Brad Meador
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Jan 12

I Love Rockabilly Music

Twice this weekend I found myself trying to explain Rockabilly.  Sadly, I used to be able to say, “you know, like the Stray Cats” but apparently quoting Rockabilly Revivalists dates me.  Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

Rockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, and emerged in the early 1950s.

The term rockabilly is a portmanteau of rock (from rock ‘n’ roll) and hillbilly, the latter a reference to the country music (often called hillbilly music in the 1940s and 1950s) that contributed strongly to the style’s development. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues. Although there are notable exceptions, its origins lie primarily in the southern United States.

Photo by CLEANandSOLID.comBut of course, that doesn’t begin to explain it.  Rockabilly is pompadours and tattoos, whisky and Cadillacs, electric and electrifying rock and roll with a dash of twang and just enough melody to make it interesting.  A good Rockabilly band is almost always a trio and a stand-up bass is a must have for the traditionalists.  I don’t dance, but you just can’t sit still when a rockabilly band takes the stage.  Think Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Bill Haley & the Comets and Gene Vincent.  (More) recent bands that have expanded beyond tradition include Chris Isaak, Reverend Horton Heat, The Cramps, Queen and Southern Culture on the Skids.

A quick story.  When I was in college, I walked into the Tastes of Houston festival just as the Road Kings were finishing up their set.  The guitar player (Jesse Dayton) was in the middle of a blistering solo on his big Gretsch guitar, the drummer was driving a killer shuffle beat and the bass player was balancing precariously on top of his upright.  I don’t have the writing talent to accurately describe how eye-popping this experience was for me.  Prior to that show, I didn’t know that you could play music with that kind of energy.  What I did know was that I would be spending a lot of my time in bars listening to live music.

And yes, it’s one of the great tragedies of my life that I can’t grow sideburns.

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