Once a year in summertime Jari Kuivanen from Dixieland in Estonia, organises the Valga Cruising Festival.
People from Finland, Estonia and Latvia are bringing their "old" cars in for the Saturday cruise. According to Estonian rockabillies this is the Estonian rockabilly event of the year!
This year Jari invited following bands
The Backbeat Combo (FIN)
The Tonemasters (UK)
Rebel Ted Rock (GER)
The Neva River Rockets (RUS)
Anders Karlsted's rock and roll / Elvis Show
The Rumble Beat (EST)
The Soil Senders (FIN)
It was the third time I visited this event. For me as a Dutch guy it is a kind of a survival. Jari is working very hard, but the conditions there are poor.
Estonian rockabilly band the Rumble Beat kicked off on Friday. They all are young people desperate to play rockabilly. Having played on their instruments for a few years, the effort is suprisingly good. Every song is in balance and the band is working good together to give the girl lead singer a good back up. Still she could have smiled more or show the audience that she likes to perform. The muscisians looked a little insecure... I didn't like the guitar sound. For me it sounded too raw for such a nice rockabilly songs.
The Backbeat combo had a little bit the same problem. Also too raw guitar sound. Not orginal at all... The slapping bassman-singer worked very hard. In high tempo a lot of good rockabilly songs were passing by. My compliments for the very, very, very drunk drummer, who managed to keep on standing and maintaining his rhythm.
Anders Karlsteds was one of the many Elvis impersonators.
The Tonemasters did all they could to back him up. I didn't hear one song that was without mistakes. Poor effort!
The show of The Tonemasters was a lot better. They told me that they play in England around 150 times a year. The guitarist is one of the founders of Firebirds. In this style you should have place this band. A kind of commercial rockabily band. Again here I didn't like the guitarsound...
Nevertheless cruisers, fans and other people liked this evening a lot. They danced and drinked and had a lot of fun.
On the 2nd day it was time for the cruising itself. At the endpoint Elvis was singing again with The Tonemasters. With same mistakes...
In the evening The Neva River Rockets started the program. With a lot self-written tunes they had the dancers quickly on their hand. A lot of good rockabilly and western swing was passing by. All instruments were in balance with a good authentic sound. Funny that two members had long beards. Maybe it was a part of the western swing act?
Again Elvis was doing some songs, but this time with some tapes instead of the Tonemasters. The difference was that the tape was working better together with Elvis!
Now Soil Senders took the stage. A lot of self-written tunes. Singer changed his instrument sometimes from rhythm guitar to sax. It was a straight musical good set. But nothing interesting was a happening.
Rebel Ted Rock is absolute not my style of rockabilly. But everybody seemed to like it!! Every song started with 1, 2 , 3 ,4 in the same high tempo you could expect from teddyboy's. I heard only one song with a different rhythm!! All instruments were very simply played with only the most important lines in teddyboy music.
The last act R.J. I could not see... Sorry...
I think for Jari it would be better if he invited next year less bands.. And he should invite more teddyboy style related bands, cause it looks like Finnish and Estonian rockabillies enjoy more teddyboy music than authentic hep cat rockabilly.
For everybody who likes wild nature & drinking parties: this is an event you should not miss!!