I returned to Texas when Houston started rockin' with the lead of Edgar Salazar, known also as Big E. Beside doing DJ gigs, he has arranged parties and weekenders like Rock Baby Rock It in Houston. They are held mainly at Continental Club. Yes, in Texas both Austin and Houston have Continental Club. Rock Baby Rock held in July. The latest line up was great: Ray Campi, Joe Clay, Pep Torres, Mack Stevens, The Modern Don Juans, The Bellfuries etc. Last year there was separate modern/psychobilly day and the other more traditional rockabilly day. One of the Wildest cats Omar Romero told that Big E is also guilty of arranging his first gig in USA. I wonder did anyone comment that night with the words:” Houston we have a problem!”
ARRIVAL AND SECURITY BEFORE PSYCHOBILLY
Cannot tell much about psychobilly set as I spend long time at the security check line at the airport. It was the normal set: photos, fingerprints and questioning: why did you come here, where are you going, where do you stay and when do you leave? The problem was that there was only 3 officers and about thousand people at the line. I highly recommend carrying a pen with you while traveling in USA for filling up all kind of forms. It seems to be very rare item to find and so far I haven’t figured how to fill a form without it. There was officer who was obviously bored with her life and claimed that there is no pen at all at the airport. As a person who never gives up, I did find it at the next counter, beside her. Either she did know what that thing is or has never used it before herself. So during my stand at the never ending line I missed following bands: The Ghost Storys, Phantom Rocker, Johnny Gun Hand, The Hangover Kings, The Octanes and Clouseaux.
But I was there to witness the last band of the evening that was local Los Skarnales. Hybrid orchestra has played since 1995. It is two-lingual and includes 6-8 musicians. There are: guitar, piano, drums, sax, trumpet, double bass and trombone. Their combination of furious ska-reggae and pachuco-boogie has also tones of latin soul, rockabilly, swing and zydeco, played with hint of punk attitude. Band themselves don't think they are latino-band at all: “ Why to classify music according to what language the songs are sang with?” I really liked their energetic show even when I am not big fan of ska or punk, but the band is nothing what I have heard before. You cannot explain it, you gotta experience it! Luckily Los Skarnales has got several recordings to experiment and their last one is “Pachuco Boogie Sound System”.
Next day I visited the hotel pool area and got free Margaritas. Later on returned back to venue. One of the most important things to carry in Texas during summer if you happen to be a female is a fan or several of them. In Houston during July, also the nights are hot. It is not like San Antonio where the Rio de Rosa flows. Thanks to AC It was way cooler indoors than outside. But because smoking was not allowed indoors at Continental The Hang Over Kings and Los Pistoleros De Tejas had plenty of audience outside too.
SEAN REEFER & RESIN VALLEY BOYS
The first band of the night was Sean Reefer’s Resin Valley Boys, who aimed to bring back the classical country and western sound to the world that has forgot how to dance two-step. I thought that everyone in Texas knows how to dance two-step! Maybe they teach it at elementary school? Band has been rewarded several times with “The Best C&W Act” –price and you can also listen songs about smoking marijuana, drinking whiskey and heart brakes from “Texas Hill Country” record.
After white weathered burlesque starlette an other diva entered on stage: Almon Loos the singing barber from Texas (even when he lives at Los Angeles and works at Sweeney Todd’s Barber shop). Omar Romero used to be hiw workmate, wonder did they ever sing together at work?
Almon sure does sing and talk a lot and there is plenty of zeal and energy at his shows. His style is traditional rockabilly and he has always had really great musicians backin-up him: Rip Carson, Danny El Gallo Angulo (Omar & Sting Poppers), Joe Perez (Big Sandy & The Fly-Rite Boys), Casey Gill (Lucky Tubb), Tjarco Jeen (Tin Stars, Ronnie Dawson), Matt Squiggle (JWW and the Prospectors), Rockin Lloyd Tripp, Tom Umberger (Racketeers), Casey Gill (Lucky Tubb, Moderen Day Troubadores)…This time he was backed up by Modern Don Juans.
In LA Almon has got his own band Hoop’n’Hollars, where plays: Jordi Hereu at double bass and he is originally from Spain (Rock'n'Dobladillo,New Oldies,Orchestra Jove Versatile, V-59), at drums there used to be Carlitos Reynoso (The Chumbuckets) but recently changed to Scotty Teece and Danny El Gallo Angulo at guitar.
ROCKIN LLOYD TRIPP
Not sure was it because of booze or great tunes but people sure started to dance around when Rockin’ Lloyd Tripp entered on stage. He is originally from UK, but moved to Austin after four records. He used to play at The Megatones with Boz Boorer and later garage/psychobilly at The Vibes. He has also been a basist at The Stingrays and Blubbery Hellbellies named by Irishman Shane MacGown from Pogues. This time at the lead guitar there was Bobby Trimble at drums (he sure does play long shifts), Maddie Rodriguez at lead guitar, Lloyd played the rhythm guitar and at the bass there was his wife Elizabeth Jones.
MODERN DON JUANS
Bobby also played at the next set that was performed by The Modern Don Juans. This Lone Star rockabilly, blues rock'n'roll star filled group includes also singer/guitarist Tony Estrada from Star Mountain Dreamers, Tjarko Jeen (whose last name has several different ways of writing and I still don't know what is the correct one!) and Todd Wulfmeyer (Marti Brom & her Jet Tone Boys). “I’m You Lover”, “Turned To Fool”, “One More Try” and “The Regret” was heard also this year at Viva Las Vegas and Rockabilly Rave.
There was lot of things going on also outside the stage: at the dance floor my friend had one drink too many and changed by mistake dance partner in the middle of Jive, luckily her dance partner was her brother so there was no drama caused, Almon got slapped by his ex-wife and one of the DJ’s passed out before his set, so the next least drunken DJ had to do triple shift and that happened to be the DJ Jive Bomber. Behind the bar there was pleasant looking lady with a T-shirt that was written Cougar. I sure do like Texas!
The sugar at the bottom was last year Chadd Thomas & the Crazy Kings, Chris Harrison at the guitar, Dylan Cavaliere at the bass and Mike Bahan at the drums. Suddenly dancefloor was filled with people who were singing their heart out along with the band. Old School rockabilly, with drop of honky tonk attitude. Chadd had a great voice and way of taking the audience.
Unfortunally my text seems to be turning to obituary to some of the great Texan musicians. You see Chadd Thomas was beaten to death and found at SoCo Avenue last Monday in Austin. That is all I know about that issue. Condolences to his family, friends and band members to whom he was very special and cannot be replaced. Several times I had the chance to meet him in person and hear him perform before this tragedy. Like so many others great musicians that have gone before us, their music lives on and at the same time they remind us to value the moments that are given with the people that do matter and are important to us.
I remember Chadd best from his three recordings: “Shake Alive”, “Hush Hush” ja “Adam and Evil”. After so many Margaritas, I am not sure how we got into the hotel, but when we left Houston it was a real storm on the way to San Antonio with thunder and lightning. Party was over.