Two Little Ducks - Review Rockabilly Rave #22 - 2018

by Andrew Smith

It’s the middle of summer you know, time to get your shorts and Cabana sets out and bask in the glorious sunshine on the South Coast of England in pristine accommodation with the finest gourmet food. The gentle breeze offers some cooling relief as musical strains waft through the air, and……..’OI, Wake up! It’s time for the Rockabilly Rave at Camber Sands Pontins site.  It’s windy, it’s cold, and it’s p*ss*ng down, hooray!

Once again, we are here to give you the fullest review, words and pictures, going where others fear to tread.Sure there are a few bands that we missed, logistically it wasn’t possible to get round everywhere, and I’m sure there will be those who’d say we’d missed ‘the best band of the weekend’, but hey, we do eat :D

This is the biggest review we’ve ever written about any weekender, so grab a bevvy and a packet of Hob Nobs (other Nobs are available), and relive four days at Rockabillyland

Raving dot….dot.  Best tracks at the Rave ever ever to bucket your chucket for this year are  Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘As Long As I Live’, Gene Vincent’s ‘A Love ‘em and Leave ‘em Kinda Guy’ and George Jones ‘Revenoor Man’  ………New style wrist bands.  Not something you might expect to get excited about, but a less irritating cloth style, half the size, and no sharp edges to slice through your sheets, partner, hair or body parts while you’re asleep…..OK, I’ll aim this at our fellow countryfolk.  How many (other than me and Miss Aloha) see the name Ray Allen and automatically think ‘Damn silly arse’?.........How to locate your chalet when you arrive and are given your number.  Walk to the middle of one of the chalet blocks. Stop.  Look left and right.  Stop.  Walk three paces forward.  Stop.  Look left and right and up onto the first floor. Go to a different block and repeat.  Return to first block and enter chalet you’ve been ten yards away from in the first place….As youngsters, we could get four of us in my escort with luggage.  Now with everything, I can just about get June in and we need a wheelbarrow to transport everything from the car across to the chalet…….We’ve had an ongoing dislike of the gulls at Camber, but this year they surpassed themselves with the amount of guano they produced.  I don’t think a single car escaped at least one seven inch diameter splat of gull crap this time.  A couple of years ago, a Harris Hawk patrolled around the camp scaring them away.  Now the gulls swoop around the Harris Hawk.  Ruddy hooligans…..

Silva service. Thursday night, it’s just the main ballroom for the live acts, and it was the French four-piece Barny and the Rhythm Allstars that took the stage first.  Stood with their back to the audience to start with, Claude Placet’s lead guitar riff sounded familiar, and built in speed and volume.  Yes it was Charlie Feathers’ ‘Stutterin’ Cindy’.  Easy does it to start with before they all turned around and launched into the song.  Really cool version of this rocker to start the Rave.

Barny Da Silva is your quintessential young rockin’ frontman, sharply attired, and strumming the bejesus out of his rhythm guitar.  The set rocked from start to finish, much of it centred around the 2017 Wild Records CD ‘Young ‘n’ Wild’, which is by no means a bad thing!  ‘Mary Sue’ rocks, as does ‘Janet’, ‘Oh Mama’, and ‘I Don’t Want to Be Like You’, plus the cover of Johnny Horton’s ‘Got The Bull By The Horns’.

Drenched in water, the jacket gone and hair all over the show, this is a lad that has rockabilly at his core, and with the All Stars, a band that is the perfect combo for his style.  A breathless start to the weekend.

Mmm Mellow Last year Colton Turner was an act that not many had heard before.  Such was the impact he made, he was back for this year, with the Mellows.  Looking dapper in his black silky western shirt, he presented a set that was in contrast to the previous one.  Measured rhythms and smooth vocals, that are really effective.  Much of the set was original material, and some of it not even recorded yet, a real hoot for this reviewer(!).  ‘One Thousand Kisses’ or the song that had that lyric in it so often, if it’s not called that, it should be, was sublime.  That’s going to be a hit once it’s been waxed.  Similarly, listen out for ‘In Los Angeles’ too when that comes out.

There were a couple of covers as well, that need flagging up.  Chuck Berry’s rarely heard bluesy number ‘Do You love Me’ with loads of whammy guitar from Colton’s brother, Zane.  A really cool version of Hank Williams’ ‘There’ll Be No Teardrops Tonight also featured, and sounded ace slotted in among the originals.

He’s Bach Johnny Bach and the Moonshine Boozers, fronted by the venerable John Lewis, reformed again for the Rockabilly Rave, were up next.  A typically frantic, wide eyed performance from John, mixing up reworkings of classic tunes set to different beats.  Taking Gene’s ‘Be Bop a Lula’ as an example, which was given the Charlie Feathers beat and changed to ‘Lula Bop Be’. 

Cliff Richard’s ‘Travelling Light’ has never sounded quite like this version, sand ‘Sugar Sugar’ has the ‘Mystery Train’ feel about it.  Loved the embittered rendition of ‘Sam Hall’ (damn your eyes), and yet another, almost unhinged version of a classic, this time ‘Boppin’ The Blues’.  The set was crowned with ‘The Mill’ before the raucous noise from the crowd brought him back on again for ‘Walking After Midnight’, to end a memorable set.

A Wild Treat. Finally, for Thursday, a real blue chip act, from Nashville, making their debut in the UK, The Hi Jivers.  This four-piece, are Wild Records recording artists, and our appetites had been whetted by several YouTube and Bopflix videos, leading up to the show.  Their vocalist is Dwana Zahn, looking fine in her black dress, with her fiancé, and phenomenal guitarist Austin John Doody on lead.  In the rhythm section are regular bassist Hank Miles with Ricky McCann in on drums for the show.

The set was top drawer right from the start, with the cracking track ‘Hotwired Woman’, with Dawna’s voice sounding brilliant in a style akin to the most prominent female rhythm and blues ladies of the past.  You want an idea?  Well think Etta James, with maybe the powerhouse styles of Tiny Topsy and Big Maybelle, Willie Mae Thornton, and dare I suggest a little Janis Joplin?*.  Something like that.  Whatever, it’s commanding and accomplished, whether vocalising their own material or covers.  Indeed, one of their single releases, features a simply sublime version of Billy Gayles ‘Just One More Time’, which was one of the many highlights of the performance.

As well as visually impressive, the musicianship is spot on, and we suggest you check out recordings like ‘Ol’ Feeling’, and ‘Bulletproof’ for confirmation.  ‘Ol’ Feeling’ for example has a catchy riff throughout, and Austin’s guitar solo in this is effortlessly spectacular.  In between, Dawna engaged with the audience with a y’all Nashville lilt, before launching into yet more quality sounds.  ‘Get Me Wrong’, ‘Any Woman You Please’, ‘Always Talkin Down’ and the true foot stomper, ‘Sweet Talkin’ and Lyin’ and to end the show, Something’s Gotta Give’. 

There was an expectation surrounding this show and boy did the Hi Jivers deliver.  They’re back for the Rhythm Riot in November 2019.  Don’t miss out

Here we are for the Friday Fry Up.  This is the first full day proper, when the afternoon sessions start in the downstairs hall.  This has undergone a revamp, with the carpet surrounding the dancefloor gone, the make shift chipboard extension to the dancefloor also in the bin.  Now the whole floor is a uniform wooden affair and the stage appears wider and more conducive to the visually enthusiastic performers.

Release the Hounds First cab off the rank were Lobo Jones and the Rhythm Hounds, and English band we’d not seen before.A four piece with a young front man and some consummate musicians around him, perfect as the opening band.  Their set consisted of some corking Rockabilly tracks, aided and abetted by the distinguished fretwork of Morgan Willis on lead guitar.  Giving it some of the proverbial welly right from the get-go, we had a version of Derry Weaver’s ‘Itty Bitty Betty’, which gave an indication of the band’s style.

The Rockabilly version of ‘Worried ‘bout You Baby’ as in Maylon Humphries (other than the Crudup/Gains blues versions perhaps) impressed greatly as did both sides of the Sleazy Records 45rpm, ‘Haunt My Heart’ and Gene Summers’ ‘Baby Please Tell Me Why’ the first a slightly slower, and indeed evocative sound, the flip being a bass thump-ticking rocker.  Rocking standard ‘Pretty Bad Blues’ got the Rhythm Hound treatment, as did ‘Mean Ol’ Frisco, which I think predated the whole show, coming from 1942.

With the crowd so into them, it was clear that Troy Shelton’s ‘Goodbye Little Darlin Goodbye’ (originally by Gene Autry in 1946), wasn’t going to be the end, and unsurprisingly the encore was the fitting Jackie Getroe’s ’58 Vortex cut, ‘Lobo Jones’.  Top drawer stuff!

Driftin’ Sweden’s the Tennessee Drifters were up next, hang on a minute, under that hat is Jack Baymoore isn’t it?  This trio has no drums, relying on the bass rhythm set by Michael Lith, with Big Andy on lead guitar.  They play a mix of Cash and Hank stuff, plus some other bits and bats, in a really authentic style.

Here’s a quick song check to give you the gist of the set.  Johnny Cash’s ‘So Doggone Lonesome’ opened the set, and was complemented by the likes of ‘Hey Porter’, ‘Luther Played the Boogie’, ‘Get Rhythm’ and ‘All Over Again’ to name a few.  Hank’s ‘Setting the Woods on Fire’ hit the spot along with ‘Jambalaya’ and the Soggy Bottom Boys styled ‘In The Jailhouse Now’.  Did you see them?  Praise the Lord ‘I Saw The Light’ and did!

Howlin’ for ya. The Howlin’ Jaws from France, were a complete contrast.  The three Parisians, are a powerhouse electric trio, incorporating thunderous drum and bass beats with searing guitar accompaniment.  The style is a melting pot of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Garage with a bit of Beat and some Rockabilly.  You get it?

A lot of the set was original material, ‘Cuttin’ Out’ for instance, was on a 45rpm, that has sold out.  A no nonsense tune, loud and proud, and really set the stall out.  ‘3 Days’ has an almost Indie sound, while ‘Comin’ Home’ takes no prisoners with it’s huge sound.  ‘Sixteen Chicks’ did make and appearance for a bit of familiarity, before a medley finished off the set.  Three completely different shows downstairs on the Friday afternoon.

Más vale tarde que nuncaUpstairs again starting with the Ragtones from Spain, another band we haven’t seen before, and we wondered if we’d get to see them at all, as their stage time came and went.  Sure enough though, they came on just like the water supply(!).  And boy were they worth waiting for as they set about presenting some grade A Rockabilly. 

Hector Quientero is a charismatic front man, who writes a pretty good song as well, if you take ‘Run Around’ as an example in the set.  Drummer Jesus Lopez also composes a fine Rockabilly song, taking ‘Just Need Avoid The Crowd’ as his input.  The remaining personnel are, Jarke Jose Miguel on upright bass and Francis Beard on lead guitar.

There were a few covers, early on in the set ‘Mama’s Little Baby’ as in Junior Thompson’s Meteor Records tune from ’56, the popular instro ‘Cottin Pickin’ and Ben Hewitt’s Mercury beauty, ‘My Search’.  Excellent stuff including a butt kicking encore of ‘Rockabilly Man’

Going Dutch. If ever there’s a more dependable band to delight a crowd than Dutch foursome, the Barnstompers, I haven’t seen them yet.  Now with a new rhythm guitarist, lead singer K C’s son, to add to Larry, KC and Mannes. Their brand of Rockabilly meets Western Swing is just sublime, well they’ve been going for a while, haven’t they?

This set was superb, a veritable treasure chest of everything that is perfect about this genre of music.  They opened with Jimmy C Newman’s ‘Alligator Man’, pitched slightly lower than the original, vocally, to great effect.  Incorporating Larry as the answer voice on Lee Emerson and Marty Robbin’s ‘I’ll Know You’re Gone’, K.C. nailed the vocals. 

There are tunes the Barnstompers perform regularly, and it’s this author’s expectation that they appeared in this set.  Listening to Wiley Barkdull’s ‘Too Many’ is inspiring, while Redd Stewart’s ‘Yes I’ve Come Back To You’ was exquisite, as was Ferlin Huskey’s ‘I Will’.  Another Marty Robbins track appeared, the ballad ‘Mister Teardrop’ from 1956.  A lot of bands avoid ballads, however one performed such as this was, is a treat.

Speaking of treats, what about Larry doing ‘Careful Baby’?  Or the super smooth ‘Whirlpool’(Billy Walker) to which the audience were invited to assist with the vocal, thankfully most declined.  Top that lot off with ‘If I Ever Find My Dreamgirl’ Doug Bragg’s obscurity from ’58, and you probably have a grasp of how this band sounded.   Their CD ‘Showcase’ sold loads, check out our review of same from last year, over in the CD reviews section of our website
Marc time.  From California, it’s regular Rave-ee, Marcel Riesco, this time incorporating the skills of the Ray Allen band as backing.  Brimming with confidence, and brandishing his trademark Silvertone guitar, it was like he was singing for all his friends.  A genial fellow with a wink, a ‘My Boy My Boy’, a ‘Mercy’ and a grin for many in the audience his set was a delight from start to finish.

‘Let’s Get Goin’ was spot on, and mid-set he brought out Colton Turner for a duet.  Unsurprisingly, it was a Roy Orbison track, ‘Claudette’, but with two voices harmonising, this rendition had the feel of the Everly Brothers.  Massive reaction to that track I can tell you readers. Similarly ‘Long Time, No Love’ rocked along with the Ray Allen Band right there.  The inclusion of a piano has added another dimension to Marcel’s music, and it’s really effective, especially on ‘Because He Broke Your Heart’, and ‘So Lonely Without You’.

The Roy Orbison material was limited I think probably due to the show upcoming the following evening, however ‘Move On Down The Line’ and ‘Blue Bayou’ made welcome appearances.‘Paper Heart’ is smoothness personified,

A hugely popular show with the crowd who naturally wanted more, now what would it be, ‘Cast Iron Arm?’ no not this time, ‘Cat Called Domino’ rattled the rafters to end a memorable Rave set.

Late night Enforcement Heading for the witching hour with Darrel Higham and the Enforcers who we seem to see at every weekender we go to at the moment.  He’s one of the few people to take on Herbie Smith’s ‘Baby Moon’, which seems to be the go to opening track in 2019, as it was here.  Similarly, one of June’s favourite jive tunes Johnny and Jonie’s ‘Kee Ro Ryin’ gets the requisite Enforcer-ment, as did Eddie Daniels’ ‘I Wanna Know (Why You love Me So).

There’s a new CD out as well, on Foot Tapping Records, that I think premiered at this Rave, called ‘Bop Machine’, the title track of which got an outing.  It has a ‘Sweet Love on my Mind’ Johnny Burnette vibe to it, which was a crowd pleaser.  The CD also has a pretty good version of ‘Rockin Thru’the Rye too.  Apparently‘Brain Freeze’ is his daughters favourite track on the new release (or did he say the only one she likes?), and I can see this being a dancefloor stroll sensation.

Add in anauthoritative take of Glen Glenn’s ‘Blue Jeans and a Boy’s Shirt’ and you have the essence of what the set was like.  Massively popular with the crowd

Nostalgic. Blimey, how long has it been since we last saw the Deltas?  Think the first time I saw them was a at Caister in nineteen hundred and frozen to death.  Here they were on the main stage at the Rave to close out the live acts for Friday.  I’ll be honest readers, I never really got into that Neo sound of the 80’s even being there at the time, however, take nothing away from the energy of the lads, nigh on four decades later, as they blasted out Gene Maltais’ ‘Ragin’ Sea’ to start with. 

‘Milk and Honey’ was slightly more restrained, before we were off again with the likes of ‘Boogie Disease’, a frantic version of Dr. Ross’ ’54 waxing on Sun.  ‘Spellbound’ made the show, which was the flip side to the 45rpm from ‘81 ‘Heart Attack’, which curiously didn’t show up.  ‘London Gals’ which closed the show, also brought on the nostalgia for the Nervous Records album from those years ago. 

The elephant in the room.  OK readers, you might have heard that the water supply went off at the Pontins site, on more than one occasion.  It gave people something else to talk about other than Beatle-gate last year, and being unable to flush the toilets, certainly put the ‘turd’ in Saturday.  Eau dear.  As a male, the world is my urinal, and I do get the predicament many were put in.  If you’d just got lathered up in the shower and the water went off, sure you’d be p’d off and with every justification, once you’d stopped blaming everyone else in the chalet

Some of the criticism of ‘the Rave’ though is rather unfair, you can be sure Jerry Chatabox didn’t take the Marie Antoinette stance and say ‘Let them drink Coke’ (other beverages are available).  True the site owners didn’t have an adequate back up plan, and that wasn’t their finest hour.  I wondered if Geldof was organising a song for us.

I heard one attendee saying that if they ‘don’t do something soon I’m going to totally lose my shit’.  Yeah, you might not want to do that, just yet methinks. Just log a complaint, actually most had complained and logged by the time the water was back on.  Good for the pelvic floor muscles though.

Are the Hillbillies, Hillbillies? Saturday began downstairs with another French band we’d not encountered before, the Hillbillies.  Now I wonder what you’d think they sound like?  Us too, but wrong, completely different to anything hillbilly. Hailing from Dijon and Bourgogne, you have Crazy Dim on vocals and guitar Maggio on drums and Alex Terror on double bass.  The set was a mix of classic and differing styles of rocking rhythms, and I have to flag up ‘Sober Man’s  Blues’ from the transparent wax single from last year, as one of the many highlights.

So they switched between the Jiants’ ‘Tornado’ and Johnny Powers’ ‘Long Blonde Hair’ to bluesy numbers such as ‘Wildcat Tamer’ and ‘Shake Your Hips’, and ending the show with ‘Caledonia’.  A varied and interesting blend I’m sure you will concur with readers.  I’d also suggest you take in ‘The Last Tear’ as well.  Tres bien.

We’ll take Jake. Jake La Botz from the USA was up next, singer, songwriter and actor (he played Reese, in Rambo for example) from Chicago.  This was more of a blues session, with a tinge of humour when playing ‘I Asked Her For Water, She Brought Me Gasoline’, a song that I think was a last minute choice and topical to boot.  A personal fave of mine was ‘Feel No Pain’, a somewhat slower tune, but delivered with measured emotion.

Wish I could recall the song about the comb later in the set, I really enjoyed it at the time.  Jake was backed by Smokestack Lightning for this outing, all accomplished musicians who put on a super cool show

Fitting tribute. Then followed the Keith Turner tribute.  One of the rockin’ scene’s masters and a real gent, as well as a damn fine performer, whether it was Hi Voltage, The Fret Tones or Southern Sound.  This featured a myriad of performers from Scotland and several other points on the globe, all introduced by Lynn, Keith’s wife.  Kenny Tomlinson bouncing around in the audience blowing up a sax storm with audience participation (physically and vocally) lit the blue touchpaper with ‘Tequila’.  Mary Ann opened the show on stage with the touching ‘Life Goes On’ written by Keith, and in tribute to one of his bands, Hi Voltage, the song of that name.

Now do I name and song check everyone?  Oh Ok then, Ian Morris (former Hi Voltage drummer) ‘Smoke That Cigarette’, Tennessee Hotshot Pat with ‘Mess of the Blues’, Emma Nelson ‘C’mon Pretty Baby’, Mons Wheeler ‘Down By The Bay’, John Miller ‘Ubangi Stomp’, Lew Lewis ‘Blue Days Black Nights’, Tracey (Rusty Riot) Dewar belting out ‘I Can’t Stop Loving’, Jack Baymoore ‘You’re Right I’m Left She’s Gone’, Wildfire Willie (and audience) ‘Loch Lommond’, Big Sandy with ‘Kaw Liga’ and to top it all off in the finest style, Tennessee Hotshot Sy, with the thumping ‘Shake Rag Boogie’.  Smashing stuff.

Oi DJ.  Cripes some DJs take some stick don’t they (rhetorical question).  I can see where people are coming from with sets, like one we heard, choc full of R&B.  Not one Rockabilly record.  Now we love R&B, and we love Rockabilly, and sure mix it up from time to time.  If you go to a curry night you don’t want to be served chicken and chips, even if you like chicken and chips.  However, I’ll flag up the DJs we saw/heard, who played some ace stuff.  Be Bop Kaz kept it real as did Blip Blop, Andreas Wanderer, Jimmy Guntrip, in the main ballroom, Double Trouble downstairs, Sharkey in the Vic, Little Carl and Rudy upstairs late night.

David Peters, we’d not encountered before, but he played a couple of cracking sets including the last one on Sunday in the ballroom.  Danny Brown upstairs, Danny from Spain in the downstairs and Tojo in both venues.  Think that’s who we saw.

Strings and Keys Upstairs on Saturday night, and a real classy line up with Rave flyer/poster boy Dylan Kirk and the Killers, a talented musician on piano and guitar, with a flat top like ‘do’ akin to what I had, when I could, if you get the drift.  So he started on the piano with such pumping rockers as ‘Ain’t Gonna Do It’ and ‘Indian Joe’, with the bass rattling ‘Got No Money’ and the explosive ‘Rollin’ Dynamite’ vying for attention.

Switching instruments, ‘Monkey Beat’ and ‘Down The Line’ were both well received as were ‘Wolfman’ and ‘John Henry’ back on the eighty eight keys.  A song that drew a massive cheer was the now anthemic bop tune, ‘Senior Class’ with the Phantom’s ‘Love Me’ rounding off an impressive Rave debut for this young fella.

Mustn’t miss Mary.  Another Rave regular making a welcome return to the main stage, was the Dutch combo,Miss Mary Ann and the Ragtime Wranglers. Joe Sixpack on lead guitar, Sietse Hesliger on drums and Huey Moor on bass, make up the band with Miss Mary Ann’s distinctive vocals out front.  This was a good ‘un folks, with ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’ opening up with ‘Blues Come Around’ hot on the heels. 

I’ve always enjoyed their versions of Rex Allen’s ‘Knock Knock Rattle’, Wayne Walker’s ‘Little Ole You’ and Rose Maddox’s ‘Hey Little Dreamboat’, and they featured in the set.  I think ‘The Beau From Tupelo’ and ‘Lover Please’ are on a single though I can’t be sure, someone yelled in my ear as the announcement was being made!  Whichever, those two tracks sandwiched ‘Blue Days Black Nights’.  ‘Mama’s Here’ is a real rocker that has been one of the band’s mainstays for some years, and ‘I Got Stung’ was a surprise.  A very versatile and varied set.

Big ticket event. Like some fine wines and spirits, Big Sandy and the Flyrite Boys, get better with age.  Here they were again gracing the Rave main stage, another act that seem like they’re playing at a party for all their friends that we are all cordially invited to.  Last time out, it was drummer Ricky McCann’s last gig with the band, but he was back in the hot seat for this gig.  Keeping rhythm also was the ever-smiling Kevin Stewart on upright bass, and ex-pat geezer Ashley Kingman on guitar (thankfully fit again and looking well).  Big Sandy on acoustic guitar, well turned out in his now trademark black suit, is one of the Rock n Roll scene’s true gentlemen.  If he’s not on stage he’s down the front cheering on other acts, and chillin’ with the rest of us.  Now he was taking care of business onstage.

Straight ahead into the set we all went with ‘Hey Lowdown’ which scarily was released nigh on twenty years ago, but not half as scary as knowing the next track, ‘Hold Me’ is over a quarter of a century old.  Both sound as fresh as if they come out last week.  It’s difficult, and not entirely necessary really, to pick a favourite Flyrite track, but if pushed it would be ‘Heaven is the Other Way’ or ‘Love That Man’, so this author was well pleased when both featured in the set.

There was a top drawer 45rpm released on Ruby Records a couple of years ago, with ‘Fine Fine Superfine’ on one side and ‘Everytime’ on the flip.  Both were showcased in this show, along with the slowy ‘Here Comes the Bride’ and the ever popular ‘Chalk It Up To The Blues’.

Now that’s what excellence sounds like!

Rock of the Bay.  So who could possibly follow on after that?  Well, Jack Baymoore and the Bandits brought their Swedish Rockabilly style back to the main stage.  A different style, a different vocal cadence, and top banana it was too, as the first bars of the Surf Riders’ ‘I’m Out’ had the crowd jumping.  ‘Drunk Tank Boogie’ maintained the pace with it’s call and answer backing.

Keeping the vibe going ‘Okie Lou’, ‘I’m Gone’ and ‘Joanne’.  Some covers that got the Bandit treatment to great effect were ‘All I Can Do is Cry’, ‘One Hand Loose’ ‘Tag Along and ‘Love Me All The Time’.  Officially, ‘Fireball Roberts’ was supposed to end the set, a real tear up of a tune, but the crowd were having none of it, as they were brought back for Pat Cupp’s ‘Do Me No Wrong’ and the latter day seminal classic ‘AV8 Boogie’.  Oh yeah folks, Utmärkt

Long time coming Rounding of Saturday night, The Paladins, for many the reason for booking and staying around to the small hours for. A trio originally formed in 1980, running until 2005, then reforming in 2014, they got a rowdy reception taking on Thomas Wayne’s ‘You’re The One That Done It’.  This sounded a more ‘low down’ version than the original, and it hit the spot with the crowd from the get go.

Then there was the dual voices of Thomas Yearsley and Dave Gonzalez in ‘Tore Up From The Floor Up’, a three minute rocker, rowdily cheered.  ‘Get On The Right Track Baby’ as in Joe Clay, also delighted the audience and definitely you need to check out ‘Hot Rod Rockin’, another duet in the set.  The Paladins know how to rock one in the morning

Mo Raving dot….dot Some more best tracks in the world ever ever to turn your taps on at the Rave are Vernon Derrick’s ‘Seven Come Eleven’, Heulyn Duvall’s ‘Teen Queen’ and Hal Harris’ ‘Jitterbop Baby’.  Yes I know I bang on about it every year, but this year we heard it all over the place YAY!  If anyone asks what Rockabilly is, that’s it!……..The Watergate affair, it’s a chill wind that blows no good, it’s given Jerry plenty of material for next year’s program.  One idea I’d thought of, but I’ll hold off on that one, as it will most like form most of the 2020 booklet…..Those on social media rattling on about the water, many of which weren’t actually there, pipe down (pun intended)……  Daftest comment ‘That’s why I don’t go anymore’  Counting the Riot as well as the Rave, June has been to 45 events  at the same site, and this was unprecedented, so it can’t be…….*At this point I’d like to welcome everyone back who has been emailing the Rave office in disgust that I mentioned a female artists from the 60’s……At this point I’d like to welcome everyone back who has been rereading the article to find the female from the 60’s I mentioned…..As usual the stage ran like clockwork, the sound guys know their stuff, DJ Del Villareal, articulate on the microphone (get him a portable one like Russ Sear downstairs, poor guy will hurt his back bending over to stage mics) and new stage manager Ruby Ann, who must have a job akin to herding kittens back there……I know I know, enough poo and water jokes already!......We rarely go into the Vic for bands, we are too short to see what’s going on……It’s ironic that other wildlife in the chalets took second place to the water shortage, fungi, slugs, gulls, badgers even ants, so make the Harris Hawk and the Aardvark redundant……Have to flag up the versatility of sax man Kenny Tomlinson, who effortlessly switches between styles and fits well into just about any band combination…….

Ray of sunshine Sunday already, and the last of the downstairs sessions with the Ray Allen Band from Germany playing in their own right.  Every now and then readers, there’s a band that stands out even among the brilliance you get at the Rave.  This year, for me it was these guys, and it’s only the second time we have seen them live (previously at Atomic).  So with the bleary eyed Sunday post boot-salers in the house, they launched into ‘At the TV Hop’, and then their own inventively titled ‘Belly Button Baby’, a cool piano driven jiver.

Suddenly the hall was almost full for a trio of covers, ‘Lover Boy’, ‘Blue Black Hair’ and ‘Hot Rod’.  Sharply dressed in white jackets and blue pegs, they not only looked the part, but played it too.  Milton Allen’s ‘Just Look Don’t Touch, She’s Mine’ is perfectly suited to the band, and perfectly delivered too.  And they even squeezed ‘Please Mama Please’ in there too.  It was party time in the room as everyone joined in with Sonny Burgess’ ‘Ain’t Got a Thing’, before a rattling rendition of Link’s ‘Run Chicken Run’.  They sold a barrowload of CDs and stuff at the end, quite right too.

Hot stuff.  Good to see the Tennessee Hotshots down from Scotland.  This trio have gone from strength to strength with their no-nonsense approach to Rockabilly.Marty, Paddy and Sy, from Glasgow, are a versatile band, as their set list attests.  They have a knack for covering songs with their own little twist to set them apart from a basic note for note copy.

Jerry Reed’s ‘When I Found You’, was a triumph, and ‘Wildcat Tamer’, ‘Mister Whizz’ and ‘Lovers Rock’ should give you an idea of how well they can mix up the timbres.  Good to hear the two sides of their Rampage Records 45, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Rampage’ and the flip ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’.  Then they tear it up with an authoritative take on The Sonics ‘Shot Down’ (shh it’s from the 60’s), or get the jiving going with ‘Seven Nights to Rock’ or slow it down with ‘Flat Tyre’  Sy’s vocals are great as is Marty’s guitar picking and Paddy in the engine room on drums.  Cool beans

Braking point. Last of the main ballroom starting with Ian Cal Ford and the Brakemen.  Ian making a ‘comeback’ after several years away, had Andy Sykes on bass and Chris Cummings on steel and lead guitar (depending on the song!).  The first few songs, were Johnny Cash covers, and jolly good ones they were too.  The sound was spot on, an authenticity that was awesome to hear.

As well as that, he engaged with the audience throughout and for many it was like he’d not been away as we took on Cash classics such as ‘Cry Cry Cry’, ‘So Doggone Lonesome’, ‘Mean Eyed Cat’, ‘When Luther Played the Boogie’ and a lesser heard/covered tracks ‘Blue Train’, ‘Sugartime’ and ‘Country Boy’.  Not sure if this was attribute show, there was some other stuff. What it was though was the bizzo!

Look out.  The Country Side of Harmonica Sam have had one of the dancefloor hits of the past couple of years with their reworking of Coy Johnson’s ‘Look Out Heart’.  Here they were making their return to the Rave, this time on the main stage and in slightly less heat than the last time they played downstairs.

Their unique crossover style, they can be seen at country as well as Rockabilly events, means that their honk Tonkin is massively popular.  And it’s so well performed by five musicians on top of their game.  Harmonica Sam himself, takes all the lead vocals, but incorporates band mates for harmonies, particularly Johan Bandling Melin, the lead guitarist, like on the Johnny and Jonie Mosby’s ‘I’ll leave The Front Door Open’ which fired the starting pistol.

Loving Ferlin Huskey’s ‘I Will’, and the gorgeous ramble of ‘We Have Strayed So Far Away’.  They’ve also taken on a Marcel Riesco composition ‘I’ve Been Draggin’ Since You’re Gone’, and it sounds spectacular. I’ve got to flag up Peter Anderson’s exquisite steel guitar work throughout, complemented by Ulrick Jansen and Patrik Malmros on bass and drums accordingly.  Of course just about everyone wanted to hear ‘Look Out Heart’ and that concluded the show to a massive cheer. They came back for ‘Patches on My Heart’ (Sonny Burns I think), and I think people would have been happy if they’d played another hour.

The O zone.  The Rave has a tradition of presenting the best tributes to some of Rockabilly music’s pioneers, and this year it was the Big ‘O’, Roy Orbison.  So who do you reckon fits that bill, hmmm, I wonder, Marcel Riesco perhaps?  Yep and also the exceptional vocal talents of Mons Wheeler.  Originally there were other guests down to perform, but that didn’t materialise.  So it was a fifty-fifty split between the two vocalists backed by Darrel Higham on lead guitar, Bob Cotton on bass and Paul Richardson on drums.

I think many’s introduction to Roy’s rockin side may well have been ‘Domino’, so it was good to hear that early doors, that and ‘Ooby Dooby’.  ‘Move On Down The Line’ truly rocked out.  The seldom heard (unless you go and see Marcel) is the 1961 cracker ‘Problem Child’, and that got an outing as well.  The addition of Dylan Kirk on piano gave ‘Mean Little Mama’ an added dimension, while ‘Sweet and Easy’ was sublime.

Next up, Mons Wheeler, with a super take on ‘I Was a Fool’, then bringing sax meister Kenny Tomlinson on for the cool ramble that was ‘Uptown’.  Then the stage emptied, save for Mons and his acoustic guitar.  What followed was the awesome ‘Crying’.  My goodness it must take some testicular fortitude to stand in front of a thousand or more Big O lovers and perform one of his most recognisable hits, solo.  On came the baking again for ‘Sweet Dream Baby’ and ‘Claudette’ which had everyone around me harmonising, with varying degrees of success.

There’s been some top drawer tributes at the Rave on Sunday nights, this was up there with the best.

Multi national Finally, a real melting pot with Jamesons Gentlemen featuring artists from (wait for it) Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy and Australia.  I’ll be honest folks, this had the feel of near the end of a jam session on an open mic night, with different vocalists taking on different songs and adlibbing the breaks.  Not that it didn’t impress those that had stuck around, with the likes of ‘Pucker Paint’ a rarely heard version of Tooter Boatman’s ‘Thunder and Lightning’ ‘Bop a Lena’, ‘Let’s get Wild’ (with the daftest lyrics ever ever in a Rockabilly song), ‘Justine’ and the inventively titled ‘Dog My Cat’.

So concluded the twenty third Rockabilly Rave, with a few of the bands already slate for No.24.  The usual bleary eyed Monday morning vehicle pack took place all over the camp, people waved to each other as they left, only to realise it was the first time they’d seen each other the whole weekend.  Well done to JCB and his staff for keeping the event on an even keel, while Watergate was raging on social media.

This time next year?  Be rude not to

© Andrew Smith, June Smith, The Bettajive Review, June 2019  Check out our online magazine, free to read monthly.