So it's Hemsby time again, these weekenders come round too quickly sometimes, but this time I was setting off in the bright late autumn sunshine looking forward to what promised to be a very varied line up of rockin acts.
Saturday afternoon opened with the highly talented duo Bonneville Barons, both are superb musicians and play real roots country, rockabilly styles. They have 3 albums available and so have plenty of material to draw from putting on an entertaining set for the early afternoon crowd.
Little Neal & the Blueflames were scheduled to play, but due to illness were unable to attend. Instead Jack Rabbit Slim had agreed to fill the slot, having already performed on the Thursday in their own right and as backing band to Art Adams on the Friday, Bob's voice was showing strains. However they turned on the magic and belted out some of their trademark sleaze. Guitarist Darren took lead vocals a couple of times and Nico front man for young band Knoxville put in a great performance. However it was the guest appearance of '70's & 80's revial legend Levi Dexter that was for me a highlight of the day. Pure rock n roll & rockabilly belting out classics like Hurricane, & The Other Side of Midnight, some Johnny Burnette for good measure, it was like I was 15 again. A sample of their pre arranged Ace Cafe gig to come. Levi loves performing whether its on a mainstage or 5.00 pm in the afternoon, he put so much effort into this he was drenched through. The crowd which had grown considerably loved it and would have kept them there for a full set if the scheduling had allowed. Pure Hemsby magic.
First band on the main stage was Slim Slip & The Sliders, this was to be their last performance together after 7 years of tearing up the rockin scene, and they have a large and loyal following. The hall was packed out for this show and the guys didn't dissapoint. The energy level was so high it drove the crowd along on a tide of reved up rockabilly and screamin rockin tunes. They of course included numbers that they have become known and loved for, Love Me, Slipstream, Raging Sea to name a few. However not content with just saying farewell, they had produced a new limited print 45rpm for this event with 2 brand new numbers Keep Me Satisfied and You Cant Fool Me.You checked out in style boys, the scene will miss you!
Next act up was a curious one for me, Johnny Cash Band -The Tennesse 3. The lead singer and guitarist is Bill Wooton who played alongside Johnny from the late 60's onwards and for sure he could play the early Luther Perkins sound and sang well in a similar style to Johnny. His band were mostly his family, wife and 2 daughters on guitars and backing vocals with a bass player and drummer. Now I like Johnny Cash, especially the early stuff which was included here but so too was a lot of the 60's country sound, Sunday Morning Coming Down etc, a great song yes no doubt, but not for a rockin weekend. Just my opinon mind, plenty were loving it. When his daughters took over for a song each it was pure country and Circle Be Unbroken was Johnny's traditional show closer. They were accomplished musicians and a fine tribute toJohnny and true the fact he'd played alongside the Man in Black for so long gave them a true pedigree, just not my scene I guess. Some friends echoed my sentiment after. They did receive huge applause and crowds flocked to see them after the show, so what do I know?
I have found a pattern at Hemsby that following the main act the hall empties and the next band often play to a smaller crowd, it was certainly the case for Vince & the Peaktones from Sweden. Traditional '50's rock n roll, nothing wrong with that but their style lacked a bit of punch for me, a respectable show but didn't set my world alight.
The closing act for the night were sure to draw a bigger crowd. Probably the most respected, best loved band of the UK Neo scene ever, Restless. They hit the stage at 1.30 in the morning and proceeded to tear the place to bits. Mark Harman's guitar is just electrifying and they belted through classics of their back catalogue, Ghost Train the seminal Ice Cold, Baby Plaes Don't Go, Yellow Cab to Midnightan an excellent All By Myself etc etc. Pure class act, the crowd loved it, a wrecking crew were staggering around in the centre of the crowd, I guess you need to have a bit of alcohol in you to try wreckin at our age. The atmosphere was brilliant and for the second time that day I was 15 again and at a dodgy dance hall in my home town of Colchester waiting for the traditional Friday night fight to break out. For me Restless and bands of that era are the acts that I grew up with and I love the fact that Hemsby continues to bring them to the stage so that we may relive it and youngsters can experience it!
It was 2.30 am and for once my day visit didn't end in a long drive home, I had secured somewhere to sleep for the night. As always I want to pay tribute to the DJ's who had kept the floors filled and kept me out of breath boppin away all evening.
See you all next May.