Viva Viva Las Vegas
Two more days of Viva Las Vegas have flown by, with some great sets and one or two disappointments. Friday's highlight was the Stars of Rockabilly segment featuring some original fifties artists. Alton (Lott) and Jimmy (Harrell) recorded for Sun and they did their best known number, No More Crying The Blues, plus I Just Don't Know and 1958's I Got It Made. Guitarist Alton also sang a song dedicated to the many tattooed fans of VLV, The Last Tattoo. They were in good form, as was the evergreen Sonny Burgess, along with original Pacer Bobby Crafford, who did old favourites such as Red Headed Woman and We Wanna Boogie. Bobby played drums and sang Ain't Got No Home. Highlight of this segment was Larry Collins, once a child star in the Collins Kids, who came on stage with a double neck guitar, as did Deke Dickerson and the house band's Ashley Kingman. Larry showed that he's an excellent guitarist with dramatic flourishes which created a moody sound. Numbers included the death song 1955 and the Bo Diddley flavoured Hoy Hoy, when he was joined by Ruby Ann. He ended with Rockabilly Forever. Also good was Si Cranstoun, who produced his usual polished set with numbers such as Coupe De Ville, Italian Eyes, Love Locked and Old School.
Car Show Saturday featured Little Miss Dynamite Brenda Lee as the headliner. Still little, but looking more like a granny, she mostly does cabaret shows these days and it showed. There was too much chat and attempts at audience requests that the band didn't know, with some good old US patriotism thrown in. She had a go at Sweet Nothin's and Dum Dum, but her quavery voice struggled somewhat on ballads such as Losing You, Fool Number 1, As Usual and All Alone Am I. Let's Jump The Broomstick wasn't too bad, as was the unseasonal Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, but, great though it was to see a legend who I hadn't seen since 1963 when she toured the UK with Chris Montez and the Beatles bottom of the bill, this was a disappointing set. Other Car Show acts who I saw were country singer James Intveld, who rocked things up with Brown Eyed Handsome Man and was good on It's Such A Pretty World, and Stray Cat double bass player Lee Rocker. His set was straight ahead rockabilly with numbers such as Stray Cat Strut, Runaway Boys, Built For Speed, Fishnet Stockings and Rock This Town, but enjoyable. Also very much in the rockabilly mood were Texas band the Rev Horton Heat, who seemed pretty average from what I heard of them. Rocking Dog, Bad Reputation and Like A Rocket were loud but unsubtle. A proficient trio however.
The evening saw the return of another female legend, Wanda Jackson, and she didn't disappoint. Seated throughout, the Queen of Rockabilly got it just right with a bit of chat about dating Elvis, but a focus on high quality vocals. Hits like Mean Mean Man, Lets Have A Party, Fujiyama Mama and Funnel Of Love were all performed well, as was the Amy Winehouse song You Know That I'm No Good, which she was persuaded to record by Jack White. Even the gospel number I Saw The Light was good and this was a stellar set. So too was the following set by Freddie Cannon, who, unlike at the Doowop Weekend two weeks ago, had no trouble getting the audience involved. Backed by Los Straijackets, he ran through many of his hits but really hit the heights with a Chuck Berry tribute, including Little Queenie and Roll Over Beethoven. Top notch stuff and very enjoyable. Final show (for me) was Deke Dickerson's Guitar Geek Show featuring countless guitarists from a variety of bands. I enjoyed Australian Pat Capocci and 88 year old mandolin player Scotty Broyles, but it was a little repetitive and by this time we were all knackered so we didn't see it out to the end. A great couple of days however.