Friday, February 08, 2019

Back at the Rockin' Race Jamboree

I'm back at the Rockin' Race Jamboree in Torremolinos enjoying some warm and sunny weather and some decent music, mostly of the rockabilly variety. As ever there's a good UK contingent here, including John Howard,  Gordon Fleming, Jonathan Batten, Mike MacDonald, Ron Cook, Dave and Julie Thomas and Tony Rounce.
The music has been good, the highlight on the first evening being 82 year old Mr 'Rock and Roll Guitar' Johnny Knight, (pictured below) backed by the Deke Dickerson band, with Johnny's son on keyboards. Dressed in a splendid sparkly black jacket, Johnny was good on his sole hit, 'Rock and Roll Guitar',and it's B side 'Snake Shake', plus 'Got My Mojo Working', 'What Happened Last Night', 'I'm Going To Buy Me A Dog', 'Two Ton Annie', 'Ooh Poo Pah Doo' and 'Shake A Hand'. He also reappeared as his alter ego, the comedy character Gamma Goochee. Only 30 minutes on stage but effective.
Next up was Texas troubador Dale Watson, looking very much the part with his shock of silver hair but maybe just a little too country for this rockabilly show. His songs included 'I Lie When I Drink' (although it didn't stop him promoting Texas's Lone Star beer, a rather pointless exercise in the Costa Del Sol). He's recently recorded a new album at Sam Phillips studio in Memphis entitled 'Call Me Lucky', and his set included 'Elvis Was A Love Affair' written by Sam's son Jerry, who is also attending the festival. Other songs included 'Mama Tried', a tribute to Merle Haggard, Carl Perkins 'Long Legged Guitar Picking Man', a song made famous by Johnny Cash, and 'Down Down Down Down'. Dale introduced Celine Lee on stage, an attractive Sleazy recording artist, who looked great and whose rather average numbers included 'Big Girls Cry' and a couple of duets with him.
Elsewhere in the festival  Portuguese Pedro's rather whiney hillbilly set was quite effective , Mike Hillman and His Latin Hillbillies did a lively set, but the Kaboons failed to set the crowd at the Barracuda Hotel alight. There's plenty of music still to come and, unlike in England, the sun is shining.
Next day the western styled Sarah Vista was visually appealing and proved entertaining and Walter Broes and the Mercenaries were OK in their set at the Barracuda. An interview session with Jerry Phillips, son of Sam Phillips, however, was riveting.  Jerry came across as a thoughtful and amusing man with some solid ideas on being a rock and roll singer (be yourself and don't be an imitator) and shared reminiscences of his dad, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Howling Wolf and other Sun artists. He also talked about his time at Stax working with Louis Paul, and what is happening now at the Sam Phillips studio in Memphis.
The evening session of the festival began in great style with a super rock and roll set by Deke Dickerson, kicking off with 'Mexicali Rose' and good versions of 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man' and 'Monkey's Uncle'. There was a number by drummer Chris 'Sugar Balls' Sprague playing guitar while being held upside down, some guitar playing and Cossack dancing by Mitch Polzac, plus two numbers by Johnny Knight including 'Rip It Up'.
Next up was German band Smokestack Lightning. Not the most exciting of acts they were melodic enough with numbers including The Beatles ' 'Hey Little Girl' and 'Polk Salad Annie', a tribute to Tony Joe White. Things really began to heat up with the arrival on stage of The Paladins, (pictured below), a hard rocking trio from San Diego who I last saw about 30 years ago. Their frantic and professional set included snatches of a number of songs I didn't recognise plus 'Keep Changing' from their first new album in many years and 'Slip Slipping In', a tribute to Reggie Young who died recently and played on the Eddie Bond original.
More hard rock followed with The Planet Rockers featuring Sonny George and Eddie Angel who very much look the part, especially Sonny in his leathers and cowboy hat. A little subdued to begin with they got into top gear with 'Lonesome Traveller' and 'Truck Drivers Rock'. Jerry Phillips  wearing a gold lame jacket, came on for a couple of numbers including 'My Babe and 'That's Alright With Me'.
On Saturday there was an event on the sea front featuring hot rods and souped up cars called The Dash. Two excellent groups played sets. The Torontos, one of whose members is Augie Burriel of the Velvet Candles,  played some excellent guitar and sax rock and roll, including Don and Juan's 'Chicken Necks' and Don and Dewey's Kokomo Joe'. The sax player, Canadian Spencer Evoy, also appeared later in the festival alongside J D McPherson. Thanks to John Clark for finding out his name. One of the best sets of the entire weekend I thought , and the other band led by Mitch Polzac was equally good with humour from Mitch and some good rocking material.
The main venue was rammed on Saturday night but the music started in quite a low key way with Johny Tedesco, the 'Argentinian Elvis'. Apparently he recorded the first big Spanish language rock and roll record,  'Rock Del Tom Tom', in 1958. His mostly pop styled songs, sung in Spanish, went down well with the audience and his band was pretty good but I thought he was rather bland. He was definitely helped by having members of the Velvet Candles supporting him on a string of Elvis songs, including 'Rock a Hula Baby', 'She's Not You ', 'Devil In Disguise ', 'Little Sister ' and 'Good Rocking Tonight".
Much more exciting, and the best act of the night, were Los Straitjackets, who backed the excellent J D Mcpherson as well as performing a series of high powered instrumentals which included 'Rampage '. There were only three masked men on this occasion but JD made up for any lack of manpower with some good guitar on his numbers. These included 'Fire Burns', Ritchie Valens' 'Ooh My Head', 'Hillbilly Blues', the Troggs' With A Girl Like You, 'Let The Good Times Roll', a Spanish version of 'Lucille, What Am I Living For', JD's own excellent 'North Side Gal' and, as an encore 'Seven Nights To Rock'. The huge crowd thoroughly enjoyed this top notch set, as did I.
Next up were German band Hot Boogie Chillun who to my mind were loud, monotonous and rather dull. Their numbers included 'I Want To Hear You Scream', 'Tonight', 'Twist Of Fate', 'Have Love Will Travel' and their final song 'Fuckin' Sweet'. There was an element of repetition about their approach which left me cold.
I expected to be lifted by the final act of the night for me, the Blasters, but was a bit disappointed. Phil Alvin's singing and guitar playing was fine but he was immobile and seemed to be going through the motions somewhat.  Keith Wyatt by contrast was all action on lead guitar and numbers such as 'Down The Line', 'Rebound', 'Dark Night', 'I'm Shakin'', 'Shovel Bound' and 'Marie Marie' were performed well. It was an enjoyable set, if not quite up to the standard of some I've seen in the past.
The highlight of Sunday afternoon's music was Eddie Angel's Guitar Party with 'Sugarballs' on drums, which featured excellently executed instrumentals in the Link Wray/Duane Eddy mould. Los Torontos' sax player joined them (as he did during the JD McPherson set last night) for some Johnny and the Hurricanes/Champs numbers and Deke Dickerson came on stage to do a brilliant version of 'The Bird's The Word' with maniacal cackling. Earlier the Radions, a lively if bog standard rockabilly band, played on the sea front.
Overall this was one of the most enjoyable Rockin' Races I've been to and the combination of the Paladins, Los Straitjackets and the Blasters, not to mention the Planet Rockers and the Torontos, would be difficult to beat for hard rocking pleasure. More photos will appear shortly.


At 11:27 pm , Blogger John Clark said...

Nick, that sax player you were enquiring after is Spencer Evoy he is from Toronto. John.


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