Terschelling r’n’r festival exists 20 years, so that party could not be missed - bands playing on Midsland (town on a beautiful island of Holland), lots of rockin’ people and very special atmosphere of late 50's and 60's… it is certainly something you must see, not very typical event you used to be at.
So Friday the bags were packed and the trip back to 50's started.
Unfortunately it began with a rain, but well, you never can predict weather in Holland, so we still had some hopes it will be be better… at least for some hours. We arrived to the island and moved to the other (and the best) side of that wonderful piece of civilization mixed with wildness. The hotel called Doeksen was a place for all musicians (and their “service personal”) to stay overnight and have meals during the festival. Great idea, because most of the bands had shows at the same time and here was a good possibility to meat each other and have small chats. The bands started to play around 10 pm. Outside was cold, so this evening I preferred to spend in Pizzeria La Grotta, watching one of the last gigs of Red Shots (Dutch rockabilly band that went to their end after 20 years of playing and changing their line up). To my surprise this time I really liked what they were doing. Not that they are not very good band, but the band “of taste”. Almost all Dutch rockabillies seem to like them, the band used to have a big success all around Europe during their early years, and they are still full of energy and made easily the crowd jump. It was nice to see them again (for the 5th time), but I still think they were much better before, with Hans Nelemans as a singer. And since Jos has become the band lead vocalist, in my opinion the band lost its “face” and has become more like backing up one. But well, tastes are different. There were a bunch of dancers from Dance School in Zoetemeer. Again, I was amazed how it is possible to dance without listening to the music. The moves are certain and they know a lot of them, but looks like the dancers don’t much care about the rhythm… kind of contest who is moving faster… and the more followers one leader has, the more cooler he must look... I guess, in their opinions.
The Red Shots set was over and I was happy to go back, because I was already tired and needed some rest and sleep.
The next day started perfect, the sun was shining and the mood was getting better. We hung to Midsland and made a short walk on the main street, where the stages were located. Now you will see why this festival is so special. The inhabitants of the island are regarding those days as a carnival… dressing up, making hair-does of 1950's-1960's. Looks very impressive - petticoats, saddle shoes, polka-dot dresses … stalls with clothes, cars standing along the street. And this is everywhere: at homes, cafés, restaurants… and just to think most of them are not even fans of rockabilly. Looks very good and special! I planned to make a walk and see the bands, but was too lazy for it. So I got a chance to see were Belgiums “Hometown Gamblers”. Nice performance, I must say. They (four of them) play with harmonica (no drums), that makes all songs unusual but also has its disadvantages of making the set after some tracks boring. The band is playing kind of popular rock’n’roll, making covers of Hey Porter, Rock’n’Roll Ruby, etc.
Then we had a lunch and went to check Rockodile (the band I saw on their debut in February). On the way to the Kerkpodium I heard the German country band Cowboy Bob and Trailertrash (quite good one), and then went straight to see Rockodile and what kind of changes have happened with them during for the last six months. From the first song I have noticed that they look much more confident on the stage, but still playing very soft and in the beginning also too quiet. Every cover they played had their own style, that made set more interesting though all was made out of quite famous covers. I liked very much “Jailhouse Rock” that was performed in a swinging way, making people dance. The funniest thing that some songs sounded really great (like Dixie fried or Purr Kitty Purr) and some just opposite - horrible (like Burning Love or Cat Talk). But well, for a young band (the vocalist and also bass player two years ago didn’t even know how to play) they were very good, but still have a lot of to learn.
In the evening I decided to make a small walk along the street and see other bands. All of them were playing at the same time, so my plan was to pop in and out and see a little bit of every show. The first band I heard playing was Yeah Baby. The drummer with his huge drumming set took place on the stage, while others were among the crowd. Country style with rock’n’roll beat, not exactly my thing. So after two songs I left the bar and walked into the next door. Finally it was more or less what I was looking for – Highway ’54 – another Dutch band, but more rockabilly in them. Quite a popular combo that you can meet on festivals all over Europe; not the “top” band, in my opinion, but better than many others. It was fun to listen to and see the people dancing. The next show was in De Koffiepot. The Eightball Boppers (the band formed by original Keessie & Seltens Of Swing), a very good rockin band with a swinging touch. They had three lead vocals, that made band more variable and fun. Also communication with public was perfect. Everybody seemed enjoy a lot and more dancers were occupying the dance floor. The next show band were The Wieners – also stand up drums and three vocals. A lot fun too, but more clappin' than dancing public filled the bar. Some steps further and I see familiar faces – The Hometown Gamblers again. As good as in the daytime. Great music, they really have got a lot fans among Terschelling visitors! While I was reaching the last bar where Round Up Boys had to play (my aim of this long walk), the silence gives me strange feeling that I am too late. And yes, that was true, just some minutes too late to see the band I really hoped to catch on this festival. Too bad. So I returned to Red Shots to the very last party. The Morse Code was performed specially for me that made a final line – a very nice and warm feeling about that lovely fairytale festival on that magical Dutch island – Terschelling.