Saturday, April 04, 2015

Viva Las Vegas days one and two

Two days into the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly festival and I'm already having a blast, despite the lack of any really big names so far. The Orleans hotel is a superb venue, with three stages and the outdoor car show to come today. The crowd is a fantastic mixture of ages and types with tattoos well to the fore in many cases and some outrageous fashions too.
Thursday's music began with a fairly average rockabilly group the Hi-Tones from Russia but picked up with a lively set by Lil Mo, performing this time with the Unholy Four rather than the Dynaflos. Numbers included a rocking version of Danny Boy, Dig Boy Dig, Hard Looks and Crazy Baby. Next up were local band the Delta Bombers, whose raw, raucous vocals put me in mind of the Trashmen. Numbers included Cast Iron Arm, White Lightning and a barely recognisable Little Latin Lupe Lu. Things quietened down with hillbilly band the Stardust Ramblers, a highly entertaining band who finished with a Fendermen style version of Mule Skinner Blues which was anything but quiet. Finally it was the turn of Scandinavian band the Go Getters who belted their way through Red Hot Mama, Slow Down, Baby Lets Play House and Mona, plus, surprisingly, Teenage Kicks.
Burlesque is a key feature of Viva Las Vegas and I enjoyed the Burlesque Showcase on Friday, with a parade of gorgeous women getting their kit off with great style and taste. I particularly liked the delicious Perle Noire and the U.K's own Bonnie Fox. Musically the evening kicked off with the dynamic Bobby Brooks Wilson, whose looks and act resembles his dad Jackie very closely. As well as Reet Petite, Lonely Teardrops and a couple of others made famous by Jackie he also did three Sam Cooke numbers. He is a copyist, but an excellent one and you can't do better than copy Jackie and Sam in my opinion. A highlight of his set was the introduction on stage of Sonny Turner, who took over from Tony Williams as lead singer of the Platters at the time of their soul hits of the sixties such as Washed Ashore and I Love You 1000 Times. Sadly his contribution was limited to just Only You.
Of the other acts on day two, I was impressed with California rockabilly outfit the Johnny Deadly Trio, with their Johnny Cash flavoured singer and a bass player who hauled his instrument around the room mid song, less enamoured with Jittery Jack, quite enjoyed Buzz and the Flyers, and very much liked R and B songstress Jai Malano, formerly with the Royal Rhythmaires. Six piece band Aileen Quinn and the Leaping Lizards were excellent but I found the Chop Tops, making their farewell performance rather too raucous. They introduced on stage Mario Valens, brother of Ritchie, who impressed on Ooh My Head and La Bamba. Finally French guitarist Nico Duportal was superb once again.
Photos of these and other acts will appear when I get back from my three week trip to America's sunny west coast.


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