guitar; and
Frank Turner slaps the doghouse bass and rides it like a Kentucky Derby winner.
These fellows have played together for a long time, and it shows!.
In person or on CD, Lance Kaufman and
his Star Devils always impress me.
Those of you who are regular
readers of my reviews know that I usually miss at least one late night show
because of my compulsion to get up early every other morning to run seven
miles, and I must confess that I really regretted not being able to catch The
Star Devils' show in the Clarion late Friday night, but I made sure I saw them
Saturday at the Road Rocket Show.
From the size of the crowd that braved the rain and puddles, I wasn't
the only one who digs The Star Devils.
SOME VINTAGE CHEVY'S
Roy Wilson & the Buzzards: Roy is a very charismatic guy.
I've known him for several years. It doesn't take very long to
appreciate him. Saturday they performed outside at the Road Rocket Show,
then in the evening he not only did a stupendous set.
Roy handled the sound and the audio was at its best.
The next act at the outdoor stage
of the Road Rocket Car Show was Roy Wilson and The Buzzards.
I had the pleasure of introducing Roy
Wilson and The Buzzards at the Rockabilly Hall of Fame lounge shows in Las
Vegas in 2002, 2003 and 2007. It doesn't
take Roy Wilson very long to endear himself to the crowd.
Enthusiastic, charismatic, a great picker
and a strong voice are just some of the attributes that make Roy a hit with the
crowd. He also picks great songs
to sing, and he does them faithfully, but also in a unique and enthusiastic
Anybody want to buy a raffle ticket?
On the way to Bob Timmers' car
to have a quick bite before the
evening shows, we met Brittany Whitson from Toledo, Ohio who had just won
second place in the Road Rockets Pin-Up Contest.
ROAD ROCKETS PIN-UP CONTEST HIGHLIGHTS
(Photos provided by Naomi Long from the Road Rockets
Car Club of Indianapolis
Well what do you know?! Another red wine lover!
Sophia Wolff and the Cubs did a great set to start
the evening Saturday.
Left to right: Donnie Briggs on guitar/vocals,
Katie Schadegg on fiddle/vocals,
Mike Medina on guitar/vocals, Sophia Wolff on vocals,
and Jesse Woelfel on bass.
The opening act on Saturday was Sophia
Wolff and the Cubs. I remember Sophia
Wolff was the daily dance instructor at the Rock N Fifties Fest II at the Oneida
Casino in Green Bay in 2005. I
kiddingly called it "jive boot camp," because there were not many other signs
of life early in the morning when these dedicated dancers were already on the
dance floor seeking to learn more.
Hubba Hubba! Sophia Wolff has stage presence, good vocals,
good looks, and she also has a dance school.
I had no idea that Sophia Wolff was
such a talented and fascinating person.
Born in Casablanca, Sophia has been a French, British and Canadian
citizen, and grew up in the USA.
She had a father who worked for an international company, and he and the
family moved to live in such places as Montreal, Virginia, San Jose,
Bakersfield and France, with Montreal twice being home.
Hey, is that the electric slide they're doing?
Here they come again!
With her "I've been everywhere"
lifestyle, Sophia assimilated various types of music and arts, including
country music and rock 'n roll. By the early 90's, Sophia Wolff discovered the
huge rockabilly scene in Britain and Europe, and soon she became quite a
dancer. Today, Sophia estimates
that she has instructed 10,000 or more dancers in Montreal, Austin, California,
New Jersey and Las Vegas, and she continues to offer dance lessons in her
current home town of Chicago.
Well, it didn't take too long to go
from music and dancing to singing, performing, and songwriting, and for five
years, that's what Sophia has been doing.
The Cubs, Sophia Wolff's band, includes Donnie Briggs on guitar and
vocals (also plays with the Sprague Brothers), Katie Schadegg on fiddle and
vocals (Katie is also with the Gin Palace Jesters), Mike Medina on drums and
vocals (Mike is also in both The Gin Palace Jesters and The Sprague Brothers), Sophia
on vocals and Jesse Woelfel on bass (Jesse also plays in Long Gone Lonesome
Boys and the Hidden Dangers).
Sophia's set list included
"Playgirl," "Sweet Baby," "Tongue Tied," "Casino Queen," "Rockabilly Boy,"
"Love Letter" (a song that advocates discretion), "You Can Lose When You Choose"
and "Thirteen Men" (a gender switch to the song that was the flip side for Bill
Haley's biggest hit, "Rock Around the Clock").
Other genre-sweeping songs making this a very interesting
set include Chan Romero's "Hippy Hippy Shake" and an arrangement of the Rolling
Stones' "Paint It Black" sung in French.
Fine musicians, very good singing, interesting and sometimes eclectic
repertoire, and eye-pleasing stage presence.
It made me wonder: If this is just the first set, what is
the rest of the evening going to be?
Roy Wilson and the Buzzards REALLY got the crowd in a frenzy!
Well, I had a pretty good idea
since Roy Wilson and The Buzzards were next on the stage. In addition to Roy
Wilson on vocals and lead guitar, the band included Joe Klemmer on drums, and
Tony "Buzzard" Vitale on bass. Roy
Wilson is a rockabilly performer with plenty of traditional country and other
influences. He personally mentions
Johnny Cash, Keith Richards, Hank Williams and Merle Haggard among his top
influences. Although I was unable
to obtain his set list, if there was one, Roy Wilson and The Buzzards sure did
include some fantastic arrangements of great songs.
Early in the set, Roy did a Carl Perkins medley which
included "Match Box" and "Gone, Gone, Gone."
Although in the outdoor Road Rocket
set in the afternoon Roy declared
that the evening show would contain "all new songs," I'm glad he accidentally
lied a little bit, because he did a song that he repeated from the afternoon
set, "Two Things I Can't Stand: A
Lying Woman and a Cheating Man," which might be an original, because I don't
remember hearing it before and I enjoyed it very much.
Another one I hadn't heard before was
an onion song, "I'm Sending You an Onion."
Back to the covers - Roy did an old
Chuck Berry song that I don't hear too much, "Bye, Bye Johnny," which was a
sequel to "Johnny B. Good." Other
people have recorded this song, including the Rolling Stones who did it very
early in their career. Another good one was "Roadhouse Rockin',"
a and something they seem to include in every show,
at least one Johnny Cash song. For
this performance they did "Folsom Prison Blues."
I think they did "Once Piece at a Time" at the outdoor
Roy's 1958 Gretsch Tennessean impresses
another good guitarist, Bob Timmers.
Another highlight was a performance
of the old Hank Snow classic "I've Been Everywhere," which caused a loud
response from the audience. I
think Roy was singing even faster than the Hank Snow version, and I did not
detect one slip up - it was a great performance!
For an encore, Roy Wilson and The Buzzards performed a great
version of the Link Wray classic instrumental "Rawhide."
Taking his Gretsch 1958 Tennessean
guitar into the audience and all around the ballroom, Roy once again got the
crowd peaked again. I wasn't really
monitoring an applause meter for the weekend, but my impression was that Roy
Wilson and The Buzzards were definitely in the Top 5 in crowd feedback.
Approaching the end of Roy's set,
he took a bunch of bottled waters and poured them on Joe Klemmer's snare drum,
and brought the drums to the front of the stage.
When Joe started to beat the drums, the stage lights caused
the audience to see what appeared to be rain falling all over the place.
Quite a special effects trick!
In between the sets, jack-of-all-trades
emcee Ken Mottet was vigorously towel-drying the stage so no one would get
Incidentally, not only did Roy
Wilson do a great job on the sound system up to this point, but emcee Ken Mottet
also contributed to the sound system for the balance of the evening.
After Roy pours
water on the drummer's snare drum,
MC Ken Mottet dries up the floor.
Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers - Left to right:
Dave Sisson on lead guitar, Mike Medina on drums,
Craig "Bones" Maki on vocals and rhythm guitar, and
Kenny Bruce on bass. The Chicago/Detroit connection!
What can I say about Craig "Bones"
Maki that I haven't already mentioned in many of my other articles -
musician, singer, songwriter,
rockabilly historian, radio show host, record producer, and in recent years,
husband and father. In Craig
"Bones" Maki's recording and performing career, there has been at least one
constant factor: Kenny Bruce on
bass. Whether it was the Big Barn
Combo or Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers, Kenny Bruce has been, if you pardon
the pun, an instrumental element for Craig Maki.
As is the case with many rockabilly band members, Kenny has
also been gigging with another group, a rebirth of a Canadian country and
rockabilly group, The Silvertones.
Craig "Bones" Maki - Man of many talents: singer
songwriter, radio show host, expert
rockabilly historian, husband and father.
Rounding out The Sun Dodgers'
lineup for the Indy show, were two "imports" from Chicago, Illinois:
Mike Medina on drums and Dave Sisson on
lead guitar. Sisson has a resume
that includes playing with The Three Blue Teardrops and the Gin Palace Jesters.
Mike Medina, as I mentioned earlier, is also a member of the Gin Palace Jesters.
Bone's Maki & the Sun Dodgers sounded like they were in the middle of a tour
- they all seemed like they had been playing together for a long time.
Craig "Bones" Maki has recorded four
CD's since 2000: The Big Barn
Combo album entitled "Comin' All The Way from Detroit City;" "Blue Water Baby,"
a 4-song CD by Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers, a 14-song CD called "Bones
Maki & the Sun Dodgers" in 2002, and "Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers Ride
Again," which was released in 2003.
Craig Maki played no favorites
during his set, finding great material from all four CD's.
"Red-Eyed Handsome Man," "Boppin' Jeanie"
(one of my favorites), his friend Jack Earl's classic "Sign On The Bottom
Line," "There's a Lot More Where This Came From," and "Chip on my Shoulder" all
came from the Big Barn Combo CD. "Been
Out on an Island," "Rock and Roll Baby," and "Lost In Outer Space" came from
the Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers' CD from 2002.
"Tiger In My Tank," "More Than Anyone I Know" and "Everybody
Thinks You're an Angel" were on Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers' "Ride
Again." "Blue Water Baby" and
"Willie" came from the Sun Dodgers' 4-song CD from 2001.
A great performance! Congratulations to Bones Maki, Kenny
Bruce, Dave Sisson and Mike Medina.
Bones Maki & the Sun Dodgers
didn't have too much time to dry off: they were remaining on stage to be the
band for rockabilly and country music legend, Narvel Felts.
The incomparable Narvel Felts was the Saturday night headliner,
and the band backing him was Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers,
which included Dave Sisson and Mike Medina from Chicago,
and Bones Maki and Kenny Bruce from Detroit.
In the mid-1950's, many established
country music icons dabbled in rock and roll music with a "rockabilly
sound." Some did it gladly and
some reluctantly, because of Elvis Presley's mammoth success in infusing
country, rhythm and blues, and gospel sounds to popular music, which was called
"rock and roll." Narvel was very
unique in that he started recording rock and roll music in the 50's and later
became an established star in the country music field.
Narvel Felts' integrity, stage show,
voice and rapport with the audience are nonpareil, for who else can you think
of from that era that still has these characteristics (I would put Jack Scott
in the same company, but I can't think of anyone else at this time).
Many of the rockabilly recordings
of the 50's that Narvel recorded were not released or did not get distributed
until well after he established himself as a country music star in the 70's and
Want to hear an impressive
statistic? Between 1973 and 1987
Narvel Felts had 50 singles and LP's on the Billboard charts.
Narvel Felts started his set with a big
Top 10 single, "Reconsider Me," and then moved in to "Foolish Thoughts," which
was celebrating its 50th year release anniversary.
The next song, "Pink and Black Days," just
happens to be the theme song for a program of the same name on the 50's channel
of XM Radio. His next song was
"Drift Away," another Top 10 hit on the country charts.
This was followed by "Cry Baby, Cry"
which I believe Narvel recorded originally on the Mercury Record label in 1957.
Narvel Felts is a great "song
stylist," and his unique arrangements
and renditions of songs written or originally performed by
others have become a forte for Narvel in his recording career.
An example of this is the Willie Nelson
song "Funny How Time Slips Away" which he performed next, and it appeared that
many of the ladies present just had to get on the dance floor for that slow
ballad. Next was "My Babe," a song
first recorded by Narvel for Sun Records in 1957, his first session with The
If Narvel hadn't
confessed that this was his first show after
gall bladder surgery 30 days earlier, no one could tell.
He's always an outstanding performer.
Speaking of great covers, not too
many people can walk out of Roy Orbison's shadow by trying to sing "Cryin',"
but that's just what Narvel did.
Actually it was Roy Orbison who was influential in getting Narvel to
record for Sun Records in the 50's. Narvel and the band then lit into "Great
Balls of Fire," which got the folks dancing and tapping their feet.
A song that Narvel originally recorded on
July 1, 1957 on Mercury, "Kiss-A-Me Baby" was another song recognized by most
of the crowd. "Since I Don't Have
You," a great song done by Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners which I have seen
them do two or three times, got "Narvelized."
I'm not taking credit for the word "Narvelized"
- Narvel actually released an album
entitled "Super Songs Narvelized" on the Cone Record label in 2002, and it is
excellent! I was hoping Narvel
would do "Did You Tell Me," which was his first studio recording on January 23,
1957, and he complied. I also have
the Bear Family CD of the same name! Another song Narvel loves to do is "Honey Love," which was originally
recorded by Clyde McPhatter in his early days with The Drifters in the early
50's. Nice job Narvel!
Narvel followed "Honey Love" with
"Somebody Hold Me (until she passes by)."
Narvel tells me that was a 1976 release, and I believe it was on the
ABC/Dot label with Narvel's song "Away" on the flip side.
1976 also saw the release of
"Lonely Teardrops." That was
another hit for Narvel, as it had been for Jackie Wilson in 1959.
Narvel does a spectacular version of
"My Prayer," one of my favorite Platters songs.
By this time, of course, Narvel had the place
spellbound. The last song of
Narvel's set was "I'm Heading Home," which has also appeared on Volume II of the
Rockabilly Hall of Fame CD's Volumes I through V.
You can order this highly recommended set on this website.
When the set was concluded,
everyone stood up, applauded, whistled, etc., and this carried on for quite
some time until Narvel left the stage to walk over to the autograph table.
During this jaunt, almost everyone in
the audience approached him to shake his hand, and follow him to the
table. It's really nice to see a
man of Narvel Felts' character and humanity appreciated and recognized by his legions
Al & The Black Cats made sure the weekend didn't fade away quietly.
Their "rockabilly on steroids" performance got the
crowd up on their feet and close to the stage<
Whoever devised the batting order
for the last night of this talent-laden festival was not going to let it end on
a soft note, for the last group was Al & The Black Cats.
Based in Lowell, Michigan, this
rockabilly band has created a sensation in Europe, and these guys are returning
again to Europe this year, and tour from June through August.
Led by Al Krivoy, the more "seasoned" member
of the group who doubles as manager, The Black Cats originally came on stage as
a young trio that featured Hugh "Hi-Fy Mc Fly" Skiffington on standup drums and
"anything else he can hit with his sticks," Eric "The White Trash Charlie
Mingus" Soules on lead vocals, double bass and electric bass, and Tony "Tom Kat
Tony" Cozzaglio on guitar and vocals.
These guys were high-flying, fast playing, and very animated performers,
who took the crowd down and pumped the volume up.
Practically in the ballroom rushed to the stage to see and
hear them better (the hearing part was not necessary).
The Black Cats are, left to right:
"Tom Cat Tony" Cozzaglio on guitar and vocals,
Hugh "High Fly McFly" Skiffington on stand-up drums,
and Eric "White Trash Charlie Mingus" Soules on bass.
Tony does some table-top pickin'.
Rockabilly is a very inclusive art
form, and Al & The Black Cats definitely seemed to draw in the younger
Al "Too Damned Old!" Krivoy joins the fray.
Well, that's the story.
As good as it might sound, it doesn't
beat being there. If we are lucky enough to have Rockabilly Rebel Weekend next
year, it's better to be there than read about it!
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Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Haight-Ashbury in the Summer of Love 1967:
An Eye Witness Account by the "de Tocqueville of Tokeville" (Paperback)
by Barry M. Klein (Author).
Barry has written numerous articles and reviews
for the Rockabilly Hall of Fame over the past eight years.
His real music passion is
"rockabilly" and the early rock 'n' roll pioneers.
Barry Klein recounts the "highs" and "lows" of his many adventures during "The
Summer of Love," 1967, as he leaves Detroit for San Francisco to fully
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©Barry Klein & Rockabilly Hall of Fame®