Well this is becoming a bit of a regular feature on Rockabilly Bash, my expeditions to the Rock n Roll party that is probably the longest running and most famous weekender anywhere.
Arriving on Saturday afternoon somewhat later than planned due to car problems and drivers not staying on the correct road I caught only about 20 minutes of Johnny Bach’s set, aka John Lewis, he is a very familiar figure on the scene, his humour and beer drinking are well renowned. This set was somewhat different, just John and his guitar sitting down with a shallow wooden box on which he stamped for percussion. He belted out a number of rockabilly, blues influenced classics. I really enjoyed this set and it made a refreshing change to see someone doing something this different, it takes a confident and talented performer to pull this off, Johnny Bach, is certainly that.
Following Johnny, were Hemsby regulars The Infernos, they are one of the best Sun sounding bands about, tight energetic and professional. A great set and well appreciated by the growing afternoon crowd.
It was the first act of the evening session that provided the surprise of the day for me, Truly Lover Trio hail from Los Angeles and were playing their first ever UK gig. I had not heard them before so did not know what to expect, I got the impression this was the same for many in the crowd. However, we were soon blown away by what we heard. I have never seen a band cover the Roy Orbison Sun label stuff before, well apart the odd version of Rockhouse perhaps.
Marcel, the singer was so close to Roy’s distinctive sound it was scary, his guitar work was also first class, these tracks were interspersed with some great original material, chosen largely from the new CD release. They had captured the audiences attention well and ‘truly’ and the crowd grew larger and more attentive, but it wasn’t a rocker that brought the most surprise, it was Only The Lonely bringing them a deserved ovation. 3 encores and a long line of people buying their CD after the set showed just how well they were received. I hope to see them at another UK event soon.
Sadly, it has to be said that Jack Earls was unwell, recently diagnosed with cancer he had to cancel, however, Rudy ‘Tutti’ Grazell was booked late as a replacement.
It has to be said that he is small in stature but large in personality, a little crazy perhaps, I am sure he’d agree, he took to the stage through the crowd carrying an iron and tennis racket?
He delivered though a brilliant show, all his rockin ‘50’s singles were there, Let’s Go Wild, Ducktail, Judy, Jag-Ga-Lee-Ga, FBI Story etc. His voice is still strong and he highlighted two songs from an as yet unseen Clint Eastwood movie, one called Do the Rudy Tutti (at least I think that was it), however it was a great song, up tempo rockin. Backed by the always solid Infernos the show was entertaining if not a little loose, you got the impression that although they had rehearsed and had a set list, keeping up with what Rudy was doing next was somewhat fun. He got a very warm reception from the crowd and encores. I managed to get his autograph later, chatting with fans and signing memorabilia he was enjoying himself and why not for someone who’s in their late 70’s he had just performed to one of the largest rockin’ crowds anywhere.
Then came a very rare event, one that Rockabilly Bash started last year, Don Woody, his first ever UK performance. He took to the stage looking great and sounding very good. The Hemsby house band had clearly prepared for this, their sound was excellent and Paul Gaskin’s guitar work so reminiscent of the great Grady Martin who played on Don’s Decca sides. He is the first to accept that he released very few singles, but then as he sang Bird Dog, Make Like and Rock and Roll, Morse Code and of course You’re Barking up the Wrong Tree, I was suddenly reminded just how good they were, very distinctive, clean cut rockabilly catchy tunes and silly lyrics. I was very impressed that he and the band had actually worked up 2 previous demo’s from the new Bear Family album into full songs both A Lesson in Love and Hula Hula Girl made their very first public performance ever.
Don received a rapturous applause the crowd appreciating just what a rare and privileged event we had just seen. There are not many of the original 50’s stars still able to perform and for Don to suddenly return to the stage we should all be very thankful to him.
A great day out, good music and memories for sure, Hemsby is unique in the scene, the original, probably the friendliest and one of the most varied events of the year. Roll on October and No. 45! See you there.