8th HIGH ROCKABILLY FESTIVAL IN CALAFELL
When our plane landed to the Barcelona Airport on the sunny Wednesday morning, the hottest party on earth The 8th High Rockabilly was about to begin. After driving circa 60 km on a local bus to south-west from Barcelona, we arrived to Calafell, a beautiful little coach town in Mediterranean Sea. We searched Hotel Ramblas Miramar and checked in. Then we wandered around the town just to get to know it and bought some refreshments from a local shop. After that, we had made the needed preparations and our gang was more than ready to party.
The pre-party was held on the Wednesday night in the street Calle Monturiol, which was closed from a traffic. The stage was built to the beach side end of the street and there were two bars to fulfil peopleís need of alcohol. When we came to Calle Monturiol, the street and the balconies were crowded with rockiní crazy hepcats and wild kittens all over the Europe and I saw few people even further. Everybody were eagerly waiting for the party to begin.
The festival began at 21.30 when D.J. Blip Blop from Germany put his first records to the record player. We met other Finnish rockers in the street and had a good time with them. We enjoyed the music and watched when the most enthusiastic people in the audience danced in the street. The first band of the festival the Two Timiní Four from the USA (former Two Timiní Three) entered stage and started their gig. The band had found a drummer earlier this year, changed their name, and modernized their sound from original rockabilly to harder American rockabilly. All members of the band were young, but very talented musicians and they played mainly their own material, but I have to say I didnít like their sound very much. It was too modern for my taste, but the majority of the crowd liked the band. The best moments of their show were when they asked Sean Mencher to come to the stage to play and to sing few songs with the band. Later in their show Big Sandy joined them and sang a rockí ní roll song in Spanish. That was really something else. Big Sandy sure knows how to sing.
After them D.J. Satoshi entertained the audience. It was a good moment to get something to drink because the temperature, as well as the atmosphere, was really hot though it was night. When we all had drinks in our hand, it was time for the second band of the night Fancy Dan & The Highshouters come to stage. This five piece combo including bass playing doll hails from Sweden and they played wild and blasting late 50ís style Rockí ní Roll. The singer song one song through a megaphone. That amused me very much. The audience liked a lot what they heard. Then it was time for me to go to bed and get a good sleep, but D.J. Eddie f and D.J. Silvia, both from Germany played music for those who stayed awake until the next morning.
On Thursday afternoon, we headed to Paseo Maritimo in Calafell Beach to the Beach Party. There was a big tent with dance floor, where people danced, when D.J. Dr. Pepper Hot from Switzerland was playing his records, and of course there was a bar too. The sand beach was nice and very clean and the sea water warm, so many people sunbathed and swam as well as listened to the music. The tent was fully crowed when Golden Hill Ramblers from the USA started their gig. This trio without drums played western swing with great style. The audience listened to the band very intensively. I personally enjoyed the band and especially TK Smithís guitar playing. It was just fantastic. The Smithís Ranch Boys singer Johnny Macree visited on stage and he sang one song too. After their show, very contented audience shouted the band back to play encore. I reckon they were one of the best bands in the festival. D.J. Dr. Hot Pepper continued to entertain the audience after them.
On the Thursday evening, we gathered to our friendsí hotel room to have a pre-party of our own. After few drinks and a lot of chatting it was time to go and have some fun. We walked to Paseo De La Union, where the evening party was held in a huge tent with dance floor and bar. When we got our festival passes and walked in to the tent D.J. Rudy from Belgium was already playing his records.
As we all know a married man canít escape his terrible destiny, so I had to go to the vintage clothing stalls with my wife for shopping. Luckily, we were the first customers so there was lot to buy and so we spent our money to clothes. After that, we went to listen to Rockiní Bonnie & The Hot Gut. This astonishing and very talented dark haired young beauty hails from Italy and she and the band played covers of 50ís female rockabilly artists. She really got the looks and very beautiful voice and I liked her magnificent performance very much.
When Rockiní Bonnie & The Hot Gut shots ended their encore it was time for D.J. Blip Blop to do his second appearance in the festival. The next band was on stage was Dave Stuckey & The Rhythm Gang from the USA. They played western swing rather well, but somehow it didnít impress me though TK Smithís guitar playing was brilliant again.
I had never seen a burlesque show before, so I didnít exactly know what to expect for Miss Cardinal Cyn. Something erotic and sexy I hoped. However, for some unknown reason she didnít show up. What a disappointment. Fortunately my wife promised a wild burlesque performance to me later that night. Instead of seeing the show, I listened when D.J. Silvia was spinning her records.
Next on stage was a fifties legend Dale Hawkins backed up by Home Rockiní Band. He was in a much better shape now than last year when he was in Finland. Dave was lively and energetic and sang his old hits including Susie Q and Little Big. The band consisted of three local musicians and they did fine job too. I liked Dale a lot. He was just fantastic. For me Dale will always be the worldís first punk rocker.
After Daleís magnificent show it was D.J. Steveís Stack of Waxís turn to spin some records. I went out with my wife to watch and admire old 50ís cars and hot rods, which were parked outside the tent. There were about dozen cars to watch.
Little later, I heard familiar sounds of The Sure Shots. The band comes from UK and plays original Rockabilly. We hurried back in to the tent to listen their show. As always, they played both covers and their own original songs in their set. I liked their show though Iíve seen them play wilder in Finland. Because there was three more days of to go it was time to go to sleep, so we didnít stay to listen when D.J. Eddie played records and the party went on until next morning.
On the Friday afternoon, we headed to the beach party again. D.J. Chino Crazy Legs from Barcelona was playing records when we arrived. Slim Sandy from Canada was dayís first entertainer. He played and sang hillbilly boogie and country rhythm and blues with guitar and harmonica. This time The House Rockiní Band backed up Slim Sandy. He and the band were good, but after a good sleep, I was in a mood for fast rockabilly. However, everybody else seemed to like the show. D.J. Chino Crazy Legs continued after them.
After our own pre-party in our friendsí hotel room on the Friday evening, we all walked again to the evening party. We were little late so we missed D.J. Blip Blob. Flat Git It Gang was about to begin their gig when we came in to the tent. The band hails from Sweden and they played authentic 50ís hillbilly-country. Iíve never liked to pure country very much, but I had to admit the Swedes played rather well, so I listened to their whole show
D.J. Jerry Chatabox decided it was time for ladies to stroll. My wife hurried to the dance floor among about 50 other beauties. What a sight. It was a real joy and pleasure to watch so many dazzling strolling beauties. It was fascinating to realise that it didnít matter where they came from everybody looked so cool and knew the moves.
Then Big Sandy & Fly-Rite Trio from the USA came to stage and they didnít fail me. I had been waited this moment for over six months. This was the reason why I had spent all of my savings and had come to this festival in a first place. Next 45 minutes I was in paradise and I really felt to being alive. Big Sandy sang and the band played a real rockabilly hit parade of their own original songs. Their sound was very similar to on their records. I wasnít the only one who liked them. The audience was wild and noisy.
Next I saw the first burlesque show in my life. Miss Bon Bon Vivant appeared on stage and did her performance. The male crowd went just crazy. Looking at their reactions, I wondered if I wasnít the only married man in the audience. D.J. Jerry Chatabox continued spinning his records after the burlesque show.
Johnny Carlevale & His Band of All-Stars from USA was next on stage. They played rhythm and blues. I thought their music was only average so we left outside to spend some time with our friends.
Fridayís last band was the 49 Special. This honky tonk band hails from Portugal and they played mostly self-penned material. Their played very well, but their music was little too peaceful and quiet for the last band of the night, because we wanted to party. We left to our hotel, when the band stopped playing and D.J. Collins Kids started to spin records. The party continued and many people stayed until next morning.
D.J. Lucky Shooter from Germany started Saturdayís Beach Party. This time we were outside the tent sunbathing on the beach and swimming in the sea. We heard when Festivalís only surf band the Thunderchiefs came to stage. The band hails from USA and they played mainly their own material. This seemed to please the audience. Later I heard I missed Miss Cardinal Cyn shaking her hips. She came on stage to inspire the band and the audience as well . D.J. Lucky Shooter continued spinning his records after the band.
We all gathered again in our friendsí hotel room to have our traditional pre-party in the evening. After chatting and few compulsory drinks we all headed to the evening party. When we arrived to the tent D.J. Satoshi was in action. Then Jack Face & The Volcanoes came to stage. This drummer-less French trio came from Toulouse and they played traditional rockabilly, hillybilly and country blues. I liked their sound. It was pretty authentic and primitive. They played their own originals song and covers. Then D.J. Jerry Chatabox made his third appearance in the festival. And a huge bunch of ladies went to stroll again. Oh boy, what a sight.
Saturday evenings second and TK Smithís fourth band on stage was Smithís Ranch Boys. They reunited to make a special appearance in the festival. I have to say I was a bit bored to listen TK Smithís guitar playing. They played western swing and hillbilly, but his all of his bands were too much alike to my taste. Anyway, most of the time during their show I argued with one of my friend which one is better guitar player TK Smith or Sean Mencher, so I didnít listen to their music very much.
But next entertainer was much more interesting. Miss Cardinal Cyn came to stage and did her sensual and provocative performance and the male audience definitely lost their minds. It was kind of funny to notice that many girls like her show too. After her show I had to go outside to cool down a little bit. D.J. Jerry Chatabox continued with his records.
We came back when The Hollywood Combo was about to begin their show. This band hails from Los Angeles, California and they played 50ís style jump, early rock ín roll and rhythm Ďn blues. I had listened their music before, so I had very high hopes about their show, but they sounded like a bunch of middle aged white men trying to play black music. Their show was only average. Fortunately D.J. Cosmic Keith did his best to cheer me up.
Saturday nightís last band was Rockiní 8-Balls from Finland. I had seen their last gig in Ruuhijšrvi, Finland about two months earlier, so I knew what was coming next. The band had changed their sounds from original rockabilly to little harder late fifties rock Ďn roll. To me, their rockabilly music had been only average, but their new sound was excellent. We Finnish made an invasion to the front of stage and we were ready to rock. Kekka and the band came like a storm and they really rocked the house. Their show was the wildest and the most energetic in High Rockabilly so far. And the enthusiastic noisy Finns as well as others were in pure ecstasies. I personally was in rockabilly paradise. After their show D.J. Steveís Stack of Wax entertained those who still had some energy left to party. We left the party and walked to our hotel.
On Sunday afternoon we reached to the beach party just in time. The Domestic Bumblebees climbed to stage and started their show. They hail from Sweden and their style was bluesy 50ís rock Ďn roll. We went to beach with other Finns and sunbathed. I just rested and enjoyed the music until D.J. Francho stopped to play records.
And again we went to our friendís hotel room to pre-party. We had so good time we almost missed Annita & The Starbombers. They hail from Holland. And for me that is a sign of high quality music. I donít know why there are so many talented and beautiful female rockabilly artists just in Holland compared to the other European countries. Perhaps their parents have put something strange to their breakfast cereals. Anyway, Annita and the band played 50ís female rockabilly music superbly. Shortly speaking Annita was just perfect. She had to encore twice because the wild audience didnít want her to stop singing. When Annita finally leaved the stage it was D.J. The Collins Kidsí turn to play some wax.
Sunday eveningís second band was High Noon. This drumless trio comes from USA. This legendary band played their own songs in style. I liked them a lot despite the fact the Jimmy Sutton has replaced Kevin Smith. I admit he is excellent and talented musician, but I still missed Kevin Smithís upright bass playing. I donít know why.
After their magnificent show it was time for burlesque. Miss Bon Bon Vivant came to stage and her high-class performance raised the pulses of the male audience. When she left and D.J. Rudy started, I had to go outside to cool down a little again.
We hurried back in when I heard somebody playing very familiar guitar licks. Billy Lee Riley was on stage with the House Rockiní Band. Billy was at good shape and he started his show with his big rockabilly hits. But later he sang 50ís standards and then I was pissed off. Why every original 50ís rockabilly artist must say that by the way I knew Elvis and then I am going to sing couple of his songs. I would like to hear their own music in their show.
Even D.J. Satoshi couldnít cheer me up.
Festivals last band on stage was Johnny Bach & The Moonshine Boozers from UK.
When there are guys like Darrel Higham and John Lewis on stage, I would have expected something special. But no, Johnny Bach was the biggest disappointment in the festival. They were horrible cover-automate. I listened two songs and after that I had enough and we walked to the hotel.
Generally speaking I can warmly recommend High Rockabilly festival to you all. It is worth visiting for sure. Calafell is a nice place, the beach is very clean and sea water is pure. The festival is perfectly organised and everything went well and smoothly. There is over twenty bands. Rockiní people were very friendly. What more I could say. Come to the festival yourself and enjoy good music and hot summer.
Hope to see you all there next September.