Review Rockabilly Rave #16 - 2012

A & J All the Way To Rockabilly Rave 16 by Andrew Smith

The longest days of the year herald this writer’s favourite weekender on the calendar, the Rockabilly Rave.  A particularly gruelling and at sometimes downright scary journey down, was tempered by the fact that the Pontins site at Camber Sands had been undergoing a massive refurb.  Even the guy at the gate this year was more efficient, as opposed to previous year(s) when we had a cross between the third from the left on the evolution chart, and Beavis and Butthead!

It appeared that our chalet hadn’t quite been finished in the refurbishment schedule, we observed shoulder charging the door open, but we were glad to see that a nice large sofa greeted us in the living area.  No more would I hear the muffled panic of my wife being consumed by the old sofa, in a series of  sinister and audible boings.  And indeed, simple things like the toilet seat, now replaced by one that didn’t bite your buttock cheek, even before you sat down.  A fond farewell to the Pontins bum hickey, it wasn’t that nice knowing you!  It’d be nice if just once, the bathroom door stayed shut, it’s a wonder we don’t have Derek Acorah trying to make contact with Pontins passed!  Clearly, it’s a step in the right direction, although there are a few steps to take still!

Setting up in the main halls were the sound guys, and stall holders.  Dozens of dust sheets and tarpaulins, draped over record and clothes stalls, as Glenn Glenn and others just broke the silence over the PA system.  It’s an eerie sight with the whole camp empty barring a few staff and Rave vendors and exhibitors toiling away.  Head honcho Jerry Chatabox exchanged the standard insults with us in passing, light relief from having been shoved at the back of the work permit queue due to the Olympics, almost jeopardising the arrival of the foreign acts.  It’s when you hear stories like that, you might just appreciate a little bit more, just how many hoops there are to jump through before a bass is slapped.

So back to the chalet, and I get to note down some initial thoughts, while June makes some kind of semblance of order to all the garments that left Essex in perfect condition.  Somewhere in transit the wrinkling hobgoblins, get in the cases and crumple everything up. She makes such a good job of them, it would be rude of me to leave this huge bowl of Doritos (other snacks are available) and interrupt……. 

At least we had time to catch up with the Rave program, without doubt the best compiled and written of it’s type on our scene.  No copying and pasting last year’s stuff here.  ‘Your Letters Answered’ has been replaced with ‘Your Real Letters Answered’, proving that most of the Rave attendees are either on the same page as the organiser, or somewhere in the dim and distant, shared a similar ancestor!  I guess though, anyone on any scene, must have done.

So started a marathon for attendees and staff alike.  Your guides to these shenanigans, tomfoolery and heavenly rockin’, well that would be me.  So grab a suitable beverage, park your keester somewhere conducive and enjoy the ride.

Thirsty for Thursday.  Thursday morning dawned to the cacophony of bangs, rattles  and shouting of the staff in the chalet next door.  How ironic, we’d had the block to ourselves and they ‘do’ the one next to us!  I did contemplate a Windsor Davis style ‘Shut Up!’, but I reserve that for the seagulls. As Thursday arrivals appeared in vehicles heaving with provisions and looking like they’d been in a ram raid at Oddbins®, there was a tangible anticipation for the four days ahead.  Reception went from a ghostly silence the previous evening, to a crescendo of multilingual chatter, friends meeting and greeting, and band members ushering themselves through the throng with instruments in tow.  The stalls opened up for business and many an obliging punter parted with cash, cards and the family silver to get that all important early doors bargain. 

Withdrawing to our quarters, and contemplating outfits for the evening, it’s about now (retrospectively speaking) you realise that there are four full days of thumping Rockabilly ahead.  It seems endless, and almost a different world, the inspiring side of sublime and the acts looked like the hotter side of cool. 

Now then readers, if you are new to the Bettajive Review at a weekender (my nom-de-plume in UK Rock n Roll Magazine where the bulk of this article appeared), you may not know, but I don’t wear a trilby with a press ticket in the band.  Nor do I have pads or pens secreted about my person (though there may be some with suggestions of where I could put them!).  What you read is the punter’s eye view of the turns, and indeed the stage.  This year we got to see every band that played, but of course not every DJ as there was often more than one venue going on.  Sadly our talents do not extend to being in two places at one time.  So let’s roll!

New Bucks.  Passing expectant faces arriving on camp, we made our way to the main hall to check out the first of five bands and six DJs in eight hours of rockin’.  The first being almost local band, LP and His Dirty White Bucks.  Fronted by the dependable rhythm guitarist and vocalist, Les Prendergast, the drumless trio provided the early arrivals with a serving of some fine stripped down Rockabilly. 

With a good sound system and engineer in place, the lads belted out a fine set that the crowd (including their own fan club, affectionately referred to by Les as the Dirty White Buck-ets).  As was mentioned to me by an observer, if this was the standard by which the rest would be pretty darn good (a comment I have actually paraphrased for the purposes of publication).

With more folk drifting in and the inevitable re-association with each other, the next cab off the rank arrived on stage.  Whistle Bait, from Finland, initially were new to us, although they looked suspiciously like bits and bobs of the Barnshakers.  Now I don’t know about you readers, but the sight of no double bass at a Rockabilly weekender, does rather raise the eyebrows.  Some bands incorporate the bass guitar in some songs, to great effect, and later in this review, Deke Dickerson does it to the greatest effect but it’s the slap of a good old dog house that gets the juices flowing.

So when the band arrived with no bass and a sax and piano, it got many wondering what was in store.  To be honest, and bear in mind that I can’t possibly like everything, with the opening two songs being ‘Yes I’m Loving You’ and ‘Kitty Kitty’, it was rather a turn off.  That set, although well presented, was too far to the surf and sixties sound for me, and I’m not sure quite what the sax player was up to, cos a number of the breaks were somewhat, shall we say, unique……..See the classic Eric Morecambe – Andre Previn sketch.

With that disappointment out of the way, it was with eagerness we waited for Lucky Tubb and the Modern Day Troubadours to come on.  Given his heritage, (King of Honky Tonk Ernest Tubb was his great uncle) there was a certain expectation among many, although, he’d come highly recommended to us by resident Hillbilly officiando Mal Price, in a series of quotes, not one suitable for print!  And Mr Tubb certainly did not disappoint, with his brand of real 1950’s Hillbilly music.  With the exquisite talents of Dave Johnson on steel and Deke Dickerson on guitar, you really can’t go wrong. 

The Rave has a habit of popping up with surprising country bop, as a slight gear switch, (like Wayne Hancock last year) and these guys provided that.  Using the two instro break format, they rocked and rambled through a super set, that had the toes tapping and the Stetsons bobbing.  Great stuff like ‘Sweet Sweet Kisses’ did the biz for the peeps, hot diggety dang!

If there is an act that is worth the admission price alone for Thursday night, it would be Marti Brom.  I’m unsure how many Rave appearances she has made, but each has left a lasting impression on the many folk, ourselves included.  In her custom made fringe dress, St. Louis’ finest showed a masterful command of her set 

And boy what a blinder she played, backed by the Barnshakers/Whistle Bait with-a-bass.  ‘Finders Keepers’ is a real jump start of a tune, ‘You’re the Boss’ a super duet with guitarist Vesa Haaja, the embittered ‘Black Cadillac’, ‘Voodoo Voodoo’, ‘Great Shakin’ Fever’, ‘Beachcomber’ et al all delivered in a belting style.  They were all offset by the gorgeous ‘Blue Tattoo’, which as she pointed out, would be the song that could be described as her ‘hit’, and there would have been ‘words’ from this reviewer if it hadn’t been in there.

Topping off the evening were the Tagalongs, looking nothing like the group I saw a few years ago under that name.  Driven along by the inspiring guitar talents of Gautier Golab, Tony Hildebrandt on drums and Nuno Gomez on bass they provided a fitting frantic conclusion to an eclectic evening’s entertainment.  With lead singer, the charismatic and intense Branko, (stepping in for the departed Bill Fadden who quit a few weeks before the Rave), think Benny Joy meets Joe Clay, you get the picture.

Driftin’ in.  Friday morning dawned at the crack of noon for many, to the sound of the latest arrivals, rumbling by with cases and provisions, many of which go ‘clink clink clink’.  It amazes me that every year, someone will arrive from Europe with just a holdall, and within ten minutes they have a full sound system outside the chalet, six crates of beer, and are playing bass outside.

 It’s an odd feeling readers, a bit like jet lag without the aircraft, or the journey, at a weekender.  Passing by various folk, we bade each other a good morning although the morning had officially ended an hour or two ago.  Down now, to the smaller hall, for the downstairs sessions.

From almost empty, to a good two thirds full, that’s how the hall went in the few minutes before the first act came on.  That act was German three piece, the Lonesome Drifters, another trio that had dispensed with the need for drums.  A perfect combination for the downstairs room, with a decent crowd eyeball to eyeball to the singer.  He had a lower sounding voice, assisted by the reverb on the mic, and turned out a good set of material, in a ‘Morse Code’ kind of style. ‘Go Go Go’ see them if you get the chance:-)

Hot Rhythm and Booze, followed them.  This French four piece consisted of two electric guitars, bass and drums, so the sound compared to the previous band was beefed up (or should that be boeufed up?).  A lot of what they did was their own material that I’m not familiar with.  Saying that, this set rattled along professionally, and again delighted those that had made the effort to get into the small hall.  Their version of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ was refreshingly nothing like the original, thus avoiding flaky impersonations, and original material like ‘She’s a Bad Motorcycle’ and ‘Lemon Lime’ are certainly worth more than one listen

Concluding were another trio, this time from the UK, the Original Ricardos.  The equal parts of this trio were known to many, and boy did they rock the joint with some thundering tunes, delivered in the most accomplished way.  We did however leave that bit earlier to be sure and get to the main hall in time for the best of the action.

Raving odds and sods.  Best tracks at the Rave ever ever to starch your slacks for this year are  ‘Monkey’s Uncle’ by Ray Sharpe, ‘Pretty Girl’ by Eddie Cochran and ‘Jeanie With The Dark Blue Eyes’ by Doug Powell ……….OK it may sound like ‘Grumpy Old Rockabilly’ but, a couple of the DJs at this years Rave seemed to have lost their way and ended up in the sixties.  One played a set of ten strollers, six of which were Soul, two surf and two just about Rockabilly.  Rockabilly isn’t just about thunderous boppers, or indeed the period from ’54 – ’57, there’s a myriad of finery out there in Rockabillyland, no need to poach from the vest and flare brigade! …....It’s official, Deke Dickerson can play every instrument in the world…….In an homage to their youth I might suggest, I’m amazed at people who decorate the front window of their chalet with empty beer cans.  Either it’s a fine art form, or a suggestion that ‘we’re well hard cos we drink beer’………The Main Hall dancefloor is amazing, and large, but sticky this year.  It felt like we were on Velcro at one time, you could almost do ‘lean shoes’.

Kick off.  For many, the Rave starts on Friday night, although the annoyance that was the England football match seemed to keep many from the main hall later.  A bit frustrating, although  for the first turn, a decent number headed stage front to ensure a good view for Ruby Ann.  Backed superbly by the Tagalongs, raven haired Portugal native Ruby, looking resplendent in her fifties fringe dress, fired out a super set, full of the vim and vigour we’ve known her for. 

‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’, ‘Dynamite’, and ‘You’re Mama is Here’, represent the quality of the output.  Extolling the virtues of her favourite tipple, and occasionally refuelling with it on stage, Ruby rocked throughout in an excellent show.  Check out the CD Mama’s Back, if there are any left now.

Still with the hall not even half full, and the strangest Rave atmosphere we’ve encountered, the proceedings needed a shot in the arm.  That came in the shape of Carl Sonny Leyland, ace ivory tickler from the USA, supported by Deke Dickerson on bass and Crazy Joe on geetar.  No it wasn’t Rockabilly per se, ‘Stagger Lee’ for example, amongst the ‘Well areet there’s’, but it was extremely well done, and highly entertaining.

Back on the rockin’ trail, and it was with increasing anticipation, and indeed numbers, that the audience readied themselves for UK’s own Charlie Thompson.  Since his last show at Camber, he has in my opinion been thoroughly under used, and almost utilised as a kind of supply teacher, providing backing vocals and occasional guest spots.

When he has his own show, he’s in a league of his own.  And boy does it rock.  Backed by his Tail Records musicians, who played on the two CD releases of a few years ago, Charlie hit all the high spots with a cracking set of rockers and boppers, switching gears from rambling Johnny Horton stuff, ‘Sweet Love on My Mind’, ‘Slip Slip Slippin’ In’, ‘Kathleen’  through to the final encore of ‘C’mon Little Mama’.  Outstanding output.

Hats off too perennial favourite DJ Topper from the USA for a brilliant set of assorted finery that filled the floor from first to last, while Jack Rabbit Slim set up for their set.  Now established as one of the country’s finest bands from the scene, their boundary pushing style may not always be for the purists, but hey what a show they put on.

Lead singer Bob Butfoy, also responsible for many a great JRS composition, hip swivelled and gyrated through a powerhouse of a playlist.  ‘Kitten With a Whip’, Hangman’s Noose’, ‘Shake Rag’, ‘Cougar Town’, yeah all earthy, single entendre stuff that was met with ear splitting cheers.  Soaked shirt Bob saved the best (in my opinion,) til last, as guitarist Darren Lince switched on the Cliff Gallup button and seared through Gene’s Bi-Bickey-Bi-Bo Bo.  First class folks!

Meanwhile…Still Thinkin’ With a quiff dislodging breeze through the camp, while parts of the country were being lashed by rain and gales, we mozied  on over to the Queen Vic Saturday morning.  Taking a place near the front, digging the sounds from  DJ Little Queenie, we awaited the debut of the Straight Aces from the UK.  A stand up drummer, guitar and bass is this set up and in true trio style, they delivered a powerful assemblage of straight-ahead rockin’  Not too many surprises in the titles, but proficient nonetheless.

After a quick chomp, we were back in place for the first of the downstairs turns, from Japan, Souta and the Blitz Attack Boys.  If anyone recalls the outstanding set from the Planets a few years ago, you kind of guess the sort of set you’re likely to get from Japanese Rockabilly.  Boy do they deliver in spades.  It’s amazing how the diction and delivery of the songs is so perfect, even their own English compositions, yet beyond that, they have a few short English sentences.  Speaking another language so far removed from English is one thing, having the testicular fortitude to sing in one at a specific festival is quite something.

Song choice varied from the familiar ‘Baby Take Me Back’ to the slightly lesser known titles like ‘Graveyard Bop’, ’32K Bop’, ‘Walkin’ Lonely Street’, and ‘City Lights Confusion’.  The stage show was something else.  Running with sweat and jumping around stage, the four guys put on a tremendous show, heartbreakingly taking out the knee of an exquisite pair of pink pegs in the process.  Loud cheers and calls for encores throughout!  Excellent.

Carrie Hope got the dancers up in the first really kicking downstairs DJ set of the weekender in my opinion, while the buzz was for the next band on.  Norwegian four piece, the Lucky Bullets had the unenviable task of following the previous act.  Did they live up to it?  Did they ever!!

Both visually and musically they were spot on and enthusiastic.  The track ‘Gold Digger’ had come highly recommended, though not highly enough!  A top tune that is a stick on dance floor bopper that slotted in with a rich seam of Rockabilly including the opening kicker ‘High on Fire’, ‘Saturday Night’, ‘Heavy Load’ and ‘Mexico Joe’. ‘Cry of the Wild Goose’ (or was it ‘Wild Goose Chase’) was insane genius.  The audience went nuts and the roof nearly came off.  The band did bring some CDs with them, that sold out, as did the ones on the stalls upstairs, and to be honest, so could a truckload more.

More oddsing and sodsing at the Rave.  Every year the Rave benefits from the onstage articulations of Michigan DJ and MC, DJ Dell Villarrael.  Handy for some who have been at the silly sauce since Thursday and have forgotten where and indeed what event they are at.  Dell ensures in an almost encyclopaedic fashion, that we’re well informed from the stage and indeed that this was the 16th Annual Rrrrrrrockabilly Rave!..... I swear to you readers, that the Gulls down at Camber get bigger each year, there’s only June’s quiff between her and the height of them.  They strut about looking hard in groups like the Camber Mafia, with beaks like Macbeth’s dagger and we saw one saucy type actually entering a chalet!  And  bigger birds begat bigger guano dollops to decorate your car.  Do they also eat everything with a side order of contact adhesive, cos that’s what it comes out like!……Why do drunk males insist on strolling, in the middle of the ladies, and think they’re funny:-)…..Some mates went to a chalet party, and security moved them all on.  So they moved to another one, and security closed that one down as well.  So security, next Rave, move the gulls on, and we’ll see who’s tough then.  That’s a scrap I shouldn’t mind seeing:-)……You can deal with most things at the Rave folks, rowdiness, random cheering at silly o’clock, domestic disagreements, but some pleb* that has suddenly realised all the chalets look the same in the dark, and decides to try their key in every chalet they come to, is shall we say, mildly disconcerting……In nigh on thirty hours that we spent in the Main Ballroom, I didn’t hear ‘Jitterbop Baby’ once.  Nought out of ten, see me.

*written before the parliamentary chief whip decided to refer to our police force as such!

Diggin’ Doug.  Upstairs again for Saturday night, and we’re in place early doors to ensure that you get the full English review for a truly multi-national line up.  None moreso that the first act, Antipodean rocker and Rave second timer, Doug Wilshire, backed by German combo, the Round Up Boys.

It’s tough to categorise Doug’s style, certainly there’s a raw rocking edge to it, but also a bouncing banjo picking Bluegrass addition.  Kind of what you might get if the Bluecaps had crashed into Hayseed Dixie and picked up the wrong instruments, but played on nevertheless.  Looking dapper in his white shirt and black waistcoat, Doug played a humorous and rockin set that set us up for a good night for sure.

Next on were a group about which we knew nothing, but had heard a lot about, Pike Cavalero and the Gentle Bandoleros, unsurprisingly from Spain.  They had a bit a Spaghetti Western sound about them early doors, in what turned out to be a great show, sung in both Spanish and English.  One such translation was the George Jones classic ‘The Race is On’, which sounded every bit as good in a different language.  Their version of ‘Rock n Roll Guitar’ just about summed up a tip top show.

Perennial favourite at the Rave, Deke Dickerson, resplendent in his red jacket and white Stetson hat was up next, along with his Ecco Fonics, Crazy Joe and ‘Sugar Balls’ Sprague.  What a disgustingly talented trio they are, all swapping instruments and switching gears from ‘Monkey’s Uncle’  to ‘Look at That Moon’, to ‘Cash on the Barrelhead’ and the classic self composed ‘Wearing out the Soles of my Shoes’.  There was acrobatics, humour, silliness, great musicianship, a guest appearance by Jimmy Sutton on bass and a truly wonderful show.

Who in the world would or could follow that?  Answer, no nonsense Marlene Perez and the Rhythm Shakers.  Adorned in her sparkling Outerlimitz dress and flaming red locks cascading everywhere, she set about tearing the place up with a belting set.  Some of the lyrics are pretty much what you’d expect a raised middle finger to sound like, personified in a song.  There are covers, and damn good ones at that.  ‘Messing with the Kid’ a blues song from Mel London years ago given the 21st century treatment, as was ‘Broken Heart’ done in a haunting style, ‘Shake Your Hips’ and ‘Senior Class’.

Strumming the bejesus out of her acoustic guitar, and backed admirably by the Rhythm Shakers, Miss Perez put on a show stopping classic of a show, that had the crowd cheering from first til last.  Recording on Wild Records, who were producing a DVD of  their tour, in my humble opinion, this show, as with last year, was one of the highlights of the Rave.

Best Bar None.  Sunday morning, or mid day if you please, the Queen Vic pub plays host to a Sick, Sober or Sorry session.  One band playing, normally to a hung over and pickled liver crowd, still up for another day’s rockin’.  This year it was again an unknown quantity for us, the Zazou Cowboys.  The movers and shakers in the Hillbilly clan were all in place appreciating Billy ‘the Hick’ Price’s selection of oddities, clearly anticipating something good.  Hot diggety dang, even Mal Price had a new hat on, Sunday best and all. 

The Zazou Cowboys, apart from being a high score at Scrabble, were an unknown quantity for us, although the players weren’t.  The personnel was made up of  Bonneville Barons, Chris Wilkinson (wearing an incredibly sharp but somewhat ill advised woollen suit) and Yann Mahdjoub, joined by the exceptionally talented both vocally and instrumentally, Willie Briggs, plus Rebecca Wilson on Hillbilly fiddle.

Oh yeah readers, we’re gonna party like it’s 1949.  In the intimate atmosphere of the bar, the crowd can get up within picking distance of the instruments, fortunate for shorties like June and I.  The guys mixed it up brilliantly, some instro tracks, some originals and some covers.  It bounced along brilliantly in a Bob Wills kind of way.  Indeed a respectful nod was given to Mr Wills with ‘Cherokee Maiden’, slotting in perfectly with their own composition, ‘Odd Socks Rag’ in tribute to their fiddle player Rebecca’s penchant for wearing same.  It may sound odd referring to a tongue in cheek title as well crafted, but if you hear the humour and structure of the lyrics, it could almost have come from the golden age of Western Swing.

The cheering was deafening throughout and the crowd sardine-esque in it’s crowding to get to witness the show.  The instrumental ‘Cotton Pickin’, although described as ‘punching above their weight’ from the stage, rattled along, tempered by ‘Happy Trails’.  Lynette Morgan also stepped up to play a guest slot, and you just gotta love her version of ‘Blackberry Boogie’.  Other standouts included ‘Loudmouth’ and the true toe tapper ‘Daydream in F’. It was an extraordinary experience in the pub that we were so glad to witness along with a load of other lucky ones.

From there, we legged it over to the downstairs hall, we hoped for more of the same with Danish Western Swing outfit, Duck & Cover.  After the incredible standard that had been set next door a few minutes earlier, they’d have had to have been good, and probably they were, on another day.  They too mixed up their own stuff with covers, as well as almost perfect diction in English, even the swear words (although contrary to any belief peppering your set with them at the Rave doesn’t make you popular).  ‘Funnel of Love’, ‘Drugstore Rock n Roll’, ‘Barkin’ Up The Wrong Tree’ and ‘I’ll Never Be Free’ instantly recognisable tunes, offset with ‘Squarehead Boogie’ and ‘Clean Up Your Mess’, did the trick, but it did have the ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ about it unfortunately.

Next up, it was Finnish outfit, the Flat Broke Trio, making a return to the Rave.  I recall last time they played, and had looked forward to the show.  Well, there was more to enjoy than you can shake a ‘virtual air guitar’ at.  Another trio that has no drums, they still turn out a fantastic sound either performing Johnny Horton’s ‘Bull By The Horns’ or ‘North To Alaska’ or rocking out to stuff like ‘Broken Heart’, ‘Live Fast Die Young’ and ‘Snaggle Tooth Anne’.  Great set by the Finns, and equally great to see them at the Rave again.

Lurking at the back ready to pounce on the stage were Crazy Joe, Deke Dickerson and Chris ‘Sugarballs’ Sprague (don’t ask…I didn’t), for a powerhouse guitar party.  Similar to Deke’s set the previous night, it once again had everything that’s great about rockin’ music.

Sun-down Boogie.  All too quickly the last night was upon us, and we were looking to end with a bang.  Last year’s ‘Battle of the Bands’ winners, the Ladykillers were up first.  Now clearly with all the acts on at the weekend, I couldn’t like every one, and I’m afraid I didn’t like this.  One upright bass track, ‘Nobody’s Guy’ (I think) and the rest sounded like the Jam v/s the Stranglers as the upright was replaced with the electric bass guitar.  I don’t recall that kind of sound winning the competition last year.  I take nothing away from the lads, they’re clearly talented, confident and going places (I don’t want to be ‘slammed by critics’) but to my mind, that did not fit in at the Rave.

And….breathe.  Back in the groove with the next act, Miss Mary Ann and the Ragtime Wranglers.  Mary Ann in her white one piece play-suit decorated with gold, entered the fray and opened up with an enthusiastic take on Janis’ ‘Drugstore Rock n Roll’.  As with a lot of Sunday night acts at past Raves, the principle turn often has guests pop up.  During this show we had Marti Brom and Pepper joining in on vocals on ‘Hard Times Ahead’, Paul Ansell dueting on ‘Sweet and Easy To Love’, and Paul, Jimmy Sutton and Charlie Thompson jointly on ‘You Never Know’. 

Interspersed with those were Wrangler must-do’s ‘Rock It On Down’, ‘Slave’, ‘Mama’s Here’ and the excellent ‘Easy Does It’.  A cracking set featuring artists and singers perfectly in the Rave vibe in an almost party atmosphere.

True Love.  The recently well travelled, Marcel Riesco, brought his Truly Lover Trio band to the Rave for the first time.  Dressed in his trademark black with white tie and gunslinging his onyx guitar, Marcel set about delighting the crowd with a super collection of their own material and the obligatory Roy Orbison tunes.

‘Domino’ opened the show (which wasn’t supposed to rhyme incidentally), and established the tone.  Other Big ‘O’ numbers followed, like ‘Mean Little Mama’, ‘Rockhouse’ and the show stopping ‘Only The Lonely’.  Other stuff to admire greatly ‘Do The Bop’, ‘Blueberry Eyes’ and Blue For You’ and covers ‘Cast Iron Arm’ and ‘Pretty Baby (I Saw You Last Night).

Supremely confident and musically adept, lead singer Marcel is positive enough nowadays to sing  while chewing gum!  Too cool for school guys:-).  This was a show right out of the top drawer, and deserving of the plaudits from the stage.

Closing out the live acts for Rave 16, was another steadfast band, the Round Up Boys from Germany.  Great to see so many stayed for the lads who also called upon Aussie ivory tickler Ezra Lee to give the Jerry Lee edge to the show.  Hugely enthusiastic and mightily engaging , this act was a fitting end to a great Rave.

For the rest of the time, the hardcore die-hards got some serious dancefloor moves in to Topper’s selection, until the last notes played and the sun came up on the Monday morning.

We limped back to our chalet with the sky gently weeping above, and setting watery traps in the dimly lit pathways between the chalet blocks.  Grabbing a few disturbed hours shut eye, and it was time to somehow motivate ourselves to try and repack to go home.  It’s almost a form of depression, coming down from such a high to an incredible low in the realisation that those sad sacks grinding their way to work on a Monday outside the camp represent reality.

This year’s Rave had it’s knockers and nay-sayers, ironically some from people who haven’t been before or recently.  It’s my favourite weekender, period.  I have an issue with the sixties music be it Garage, or Soul or whatever it’s supposed to be.  If it’s Rockabilly, I don’t care what year it comes from, but that’s the majority of what I want to hear at the Rave.  After all, who would go to a curry festival and expect to be served chicken and chips?

No folks, we still came home poorer financially, but richer for the times we had, the friends we met old and new and with our ears still numb from the music.  The bands paid particular attention to their art, they put effort into their music and their look.  The talent on show is incredible, the sound system is manned by professionals in their craft, and the back room staff work tirelessly and anonymously.  Massive respect to Jerry Chatabox for putting on another top drawer weekender.

Back next year?  You betcha!

Review by Andrew Smith originally published in UK Rock Magazine

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