High Rockabilly 2008.
Last summer I went for the third time to High Rockabilly in Calafell, Spain.
I liked the atmosphere of sun, beach and a lot of rockabilly music. The festival started on Wednesday 10th of September. Following review is my personal insight in how I experienced the festival. It doesnít say anything about people or musicians as persons.
The nice thing of High Rockabilly is that the organizer does everything to make you feel welcome, like everyday free party on the beach with good bands.
On the first day it started with a free party on the beach in the evening. It is also the day you are usually meeting a lot of friends from everywhere so I didnít pay much attention to the bands. I remember the Smalltown Casanovas, they were playing nice. The Reno Brothers were very good. Excellent musicians! They made a party on the stage and were showing a lot of their new stuff from their latest record. I believed they finished with Viva Las Vegas. Perhaps it is time to invite these guys to this festival in the States.
On Thursday I skipped the beach party and in the evening the festival in the big hall started. I liked the party a lot. All those people together, dressed up and eager to party all night long. The first band was right away one of my favorites of this festival. The Radio Ramblers played with heart and soul rockabilly without drums. Normally I donít like this kind of set up in a band. Only High Noon has the power to play without drums. I liked The Radio Ramblers because they were not copying High Noon. The singer did all the 50ís moves and the lead guitar player stole the show with his funny faces and especially with a great guitar work.
Sometimes I donít understand the scene. Paul Ansell was welcomed as a big star and the Hep Cat scene was happily singing along with all the great songs from 60í and 70ís!? I think Paul's band is very good and also his singing voice is very strong and powerful. But I didnít hear anything related with the 50ís sound. Even a cover of Johnny Burnette was wrecked with a version searching for own style and sound, falling in every trap a band can make trying to copy Burnette.
A good joke was Rambliní James & the Billy Boppers. Was he invited because of his funny face or because a well known guitar player was coming along? James was playing a lot of cliches. The set was ok.
The last band that night was The Playboys. This is also a good band - though their sound is a little too full for my taste. You notice right away that these guys are playing already around for a long time.
On Friday I skipped the beach party once again. In the evening I also skipped the first band. So I was ready for the Original Nu Niles. I liked this band. A lot of fire in their set and even though they haven't played together for a long time they gave everything. They sang some originals in Spanish language so Spanish people asked them two or three times back.
I really canít say anything about Rusty York. You might have a lot of respect for him but I thought it was a good joke.
Luis and the Wildfires is a band whoís hanging on the idea that if you play wild enough everybody will like it. From the first note till the last they are rocking. Every song with the same atmosphere and same tempo. At first it is like a thunderstorm blowing wind in your face and then if it continuous it is oh so boring.
On Saturday I attended my first beach party. There was a nice band from Italy ďThe Kool-A-TonesĒ. They had their own style and costumes. A little 60ís, some surf, two girls singing background and a singer whoís a little shy.
In all I can say Saturday evening was not good at all. I missed Rusti Steel. Charlie Hightone and the Rock-Its again was doing a lot of the same things they are doing every time. Spanish people seemed to like it.
The Del Moroccos was a disappointment for me. Again I had the idea they were only invited because a popular guitar player was playing with them. I remembered him also playing in some other band a year before as a bass player. Musically good work - nothing wrong but no happening.
I didnít want to see the last band because the singer is also playing in this festival every year in another formation.
Then Sunday came..
One of the big surprises of the festival was in the afternoon when The Baboons from Belgium were performing.
The singer was superb. He didnít even had the best backing up band but what he was doing was better than I had seen before. I couldnít believe he was not from the States. Good songs, musically ok. Singer put in his every heart and soul put in, giving out everything. I would take my hat off to him (if I had one)!
In the evening there was another funny act. Ronnie Hayward has an ability to sing everybody to sleep with his boring songs. The Barnstompers from Holland did everything they could to back him up as good as possible. A lot of things went wrong and the set moved on in the same tempo. I wonder who they are going to back up next year?
Than came the Starkweather Boys from the U.S.A. Finally rockabilly as it should be. A good singer, very good guitar skills, a master on the bass and a drummer who knows how to back a singer up. The best band for me in the festival. Good show, everything in good balance - not too loud and certainly not too soft. Many compliments..
I was satisfied with this. For me the festival was a success. Only because of Baboons and Starkweather Boys. But than as a desert we got The Reno Brothers back together with Eddie Angel in a Planet Rockers tribute. Again great rockabilly from the beginning till the end. Eddy, Rogier and especially Aeilko together with Eddie Angel did a great work to bring alive the songs of the Planet Rockers. Good show, good singing from Rogier.
After this I had enough rockabilly for one day so I didnít have the energy to watch Slim Slip and The Sliders.
All in all I liked the festival. This year there was much more rockabilly bands than previous years. Also not so much the same people in the bands with only a few exceptions. Not so many old people on stage but younger boys who have fire in them. But it is not the bands who made High rockabilly possible and succesfull. It is the audience who is faithful to rockabilly and are willing to pay a lot of money to see those bands and have a party building up this atmosphere.
The after party on Monday organized by the Reno Brothers was also one of the best parties. Musicians and fans hanging out together. Playing music with different people all over the world. One big family.