Review Rockabilly Rave #20 - 2016

by Andrew Smith

Here we are again readers, in Camber Sands, for the Rockabilly Rave.  Not just any Rave, this one meant that the Rave was no longer a teenager, hitting it’s twentieth birthday.  Something many of us might recall, if we had memories that good, of when we were twenty, all the boundless energy we had, able to dance all night and all that.  Hang on a minute, we may not see twenty again, but once within the gates of the Pontins site, it’s party time for the sell out crowd.

That’s the beauty of a venue like this one for a weekender, what happens outside of those gates, can happen without us, and without us knowing, it’s that kind of environment.  Within the camp, it’s all about the music, the cars, the clothes and meeting up with friends old and new, from near and overseas.

Pockets of lost souls wheeled their cases in pursuit of chalets somewhere in the numbers that most of us didn’t even believe existed.  Women led the way with pretty pink bags while the guys heaved hernia inducing cases of beer in their wake.

Opening shot.  Thursday, the entertainment starts in the evening, in the main ballroom exclusively.  Opening up the show, Sheffield’s finest, The Slingshots.  It’s a welcome return for the four lads from the steel city (and neighbouring areas for the vulture-esque pedants that circle these reviews), with their brand of original Rockabilly, delivered in the finest vocal style by lead singer, Steve ‘Cleveland’ Russell.

It wouldn’t be a Slingshot show without the quality of originals like ‘Rockin’ Good News’, ‘I Quit’ and the ironic opener ‘Misfit’.  Holy smokes, we were indeed ‘In Love Again’, as they also delivered the now contractual obligation that is ‘Say When’.  Traditionally, lead guitarist JD, busted a string, and even dawghouse dude Dave Invicta lost his ‘G’ string (pause for readership punchline inclusion).  This meant the encore had to be shifted to ‘Party on the Moon’ which is a rollicking good romp to conclude a fine show.

Colbert Hamilton and the Nitros were up next, curiously drawing comments about ‘blasts from the past’.  Erm, weren’t we all around then?  Anyhoo, he brought his eighties styled brand of Neo-Rockabilly to the stage, dazzling in his gold jacket and maverick tie.

The Nitros, led by ever present John O’Malley on lead guitar, provided solid backing from the opening kicker ‘Get You Back’ through ‘Stop’, ‘Roller coaster’, the newbie ‘Roxette’ and right to the encore, an eyebrow raising version of Thin Lizzy’s ‘The Boys are Back in Town’.

We dug Doug Australia’s Doug Wilshire, headed up a strong Australian contingent, present at this year’s Rave.  Another boomerang artist (eh, eh, see what I did there, this isn’t just thrown together you know), multi talented and multi instrumentalist, Doug, really mixed it up.  Loved his versions of ‘Nadine’ and ‘Kaw-Liga’

Bombs away.  The Delta Bombers have visited these shores a number of times, to huge acclaim, and the buzz among people I spoke to, was that they had booked the Thursday night, just to see them.  Judging by the clamour at the front of the stage, that wasn’t just lip service either, and the roar that greeted the denim and leather clad four piece was quite deafening.  So was the volume of the music, which trust me takes no prisoners. 

Guest, the Desperado, took the stage for two numbers, one of which was completely lost as the mic wasn’t working.  Feeling the floor bouncing up and down for the entire set, and the crowd participation, suggested to me that most felt this was the band to see.  So there.

Jake makes it shake.  So where to now then?  How about French nutter Jake Calypso, and Red Hot.  Setting up, you had a bespectacled, well dressed and one might suggest, reserved man, ensuring his sound was right, guitars tuned, and everyone happy with their task ahead.  MC Del Vilarrael fired the starting pistol, and it’s everyone for themselves as he launched   himself, quite literally, into an truly eclectic set of rockin’.

Down at the front getting pics, is a war zone, as bottles and glasses were displaced, littering the floor with smashed glass.  So is it all showboating and nit-wittery?  No it isn’t.  The band can play, and Jake can sing, in fact his vocal range is quite something.  ‘Downtown Memphis’ got the audience involved vocally, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Train’, got them involved physically.  ‘Call Me Baby’ required them to chorally accompany with the up-a-bup-a-bups’.

Another vocal anomaly you might be familiar with is the bopper ‘My Baby Rocks’, an oddity slotted in amongst ‘Miss Froggie’ and ‘Hep Cat’.  Among the flying glass and flying humanity on stage, is an accomplished performer, that rocks to his soul.

Day-Lee.  Here’s where the daytime stuff begins downstairs, and this year it was Australia’s Coral Lee who kicked it all off.  As soon as you see the Round Up Boys on stage, you are guaranteed a great backing sound, and Coral’s voice was a perfect complement.  Most of her material, like ‘Cadillac’ and ‘High Flying Boogie’ is original, but I loved the take on Memphis Minnie’s ‘Me and my Chauffeur Blues’, midway through the set.

The sentiment in the lyrics of ‘All I Can Do Is Sing’, ‘Bobby Brown’ and the title track of her Rhythm Bomb CD ‘The Weather Vane’ were sublime.  Her voice has an almost country feel to it, harmonious, yet powerful enough to deliver the up tempo material as well as the more melodic tracks ‘I Stole the Rain’ for example.  Most excellent. 

‘Mae-d it’ From there, it was a positive whiz from the downstairs hall and into the pub.  Here in the corner, the bands are as up close and personal as you can get.  The stage is set about a foot off the ground, and if (we) don’t get there in good time, all you can do is listen!  The band, Sharna-Mae and the Mayhems, a combo I’d read about, heard about, and listened to, and really wanted to see.

Although Sharna-Mae is the lead vocalist, she sometimes duets with boyfriend and rhythm guitarist, James Cook, notably on tracks ‘No Good Lover’ and one they’ve been singing since 6th form apparently, ‘Jackson’.  ‘Little Bit Scared’ has a touching undertone to it, ‘Sugar in the Tank’ by contrast is a vengeful and embittered tale of cheating partners and the consequences therefrom.

The cover of ‘Whirlpool’, as in the Wanda Jackson song, was well delivered, while ‘Bombshell Blonde’ and ‘High School Party’ just rocked.  So did ‘Suicide Girl’, which isn’t as morose as you might expect, more about tattoos and attitude. Great guitar work from Scott Brown, especially on ‘Race With the Devil’, driven on by Danny Brown on bass and guest drummer Curtis Doel.  A cracking debut, well worth sticking out the incredible heat to see.

Good Luck Next on in the downstairs room, from Serbia, Lucky Marcel, again backed by the Round Up Boys.  A completely different set from that which went before, as he launched into the opening tear up, ‘Bop Stomp’, the title of which should leave you  in no doubt as to the timbre of the tune. 

He mixed up covers like Bob Luman’s ‘You’re the Cause Of It All’, Jericho Jones’ ‘Black Magic’ and Jimmy Johnson’s ‘How ‘bout Me’, with ‘Bachelor Boogie’ and ‘Hold Me Tight’, all while strumming the bejesus out of his trusty Gibson acoustic.

Stompin’ Upstairs again for the evening session, and a guaranteed winner to open with, The Barnstompers from Holland.  Lead singer and lead guitarist K.C. Byrd, has one of the most authentic Country, Western Swing and Rockabilly voices you are likely to hear, and the band have been plying their trade for so long, you know it’s going to sound tight.  Even rhythm guitarist Jaap Silik’s son, depping for his dad, slotted in perfectly.

Their version of Billy Walker’s ‘Whirlpool’ is unlikely to ever be surpassed, Wiley Barkdull’s ‘Too Many’ leaves you slack jawed in admiration, ‘Stack-a-Records’ simply rocks.  Loved too ‘If I Ever Find My Dream Girl’, ‘The Way You’re Treating Me’, and ‘It’s Gotta Be That Way’.

This band are never going to be your thrash around, jump on basses affair, no, their style is controlled, but accomplished.  Massive adulation from the crowd, bought them back and they delivered the Holy Grail of Rockabilly, ‘Jitterbop Baby’.

Burnin’ The personification of Rockabilly in this country, is a band like the Infernos, who fired up the crowd next, storming the stage with ‘Ain’t That a Dilly’.  Ian Agar on vocals and rhythm guitar, is an enthusiastic front man with a strong voice, evident in the brace of Perkins classics ‘Look at that Moon’ and ‘Where the Rio de Rosa Flows’ that followed.

Excellent versions of ‘Move Around’ , ‘Crawdad Hole’, ‘Honky Tonk Queen’ and a rare outing for Mack Self’s ‘Vibrate’.  The place erupted to the strains of Tarheel Slim’s ‘Number Nine Train’, and the finale of ‘Crash The Party’.  Top Rockabilly on the main stage.

Bakin’  Setting a Rave record were the Doel Brothers, and Scotty Baker, four years on the bounce on the Rave bill.  Following a number of new Doel tracks from their up coming El Toro release, the main event took the stage, big smile and ‘Wasted My Name On You’.  Two new tracks made their live debut too, ‘Back From the Dead’ charted the fortunes of people who take cars from the scrapheap and breathe new life into them, and ‘Ladykiller’ kind of speaks for itself, though not in a murderous way.

With the Doels including the talents of slidey steel player Phil Morgan, Scotty was able to deliver live, ‘Just For Me’ from the second CD, a jolly jaunt, relating the tale of a chap who fell for a stripper, and only realised when he took her to the bar where she worked.

The finale was a treat, a cover of Elvis’ Gospel rendition of ‘Peace in the Valley’, the vocals of which would have bought a tear to a glass eye.  Hairs stand up on the back of neck springs to mind. 

And that was the show, if I have an observation, there wasn’t enough of it.

Los in Strait.  The Mexican wrestler masked four piece Los Straitjackets were up next, featuring the incredible guitar work of Eddie Angel.  At least that’s what you’re told!  Most of it was instrumental, and had a sixties sensation to it. Any commentary was in Spanish, as was guest vocals on Jackie Wilson’s ‘Lonely Teardrops’, sung by Big Sandy.  Very tight sounding set, that hit a chord with the crowd.

No Rest.  It isn’t too unusual for Restless to end an evening’s entertainment, or for that matter, the early morning.  Oft heralded as the pioneers of Neo Rockabilly, they have been playing this kind of stuff for over thirty years.  Mark Harman’s fingers have travelled some miles up and down the frets, at some considerable speed it has to be said.  His brother Paul, slaps a mean bass and this evening, it was Rob Tyler on the skins.

We had Colbert Hamilton on stage for a duet, one time bassist Steve Whitehouse as a guest bassist, and a thrilling dawghouse duel, plus all the Restless faves from ‘Ice Cold’, to ‘Sixteen Tons’ to ‘Radar Love’.  A pretty frantic end to the first full day

Raving dot….dot.  Best tracks in the world ever ever for this Rockabilly Rave are Ersel Hickey’s ‘You Threw a Dart’, Dane Stinit’s ‘Don’t Knock What You Don’t Understand’ and George Jones’ ‘Revenoor Man’…….Who else thought one particular snapper’s massive lens was more suited to photographing Bitterns on the Norfolk Broads, from somewhere in Suffolk, especially as it/he eclipsed our view more than once.  We’re down here, it’s not our fault!……Relief and salvation from those pesky varmint gulls, appeared in the shape of a bird dispersal unit that arrived on site Thursday.  Out of the back of this vehicle came a magnificent hawk, ready to see of those mega decibel squarkers.  While a tape of distressed gulls playing from the van, a hawk flying around, the remaining gulls went into a frenzy, making even more bloody row.  Discuss…..We don’t half take some cr*p to weekenders you know readers.  I only found a roll of parcel tape in one box.  Hold that thought.  With the curtains drawn, we noticed them billowing, only to find that the fixed pane of glass, wasn’t fixed, it had dropped half and inch, leaving a gap.  Guess what filled it?....... ‘So and So’s Vintage’ stall, displaying the finest vintage pieces, and, some ‘inspired pieces’.  Hmmm, weren’t they in the high street last year for ten quid less?...... Thursday night crowd at the Rave, my goodness there was a lot of ‘em!.....Who needs Google when you have MC Del Villarael?  No script, yet he articulates from the stage, so you know who’s playing when, who they record with and what they had for tea no doubt.  Oh and regular reminders of where you are, in case you’ve forgotten……I’ve got used to people’s faces suddenly glowing in the gloom to the light from a mobile phone, but never have I seen what one lady was looking at right at the front of the stage.  Pictures of ‘Henry’ vacuum cleaners (other makes are available)……I’m not sure about the likes of Little Johnny Taylor, Trini Lopez, the Five Keys and the Cues et al, fit that well at the Rave…..Oi, FIFA, UEFA and any other organisations, mark ye well.  I lost count of how many nations were represented by attendees at the Rave, not a chair thrown or a can of tear gas deployed at the Rave.  The answer to unite everyone, is good mood and good rockin’ music……Full marks to Boppin’ Bud, the DJ from the USA, who was the first in three years to play ‘Jitterbop Baby’ in the main ballroom…..Award for the most guest appearances over the weekend, must go to Big Sandy….Hardest working band at the Rave?  The Round Up Boys…..

Sats test and results.  Back in the downstairs room the next day, and the show from Portuguese visitors to the Rave , AJ & The Rockin’ Trio.  This is your classic line up featuring an enthusiastic AJ (Andre Joaquim) on rhythm guitar and vocals, with upright bass, lead guitar and drums providing the backing.

They sure look the part and also deliver some fine straight ahead, no nonsense Rockabilly, much of it their own, and a couple of covers, most notably Benny Joy’s ‘Miss Bobby Sox’ and Dale Hawkins’ ‘Baby Baby’.  The rest, consisted mainly of their recent Rhythm Bomb CD release, like ‘She Do The Bop’, ‘Hot Rockin’ Mama’ and ‘Let’s Howl at the Moon’.

The Round Up Boys were on next, doing a show of their own.  The component parts of this four piece form a couple of others, so they are familiar faces already, and had provided back up for a number of artists over the weekend.  With Michael ‘Humpty’ Kirscht on vocals and lead guitar, backed by Axel Praefke on drums, Ike Stoye on rhythm guitar and Carsten Harbeck on upright bass, this four piece celebrated their own twentieth anniversary with this show.

Humpty is a solid guitarist and consummate vocalist, and it’s clear when you listen to them, that they are having a good time both playing and engaging the audience.  Super cool show.

Second out. Back after a few years, the Battle of the Bands, this time featuring from Finland, Relax Trio and from the UK, The Runawayz.  The format was that five judges would watch both bands, and pick their winner based on a variety of different criteria. 

Relax Trio were up first, with bassist and vocalist, Linda Teranen taking the lead, ably backed by Oskari Nieminmen on lead guitar and drummer Vilho Voutilainen.  They played all their own compositions, with a massively enthusiastic youthful joi-de-vivre that quickly spread among the crowd.  Standout tune for me was ‘You Drive Me Nuts’, although, getting the crowd all to chant ‘Backseat Boogie Nights’ en masse was quite the achievement.  I liked this a lot, and already had an idea where the result was going to go.

The Runawayz had their own entourage, and a four deep row of very vocal supporters.  Their set was covers of classic Rock n Roll songs, like ‘Somethin’ Else’ and ‘Suzie Q’, showcased by lead singer and guitarist Joe Newbon, backed by talented musicians Jake Needham on bass and drummer Curt Jones.  Another belting set, rowdily cheered along by the assembled.

The result…..a draw, they’ll both be back in 2017.

Start to Finnish.  Upstairs again, for the Saturday night party, kicked off by Mike Bell and the Belltones, from Finland, a four piece with more fervour than you can shake a moose’s antlers at.  Their opening rocker ‘The Beat That Can’t Be Beat’ gives you a suggestion of what they are all about.  Mike, the band’s rhythm guitarist and lead singer, is a pencil slim, charismatic chap whose vocal delivery  is spot on.  Again a lot of original stuff , save for tunes like ‘I’m Just a Mender’ and ‘Careful Baby’, set to the classic Rockabilly beat.   ‘Baby I’m in a Mood For You’, ‘Brick by Brick’ ‘Lord I’m in Trouble Again’ amongst others.  You have to check this band’s material out readers.

Ann an’ Ann. Taking to the stage next, Rave regulars and favourites, Miss Mary Ann and the Ragtime Wranglers from the Netherlands, with Portugal’s Ruby Ann making a long overdue reappearance on the Rave stage.  One might venture, it was good to see Mama’s Back!  Here are two ladies, Mary Ann in white and gold, Ruby Ann in black and gold, with strong voices, a considerable repertoire between them, and they swapped individually as well as singing duets.

The backing of the Wranglers is ace, perfect for this kind of music, with Ruby Ann’s ‘I’ll Never Get Rich’, ‘Call His Name’ and ‘I Don’t Care’, or Mary Ann’s ‘Lil Ole You’, ‘I’ve Really Got a Right to Cry’ and ‘You Made a Hit’. 

Out of the duets, ‘Sweet Sweet Guy’ stood out, the Wranglers also providing harmony.  Dispatch style mentions also for ‘Little Pig’ and the Barker Brothers’ ‘You Can’t Stay Here’.  Top stuff.

This is the Knight. The towering presence of Deke Dickerson, with his band, the Ecco-Fonics followed, with a very special guest performance, which will be revealed in a mo. 

Deke had Crazy Joe on stage playing electric bass, although swapped lead guitar with Deke from time to time.  It’s always a good show when this combination takes to a stage, not just tunes, but banter and narrative with the audience.  His version of Link Wray’s ‘Run Chicken Run’ for example, and the accompanying story of headless chickens, and the slowing of the final few bars, as would the headless chicken.

There’s the obligatory Carl Perkins tune, I think it’s in his contract, this time it was a corking take on ‘Look At That Moon’, and Jerry Lee’s ‘Mexicali Rose’ was just sublime.  Switching to upright bass, Deke hit the high spots with my favourite of his tracks ‘Wear Out The Soles Of My Shoes’.  Lovin it.

Then it was the special guest, Johnny Knight, yep, he of the ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Guitar’.  He bounded out from the back with a smile as wide as the stage itself, looking cool and sharp in his sparkly shoes.  So to both sides of his ’58 cut on the Morocco label ‘Snake Shake’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Guitar’ and the recording as Johnny Donn ‘What Happened Last Night’.  All three were met with huge cheers and loud applause, and there was an insistence from the crowd for a reprisal of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Guitar’, a request that couldn’t really be denied! 

Superfine.  Well where would you after that on a Saturday night.  What you’d need is a dependable blue chip act, that could rock the house.  Well here it is, Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, back again at the Rave, and very welcome they are too.  This line up of Big Sandy on vocals and rhythm guitar, Kevin Stewart on upright bass, Ricky McCann on drums and a fine British export in Ashley Kingman on lead guitar, ranks among the best.

It’s now almost the law that he opens the show with the dynamic ‘Heaven is the Other Way’, which set the tone throughout a memorable performance, which rocked from start to finish.  The place all but came unglued when ‘Chalk it Up To The Blues’ rang out, and the two sider 45rpm recently released on Ruby Records, was also showcased.  ‘Fine Fine Superfine’ and ‘Everytime’ were played from the decks over the weekend, but to hear it live for the first time was quite special.  In fact the whole show pretty much was, from one of the most charismatic performers in Rockabilly.

Fired!  To end the night, Wildfire Willie and the Ramblers, from Sweden.  It had been seven years since they last graced the Rave stage, and yes they’ve been missed, as they too delivered a typically pacey and punchy show.  It’s thirty years since the band’s inception, twenty seven since their first album.  They really know their stuff and held court over a large crowd as Sunday began.

Spinnin’  A word about the DJs for the event.  They ranged in age an experience, as well as diversity of nationality and style.  Regulars like Skinny Jim and Little Carl, mixed up the flavours with the likes of Billy The Hick’s Hillbilly oddities.  Blip Blop from Germany and  Danny from Spain are familiar faces, while Lauren Brown from France, Boppin’ Bud from the USA, Spain’s Toni Lyon and Marc Rondeau from Australia all added their own styles to the proceedings.

Then you had your dependables like Steve Stack o’ Wax and Tojo platter spinning and Carrie Hope’s dance friendly sets in the main ballroom.  Those were the ones we saw and heard.  Of course there were others, but all I suggest had their own monika to stamp on the proceedings, to keep that floor moving.

It’s a tough job, but I have to say, everyone blended the well known with the obscure.  As many oddballs that capture the imagination, the classics from the likes of Eddie, Gene, Bob Luman, Sonny Burgess and Jerry Lee Lewis still fill the floor.

Sunday coming down.  As much as we all tried to put the brakes on, it was Sunday already.  The last day and night of the weekender, but a shedload of goodies to look forward to.  Three very different acts were playing in the afternoon downstairs, starting with Jamie ‘Bubba J’ Faulkner.

Here is a performer with youth on his side, a deft song writing talent and a great voice.  His band, the Moonshine Runners were a combination of musicians from Holland and the UK, and knitted together tightly, complementing Jamie’s vocals.

A great start of ‘Real Hot Mama’ was quickly followed by gems like ‘Number Nine Train’ and ‘One Six Pack To Go’, I guess the irony of having Joe Sixpack on guitar was not lost on many of the crowd. More beauties followed ‘Pretty Little Roses’, ‘Moonshiner Man’ and ‘If The Show Fits’, in a show that had that feel good factor for the Sunday crowd.   

Devilishly Angelic. The combined guitar talents of Eddie Angel, Deke Dickerson and Ashley Kingman swapped around the stage with some exceptional fretwork.  There was a Big Sandy guest spot on the vocals of ‘I Thought It Over’, and some interesting, shall we say, choreography (using the word in it’s loosest sense) as the house rocked to Link Wray’s ‘Rawhide’.

TOTP 3.  There was a collective social media raised eyebrow among some people when the Jets were announced as playing at the Rave in their own right.  Others like us, were like ‘About time too’.  The 5pm slot on Sunday may not have seemed the most fashionable, but with half an hour still to go before the show, the hall was almost full.  By the time Bob, Ray and Tony came on, it was rammed.

The brief was for an eighties Rockabilly show, or what we were all listening to at the time.  And that’s what we got, an absolute ball!  ‘Sittin’ on Top of the World’, ‘Nervous’ and a kicking version of the Southlanders’ ‘Penny Loafers and Bobby Sox’ for example.  No one, currently, does Johnny Burnette’s vocals better than Bob Cotton, though I’d have loved to have heard ‘Please Don’t Leave Me’.  Bob joked about being on Top of the Pops, and being able to buy their 45’s in Oxfam for 20p, and how those tough Rockabillies had bought their singles.  With that in mind, ‘Yes Tonight Josephine’ rocked out to a deafening reaction.

Being called back for ‘Love Makes the World Go Round’, the reaction was such that they came back again.  The audience called for ‘Alligator Come Across’, which fortunately didn’t encourage any wrecking. 

This is the most packed either of us have ever seen that downstairs room.  Some clearly so many had come along to register their disgust, stayed for the whole set just to see how disgusted they could be, and even called for more, for additional disgust reinforcement.  Take it from me readers, this was a fantastic show, that’s been a long time coming for the Jets.  A standout among standouts for the 20th anniversary finale.

Foxx Roxx.  Flame haired Anaheim CA native Amber Foxx drew a good crowd in the main ballroom as the first act on at 7pm.  This was one lady I’d looked forward to seeing again, and she looked resplendent in her sparkly dress as she took the stage.

A great show ensued, so many songs showcased her vocal talent,  like the opening number ‘Dreamboat’, with ‘OK Doll it’s a Deal’, ‘Flipsville’ and ‘Everlovin’ following hot on it’s heels.  Her band, I’m not sure if they have a name per se, were musically spot on throughout an impressive performance

‘False Hearted Girl’, Jeanie Mack’s ‘Dirty Dishes’ and Shirley Gunther’s ‘Oop Shoop’ also stood out for me.  With an audience headcount increasing down by the stage, it was inevitable Amber would be called back for another number, and she duly obliged with a show stopping version of ‘Tongue Tied’. Dig it!!

Round up Riesco.  Not that long ago, the Truly Lover Trio played venues in the UK and the raven haired, charismatic front man, Marcel Riesco, captured the imagination with his uncanny vocal similarity to Roy Orbison.  Through the various incarnations of TLT and the Shookups, one thing remained consistent, the quality of the show.

The big hollow bodied black onyx guitar has been replaced by something a little more manageable (he told me), which seamlessly fitted in with the backing band, in this case, the seemingly omnipresent Round Up Boys. 

He had the audience from the get-go, joking around with those at the front, and playing a super show.  That initial hook came in the shape of  Ronnie Smith’s ‘Long Time No Love’, with ‘Humpty’ on trim phone imitations(!).  This had been one of the ‘go-to’ tracks of the weekend for the DJs, and Marcel’s take, was up there with the original.

Among the nuggets, were tracks like ‘Dumb Struck’ and ‘Little Angel’, and the show was topped off by a perfect version of ‘Cast Iron Arm’.  Always his ace up the sleeve.

Ready for Eddie.  The highlight of the past few Raves, has been  the tribute shows, Carl Perkins, Janis Martin and last year’s Elvis show for example.  This year, it was the Eddie Cochran connection, with Darrel Higham and the Enforcers, Scotty Baker and the Jets.  Well did this bunch draw a crowd or what?

There was talent by the barrowload on the stage and even a bit or bromance going on.  All that, plus it wasn’t all the commercially best known stuff, the show included gems like ‘I’m Ready’ ‘Slow Down’, ‘Tired and Sleepy’ and ‘Drowning All My Sorrows’ as well as tunes where Eddie played as a session man ‘You Oughta See Grandma Rock’ and ‘Watch Your Mouth’.

The Jets did the ‘wopwops and ooo’s’, backing Darrel during ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, ‘Completely Sweet’, and ‘Am I Blue’ for example.  Big mention also for ‘Somethin’ Else’, which is up there with the best Eddie track going.  These shows get better every year!

High and Bye.  Well there, all of a sudden, it’s the final act of the weekender.  Let’s send everyone off with a real blast in the form of Spain’s Charlie Hightone and the Rock-Its.  This guy has produced some of today’s top bop tracks, and it wouldn’t be right not to hear ‘Booze Booze Booze’ and ‘Dead End Track’, which was duly obliged, although nudging them for attention has to be the ace jiver ‘Baby Behave’.

The crowd stayed on for this, and rightly so, for one of today’s venerable performers.

Sunk.  As raindrops the size of pears, drove relentlessly sideways across the camp site, the equally depressing sight of chalets emptying greeted everyone opening their curtains for the last time.  Packing and wading through recently formed mini-lakes, we bid farewell to another Rockabilly Rave.

The 20th Anniversary Rave was up there with the best in the world ever ever.  The bands were tip top.  Exceptional talent all round, proving what a rich vein we have through the world, that we have such easy access to once a year.

The Rave is 21 next year, it gets the key of the door, and the initial listing of bands is quite something.  See you there!

© Andrew Smith, June Smith, The Bettajive Review June 2016