Photography: Lucky Lawler 2009

Tom Ingram's Rockabilly Weekend
April 9-12, 2009

by Karol Chaos

I so rarely have the opportunity to travel much these days so you can only imagine my excitement upon learning about the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend!

My gal-pal/partner in crime and I embarked on our journey to the west coast in the wee hours of Thursday April 9Th. Having been rather naughty the night before which involved several Margaritas,
we were definitely suffering more than slightly. We landed in LV around noon west coast time. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect after shivering a few hours prior in NYC.


  We checked into the beautiful Orleans Hotel where the festivities were being held. Following a brief cat-nap we decided to check out some of the vendors in the convention area. All the attendees were decked out in full rockabilly attire complete with pompadours, tattoos, Bettie Page dos, red-lips and tons of pomade. My gal-pal and I stood out like sore thumbs with our black attire and pale skin. At least someone was present representing the greatest city in the world! Aside from the parade of glamorous folks we took full advantage of the colorful display of vendors from all over the country selling a wide selection of unique roc-n-roll accessories, vintage attire, CD’s and everything else under the sun to complete your retro ensemble! After some great seafood, a few slot machines and libations we decided to rest up for the rest of our adventure.

On Friday we began our day at The Hard Rock Cafe for a delicious late breakfast complete with my signature bloody Mary. Next up was a drop off at The Double Down Saloon. I still have yet to explore the NYC version of this perfect dive bar. Taking a short break from the retro-world, we took full advantage of one of the best jukeboxes around. Played a few games of pool and downed a few cheap swills before heading back to The Orleans. We got there just in time to enjoy the last few songs of Australia’s Blue Denim Brad Switchblade slaps the stand-up bass like it’s nobodies business while doing some fancy tricks around his instrument. He reminded me slightly of Joe Buck with his Mohawk and crafty bass playing skills. Blue Denim will be playing the east coast soon so do yourself a favor and check out these bad boys from down under! Following Blue Denim, we made our way downstairs to Brendan’s Bar to see The Vargas Brothers from Huntington Park Cali. I was fully mesmerized by their set of romantic country/rockabilly tunes. I could not take my eyes off the Latin hotties as they crooned Johnny Cash’s hit “cry, cry, cry.”. Several libations later, we returned to the upstairs area to catch a few wild songs by Sweden’s own Domestic Bumblebees. Young, fresh faced Swedes who play a dangerous mix of rockabilly and blues. This threesome truly stole my heart and took my breath away! A few more Corona’s and it was back downstairs to see Denver Co’s Aquasonics. These guys reminded me a little of The Ventures in their old school tradition of 1960’s surfabilly (no vocals-all instrumental.) All though I was more than a little distracted by the quite fetching Miss Kitty from Seattle shakin her thang during their set. 
Saturday we began our day enjoying the sunny weather at Viva Las Vegas impressive car show. Tons of vendors, live music, food and yes, vintage hot rods filled the outdoor arena. After a little chow and a few brews we headed upstairs to see Suzy Q & her Be Bop Boys. Husband and wife team Suzy and Buddy Dughi have played on the rockabilly scene for more than 20 years. It was so refreshing to see a female playing upright bass. Such a huge, imposing instrument was a nice contrast to Suzy Q’s delicate frame. Afterward we headed to the Dauphine room to see LA’s Royal Crown Revue. These jazz/swing legends really started it all bringing swing into the mainstream. Lead singer Eddie Nichols is one of the most charismatic front man in swing today. Following RCR, we headed back to Brendan’s and met the very charming Billy Rockabilly form long Island NY. Finally! A fellow New Yorker! Than it was off to the Showroom for the annual burlesque contest. This was my very first burlesque event and I was pleasantly surprised. Very titillating, representing gorgeous women of all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be a size 3 to be sexy! At last, a celebration of true femininity. I could totally do this!

I was both sad and relieved upon waking up on Sunday afternoon. Our last day in Vegas! We started off with a little sight seeing out on the strip. Tourist central, sort of the times square of Las Vegas. Than back to the hotel for the Tikki pool party. I feasted my eyes on all the hot, heavily tattooed greaser boys. Oh yeah! There was even a vintage bathing beauty contest with one contestant I recognized from New York. We cheered for her but she sadly lost to another contestant. Tough crowd I tell ya. Following the pool party, we took a disco nap and back to the music. First up was the amazing Kim Lenz & the Jaguars. Kim Lenz is a red headed knock out who knows how to belt out some fierce tunes very reminiscent of vintage Wanda Jackson. A total fox with an impressive vocal range with songs like “Choctaw Boogie” and “you ain’t seen nothin”. Sexy, cool and confident with a really strong stage presence. Next up were the UK’s own Jack Rabbit Slim. I can’t believe these guys can actually pull off a great rockabilly rendition of Gary Numan’s hit song “Cars”. A more mature band, older gents who happen to be extremely well crafted musicians. JRS was followed by even more drinking and debauchery gearing us up for the evenings finally of Dusty Chance and the All Nighters. Lots of energy with an in your face Cramps- like delivery of songs. The upright bass player had the most animated expressions with a definite psychobilly twist. He kind of reminded me of John Doe on speed. During the close of the evening, everyone had let their guard down a little and the event was less fashion show and more about fun. I no longer felt as though I had to be in full hair and makeup just to go down to the lobby for some aspirin.... lol! So I decided to call it night after my last gin and tonic and stumbled my way back to my hotel room. With a 12 pack of PBR in tow I stopped by my neighbors to say goodnight. So what if they were under aged greasers from southern Cali. It was the perfect way to end the most perfect vacation ever.

Grab your tickets now for Viva
See ya there!
A Few Band Links
2nd Prize Burlesque Contest Winner 2009
Cha Cha Velour
1st Prize Burlesque Contest Winner 2009
Lucy Fur

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