This is one of those events that make you happy to be alive. I felt privileged to be there last night as many of the movers and shakers of the rockabilly scene were present and on stage.
The venue was perfect; the venerable Tractor, bastion of music since 1993.
The crowd was massive, standing room only but that is how it is at the Tractor anyway. I am sure it was close to a sell out as it should have been.
And it was for great cause benefitting DESC, an organization that helps the homeless and mentally disabled in Seattle.
I am not going to write a huge amount on this show as I know others much more informed, better connected and better writers will be blogging about this show. I just want to add a few thoughts.
Most of the tunes that the band and the guests played during the evening were either once performed by the king or were influenced by him. I heard obscure tunes that I would not have attributed to Elvis. I was surprised to hear that many were on some of his less known albums.
I believe Roy Kay put this thing together, his band has been around since 2001 and are one of the Royalty of the Seattle Rockabilly scene. He has been the primary force behind this event. His band opened and the show, performing 6-8 songs in their original style. If you have never seen Roy and his guys you are missing something.
Roy has a beaming smile the whole time he is on stage and it gets even wider when he starts singing. Very animated and having fun, Roy is a great performer; a joy to watch.
His bassist defines the saying "slapping the Doghouse". Robin Cady is a great musician and entertainer. He is the bass and percussion for the band. He literally slaps with one hand at the strings while his other is moving up and down the neck of the stand up bass. The sound is unique and classic all at once so you don't miss a drummer (even tho they added one later). Robin also adds background vocals.
Mike Geglia is the lead guitar, standing there fairly motionless as he plays super clean classic rockabilly licks. He carries so much of this band as there are only 3 guys up there. Roy plays a mean rhythm and Robin is keeping a steady beat, but Mike carries the bulk of the sound (besides Roy's great voice).
After a quick break all the stars started coming out. I am not the most well informed guy, I see a little music, I try to read up...I regularly make mistakes on band personal and basic information. Most of this is just observation and verbal masturbation. I didn't realize many of the relationships in this Seattle genre.
The first performer to join Roy and the boys was Robert Lee Mitchell. I had just seen him the night before with The Jukehouse Hounds. He is an accomplished keyboard player and has great mastery over his instrument. That he was going to sit in with the kings of the rockabilly scene for the rest of the night should not have surprised me. A drummer also joined and he was a great addition and they had the basis for a killer back-up band. I will add his name as soon as I can, I didn't get it. It is probably on the poster and I just need to sort the names out. I want to give credit where it is due.
Then the parade of greats came up on stage and started to perform; Billy Jo Huels, Angelatini, James Sassar, Miles and Karina, Davidson Hart Kingsbery, and they were just getting going. I don't have the energy to describe each in detail but I am going to add a little on each.
Billy Jo is one of the best entertainers in Seattle, he got roped into being the host of the charity raffles as well as performing. He was his usual great, singing and moving gracefully on stage, playing the trumpet on several tunes including a duet with another trumpet, it was dynamite.
He joined Angelatini on her first tune, a beautiful full figured girl with a mighty voice and wonderful stage presence. 2 tunes and she was gone all too soon.
Jame Sassar performed the best version of Snowbird I have every heard; a wonderful smooth voice. I could have listened to him all night. He had a great red velour jacket on; classic style, great presence.
Miles and Karina were one of my favorite acts of the evening. He is striking on stage with big dyed blond hair reaching for god and a guitar that is played high on his chest in a classic style. Karina was dressed in a striking red shiny ballroom dress and played the accordion. My words will find it hard to describe her; classic beauty, total musical passion, rocking and moving and blistering the squeeze-box. She did one solo that had the house screaming, me yelling the loudest. I am looking forward to seeing other words written about her. In the meantime, I am going to pick up their disc.
Next up was Davidson Hart Kingsbery with a killer voice that reminded me of Top Jimmy's; graveley at times, smooth and soothing when he wanted to be. He did a great version of Burning Love. He is from Portland so I am going to keep an eye open for him, another great performer.
There were 2 sets of raffles during the evening, the proceeds going for a good cause. Billy Jo assisted by the lovely Aly (from KEXP and others) would read the numbers and hand out tokens for your prize. There were some great prizes, the sponsors being some of the great venues in Seattle. The 99 Blues Club and Slim's gave many dollars, KEXP and Leon gave CDs and a chance to sit in on a Friday night, there were others. Thank you for all the donations.
Thank you to Sweet Pea who is a force of nature for charities and benefits. She is the one, along with Roy and the boys that keeps this thing so popular, making money for good causes. She is constantly raising money for charities and even uses her birthday as an opportunity to gently pry dollars out of your wallet. Way to go Sweet Pea!
I purchased as many tickets as my wallet held dead presidents and ended up getting lucky; I won a prize. Pretty funny too; I won the first KEXP Shake the Shack package which included 4 Cd's of the early Rockabilly Ball events. I am a big fan and friend of Leon Berman the host of Shake the Shack so I already had 3 of these discs, but the one I didn't have was a rare copy of the first Rockabilly Ball, produced 20 some years ago.
I also got a signed poster of the show. This was worth all the dollars and trip down to the show; Vince Mira, Roy Kay, Angelitini, Marti Brom, Levi Dexter to just name a few, signed this piece of history. I am drooling over it now.
I didn't see the rest of the show, I was so bummed but I just couldn't dance/stand any longer. The Tractor is a great place to see live music but get there early if you want to sit, not many opportunities. I had danced the night previous to the Hounds and my back was already toast. I have few regrets because the Hounds were worth it.
I missed Mati Brom, Levi Dexter, Kelly Van Camp, Vince Mira, Lisa Theo and Kim Field, Lucky Lawrence (one of my favs), Side Saddle among others. Just the list of what I missed would fill 5 shows. I had to be happy with what I saw.
One more plug for local music, I hope you are listening to The Outskirts on KBCS 91.3 and streaming at KBCS.fm. The Outskirts is a fairly new program (2 years?) that plays all styles of American music, old and new. They have some creative dj's that find some of the best country, alt. country, blues, folk and R&B/soul. My favorite is Sean Patrick Donavan who hosts on Fridays. His first show of the year was a killer; I used his playlist as a guide for draining my bank account.