The Rockabilly Rave, where to start when writing a review, that’s a difficult thing. Due to one reason or another, mainly some dodgy IT equipment this review has been somewhat delayed, so to be honest my memory of set lists etc have faded along with the hangover and the ringing ears, but not the debt! So I guess that the best thing is to simply pick out some of my highlights and invite any other readers to add their own as comments. I cannot comment on every band there were just too many of ‘em!
Now I love the Rave, this believe it or not is only the 5th that I have attended, where was I for the first 9, missing out that’s for sure? It is by now one of the highlights of the annual calendar anywhere in the world when it comes to Rockabilly and certainly held in very high esteem the acts that appear.
As ever Jerry Chatterbox has assembled a stellar line up of rockin’ acts literally from around the globe that encompass every style of rockin’ music you can think of.
Kicking of the entire show on the Thursday night were Spo Dee O Dee a great outfit from Germany, their sound was authentic and sharp with a real energy to them, great start. Young Jessie and the Orbits followed, I missed her bar room set here last year so was looking forward to this. She may be young but her voice and stage presence are both huge, she commands the stage and drives the band from the front, belting out some great stuff including the expected covers of the fifties female artists it’s great to see such youthful exuberance at a rockin’ due and a positive sign for the future of the scene.
Deke Dickerson was the Thursday night headline, I must admit he’s been a favourite of mine for a long while and I very much enjoyed this set including lots of his older favourites such as Red Headed Woman and newer numbers like Mis-Shappen Hillbilly Gal, a laugh out loud romp. He always plays for entertainment value Deke and as expected his guitar playing is exemplary the musicianship of his band was also very high. They were to go on to back two other shows during the weekend. The best ‘house band’ I’ve seen!
Deke is a friendly bloke who always makes time to talk to people over the weekend, and I passed a good 10 minutes chatting about his experiences backing Sleep La Beef and Janis Martin in previous years, always good to have him here at the Rave.
Friday, the first full day music, beer and general mayhem was kicked off by the excellent Rusti Steel and the Star Tones, with an album released to coincide with this weekend most of the set was promoting material from this, but great quality stuff it was from straight forward rockabilly with a real traditional feel through to western swing, this band are very good and one I’d like to see with a main stage performance here.
Then came rockabilly from Estonia, yes that’s right Estonia! RJ (actually from Holland) and the Tri Tones (Estonia) lit up the stage with a tight, bright and truly authentic set of rockabilly belters. I was very fortunate, that through Rockabilly Bash I got to meet these guys after their set, the sheer joy of playing at the Rave was clear to see in the energetic and enthusiastic performance. How they got to hear about Rockabilly in Estonia I could not quite figure out, I know that they are the only band playing this stuff over there, so keep spreading the rockin’ word guys, proof that this music truly is a global thing. To you all I say Terviseks and Prost! I raise a glass to you.
The evening kicked off by someone else from far away Kieron McDonald, from Australia, currently in Germany opened the main stage for the night. I like his stuff and always liked his band the Flatfoot Shakers so was looking forward to this, unfortunately his set clashed with a certain football match that is best forgotten, but I did miss the close of the set, what I saw was excellent, his vocals and humour stood out honky tonkin stuff that conjures pictures of a Texas barroom to mind with the tropic sunshine lighting it up.
Then came the first of the fifties greats, Sleep La Beef took to the stage, I saw him last year and a review is elsewhere on this site so I wont repeat my self, but he is a legend and the repertoire quite unbelievable, this time with Deke and his band the performance was lifted above the previous one somehow.
Saturday evening saw the very smartly dressed and tight sounds of Dale Rocka & Volcanoes from Sicily take to the stage, smooth, sleek and well received by the early evening crowd. It must be said I always feel for the 7.00 o-clock band they suffer from a smaller crowd because many are back in the chalets, eating and getting ready for the night out having been in the bar all day! However these guys really lifted the place credit to them.
Jack Scott was the headline, ‘50’s icon (actually had more hits than Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent). I had not seen him before despite being a fairly regular visitor, still with his guitarist and buddy from the very start. He played all the hits that you would expect to hear, Leroy, Two Timin Woman, Goodbye Baby (my favourite) Geraldine, Midgie etc etc. He still sounds great that has to be said and his show was extremely professional. One of the few remaining originals with a catalogue of work sufficient to justify an hour long slot, he played for about an hour and a quarter to a full house and to rapturous applause. Some complained because Jack did not allow videoing, all I can say is stop moaning you’ve seen a legend, appreciate it for what it is! A great show and a privilege to see.
Then came Sunday, already! Yes time belts past here no sooner have you arrived than its Sunday. For me the day kicked off in the Queen Vic watching the brilliant Kansas City Cryers, I have spoken of them before in reviews and will continue to do so. Billed as the ‘Weird band Session they came on dressed like, well the nerd in American Graffiti I guess and with a movie screen showing 3D film clips throughout the show and a spoof charity appeal for Rockabillies, this was a very good performances the bar was packed to hear their unique take on hillbilly/rockabilly that they conjure up so well, see them if you can!
We moved to the downstairs hall where Bill Fadden & The Rhythm Busters were set to close the afternoon sessions. Now I knew Bill has a reputation for wildness, but last time I saw him he was restrained, today he let rip! Tearing through some truly brilliant rockabilly tunes covering all the bases along the way and getting more and more frantic, till he crowd surfed, crashing through the front rows of the audience and going walk about. I know such stuff is not for everyone, but for me this is where rockabilly comes alive, usually late at night not 4.00pm on a Sunday afternoon though, I think perhaps it has something to do with me coming through the ‘80’s neo / psycho era!
The last evening, brought for me the surprise of the weekend, The Hillbilly Boogiemen, these were great, bluegrass, hillbilly, rockabilly, a touch of American folk blended together with great skill, hugely entertaining and danceable stuff a brilliant response from the large crowd prompted an encore despite the fact that there was a tighter than usual schedule for the next act.
Next up was the Rave’s tribute to Janis Martin show, featuring Deke Dickerson and his band, with Lynette Morgan, Maibell, Jessie, Rockin Bonnie, Miss Mary Ann and Little Esther, each sang two of Janis’ hits and the show rounded off with all of them on stage singing tribute to a true heroine of rock n roll. The show was filmed and as I understand will form part of a DVD that will include Janis’ own Rave performance of a few years ago, one of her very last and a documentary. This show was slickly presented with all the ladies in their finery and sounding immaculate too, you could almost hear echoes of Janis a few years ago still hanging in the hall, I am sure if she could see it this she was singing along. I hope she knows the legacy that she left and the inspiration she gives still today.
The last band was The Sureshots who have their own way of approaching a show, loose to say the least, unscripted, no set list, but some fine rockabilly, joined by Charlie Thompson for some numbers they rocked the crowd both with the songs and their larking around, a great close to the show.
The music was over, but the Rave is more than the bands, the DJ’s over the weekend are brilliant playing until 6.00 in the morning if you can survive that long. The shopping, the people, the car cruise, the bootsale, the bars, new friends, old friends reunited, the hangovers…….need I say more.