Review Rockabilly Rave #15 - 2011

Cravin' the Rave by Andrew Smith

Dateline, the ides of June 2011, the place, Camber Sands, Pontins’ site, the event, The 15th Anniversary of the Rockabilly Rave.  Hold the ‘phone, the 15th was a Wednesday Smith you twerp, and the fun fun fun didn’t start until Thursday, what were we doing at the wind and rain swept site a day early? 

Well readers, UK Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine was allowed access to the site a day early to take in all the pre-show preparations as well as the show itself.  Head honcho Jerry Chatabox gave June and myself carte blanc to wander loosely about the camp from Wednesday onward.

As always readers, you will go to the Rave through the eyes of the genuine punter in this article.  We pay the same rate as everyone else, stay in the same chalets and are subject to the same curious scrutiny of some of the staff and locals. “We get several ‘Smiths’ stay here’, observed the gateman as he handed over our welcome pack with a Beavis and Butthead guffaw.  Well I never, don’t tell me, there are a lot of ‘Mr & Mrs Smiths’ accompanied by a touch of the nose with the forefinger?  Haven’t heard since the last hotel we booked into!

Unloading the car without the usual hubbub of the normal first day was quite strange.  The camp resembled the Marie Celeste, and our block was in complete silence, save for the gulls that seem to reserve their loudest screeches and largest guano releases just for when our car draws into a parking space.  I swear they’ve perfected a delivery in a Barnes Wallis stylie for maximum coverage!

With Britannia Hotels taking over the Pontins’ sites and brand, thus securing the Rave and Riot at Camber, the facelifting had already begun.  Cheery pickers sprouted up around the camp, white rails actually looked white, and the whole camp was in the throes of a Magnolia-fest.

With most of our house somehow transferred into the domicile that was to be home for the next few days, we ventured over to the halls.  What an eerie sight greeted us.  A near empty car park, where one might have expected sage brush to roll by.  The reception was closed, no security, no staff and just the few hardy souls setting up their stalls.

Upstairs the silence was only broken by the sound guys unremitting ‘Yeeeeeah yeah yeeeeaah yeah’ over the microphones.  Off to the left stood the sound man’s console, a myriad of sliding sliders, and coloured knobs.  In a room off to the right were Notorious Kitsch proprietors, Fiona and Paul Culshaw, evident only by their occasional appearances over a sea of cardboard boxes, plastic containers and paper.  Suggesting a certain level of fatigue, in a well known form of Anglo-Saxon, we kept our conversations brief, and allowed then to continue with their setting up unhindered.

Across the main hall and outside it looked for all the world like the Martians had landed on the roof of the pub, where massive pipes entered the building, connected to air-con units.

Downstairs, the hall wasn’t even illuminated, and the only sound was the muffled ‘Yeeeeeeaaah yeeeah’s’ from upstairs.  It actually felt like trespass on occasions, as we nipped back to our chalet in the slanting rain.  I immediately got some initial thoughts down, which was a painfully transparent excuse to look busy and eat cow biscuits, while June ironed up all the clothes that had left our house in pristine condition, and now resembled empty screwed up crisp packets.

In a curious twist of events, I’d finished the first instalment as the last garment was hung up in the wardrobe, so we decided to nip over to the Queen Vic pub.  Initially it was perhaps to discuss with any folk setting up, their experiences so far, but rather degenerated into a North/South titter-fest with Round Up Records Maikke and Ade Rushton.  Come on readers, nothing at the Rave is taken too seriously.

Thursday morning dawned bright, clear and breezy, something to memorise as we’d probably only see the crack of noon for the next few days.  It’d be the calm before the storm for sure, as hundreds of cars headed for the south coast, containing hundreds of revellers, with hundreds of pairs of ears ready for musical GBH, and with hundreds of livers preparing for serious alcohol abuse.

The cars arrived, packed to the gunnels with essential booty to ensure no one would go hungry, thirsty or without anything judging by the suffering of some of the suspensions on arrival.  Classic cars are given a priority to park outside the main hall which forms a display that petrolheads trip over their tongues in admiration. 

The eeriness of the previous  evening had been replaced by an enthusiastic expectation as the queue at reception snaked across the foyer.  Greetings were exchanged where old acquaintances were rekindled, sometimes in broken European idiom, with everybody ready to enjoy one universal language.  Upstairs, the stalls were literally just opening for business, tarpaulins removed and the custom trickled in.  First time stallers, seem to have an air of awe and expectation, one such being Bloody Edith from Italy.  Displaying examples of knitwear, and sitting a little nervously on her hands, we stumbled through on bits of English and hand gestures to make a purchase of her fine garments.

Our chalet block in a few hours had gone from being a ghost town, to a hive of activity with the smell of a neighbouring BBQ and excited chatter, competing with a  thumping sound system belting out the Charlie Bop Trio, Rose Maddox and Bob Wills.  We withdrew from the throng and contemplated the smutter for the evening.

Thirsty for Thursday.  For the first night, all the entertainment is in the main ballroom, and the line-up suggested no one would want to venture anywhere else.  Hey even those super glued to the seats in the Queen Vic pub managed to tear themselves away from the bar for a while at least.

The main ballroom boasts a large dancefloor and monster bar area, and due to Britannia’s policy of a two hour ‘Happy Hour’, that area was the most populated.  Just a thought, neither of us are drinkers in the falling down sense, not because of any threat of fire brimstone and damnation threat, just we don’t care for it.  How come softies are not included in Happy Hour I wonder?  It’s no good mentioning that to anyone taking full advantage of the cheaper beer prices, the reply you get is ‘I love you, you’re my mate!’

Early arrivals (us) were quickly on the floor courtesy of one of the Rave’s increasing posse of younger DJs, Steve Spincity.  Opening up the festival with some of the hottest tracks from the fifties and lobbing the occasional bounce beat in from today’s blue-chippers. 

Unlike other weekenders we have been to, the Rave (and the Riot) run to time, so if a band is on at 9pm, you can expect them to start at 9pm.  The wonderfully articulate MC DJ Del Villarael ensures the main stage trots along smoothly, ensuring that we are always aware that we are at the ‘fifteeth’ annual Rockabilly Rave, in case you suddenly realised you were still supposed to be at work!  It was well worth being in situ at afore said time as Croation four-piece B & the Bops.  Drawing folk to the stage with their opening blast of Jackie Lee Cochran’s ‘Riverside Jump’, the four lads classily decked out in white box jackets, really rocked out the first set.

Mid way through, the jackets were discarded being replaced with a the now traditional soaked shirt and messy hair look of a group on ‘tip top daddy’ Charlie Feathers style Rockabilly.  Sure the additional sound you could hear was the bar being set at an incredible height, and woe betide anyone who fell short of it! By the end of their set, the crowd had swelled considerably in appreciation of a group that, although not in the same frantic style as the Madmen from the same country, certainly proved that there’s more hard hitting stuff from Croatia as well as Goran Iveniesevic!

Boppin’ Sonny, making his debut at the Rave, upped the pace with some seriously rockin’ sounds, and by now, the hall was well populated.  Dancers spun and bopped as the stage was turned round in readiness for the Texas Troubadour, Wayne ‘the Train’ Hancock, King of the Juke Joint Sound.  Having a list of adjectival name longer than his guest steel guitarist Phil Morgan is tall, The Train dispensed with his trademark hat and took to the stage in a more casual look.

His style is exactly what you can derive from his nickname.  With a vocal influence from Hank Williams to Gene O’Quinn, every song is likely to take you back to the Honky Tonks.  Each musician was given a chance to shine, during lengthy instro breaks in songs like ‘Johnny Law’ and ‘Louisiana Blues’, and again a mention for Phil Morgan’s exquisite sliding and ‘wah-wah-ing’ on the Steel.  Wayne chunk-chunked on his acoustic throughout and topped off with a great version of Hank’s ‘I Heard a Lonesome Whistle’.  Yoddle Aye Heeeee indeed.

Miss-shakin’ By now it was clear that there was a near record crowd for Thursday night at the Rave and many I’m sure had left their chalets specifically to be stage side ready for the Rhythm Shakers.  Three guys provide the engine room stuff and rich red haired Marlene Perez strums the bejesus out of her acoustic and delivers some kick-a*se vocals.  In an energetic and enthusiastic show, where her red tresses often cascaded over her face, Miss Perez belted out some great vocals on tracks like ‘Something Pretty Baby’, ‘Rockaround’ and a top Rockabilly take on ‘Shake Your Hips’

Her own material is pretty darn good as well folks.  The embittered lyrics in a couple of songs about ‘My Sweet Revenge’, and ‘But You Still Left Me’, are almost how you could represent a raised middle finger in a song.  It was aggressive, but controlled and musically adept at the same time, and the encore of ‘Senior (or was it Junior) Class’ topped off a great show.  I’m sure if you look up ‘sassy’ in the dictionary, there’ll be a picture of Miss Perez, as she’s got sass in spades!

Rave (and I have to say one of my) favourite DJ and as much part of the furniture as those all consuming sofa beds in the chalets, Little Carl then set about maintaining the pace as the clock headed toward the wee small hours. 

Ending the first night were Restless, fellow East Anglians, performing again at the Rave, presumably between farewell gigs.  Who on the Rockabilly scene has not heard of Restless?  You?  Go to the back of the class and think about what you should learn!  I recall their first gig in Colchester as ‘these kids’, over 30 years ago, and from then, they became among the most prominent and innovative Neo-Rockabilly bands never to receive super-stardom they deserved outside the scene. 

When you see Restless you can expect searing guitar riffs and a driving back beat.  The set was fragmented somewhat by Mark Harmon sending two amps to the Promised Land in fairly quick succession, and all before ‘Yellow Cab at Midnight.  The addition of JRS guitarist Darren Lince on ‘Long Black Shiny Car’ and ‘Ice Cold’ added to the guitar fest, seldom has there been such frantic fret fingering at such a late hour.  Ace version of Gene’s later recorded tune, ‘Poor Man’s Prison’.  For some it was a little too egotistical, for others, it was a chance to re-live the wrecking days, and for others, just jaw droppingly good.

Fri-ups Our chalet block was pretty much fully populated by Friday.  It’s kind of like those Louis Theroux documentaries, when he visits penitentiaries, but without the crime (the only crime would be playing the L*******kers).  People stand outside their blocks on balconies shouting at each other across the green.  Others using a thoroughfare through the blocks are subject to banter and other jollification. 

I wonder though, how the foreign visitors get by with so few words among each other.  You get an ‘Ayy Pascal’ at someone walking through.  Pascal looks round and up to see his countrymen with outstretched arms.  ‘Ayy’ he says.  There endeth the conversation, but somehow he now knows to bring a case of beer, some sausages, two hundred filterless cigarettes and the contents of the Nisa shop onsite, back with him.  The beauty of language, or the lack of it!

Some make a journey o’er land and sea with nothing but a small wheel along case and a holdall, yet outside their chalet appears a gazebo, trestle table, bag of charcoal, wines (various), sauces (various), beers (plentiful) and a P.A system that shakes the glass in the chalet windows, and rattles teeth (whether in a glass or your mouth!)

The hot rodders now turn up although I wonder where there is pleasure in rolling around, or being bottom up, twisting and tweaking bits and pieces to try and ensure it works for another deafening ten yard spurt round the camp, thus setting off every car alarm in the process.  They then go to the BBQ on the lawn.  Assuming they cleaned their hands with that green jelly stuff before eating, I wonder of the merits of a cheese burger with a hint of Swarfega and GTX.

P.M.S-essions.  The afternoon sessions commence in the smaller hall which is oft referred to as ‘downstairs’.  The atmosphere at these sessions is always great and different than that in the main ballroom.  The group are almost on the level with the audience, and there’s an intimacy the performers and the crowd can feel (metaphorically speaking, physical contact is not encouraged).

Starting the ball rolling were German western swing outfit, Mike Penny and his Moonshiners.  Of course, it can’t all be about ‘Crash the Party’ and ‘Bop-a Lena’ at the Rave, and this set from the Germans hit every jumping mark in the book.  From Hank Penny, through to Moon Mullican’s ‘Rock ‘n’ roll Mr Bullfrog’ and Bill Haley’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’ to ‘Stop Breathing Down My Neck’, ‘Don’t Pull the Wool Over My Eyes’ and the sing-a-long ‘Swingin’ and Truckin’ (guess where that went!).  It rocked and swung from first note to the last of ‘Mr Sandman’.  Super steely slidey sponditious sounds! 

Boppin’ Sonny continued where he left off the previous night with a great set of dance tracks, yep, we’re all up for dancing in the afternoons as well folks.  Pete Anderson and the Swampshakers from Latvia (to that point seemingly only a country famous for flowers and F-F-F-Folk music) set up ready for their set as the crowd filtered back in.

Not being familiar with this band, I was looking forward to catching what they had to offer.  Pete looking for all the world like a latter-day Buddy Holly, has his wife ‘Slapping Annie’ on bass (leave it!), and a catalogue of their own music that owes more than a little to the Syd King and early Crickets style.  Annie is certainly enthusiastic on the slap bass (I said leave it!), and writes a pretty good song like ‘My Rusty Beauty’, an homage to the Hot Rod fraternity, ‘Don’t Touch’ and ‘Hula Hoop Baby’.  Covers included ‘Baby Come Back’, ‘Hungry For Your Love’and ‘Lonesome Train’ in a set that was interrupted by a lead guitar string snapping a couple of rockers before the end.

Ending the afternoon session was Swedish female vocalist Lil Camille and her band the Rattletones.  After an initial nervous start, the ‘Rockin’ Lady From New Orleans’ turned out a pretty fine set that took it’s influence as much from Buddy Holly as it did the classic female vocalists such as Janis Martin.  ‘Billy Boy’ was delivered very well, as was Jerry Lee’s ‘I’m On Fire’.  Certainly a band that has time on it’s side to develop into a first class outfit.  

Sharp.  There are few places that you will see more spare denim than at the Rave.  Your status is not designated by the turn up on your jeans despite the popular myth.  Or whether you have Levis versus Prisn Blu’s, it makes no difference.  I read once the dissenting voice of a supposed rocker, lamenting the appearance of the guys and girls on the Rockabilly scene as looking like engineers or mechanics.

That may well be the daytime look, but check out the outfits in the evening.  For many of the guys it’s vintage Gabardine or Rayon shirts, Western or Hawaiian shirts.  These go with peg trousers that have creases sharp enough to give a paper cut.  There’s attention to detail both in clothing and (those fortunate enough to have it) hair.  The grease, pomade or gel to hold it, glistens in the sunshine or the lights in the hall, and locks it in place.

The ladies in their skirts, wide leg trousers, playsuits, Hawaiian outfits and dresses, spend copious amounts of time perfecting their look.  With onsite hairdressers for both men and women, that perfectly coiffured look is well within the reach of many.

Fri-ing tonight. As your guide to this festival, we make it our duty to be over the main hall as pronto as possible, to ensure we get the full experience, and to see as many as bands as feasible.  It was just as well this particular evening, as we’d been in the hall for no more than a couple of minutes and the heavens opened.  Rain drops the size of conference pears fell in a Biblical shower that would have had Noah checking his two-by-twos. 

Often though, the appearance of one particular band early doors is enough to get you out though.  This year it was Spanish dynamic Charlie Hightone at the Rock-its were in place to kick off the evening.  And did they kick! 

There’s no nonsense when these guys are on stage, whether singing in their native Spanish, (‘No Esta Bien’) or belting out tracks like ‘Where the Rosa Flows’, ‘Rebound’ or ‘Tongue Tied Jill.  To me, this is what the Rave is all about.  Five guys hitting the spots musically and clearly living and loving every moment, just like the crowd.  ‘Booze Booze Booze’ is clearly a modern day Rockabilly bopping classic, the live performance of which was outstanding.

With the slight relaxation in minimum age for attending, the Rave is now benefiting from talented young DJ’s, quite literally just out school.  ‘Young Eddie’ Chipperfield from Norfolk drove the decks, showcasing his dollops of chunky black vinyl.  Heavily leaning on the instro sound, there was a ton of stuff for the dancers to appreciate.

Pat Capocci, may well not be a name that tripped off the Rockabilly tongue, but after this performance, it certainly will.  Long and lean and covered with tattoos, the Australian rocker, tore up the stage with some blistering solos on his Fender.  Most of his playlist is original material and was a perfect event to showcase the contents of the CD Delinquent Beat.  Miss Mary Ann was encouraged on stage performing ‘Rock It Down To My House’, which added to an already top drawer show.

Tony Estrada’s image had become synonymous with this Rave, having adorned the front of the cover of the promotional material since it’s launch.  Lead singer and acoustic guitarist of the band the Modern Don Juans, (and formerly of the Star Mountain Dreamers) he’s every inch the quintessential American Rockabilly, with jet black slicked back hair, matched by equally black shirt and trousers.  Guys like these I’m sure are so cool, when they sweat, it’s beads of Perrier Water! 

The band, are just terrific.  Sure it’s not for the faint hearted, or for lovers of gentile acoustic guitar strumming.  The body of it is thumped, the headstock points out to the audience and it’s stared down at them like the barrel of a gun.  As for the songs, very little of it will be familiar as it’s virtually all original material, though I’d particularly recommend you check out ‘I’m Your Lover’ and ‘Turned a Fool’.

Raving odds and sods.  Best tracks at the Rave ever ever to goose you in the downstairs hall for this year are ‘North Side Gal’ by J.D. McPhearson, the ever super-cool ‘Jitterbop Baby’ by Hal Harris and ‘Booze, Booze Booze’ the floor filler by Charlie Hightone and the Rock-Its ……No matter what time of day or night it is that you walk past chalets, how come you pass by as the funniest thing happens that promotes a crescendo of raucous laughter?....The Air Guitar, the saviour of many a male running out of steam during a bop session……I lost count how many times I heard ‘Let’s Dance’, immediately followed by ‘Dance Frannie Dance’, especially as I don’t like either!....The Rave program, as much a laugh out loud read as it is informative…..Hanging from the ceiling, the only position that Tony ‘Geordimo’ Bruce didn’t adopt whilst taking photos at the weekender …..Null points to the indescribably bad karaoke outside one of the chalets in our block, butchering the Bellfuries tracks.  It’s a No!.....Dispatch style mention also to Russ (Rudy LaCrioux) Sear who was in charge of MC duties downstairs, and kept everything flowing nicely. ‘I’ve got shirts older than Knocksville’ he announced.  About the same age as the jokes then:-))))).

Cruisin’  Saturday morning (just about), is the cruise to Rye.  Once around the camp site following the lead truck containing King Kukelele jung-jung-a-junging on his ukulele, and the only justifiable excuse for a bloke wearing a skirt at the Rave.  The once round is for the benefit of photographers and video-ers to get two chances at capturing the iconic vehicles.  It’s also to allow the people just peeping out their chalet window for the first time in realisation that’s it’s on to get some clothes on and spare us a view that should really be for behind closed doors.  Not quite so many cars this year, possibly due the omnipresent threat of another cumulus dumping overhead.

Who ‘Iz’ he? Filling our own tanks, we made tracks to the downstairs hall to ensure we were in position to cop for the sounds of Canadian ivory tickler, Iz Proulx.  Backed by a select bunch of muzos from the UK, Iz rattled through a blistering set of pumping piano rockers.  Apart from his name being game winning at scrabble, the Quebec resident used his semi-grasp of English to communicate his pleasure at playing for us, and although some of the words were a little ‘unique’ in the songs, he was thoroughly engaging.

It turns out that he’s the first piano player to feature as an act at the Rave.  His take on ‘Right Behind You Baby’, ‘High School Confidential’, ‘Teenage Boogie’ and  Charlie Rich’s ‘Break Up’ was excellent, and of course as is the want of nutty players of the eighty eight keys, the Jerry Lee influence both physically and musically is prevalent.  As it’s well documented in these pages over the years I’m not the greatest lover of the keyboards, however this visitor to our festival, certainly made a mark!

Probably the best know Rockabilly band from Finland is the Barnshakers.  Now add Mike and the Belltones to that.  Four guys, the lead singer of which was pencil slim and wearing glasses, rocked up the last session downstairs with a set of more finery than you could shake a moose’s antlers at.  Their CD ‘Scream and Holler’ contains a lot of their own stuff, which was to the fore in this show, and it’s well worth checking out folks!

Get ‘Tin’ There Over a three day or four day event, you’re bound to get a session that simply stands head and shoulders above the others.  Saturday night upstairs was so good that my Thesaurus is going into meltdown where I’m looking for superlatives.  I was prepared to borrow someone’s hat just so I could tip it in the direction of the DJs to start with, especially Topper, Little Carl and Rudy, the latter of which must have nicked our fave list as they came one after another in the late hours.  A selection of audible gold throughout.

Yet another deluge outside with the rain falling in clods rather than drops, kept the early attendance down a bit, which was a bit unfortunate for Dutch outfit, the Tinstars.  I imagine those who could actually get Rave TV in their chalets, caught the show on the box, if they didn’t they sure missed out on a treat.  I’ve never heard a better version of   ‘Pretty Baby (I Saw You Last Night)’ on a stage before.  ‘This Is The Night’ rocked as did ‘Right Behind You Baby’.  Little Esther joined the lads for a few numbers like ‘Hop Skip and Jump’, ‘Buddy’,  Little Lovin’ and ‘No Change’ in a show that sparkled.

Next up, one of Britain’s best, the Infernos.  Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Ian Agar has the perfect stage presence to carry off the best in the early Sun sound, as well as the slightly less performed floor fillers.  Much of the credit must also go to lead guitarist Ian Rhodes who set a storming pace on ‘Rock ‘n ‘ Roll Guitar’  to open the show.  Song after song vied for attention, like ‘Miss Froggie’, ‘Love Me’, Have a Ball’ and ‘Ain’t That a Dilly’.

By the second encore you could barely hear yourself speak, showing that the UK artists are up there with the best of the best.

If ever there was a modern day artist you could recommend to anyone just getting into the scene, surely it would be Big Sandy.  Teaming up with the original Fly Rite Trio, including the phenomenal talent on lead, T. K Smith, the guys overcame a busted amp to turn out a sublime performance of the entire album, ‘On The Go’.  ‘Hold Me’ and ‘Goodnight Rock’ were so true to the CD sound, they’d have sent a shiver up a skelington. 

There’s a level of professionalism so evident in Big Sandy himself that endears him yet further to an already appreciative audience.  A few minutes before he’d be mixing with the crowd and soon after the show, he’s back on the floor chillin’.  As for the show, I like so many others, loved it!

Last on, and realistically, the only act that could follow Sandy, were the Bellfuries, who after last year, were back by popular, and all that.  The now iconic CD ‘Just Plain Lonesome’ is now ten years old, and has been re-issued with more new recordings to complement the modern day classics. The place all but came unglued at ‘Mr Locomotive’, which was saved until the encore.

The musicianship was spot on and note perfect from the first acoustic strums of ‘Just Plain Lonesome’ through all the ‘Stealing Kisses’, ‘So Sad, So Lonely’, ‘You Must Be A Loser’, ‘Up To Your Old Tricks Again’ and ‘Your Love (All I’m Missing)’ right to the last note of the encore.  Joey Simeone’s voice must be one of the most instantly recognisable, (almost like Sam Cooke) and sound exactly as it does on their recordings, live.  Still the crowd roared for more.  The end of a pretty fantastic night, readers.

Rush!  Sunday whilst typing this up, it was suddenly apparent that the pace of the Rave seemed to be accelerating to a conclusion.  The Boot Sale held in the downstairs hall, completely passed us by, possibly due to us rattling the rafters asleep.  In the Queen Vic pub the Skiprats played a ‘Sick, Sorry and Sober’ session. 

The drumless trio from the North East opened with the title of the session and rattled off a set of their, and the audience’s favourites.  ‘Tongue Tied Jill’, ‘Wine Drinker Me(e)’, ‘Morse Code’, ‘Come Back Baby’, ‘Let Your Hair Down Baby’ and the climax, ‘I’m Just a Mender’.  Yes they were all there, the only thing missing was…..US!  The pub’s not the best venue for June and I (4’11” and 5’5”), we’d lost all concept of time, and it should have been on Rave TV.  Ha bloody Ha Pontins.  All we had for the entire weekend was buzzy lines on the screen and a lame ‘it’s atmospherics’ excuse!

The afternoon and evening had to go like a military operation, just to get even a sample of every band, especially Knocksville downstairs.  Runners up in last year’s battle of the bands, they played to a pretty chunky crowd in the early afternoon.  What a difference twelve months makes.  Lead singer and guitarist ‘Ted’ Riddington, often swaps vocals and instruments with bass player Nico Scerri, to perform their brand of garage-y rockin’, driven along by Chris Cooper’s frantic drumbeat.  Check out ‘Mr Ducktail’, ‘Work It Out’ and ‘Break Free’.  A well received set by the black clad trio.

Next on were German outfit, Smokestack Lightning, which as all the ‘beautiful people’ like, so should I.  Well I last saw them as the Rave some years ago, and didn’t, and had to take the shame.  So these years have passed, and here we are again…guess what, I still don’t get it!  I will say though, their version of ‘El Camino Real’ was immense, and ‘When Will I Be Loved’ hit the mark, however the playlist was a little too out there for me.

In the Red Corner.  The battle of the bands this year featured the Hightone Rumblers, against the Ladykillers.  Each band has half an hour to play a set of their choice of music or tracks they’ve written, and the winner is determined by five independent musicians, secreted around the room.  They are incognito and not influenced by the audiences cheers/applause/threats.  As we’d not seen either outfit, and arrived late (long story), one band was halfway through the set.

The Hightone Rumblers played first, the Ladykillers followed.  I don’t think I’m too out of order saying that they were remarkably similar in style and indeed appearance.  Both play a pretty heavy garage-y style, seemingly favoured by a number of the younger bands.  Plenty of enthusiasm from both bands that resulted in the Ladykillers taking the vote to play the main stage next year.

Carrie on Rockin’ So with the weekender seemingly increasing in pace, we put on our evening clobber and legged it over the main hall for the evening, just in time to get some moves in to Carrie Hope’s set.  Celebrating her birthday over the weekender, the Rave followed on from her guest slot at Hemsby, to great effect.

The stage was set for the second of the Australiabillies, Rusty Pinto, a top drawer vocalist and rhythm guitarist backed by Pat Capocci and band.  I’ve heard many versions of many different songs whilst on the scene, but I’ve never heard a blues shouter like Roy Brown’s ‘Black Diamond’ played by a Rockabilly band, in that style with the vocals so pristine.  A completely awesome set, they’ve certainly got a wealth of talent down under!

Possibly the best set of jumping Hillbilly of this Rave came directly after, courtesy of German DJ Blip Blop.  People who think Hillbilly is all about hicks, dungarees and cow-pat stomping, think again and get some played at your next hop.  I defy you not to enjoy it.

Amber means Go! With the original Fly Rite Trio taking the stage again, DJ Del introduced Anaheim’s Amber Foxx to the stage.  In her black dress with flowing red locks dipped over one eye, she fitted in perfectly.  And it wasn’t all ‘The Same Old Blues’.  With her influences clear throughout a great set, she rocked to ‘Drugstore Rock n Roll’ and ‘Have a Ball’ and the stroller ‘Come here’.  There was even time for a bit of lougey jazz with Big Sandy, dueting on ‘If I Could Spend An Hour With You’.  What’s that? A gasp?  Yes, you can sometimes even see a jazz chord at the Rockabilly Rave!  

The blue chip event of Sunday was the Wild Records Showcase.  Omar Romero, disgracefully talented and dapper took the first set, followed by two more rustic looking fellows in quick succession.  Texas Steve making his first appearance in the UK, and Dustin Chance (as in the All Nighters).  It was possibly the lack of familiarity of the tunes played that made a slight dip in the atmosphere, I don’t know.  The three performers gave it everything and put on a good show, and clearly appreciated by many queuing up for the exclusive 10” record release.

With those who’s duty called drifting away, it was left to Portugal’s 49 Special to close the evening , and the Rave, of live performances.  Instantly recognisable personnel, and a rockin’ sound that held the audience throughout.  Webb Pierce’s ‘You’re the Reason I Can’t Sleep at Night’ was a standout for this reviewer, in a set that brought the guys back for two encores. 

Monday came round oh too quickly.  The lamentable sight of cars being loaded, and goodbyes being exchanged as people tumble back toward reality, brings a lump to the throat (unless that was a spud from the café).  The cleansing department insist on thudding about as loudly as possible outside as early as possible.  Why I don’t know, cos the chalets weren’t that clean when we went in them!  The gear that fitted perfectly in the car on the Wednesday, seems to have bred and expanded, despite all the food and drink being consumed. 

The Rockabilly Rave celebrated it’s fifteenth anniversary this time.  Certainly some of the attendees on first sight look scarier than a T-Rex with a shotgun (you should the men!), but there’s a special atmosphere among the attendees that when they pass through the gates of the camp, they know it’s something special.  It’s Rockabilly Heaven, and possibly the closest some are likely to get to heaven!

The bands consist of players that have in many cases, been into their music for over 30 years.  They are confident, talented and innovative.  The vinyl collectors, a strange bunch that seek out the best and rarest like they’re searching for truffles.  The musicians that although not playing the weekender, bring their stuff and put on free shows around the camp.  The ‘beautiful ones’, too cool for fools.

I sit writing this for your delectation on the Monday after.  There’s a strange ‘shhhhhhwish’ sound in my left ear, my eyes are sunken like a certain type of hole males can make in the snow, and occasionally drop closed.  Sleep was something forgotten about a week ago.  We overcame the plagues of Pontins.  Ants infestation in the chalet (but no Decs arf arf), rain, storm and tempest.  Fire and brimstone, which manifested itself as the contents of some berk’s cooker being cremated and setting the smoke alarms off.  We endured the beds that had literally no boing left in them, and June narrowly escaped being consumed alive by the sofa.

We danced so much it hurt to straighten up the next morning, and then did it all again the following night.  Our posh clothes were temporarily ring fenced due to their radioactivity after a night’s dance.  There were times we marvelled at the talent on stage, and despaired at the nitwittery off it.

Heartfelt thanks go to Jerry Chatabox not only for the Rave, and for his infectious buffoonery which is clearly contagious (I was sensible before I met him) but for the assistance with this article, which was quote “Write your own damn article”.  Finally thanks to June for her almost boot camp style timing, tolerating my impatience at not being able to type as fast as my mind was going, and for battling to the front of the stage to get photos.

Cheers til next time