Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sun shines at Viva Las Vegas

Sun Record artists took pride of place at VLV this weekend, not least Jerry Lee Lewis. Looking relaxed and in good mood, he played for 50 minutes and his keyboard playing was as good as ever, even if his voice is not quite what it was. Beginning with Down The Line, Jerry was fluent throughout. Numbers included You Win Again, Drinking Wine, Before The Night Is Over, Trouble In            Mind, Rockng My Life Away, C C Rider, Sweet Little 16, Mexacali Rose, She Even Woke Me Up, Great Balls Of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin'. This was an excellent set by The Killer, the best I've seen for quite a while, and was enlivened still more by sister Linda Gail Lewis warming things up with Shake Rattle and Roll and Rip It Up while Annie Marie sang Hot Rod Girl.
The previous evening's Stars of Sun Rockabilly featured just about every other former Sun artist still performing. After Paul Ansell kicked things off with a couple of songs, 84 year old Rudy Grayzell came to the stage. He was lively enough but his vocals were indistinct, possibly the fault of the sound man, on Judy and Jig Da Lee Ga. Rather better was Johnny Powers, the only man to record for both Sun and Motown, on Mean Mistreater and With Your Kiss. Carl Mann, seated, was excellent on Ubangi Stomp, I'm Coming Home and Mona Lisa and duetted with Miss Ruby Ann on Baby I Don't Care. Hayden Thompson, resplendent in a red jacket, came across loud and clear on I Love My Baby, Rock and Roll Tonight, Whatcha Gonna Do and I Got the Blues, before being backed by drummer W S Holland on Ring Of Fire. Jimmy Van Eaton took over the drums for Alton and Jimmy, who were fun on I Got It Made, I Just Don't Know, No More Crying The Blues, on which they harmonised well, and Still Shakin'. Narvel Felts looked and sounded great on Kiss A Me Baby, Foolish Thoughts Of You, Lonely River and Did You Tell Me. Finally in this extended segment there were Sonny Burgess's Pacers (without Sonny of course) who were adequate on We Wanna Boogie, Ain't Got A Thing, My Bucket's Got A Hole In It and Red Headed Woman.
Back at the Car Show next day, Duane Eddy overcame sound issues to put on a good set of his many twangy hits, including Movin' and Groovin', The Lonely One, Shazam, 3.30 Blues, Ramrod, a couple of Fats Domino numbers, My Blue Heaven and Blueberry Hill, 40 Miles Of Bad Road, Yep, Peter Gunn and Rebel Rouser. The Stray Cats attracted an enormous crowd as they kicked off with Runaway Boys, but at this point I left to go with Noah, Ruth and Alan to an up market restaurant called Piero's to see soul man Sonny Charles at a regular gig. Amid the standards he included Black Pearl and, from his Steve Miller Band connection, The Joker. Also singing was former movie star Pia Zadora, whose self deprecating line in humour made up for any shortcomings vocally. She still looks good too. Other acts I caught at VLV included Michael Hurtt (a little too country on this occasion), Lil Mo and the Dynaflos (excellent Doowop, and great fun), Big Sandy and the Flyrite Boys (pretty good), Deke Dickerson at his Guitar Geek show ( he told a great story about how he tracked down Santo of Santo and Johny) and the excellent Gizzelle, one of many Wild Records artists performing, who looks great with her bright red hair and tattoos, and sings great too. One more day to go of what has been an excellent festival so far.


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