Rock Ridge Rumble 3 By Andrew Smith Another fine mess Stanley ;) . Our business was North at the end of July and beginning of August, for Rock Ridge Rumble number three, in a large field in Stanley, County Durham. The Rumble follows a week after a country music festival at the same venue run by the same company. Rock Ridge Round Up was well attended as always, and it was good vibes on Facebook, that suggested a healthy attendance for the Rumble. Mother Nature did her best to scupper that though, as the site was pounded by rain from the Sunday night of the Round Up until the Thursday lunchtime. Motor homes, cars and caravans, and even 4x4’s slithered into position, some with the assistance of an onsite tractor that worked overtime all weekend. The word ‘quagmire’ seemed to be the most popular over the weekend, and not just with those playing scrabble! Thursday night saw a pre-party with DJs before the rest of the throng (us included after a dismal drive up) started to arrive. There had been some alteration to the original line up, but as you’ll see, the substitute bands did the bizzo for the event. Beefin’ it up. With a chunky number of revellers in already when we arrived, it was a local band that started the event off. The Beefy La Slap Trio are a band that I’d seen on the gig list time and again in the North East, but not being the best placed geographically, our paths had never crossed. Well I’m glad they did. Sure the sound is what you might expect from the bass drums and guitar trio combination, and it was delivered in great style. You get thumping Rockabilly in a Burnette/Perkins style like ‘Let’s Go Boppin’ Tonight’ and ‘Lonesome Train’. ‘Hungry For Your Lovin’ was top stuff, but for me the stand out song was their rendition of Gene’s super cool ‘I Flipped’ which was just spot on. The sentiment on the front of their CD about sums it up ‘Bones of ya arse Rockabilly’. Love it.
Next on, Jack and the Real Deals, familiar to readers of my Bettajive Review I’m sure. The odd sight of drummer Andy Turner behind a Perspex wall was a little unusual, although it didn’t detract from the sound, which rocked just like it always does. ‘Uranium Rock’ outside of the original, is the best you’ll hear I reckon, ‘Doin’ Alright’ certainly does, their own ‘Joker’s Wild’ and ‘Moth to a Flame’ fit the bill perfectly, and the Phantom’s ‘Love Me’ is a cracker to elevate the show yet further. All of which left the audience wanting…..the new CD, when it comes out!
Another bunch of local lads finished the evening off, you might be familiar with the Revolutionaires. With the sound cranked up, the lads pounded out their set of Houserocking Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. All the favourites were there, the audience were down the front rocking along to ‘Tequila’, ‘Keep a Knockin’, ‘House is a Rockin’, ‘Shake Your Hips’. There was smoke and great lighting and a kick a*se set.
Rumbling dot….dot. Best tracks played at the Rumble ever ever to wang your wellies were Beefy LaSlap doing Gene’s ‘I Flipped’, Carmen Ghia’s take on Dolly Cooper’s ‘My Man’ and Restless’ ‘Poor Man’s Prison’….The North East is a smashing part of the world to look at, and traffic lights not working at Scotch Corner, meant we all had plenty of time to do so :/ ….Doo wop Dave Brown’s record stall, featured loads of vinyl albums that were switched around to face the front. It looked like a lot of people’s record collection from the early 80’s…….Good to see the Rumble cater for non drinkers like us selling non ‘aloholic’ drinks….Judging by the ruts, I reckon the yield of celery in that field will feed an army of slimmers next year…Top DJing from Tojo, Sugardoll, Poor Boy Paul, Lord Fatkat, Natalie Marsh and BeBop Kaz. Some had the unfashionable sets to play, but the selection was on the ball all the time….. Cool Breeze. With the Tail Lights apparently disbanding with a few days to go, it was later in the afternoon before the live music started. It opened with top Rock n Roll trio, Wildwind, performing a highly energetic set. Another band that takes on the popular and slightly less performed tracks, ‘Lotta Lovin’ for example, which was spot on. It’s not just singing songs and playing instruments, the show involves all three players throwing many shapes around the stage. How Martyn Savage manages to get a tune out of that bass with the different angles he plays it as I don’t know. Upside down, stood on it and playing it like a guitar, and never missing a beat. I believe they are in their thirtieth year performing, Martyn joining Tim and Gary who formed the band. They are a tight outfit who can seriously rock, from ‘Lover Boy’ to Cincinnati Fireball’, ‘Pretty Bad Blues’, ‘Run Chicken Run’, ‘Honey Don’t’ through ‘Rockabilly Boogie’ and their showcase instro track the name of which I don’t know, but you have got to see!
Flame grilled! Stepping up to the mark left by the Rapiers who could not play, were another local bunch, the fabulous Infernos. Led by Ian Agar, with brother Gary on drums, Mick Wheeler on bass and Ian Rhodes tearing out the riffs on lead guitar, these guys never fail to rock up a storm. I doubt you will see or hear a band that does Sun stuff so well ‘Look At That Moon’, Jack Earls’ ‘Hey Jim’ and ‘Crawdad Hole’ sticking in the mind straight away. It’s not all Sun, there’s their top version of Johnny Knight’s ‘Rock n Roll Guitar’ Buddy/Chuck’s ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’, The Country Dudes’ ‘Have a Ball’ and Marlon Grisham’s ‘Ain’t That a Dilly’,. Whatever they play, whether it’s a Carl Perkins slowy or some hot Rockabilly ‘Baby You Can Do No Wrong’ for example, the lads were on top form, and a delight to watch.
We managed a quick change as the field had dried enough to just be muddy, rather than a swamp, readying for the evening’s entertainment. That would commence with popular four piece from the Midlands, Rusti Steel and the Star Tones. Another hugely enthusiastic set from the lads, looking sharp and sounding good too. ‘Sag Drag and Fall’, ‘Mobile Alabama’, ‘Love My Baby’, we lapped it up. Whether it’s Western Swing or Hillbilly or Rockabilly the lads tailored their set well to the Rumble crowd.
We had to sympathise with the next act one, John Lewis and his Rock n Roll Trio who had a gruelling journey from Wales up to the North East through roadworks where no one was actually working. A point that was relayed to us in John’s own inimitable style from the stage. Inimitable would describe the show as well, as this is probably the best backing under the guise of a trio that John has employed. An awesome set included some of his own material ‘Sanity’ and ‘It Hurts’. Loving also ‘Rambling Man’ and ‘Tornado’. The inclusion of keyboards complements the classic bass drums and lead guitar in this group, and the variety of music was just the ticket for this festival. ‘Oh Please don’t let me love you’ is just one lyric delivered perfectly, against the backdrop of a band of musicians on top of their game. It wouldn’t be a John Lewis show without some sing along to ‘Honky Tonkin’, or a nod to fellow Welshman, Tom Jones, recounting his first single release, ‘Chills and Fever’. Nor indeed some wide eyed interpretation of ‘Bo Diddley’ and ‘Fancy Dan’. Memorable stuff!
With lots of day visitors swelling the numbers, the marquee was well populated for the final turn, the return of Carmen Ghia and the Hot Rods, who played at the first Rumble. Lead singer Carmen rocked up in her Vivien of Holloway dress, and belted out a mahoosive set of top sounds. Their sound just kicks throughout, opening with the scolding sound of Varetta Dillard’s ‘Scorched’. ‘One and Only’ was a belter, as was ‘Natch’l Man’, ‘Good Rockin’ Daddy’ and ‘I Smell a Rat’. The Hot Rods provide brilliant backing, whatever the tempo, comparing ‘Tryin’ To Get To You’ for example with ‘Johnny Valentine’ and the vocal blast of the encore ‘You Look Good on the Dance Floor’. You never feel short changed with a Carmen Ghia show for sure. Super cool way to top of a Saturday night.
More to Ad-mire. There was another deluge overnight, returning terra firma to infectum agri in a few short hours. Sliding and slithering across the field, it hardly seemed possible that we were entering the final day of entertainment at the Rumble. Making their third appearance at as many Rumbles were the Doggone Daddys with their brand of country and Rockabilly. Philip Larry on lead, Phil Johnstone on Rhythm guitar or drums, depending on the song, and Danny Clarke on bass make up the trio, who in turn make up a pretty good sound. Loved ‘Lend Me Your Comb’, and showing diversity, ‘Fools Fall in Love’. Brave move also to trump Restless who were closing later in the evening, by playing ‘Ice Cold’ (think that’s what they were singing!!), and stuff like Jimmy Johnson’s ‘How About Me’, George Thumper Jones’ ‘How Come It’ and the BR549’s ‘That’s What I Get’. A really engaging set, and the band get better each time we see them.
Next up, some pure Rock n Roll in the shape of Phil Haley and his Comments, sporting yellow tartan jackets this time out. The crowd loved the band with so much polish and class as they opened up with ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’. There’s on stage antics a la Comets, but an attention to musical detail that has to be admired, especially when taking on the anthemic ‘Rock Around The Clock’. Not forgetting their own tune, ‘Talk To Me’ which is up there with some of the best known Haley tracks in a Comments show. As excellent as always. Midway through the set, a guest vocalist was announced, Laura Ashleigh, not familiar to us. Laura’s style can be summed up as Brenda Lee, a good voice and well delivered classics, backed expertly by the band. Guest vocalist? Well it actually took up pretty much half of the designated set time. As good as it was, personally I wanted more Haley, cos that’s just me.
Another band that had suffered the drudgery of a wet drive up to the venue were the Kingcats, the penultimate act of the weekend. Another crowd pleasing turn that probably along with Phil Haley, had the most dancers up. And why not, when you get floor fillers like ‘Time of my Life’, ‘Promised Land’, ‘Forever’s Much Too Long’ and ‘Lucky Night’. Bill Crittenden fronts this outfit vocally, and treats his acoustic mainly as a prop, while the rest of the lads provide tight and accomplished backing. Immensely popular wherever they seem to go, the ‘Cats put on a first rate show.
The Rumble was in it’s last knockings, but don’t be fooled, it wasn’t going to fizzle out gently, oh no. Picking through the mud were Suffolk’s own Restless, Mark and Paul Harman with Rob Tyler on drums. ‘We are Restless, and we’ve been playing neo-Rockabilly for thirty six years’ said Mark. Cripes, I guess it has been that long then. They don’t miss a step, such a tight trio as ‘Why Don’ You Just Rock’ all but bulged the sides of the marquee out. ‘Poor Man’s Prison’ was just sublime, as was ‘Sixteen Tons’ ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ and ‘Long Black Shiny Car’, in fact everything we’ve enjoyed from a Restless set over the years. The blistering guitar solos by sinistral guitarist Mark Harman remain a thing of wonderment for music lovers, and the set even induced a bit of wrecking in the house. So ended another Rumble with the news that there was definitely going to be another in 2016, 5th-7th August, with a special offer if you book before the end of 2015! Don’t know how they do it, but they do it well. © Andrew Smith, June Smith, August 2015