It's warm and sunny in southern Spain, a far cry from chilly England, so a weekend at the Rockin' Race Jamboree was just what I needed. Despite a shortage of genuine legends this year this rock and roll weekend, now in its 23rd year, lived up to expectations, with a varied bill and some good music, little of which could be described as rockabilly.
Highlight of Friday's line up was undoubtedly Los Straitjackets, complete with obligatory wrestling masks, who produced some hard driving guitar numbers and backed up the funniest musical double act I've seen in a long time: Big Sandy and El Vez, the Mexican Elvis. Sandy, immaculate in a tuxedo, sparred with El Vez, dressed in an Elvis styled PVC costume, on a 'Big Sandy to the Rescue' duet, before El Vez launched into Mystery Train crossed with Night Train. Both of them tackled His Latest Flame, Sandy's cheeks by this time smeared with lipstick, and Sandy did excellent half Spanish versions of Lonely Teardrops, Be My Baby and La Plaga (Tallahassee Lassie). The pair dashed around the stage, with gymnastics from El Vez, as they belted out Malagueña (California) Sun, Land of 1000 Dances, an instrumental Rampage and, finally, Wooly Bully. Great fun.
Earlier, Marcel Riesco, from the US west coast, showed what a good Roy Orbison styled singer he is on originals such as Because He Broke Your Heart, Long Time No Love and Dumb Struck, and Orbison songs such as Rock House and Only The Lonely. He showed he could rock, too, with Cast Iron Arm. Following him on stage was London based Alice Jayne. Her band was good, but the less said about her the better, as she was distinctly average on covers like Dimples, When Will I Be Loved, Restless and Let Me Down Easy, on which she was flat and under whelming. Rather better was Swedish band Fatboy, who started well with a couple of melodic country rock numbers from their Moments album- Dreaming Like I Do and No Regrets. Other numbers included a couple of songs from their Overdrive album, Dragging The River and Bad News For Pretty Red Lips, which were interesting, but perhaps a little samey.
Saturday night's offering was another varied selection, with pride of place going to Austin's Dale Watson, looking very much the part of the Texas troubadour. His set ranged from rockabilly (You're Humbugging Me) through Tex Mex and country. Numbers included My Baby Makes Me Crazy, It's Heaven's Plan, Whisky or God, Sayonara Is All She Wrote, I Guess I'm Not The Man I Used To Be and an excellent Lonely Blue Boy. Quality stuff throughout and very enjoyable.
First act was German band Smokestack Lightnin', a four piece band with leanings towards Americana,whose varied set included The Highway Rolls On Forever, the Beatles' Run For Your Like, some swamp blues with Swamp Country and Polk Salad Annie, and El Camino Real. They were followed by the Cactus Blossoms, who harmonised beautifully on Everly Brothers sound alike numbers including You're Dreaming and I'm A Happy Man On a Gloomy Day. Highly recommended. Also good in their way, and much enjoyed by the crowd, was the good time sound of The Big Six, featuring singer Sugar Ray Ford. Dressed in check zoot suits, their fun set included such rock and roll classics (!) as Tiger Feet, All Of Me and 20th Century Boy. Not for the purists, or me for that matter, but amusing and lively. Photos will appear soon.