Review Rockabilly Rave #21 - 2017

by Andrew Smith

It’s come of age, The Rockabilly Rave now has the key of the door, and is a mature adult.  Yeah, course it is.  The Rave’s maturity is in it’s quality of band and music.  Four days of heaven for lovers of this style and sound, petrol soaked hot roddery, gabardine and bass fiddles.  And guess what?  The Bettajive Review are front and centre to bring you it, starting with Thursday’s evening shenanigans.

Thurs-quencher. The first band on, is sometimes a curse as much as a blessing.  The Kabooms though, had the ideal onomatopoeic name for their show, as they took the opening slot by the scruff of the neck, and shook it with a cracking set.  This four piece has the classic lead guitar, upright bass, drums, fronted by a charismatic lead singer, slinging a cool acoustic guitar. 

The set had the crowd from the get-go, ‘Black Days’, She’s My Woman’, Johnny Rocket’, a typical trio of tunes from a red hot set, which was a red as the lead singer’s peg pants.  A bar set very high methinks.

With chunky numbers now in the house, we’ve switched from Spain to Denmark, and a straight ahead, no nonsense trio, The Ramblin’ Bandits.  Vocals are delivered by an imposing bass player, thumping the bejesus out of his dawghouse, accompanied by some serious Fender work.  A fair chunk of the set was original, however ‘Run Chicken Run’ and ‘Cotton Picker’ slotted in well among the vocal tracks ‘Gambler Man Blues’ and ‘Painkiller’.

The Big Show.  Headlining the Thursday, perennial favourites, Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Boys.  It’s got to the point now, where Big Sandy is now most people’s mate, who plays and sings on  stage, sharing jokes and drinks with the audience, taking sips of whatever was passed up to him.  Take care though big man, just ‘cos it’s purple, it don’t mean it’s drinkable!

It turned out that this was the last event that drummer Ricky McCann was playing with them, and what a way to leave, with a memorable show, opening with the classic ‘Heaven is the Other Way’. I’ve rattled on about the quality of Big Sandy shows before, and rightly so, they make it look easy, and while the rest of us were melting in the crowd, he’s on stage in his trademark black suit, with such class as to sweat Perrier water.

A top drawer show played out with such classics as ‘How Could You Love Someone Like Me’, ‘Thru Dreamin’, the awesome ‘Love That Man’ , ‘Miss Tracy’, ‘Its’ Time’,  and the essential ‘Chalk It Up To The Blues’.  Ex-pat Ashley Kingman on lead guitar and bass ace, ever smiling, Kevin Stewart make up a tight knit group that always delivers.

With time ebbing away, the final act took the stage.  Wild Records, has a certain sound, if you’ve heard it, you’ll know it.  Forefront exponents of this sound, are the Desperados, from California, four youngsters who just kicked a*se.  Most of their material is penned by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Luis Cervantes, and it’s pretty hot stuff.  But don’t take my word for it, go check ‘Why Did You Make Me Mad’, ‘Let’s Have Some Fun’ , ‘Sweet Mary Jane’ and ‘Let’s Get Wild’.  A breathless way to end day one.

Fancy a session?  With the remainder of the arrivals piling down to fill the camp out, the downstairs club sessions start in earnest.  The beauty of these sessions, is that many of the bands are playing the Rave for the first time, and gives us the opportunity to get up close and personal with them in the smaller venue.  Something that might not be quite as appealing for the band perhaps.

First up, from France, The Cactus Candies, a quintet that also incorporated keyboards into their set of well presented Country Bop and Rockabilly.  Familiar sounds like ‘Cattin’ Around’ and ‘Plantation Boogie’ rubbed shoulders with the wonderfully titled ‘I Didn’t Know The Gun Was Loaded’, and ‘I’m Jealous’.  A well deserved encore of ‘Doggone It’, sealed a well crafted set.

Rock Em Up.  At last year’s ‘Rumble, we saw the next band, playing their first festival, and I believe the first time out of their native Scotland.  Emma and the Ragmen, at that time made quite the impression on the crowd in the North East, with lead singer Emma, although a little nervous, putting on a top show. 

Fast forward ten short months, and here we are at the Rave, with Emma looking resplendent in her oriental Periwing red dress, and with a confident air about her, the band served up a faultless show, opening with ‘All Alone’.  With plenty of ‘local’ support, she delivered on every level, rocking out ‘Bigelow 6200’, ‘Gonna Put My Foot Right Down’ and ‘Rag Top Roll’, with the most exquisite version of ‘She’s Got You’ you’ll hear this side of Patsy Cline.  ‘Hello Baby’ and ‘Sentimental Fool’ also vied for attention in a performance that will probably be repeated on a larger stage in future I’ll wager.  And bringing them back with a tear up of ‘Bip Bop Boom’ was just awesome.

To follow that would be difficult, so let’s have a change of style in the shape of Glenn Doran and the Prairie Echoes, three paid shirted lads, Glenn himself, Danny Brown and Dan Morley with Lola Gaskin-Briggs on fiddle.  There were Stetsons at jaunty angles aplenty in the audience, that lapped up everything served by this four piece.

I don’t usually go on about age, but for their years, these guys play like the most seasoned performers (Chris Cummings notwithstanding!), and Glenn’s voice is such, that it could have come straight from Nashville.  ‘I’m Gonna Have Myself a Ball’ set the pace, with Tibby Edwards’ ‘Flip Flop and Fly’ (to distinguish it from many of the other versions) creating a rhythmic bounce in the crowd.  Officiandos of Hillbilly cheered their approval to ‘Wild About Your Lovin’, ‘One Wheel Draggin’ and ‘Romp Stomp’.  A massively popular show that it was apparent, many didn’t want to end

From start to Fin.  In the upstairs ballroom, the Relax Trio were readying themselves for the evening beano.  This three piece Linda Teränen (Vocals & double bass)
Oskari Nieminen (Vocals & guitar) Vilho Voutilainen (Drums & backing vocals) from Finland, were joint winners of the Battle of The Bands show last year, the prize for which was a slot on the main stage.   This trio are full of vim, vigour and youthful exuberance, and put together an energetic show, much of it original material, although the inclusion of ‘Tainted Love’ and ‘Midnight Shift’ caught the attention of the audience that populated front and centre.

‘Back Seat Boogie Nights’ many recalled from last year’s show, with it’s call and answer chorus, ‘Moonshining’ ‘Don’t **** Around With Me’ and ‘You Drive Me Nuts’ simply put, kicked like a mule.  Well deserving of a main stage billing, they left with hoards more new fans.  Quite right too.      

We’re Fri-ing tonight.  Pat Capocci made a welcome return to the Rave stage next.  A friendly, smiling chap off stage, and a vastly talented performer on it.  Backed by the Domestic Bumblebees, he gave a masterclass in how to get the most sounds out of one instrument.  Somehow he got a western swing steel guitar sound, followed by an Elmore James style blues bop slide, and then some straight ahead Rockabilly. 

Here’s another performer with a knack of making it look easy, extending versions of his own material, like ‘Baby Sue’.  ‘Coming In Hot’, one of the recent cuts on a  Ruby Records 45, was quite applicable given the ambient temperature, and ‘Slave For The Beat’ kind of took us back to where it began at the Rave, with ‘Full Grown Woman’ rocking it up.  A true talent putting on an excellent show.

Despite knowing about, and listening to, James Intveld’s music all these years, it was our first time seeing him live.  A slim and striding figure looking very dapper in his black trimmed, white suit, coolly arrived on stage with his acoustic guitar, setting about a knockout show.  He mixed his own material with covers, which the band had tailored specially for the Rave.  ‘Stop The World and Let Me Off’, ‘Standing On a Rock’ and ‘My Heart Is Aching For You’ were almost gimmies, while ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘Home Of The Blues’ and ‘Boogie Woogie Country Girl’ mixed in well

The band are such that all James had to do was call out a track, and they were right there with him.  An immensely popular performer, and a treat to see on the Rave stage.

More favourites in this cosmopolitan evening were up next.  Jack Baymoore and the Bandits brought their inimitable  style and presence to the Rave once more.  Hailing from Sweden, this four piece has had a consistent line up for many years now, and the charismatic Jack out front, is the ideal front man, blending the likes of ‘Oh Baby Babe’, ‘All I Can Do Is Cry’, ‘Baby Baby’ with ‘I’m Out’ and their own classic ‘AV8 Boogie’.  A well received set was topped off with a tribute to Carl Perkins in the shape of ‘Baby You Can Do No Wrong’.  Classic sound in a class show

Now the Neo Rockabilly sound for me hasn’t dated as well as the fifties style of Rockabilly.  Original Neo exponents, the Blue Cats, were give the task of ending the night, performing to a really rowdy bunch of stop-outs.  Saying that, after I’d heard ‘The Tunnel’, it was enough for me.  The multitude loved it, so what do I know?

Raving dot….dot.  Best tracks at the Rave ever ever for this year are  Roy Orbison’s ‘Rockhouse’  Onie Wheeler’s ‘Shuckin’ My Way To The Hall Of Fame’ and George Jones’ ‘Revenoor Man’……….Big badge for Simon Tugwell, first DJ on at the Rave, and ends his set with ‘Jitterbop Baby’.  It should be the law!......Those Pontins gulls we’ve waged a war with for many many years now, have become even more brazen.  They actually peck the door, and stand there waiting for titbits.  Not sure of the species, but I’ve heard something like ‘Koff King Gull’ shouted by my wife wielding the in-house broom, so maybe that’s it……Watching Emma and the Ragmen (see review elsewhere in this article), Mal Price offered the following quote that he’d “Seen her two weeks ago at the Keith Turner gig, and she absolutely smashed it”, reminding me also, that there were no swear words in his quote.  Security! Who is this man, and what has he done with the real Mal Price……Two things with non-English bands.  One, where does their accent go when they start singing and two, the swear words are always perfectly placed…….Why when you return home from the Rave, is the perfectly pristine food in your fridge reduced to green gunge, and your fragrant living room now smells like a small animal is decomposing in it……..Oh ain’t it hot, what’s that Jerry Chatabox thinking getting this weather, birds are falling ready roasted from the sky and the pavements are cracking with the heat.  We much prefer rivers of mud, the Pac-Man maze approach to getting from chalet to hall to avoid the puddles, and wind so strong, it blows the sheep over with woolly thuds in the adjacent field……  The smells around the cap during the afternoons, prove that there is a thin line between barbeque, and sausage cremation….No matter how good the Rave is, there’s something about having a darn good dung in the privacy of your own thunderbox at home…..Here he comes again, that bloke with the camera lens the length of a Thermos flask….Nearly forty hours, that’s how long the Bettajive Review spent watching, photographing and reviewing  the bands in the various venues.  We leave the competition standing.  Or wilting as the case maybe…..

Set for Sat.  The only act we caught on Saturday afternoon, was the Country Side of Harmonica Sam from Sweden.  The band, who play a mix of Country (unsurprisingly) and Honky Tonk, looked smashing in their red and cream western suits, Sam’s was blue and cream, although, maybe they were a little ill advised, given the temperature in the hall.

The set was a steady tempo and the delivery expertly polished.  The steel guitar from Peter Anderson is a real plus, and the accomplished playing, enhanced the listening experience.  It’s very prominent on tunes like ‘A Drink After Midnight’, ‘Cry Me a River’ (not the one you might be thinking of, or that other one for that matter), ‘This Train’ (not that one!) and the ace up the sleeve ‘The Race Is On’. 

Proof that the Rave is not all ‘Bop A Lena’ and ‘Ragin’ Sea’.

JL S (aturday).  Upstairs again, in time for John Lewis and his Trio, on at the ungodly hour of 7pm.  Still, his very billing was enough to entice a decent headcount in from the countless al fresco dining experiences.  And for those in attendance, a treat.  The variety in a John Lewis set ranges from his love of Hank Williams, through to Tom Jones.  There are covers, and there’s original material, both stand tall with the crowd. 

So Hank’s ‘Ramblin’ Man’ with the slow start and frantic finish, and the complete rework of ‘Please Don’t Let Me Love You’ are offset by Tom Jones’ first 45 release ‘Chills and Fever’.  The Jiants’ ‘Tornado’ was the first song he played with the Rimshots, ‘Flat Top Cat’ a tribute to Mac Curtis.  The recording of ‘Sanity’ on the record, features the Jets doing the harmony vocal.  With just Bob Cotton in the house, he was joined by Kevin Stewart and Big Sandy on the stage, requesting a beer crate to bring him up to a similar height to the other lads!  ‘Sanity’ sounded superb too.  Loved the ‘Gone in Six Months’ theme, in fact, we loved it all, as the shouts for more than the standard encore almost drowned out MC Del.  Cracking stuff.

Hot on the heels of John, were the Hi Boys, from Brisbane.  Well it’s now the norm at the Rave to have an Aussie artist called Scotty, although this lead singer is Scottie, apparently.  Veterans of a variety of festivals, they brought their own style to the Rockabilly Rave, along with ‘Shake’ on Wild Records.

Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Scottie has a great drawl to his singing and indeed speaking voice, communicating to the crowd, the influences of their material.  I guess the easiest way to describe it would be risqué blues lyrics set to a Rockabilly beat.  ‘Jelly Roll’ for example, full of ingredients and sauce, and dollops of double entendre, as ‘Pudding’ is, which I think is the continuation of the subject matter.  ‘Bicycle’ had tenuous links to the human powered velocipede of that name, shall we say.  Great songs throughout and cheerfully delivered.

High time.  Back with the home grown talent again now, with Darrel Higham and the Enforcers, favourites with many of the crowd.  Striding through his playlist, and sporting the orange Gretsch, Darrel put on a stage commanding performance, right from ‘Hey Ruby’ onward.  We’ve come to expect ‘Jumpin’ With Gene’, ‘Somethin’ Else’ and ‘Scratchin’, corkers one and all, and the set ended with a storming version of ‘Ice Cold’

With the crowd once again calling for more, we got the cover of Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ followed by the anthemic ‘Rockabilly Boogie’.  Yep, that’ll do it!

Knell-furies? The biggest crowd of the evening, heralded the arrival of, possibly for the last time, The Bellfuries.  Favourites of the Rave, and indeed the Riot, the four piece from Austin Texas, have delighted music lovers in the UK since ‘Just Plain Lonesome’ came out in 2001.  With ‘Workingman’s Bellfuries’ a couple of years or so old now, their play list is such, that the audience could have sung along to the band’s accompaniment. 

There was a terrific atmosphere, as ‘Bad Seed Sown’, heralded a full house movin’ to the beat.  ‘Just Plain Lonesome’, the extended version of ‘Hey Mister Locomotive’, ‘Up To Your Old Tricks Again’ and ‘So Sad and Lonely’, all hit the familiar button, and the volume of ‘Your Love Is All That I’m Missing’ from the crowd all but drowned out Joey Simeone’s voice.

The words within the lyrics, are true modern day poetry, and ‘Loving Arms’ again drew audience participation, which drew grins from the band.  The set flew by, and soon they were back to perform my particular fave from the second album, ‘Beaumont Blues’.  Outstanding, and if this is the last time we see them, which we hope it isn’t, they left on an immense high.

Pole vault.  Ending the live stuff for Saturday, the return of the Polecats, drawing nostalgic stories from people around my age (young!), from when they first hit the mainstream charts.  Indeed, it was ‘John I’m Only Dancing’, the Bowie tune reworked, that got them out of the blocks.  The bouncing and wrecking started, and the pace an volume from the stage blasted out at what seemed a million miles an hour.  Tim Polecat was a thing on a spring throughout.  The late night boinging types loved it!

Oi! DJ.  The very substance that keeps the weekender moving, is the recorded sounds from the DJ decks.  Usually you can say this DJ was better than that DJ, though I have to say, all of the ones we heard, were top drawer.  Quick name check shout outs in da area for Simon Tugwell, Be Bop Kaz, Little Carl, Joe Newbon, Danny Brown, Billy The Hick, Alex Hope, Dillinger and Danny from Spain, Lauren Brown from France, Tojo from Scotland, Rudy from Belgium, and Germany’s Sylvie & Blip Blop (who always plays that one track that sticks in the mind).  Come to think about it, that’s just about every one   

Lots of variety in the musical styles, from Hillbilly through Western Swing and classic Sun, Starday, Mercury and Capitol sounds.  Among the obscurities, once again, when tracks like Eddie Cochran’s ‘Pretty Girl’ and ‘Don’t Bye Bye Baby Me’, Gene’s ‘Red Blue Jeans and a Ponytail’ and the Big O’s ‘Rockhouse’ hit the decks, the people hit the floor.

The Doms Dominate.  The last afternoon sessions of this Rave, began with three Swedish lads, The Domestic Bumblebees. It’s been a full ten years since they debuted at the Rhythm Riot, to polite, interested applause, closing the set to rowdy cheers.  Now downstairs at the Rave, they presented their own brand of rockin’ to a decent sized crowd, drawn in from the sunshine.

Their own brand being tracks like the blues oddity cover ‘Give Me Back My Wig’ with the Hound Dog Taylor-esque  slide guitar sound.  Tunes the like of ‘Bumblebee Boogie’, ‘Twenty One’ and ‘No More Crying’, before Pat Capocci jumped up on stage to assist with guitar and backing vocals on ‘Rocker’.  Lead guitarist Daniel Kordelius is a talented guitarist in his own right, put him with Pat, and the results were excellent.

The Wild Tones, probably thought the weather was a bit on the chilly side, given they were over from Florida.  Lead guitarist and vocalist Joshua Ramsey, looked fine in his greens sparkly jacket to start with, which was soon discarded. Bassist Nadeem Khan, sported a bowling shirt in support of a team called the Nads, and unsurprisingly with the salutation ‘Go-Nads’ underneath.  This about summed the band up, slightly off the wall, but talented musicians as well

Any band who open with a song called ‘Ha Ha’ have got to grab your attention, as has ‘Don’t Trick That Dog’.  Oh how about a familiar title ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’ then? 

Does the T-Ric Final act on downstairs, the Ricardos.  This trio is one of those bands that don’t play too many club gigs, which is a  shame as the masses miss out on some quality material.  With Tony Hillebrandt suffering a six hour grind of a drive, most of that spent within four miles of the camp, among late goers to the beach, just drawing breath and getting on stage behind the drums, the trio set about a peach of a set.

Lead guitarist Dave Madgwick, and bassist Benny make up the group, that turned out a kicking show, with the familiar El Toro 45 tune, ‘Sweet Swingin’ Daisy’ opening up.  So much to enjoy here, ‘Timebomb’, ‘Suzie Q’, ‘The Rockin’ Gypsy’ ‘Sevngali’ all hit the spot, in a set that befitted closing out a terrific three afternoons of the finest music in the downstairs room.

Get Tin.  Last night upstairs, and the event is slipping away from us.  So let’s get into the final few acts an have a ball.  Let’s face it, you can’t go very wrong with a band like the Tinstars from the Netherlands, featuring Ruby Pearl.  Rick De Bruijn, takes most of the vocals, and the bands influences, the likes of Charlie Feathers and Joe Clay, are easily recognisable.

The first band on stage for the last night’s entertainment, can be a poisoned chalice, but these guys injected some energy into a solid show.  ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’, ‘We Wanna Boogie’ and ‘This is the Night’  were among the opening beauties, before Ruby Pearl made her entrance, duetting with Rick on ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘Blue Blue Day’.  Good stuff.

The Country side.  Charlie Thompson, so often a bit part player at these events, was deservedly on the main stage next, performing a country based set of ditties, duetting on one with wife Raina.  It was as set of songs with a more rambling lilt, incorporating Harmonica Sam’s band for a truly authentic sound.  I loved the version of Jim Reeves’ ‘According to my Heart, for example

‘Pick Me Up On Your Way’, ‘I’m Tired’, ‘So Long I’m Gone’ and ‘I’ve Changed My Mind’ were a delight to hear from an artist that always delivers.

Buddies do Buddy.  Last year it was Eddie Cochran, a few years ago, Carl Perkins, Elvis and Janis Martin.  Yep, it’s the tribute show, this year, to Buddy Holly.  A stellar line up of who’s who at the Rave, putting on a show, narrated by MC Del.

Charting the early years of Buddy and Bob, Glenn Doran and Dan Morley, weighing in with four great tracks, ‘Gotta Get You Near Me Blues’  ‘Memories’, ‘You and I Are Through’ and the ace ‘Down the Line’.  Darrel Higham replaced them on stage with ‘Holly Hop’, standing out alongside ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’.

The pencil slim figure of Marcel Riesco was on next, with his versions of ‘Ting a Ling’, ‘I’m Gonna Set My Foot Right Down’ and Changing All Those Changes’, giving way to John Lewis and ‘Midnight Shift’ and ‘Rock Around With Ollie Vee’, incorporating Scottish sax master, Kenny Tomlinson.

The highlight for many though, was the awesome combination of Tomlinson’s sax, Ashley Kingman on guitar, and Big Sandy, performing and outstanding version of ‘True  Love Ways’.

Then the whole cast, were back on stage giving it ‘Maybe Baby’ and ‘Rave On’.  Another triumphant tribute show at the Rave.

The Last Hurrah.  Final act of Rave 21, the joint winners of the Battle of the Bands from last year, the Runawayz.  In those twelve months, the three lads, Joe Newbon, Sam French and Curt Jones, have honed their considerable talent, and matured as performers and musicians.  Their show was ballsy, loud and proud and featured some cracking sounds.

Whether it was ‘Sure Like The Look in Your Eyes’, a first class take on Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’, club favourite bopper ‘Senior Class’, ‘I Want You To Know’ or Rebound, the lads had the audience bouncing along with every beat.  Brilliant end to the live acts.

So down came the curtain on another Rockabilly Rave.  The temperature was hot, the acts even hotter.  I know I’ll be accused of bias as usual, but this is the weekender that all others of that ilk aspire to be.  The sound was on point, the musicians accomplished, the material carefully chosen.  The atmosphere was friendly and enthused, one  of the best we’ve been to.  Make sure you’re part of it next year

© Andrew Smith, June Smith, The Bettajive Review June 2017