Sunday, April 17, 2016

Viva Las Vegas day three

And so we move on to day three of Viva Las Vegas, Car show day, the day when owners show off their classic cars and there are even more tattoos and fifties fashions on view than usual. The music takes second place but there were several acts playing outdoors in the sun.. I was impressed with English band The Jets, three brothers from Northampton. They showed they are equally adept at hard driving rock and roll and acapella Doowop on a set that comprised mostly covers, but which were done well, including their hit Goodnight Josephine, She's A Heartbreaker, Silhouettes and James Dean.
Slipping into the Orleans Hotel briefly I caught an unpublicised set by The Exotics, a surf guitar band from Milwaukee, before going back outside for another English band The Polecats. Lead singer Tim Polecat with bright red hair and an attitude, danced around the stage like a demented punk rocker, but their rough sound on numbers like Sunglases After Dark and Vampire For Your Love was anything but subtle.
Next up was the King of the Surf Guitar Dick Dale, 79 next month, most famous for Miserlou and Let' s Go Tripping, who was loud and forceful and also none too subtle, who was followed by crowd favourite Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot, which attracted a big crowd. Starting with Rumble In Brighton the former Stray Cat went down well with the audience but personally I can't see what the fuss is all about.
Inside the hotel the musical highlight was the Stars Of Rockabilly segment, introduced by Big Sandy, featuring four original fifties artists. First up was Kentucky born Billy Harlan, who sang his best known numbers I Wanna Bop and School House Rock, plus a recently recorded I Ain't Elvis and the ballad This Lonely Man. Sleepy LaBeef followed, sounding more than adequate on Hello Josephine, Waltz Across Texas, Lost Highway, Big Boss Man and Tore Up. Also impressive was Don Woody, who sounded good on Bird Dog, Morse Code, Red Blooded American Boy, Make Like A Rock and Roll, and his best known number Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Most obscure of the fifties artists was Johnny Knight, who recorded Rock and Roll Guitar in 1958. Wearing a glittery jacket he was pretty good on the record's B Side Snake Shake, Two Ton Annie and  What Happened Last Night. A clash meant that I had to dash to the Bienville Room to catch the end of the set by Rocky Burnette, son of Johnny, who was playing with Darrel Higham on guitar, I arrived just in time to catch a couple of tributes to his dad, You're Sixteen and The Train Kept A Rolling. Other acts I caught during the evening were Lil Mo and the Unholy 4 and Swedish band Emmy Lou and the Rhythm Boys so, despite heading off a bit early, it was a busy and highly enjoyable day.


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