Rhythm Riot this year more than lived up to expectations with three original American artists from the rock and roll era putting on a great show, and some good supporting acts as well. Of course, many of those attending - from across the UK and Europe - are there for the fifties fashion and jiving and don't much care who is performing. But for the regular bunch of Woodies who have supported the Riot for many years it's the US visitors who are the stars. It's a shame therefore that next year's line up has no American originals on the bill. If that remains the case, I won't be going, and neither will many others I suspect.
But back to this year's show. The star of day one was Gaynel Hodge
, who appeared with Spanish doowop group the Four Candles
. Gaynel was never a big name as a solo artist, but co-wrote the Penguins' Earth Angel with Jesse Belvin and Curtis Williams, was on the original version of the Platters' Only You and sang with the Hollywood Flames and the Turks among other west coast doowop groups. He began his set with the Hollywood Flames' Buzz Buzz Buzz and other numbers included Louie Louie, originally by boyhood friend Richard Berry, and Tick Tock, originally by Marvin and Johnny. Other numbers included I'm A Fool, recorded by the Cliques, which comprised Jesse and Eugene Church, Only You, Earth Angel, the Penguins' Hey Senorita, Little Bitty Pretty One and Rockin' Robin. The sound during Gaynel's set was a little muffled - where I was standing anyway - but he sang well and displayed some neat footwork. The Four Candles (pictured below) (who seemed aware of the two Ronnies sketch) worked well with him and this was an enjoyable set.
Day two's big name was the ever reliable Jack Scott
, whose moody demeanour belies a a wry sense of humour. Looking a good deal younger than his 79 years, and wearing a black leather jacket, he began with the rocking Leroy and moved on through What Am I Living For, One Of These Days, Ubangi Stomp, Save My Soul, Baby Bye Bye and Geraldine, all delivered to perfection with fine backing from the Rhythm Riot house band. Next came Foggy Mountain Dew, with some speeded up yodelling towards the end, and a couple more originals in the form of Patsy and Baby Baby. Jack has recently recorded his first studio album for over 40 years, Way To Survive, and he featured a couple of numbers from that - Tennessee Saturday Night and Hillbilly Fever. Other numbers included Strange Desire, Flaky John, The Way I Walk and I Found A Woman, and for an encore he returned to Leroy, only this time using its original lyric of Greaseball. This was a great set by a singer who is as good and fresh today as he ever was - moody and magnificent.
The big name of the final day was Young Jessie
, now not so young at 78, but still dynamic and with a good stage act. He was wearing a dark green velvet jacket, smart tie and brown hat but his dapper look was slightly spoiled by a minor wardrobe malfunction, which he dealt with in good humour. 24 Hours A Day was followed by I Smell A Rat and one of his big hits Mary Lou, all sung with great energy. Other numbers included Oochie Coochie, Lonesome Desert (featuring some scat singing), Shuffle In the Gravel and It Don't Happen No More, before finishing with his biggest record Hit Git and Split. An excellent set and much enjoyed.
Of the other acts during the Riot, special mention must go to Mike Sanchez
, whose brilliant piano playing and singing on numbers such as Sapphire and Shirley was augmented by three female singers, who each did five numbers. First on was Vicky Tafoya
from LA, whose huge eyelashes, bouffant hair and black dress created a stunning impression. Numbers included an excellent Do You Want To Jump Children and a superb version of Rosie and the Originals' Angel Baby. She was followed by Little Rachel
, from St Louis, a vision in green with a huge spider broach, whose set included the Lucille-flavoured Little Man and I Can't Let You Go. Final act was R and B singer Jai Malano
, who ripped into a great version of Big Mama Thornton's Hound Dog, Johnny No (an original with a Bo Diddley beat) and Make My Way. Jai looks as good as she sounds and went down well.
Here are a few more acts on this year's bill. First the Bluejays
, a young English group with a good looking singer in the mould of Eddie Cochran. Very promising I would say.
Also on the first evening, and creating an excellent impression once again, here is the dynamic Si Cranstoun
These are the Barnstompers
, a competent hillbilly band from the Netherlands.
From day two, here is the lead singer of Cow Cow Boogie
, from Edinburgh.
a blues band from Southend, divided opinion, but they were certainly very proficient musicians.
Here are Gone Hepsville
, a Bill Haley flavoured band with two sax players from the Czech Republic
, a one man blues band, seemed to be popular with the audience but I found him monotonous and rather mediocre.
Finally, here is one of me with Jack Scott