Model Bart-Jan Mulder photographed for Ponyboy in vintage womenswear.
Model Bart-Jan Mulder photographed for Ponyboy in vintage womenswear.
Minetta Lane 57′ menswear editorial starring model Casey Jackson.
Blue Velvet’s by master barber Hideki Kakinouchi.
The Stompin’ Riffraffs! Japanese-based 50s style rock ‘n’ roll band.
The Midnite Monster Hop from New York City! With founder Mike Decay.
The Rebel Night New York rockabilly weekender – Hula Rock Vol 2.
New York City blonde beauty Katie Bickert from the Rebel Night rockabilly party.
The DVD/CD release of “Stray Cats Live At Rockpalast.”
Neo-rockabilly legend Tim Polecat from The Polecats for Ponyboy.
“Teddy: Japanese 50’s Rollers in 80’s” by Daisan Shokan in 1981.
Carny Time – 50s menswear editorial with Mike Winchester.
Legendary founder of the California-based record label Wild Records, Reb Kennedy.
Rockabilly musician Pat Capocci from the Wild Records label.
Ponyboy considers twenty-five year old Josh Hi-Fi Sorheim to be part of the next wave of up-and-coming rockabilly musicians to take the world by storm. With a rural midwestern upbringing and classic good looks, Josh signed with Reb Kennedy’s Hollywood based Wild Records and now considers California his new home. We met up with Josh in Las Vegas where he was booked to play the “Young and Wild” musical showcase for Wild Records at the annual Viva Las Vegas 17 Rockabilly Weekender.
PONYBOY: Josh, tell us about your upbringing in Minnesota.
JOSH SORHEIM: I grew up on a small, hobby farm in very rural Minnesota. My family owned a small concrete business where I had worked since I was a small boy. We are a very close family and we love working and hanging out together. It’s great that they are so supportive and are behind me 100 percent.
PONYBOY: How did you get into music?
JOSH SORHEIM: We had a piano in the house and I used to play little tunes I heard on the television. One time my mom noticed this and she asked me if I wanted to play an instrument. I chose the violin and took lessons, but abruptly quit because I hated them so much. So, I moved on to the piano and quit again because I hated taking lessons. I gave up music until my senior year in high school, when I found a piano under the bleachers. On my free hour I would go plunk on that piano and eventurally I got addicted. I looked up everything musically and I stumbled upon rockabilly. Naturally, I saw that upright bass that Bill Black was playing and I just had to have one! I got an upright and taught myself how to play, then eyeballed that guitar player. Needless to say, I got stuck on the guitar.
PONYBOY: Would you say your music inspiration is primarily 50’s rock-n-roll?
JOSH SORHEIM: Well, 50’s rock-n-roll is a big part of the music I love and play. My true love is American music from the 1890’s to the 1960’s. I love western swing, jazz, ragtime, jug bands, rock-n-roll, rockabilly, blues, swing, gospel, country, and honky tonk. I like to pull from every which way, so everybody gets something they like and some people can get introduced to music styles and songs that they haven’t heard before.
PONYBOY: How would you describe your sound?
JOSH SORHEIM: I’d say fast, fun and you can dance to it! I like songs that have a good boogie beat and people can really cut a rug to it. It’s all about having a great time at a show, so I like to play songs that are a lot of fun. I try and mix in some boogie woogie, western swing, blues, rockabilly and rock-n-roll in my songs because that’s the stuff that I think we all get a real kick out of.
PONYBOY: You relocated to Los Angeles recently. How has that been for you?
JOSH SORHEIM: It’s been a blast, besides the traffic and earthquakes. The friends I’ve met out here have been instant family and there is something fun to do every day and night. I was terrified being a country boy from the mid-west moving to the big city, but so far, I’ve loved every second. It also helps having Disneyland and the movie studios down the street. For a Disney, history and movie buff this is practically heaven for me.
PONYBOY: And, you also signed with Wild Records. Tell us how Reb Kennedy discovered you.
JOSH SORHEIM: One of the Wild guitarists saw some of my videos I was posting online, showed them to Reb and the next day I got a call. He asked me if I could fly out to LA for a tryout show and I said heck, yes! I flew out, did the Wild Weekender, and I was accepted into the Wild Records family. It’s been a real honor to meet, hangout and play with all the amazing and talented musicians on the Wild label.
PONYBOY: Is playing music your primary occupation?
JOSH SORHEIM: I’d say music is one of my occupations. I can’t sit still, so currently I’m starting my own business. I also freelance in handyman services, as well as being a car mechanic that makes house calls. And, I do restoration and sales of all kinds of vintage goodies. I have big plans in the works for other ventures, as well.
PONYBOY: Who would you say are your favorite musicians?
JOSH SORHEIM: That’s like asking what breath is my favorite to breathe. I love them all because each one is different and keeps me going.
PONYBOY: How many instruments do you play?
JOSH SORHEIM: I dabble in guitar, piano, clarinet, upright bass, harmonica, accordion, and lap steel.
PONYBOY: Do you have a release date for your Wild Records album? And, do you have any touring planned?
JOSH SORHEIM: We just recorded some tracks for a new 10 inch record coming out, as well as having a new 45 in the works. And I have a few European tours coming up this year, which I’m really excited about!
PONYBOY: Will you settle in California or eventually go back to Minnesota?
JOSH SORHEIM: I love California, but I also love a good road trip. I have plans to get a 1940’s trailer and hit the road for a while. I have family and friends in Minnesota, New Orleans, Texas, Arizona, and Wisconsin, as well as on the East Coast. So, my home is all over the United States. There is way too much to see and too many people to meet to settle down anytime soon.
Tom Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas 17 Rockabilly Weekender.
Miss Dollie Deville, also known as The Rockabilly Socialite.
Designer Lola Devlin photographed & interviewed for Ponyboy.
We are fanatics of Tom Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas rockabilly event and all of the terrific style that it brings every year. One thing we’ve noticed on social media in the last few years is the abundance of critics that claim that it’s all about the clothing and not the music. Well, we agree that it can be a bit of a fashion show at this annual bash, but we are infatuated with the top-notch attire that many attendees don. We applaud music fans for expressing themselves through the art of dressing.
That being said, we noted many vintage classics for both men and women. For the women, we are passionate about the following: floor length gowns, full skirt dresses, leopard, gold lame, oversized hand bags, elaborate updos, spring-o-lators, lucite purses, bakelite jewelry, floral patterns, bold sunglasses, head wraps and false eyelashes. For the gentleman, we applaud: fleck suits, gabardine shirts, tuxedo jackets, teddy boy drape coats, rayon hawaiian shirts, spectators, colorful argyle socks, 1940’s ties, knit pullovers, western wear and closely cropped pompadours. Viva la Rock-a-billy style! By Maria Ayala. Photography Alexander Thompson.
LEVI DEXTER: Modern Day Rockabilly Phenomenon. A British born teddy boy, Levi became the founding frontman for the late 1970’s band Levi and the Rockats, when he was discovered by clever music visionary Leee Childers. Though he has changed bands throughout the years, he always stayed true to the musical influences of 50’s rock’n’roll. Living the good life in Portland with wife Bernie Dexter, we reached out to Levi and asked him about his upbringing as a British ted, coming to America, leaving The Rockats and his musical evolution. All photos courtesy of Levi Dexter.
PONYBOY: Levi, please tell us about your early years in the UK?
LEVI DEXTER: I was raised in Chelsea in London by my mother. My father was a drummer from Venezuela who left us when I was 5 years old. I really had no interest in the music of the 1960’s when I was a boy. I always gravitated toward music of the 40’s and 50’s that was still being played on the radio. By 1972 I was very into 50’s rock ‘n’ roll. Malcolm Mclaren had opened a teddy boy shop on Kings Road in Chelsea called LET IT ROCK. And it was just around the corner from my home, so I spent a lot of time there. This was years before he managed the Sex Pistols and the punk rock movement. When I was 15 we moved to Southend-On-Sea in Essex on the south east coast of England. There was a huge teddy boy movement there. That’s where my rock ‘n’ roll roots really began.
PONYBOY: That must have been such an exhilarating experience being a ted back in 1970’s England. Tell us a bit about that.
LEVI DEXTER: Yes, by 1974 I had found The Pier Bar in Southend. We called it the Long Bar. It was strictly for teddy boys and teddy girls. You couldn’t get in if you were a square as there was a strict code. You had to wear the right clothes, have greasy hair, listen to nothing after 1959 and show respect for all other teddy boys and defend them when there were fights with outsiders. I used to see Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers and also Flying Saucers play there quite often. Then one day I was singing along as the band played and Cavan asked if I’d like to come up and sing a song with the band. This was the start of it all for me. Pretty soon every time Crazy Cavan & the Rhythm Rockers and Flying Saucers played I would be asked to jam. I owe so much to Cavan Grogan and Sandy Ford for giving me the opportunity to learn to have faith in myself at such an early age.
PONYBOY: The feud between the teds and the punks must have been very chaotic looking back now?
LEVI DEXTER: Basically, the teddy boy style had always struck fear into people on the street, with a reputation of violence and a commitment of defending 50’s rock ‘n’ roll music and lifestyle. Once the punks were on the street the increased shock value made teddy boys seem less scary. Added to this, some punks were disrespecting our places and fighting teds when we were in small numbers. This escalated pretty fast. Malcom Mclaren had closed LET IT ROCK and had opened his shop called SEX at the same location selling bondage gear and punk rock fashion. The punks there mocked the teddy boys and the final straw was when a photo of Elvis Presley that was on the wall had a dagger drawn in his back. The punks also had a show at the Queens Hotel in Essex, another bastion of the teddy boy scene, and burned the confederate flag that hung on the wall. They took it as racist, but to us it represented rockabilly music as the rock ‘n’ roll of the south. It stood for rockabilly rebel. Dozens of teddy boys would gather at Sloan Square (at one end of the King’s Road in Chelsea) and then march together down to Malcolm’s store and fight with any punks that cared to show up. The newspapers had a field day exaggerating the trouble that was going on and printing extreme headlines and stories. For a while if you were a teddy boy, rockabilly or punk you had to watch yourself on the street or move around in numbers. It was exhilarating but it was also quite stupid and became a drag. In 1977 I jammed with Shakin’ Stevens band the Sunsets at a show in London. There were teds and punks there and the atmosphere was tense. I did my couple of songs and everyone came together to the front of the stage, both teds and punks enjoying the good energy. It was at this show that I met Leee Black Childers. He had been involved in the music scene for many years and was a famous photographer. He had worked with Mott the Hoople (“All The Way To Memphis” is dedicated to him on their LP). He also had done the image for the “after the apocalypse” inside centerfold on David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” album. At the time I met him he was managing the Heartbreakers (ex-New York Dolls), featuring Johnny Thunders. He approached me and asked me if I’d ever thought of fronting my own band. I told him it wasn’t possible as none of my friends could play music. He told me it could be done. Within weeks, myself, Smutty Smith on double bass, Dibbs Preston on guitar (known as Eddie Dibbles back then), Mick Barry also on guitar and English Don on drums became Levi and the Rockats. We practiced as much as we could but knew we could never play the teddy boy scene as they were so strict about bands sounding exactly like the 1950’s recordings. Leee made plans for us to play at punk rock shows which was a very daring concept in 1977.
PONYBOY: And how did you actually start performing?
LEVI DEXTER: Leee had booked us to play the end of term Christmas party at the Royal College Of London on November 10th 1977. We had made friends with many of the punks and had been accepted by them and even borrowed amps from Marco of Siouxsie and the Banshees. We went on stage and struggled through our show, and came off feeling very defeated. It was not the show we had always imagined. As we came off stage Johnny Thunders told us to go back out for an encore even if it wasn’t called for. We went back on stage and Johnny did a 3 song Chuck Berry medley with us and everyone there went wild! We came off stage saying, “We’re awesome! We rocked it!” Of course, it was Johnny who was awesome and rocked it! Our third show was at the Music Machine in London on December 26th, 1977 with Siouxsie and the Banshees, Adam and the Ants and many other punk bands. We had to go on last and it was our first really good show. It was a real party and everyone really accepted us and enjoyed the show.
PONYBOY: Leee Childers discovered you and was the visionary for Levi and the Rockats. He brought the band over to the USA and knew all the “right” people, like Andy Warhol and all those fabulous types in the back room at Max’s Kansas City. It seems like you owe him a lot. Are you still in touch with him?
LEVI DEXTER: Yes, Lee was the reason for all of our success! He is a man with vision and faith. He is fearless and never gives in. He’s the epitome of rock ‘n’ roll spirit. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. I learned so much from him and I will always be extremely grateful. He worked with Andy Warhol in the stage play “Pork” in New York and was very “in” with the Warhol crowd. He got us into Andy’s INTERVIEW magazine and also the Andy Warhol cable TV show where Debbie Harry from Blondie interviewed us. He also got us on the first ted/punk tour with Wayne County and the Electric Chairs in 1977. This would mark the end of the ted/punk wars. Lee brought us over to the U.S. in July 1978. Our first show was November 10th, 1978 (our 1st year anniversary) at Max’s Kansas City in New York City opening for the Cramps. We were selling out clubs in New York like Max’s and C.B.G.B’s, and then clubs in Los Angeles like the Whiskey-A-Gogo, the Starwood and the Troubadour. We performed live nationally on the Merv Griffin T.V. show and also played live on the Wolfman Jack Midnight Special. One of the other acts on the show was the Jackson’s without Michael. Leee and his long time friend Tom Ayres got us on the Louisiana Hayride (the first rockabilly band to play there since Elvis in the 50’s). I could go on endlessly listing the great things Lee did for me. We chat now and then on FaceBook and email. Sometimes he will send me photos of Levi and the Rockats. He is still active and creative and still working in rock ‘n’ roll and art.
PONYBOY: Shortly after living in the US you departed from the Rockats to stay loyal to your manager Lee, which was very honorable of you. It seemed at that moment that Levi & The Rockats may have perhaps been on the brink of “pop” stardom. Looking back, are you fine with your decision to leave the Rockats? And are you still in touch with Smutty, Dibbs and the others?
LEVI DEXTER: It was a hard time. We had gone as far as we could but still had been unable to get a recording contract. Most record labels didn’t see rockabilly music as a form of music to be respected. Many times I was told “if only you didn’t play THAT kind of music” and “Haven’t you heard of Duran Duran? Couldn’t you sound more like them?” My answer was “Would you say this to B.B. King or George Jones?” I have always been a devoted defender of real rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly music and demanded that it be given the same respect as so many of the other original American music styles like country western, blues, jazz, etc. All had been handled respectfully. And I would demand the same respect. For my stubbornness, I would be rejected for not “playing the game”. Eventually the guys in the band looked for who to blame for not getting a record deal and going further. They wanted to have a new manager. I wouldn’t sell Leee out. Leee and I insisted on being West Coast based in Los Angeles. The Rockats wanted to be based in New York. Of course, once we broke up in December 1979, they moved to New York, signed to R.C.A. records and recorded the very poppy “Make That Move”. They were willing to compromise to get ahead, and the record went nowhere. They did well, but not as well as Levi and the Rockats. Whenever there’s a Rockats reunion they only go back to 1980, therefore, excluding me. We have only ever done one reunion show and that was at the Green Bay Rockin’ Fest III in 2007. One show together in 35 years! Smutty and I are like brothers and will always be close. The others I just say “hi” to once in a while on FaceBook.
PONYBOY: After leaving the Rockats, you went on to form Levi Dexter and the Ripchords, Levi Dexter and Magic, and Levi Dexter and the Gretsch Brothers. It’s all an amazing evolution and was probably fun to reincarnate yourself in different bands and musical projects. Looking back, what period or album would you say has been your favorite part of your musical career so far?
LEVI DEXTER: The time spent with Levi and the Rockats was the most exciting of all. I was young and wanted to turn the world on to rockabilly music. It was my first time in the U.S. and we were breaking ground and reaching new nights every month. It was the biggest thrill-ride ever. There was no Stray Cats yet. There was nothing in the way except the stubborn suits at the record companies. We turned the world on to rockabilly music and the scene has gotten bigger every year since then. I’m very proud of what we did for rockabilly music.
I am most proud of my new album Levi Dexter – Roots Man that I have produced myself and has just been released on my own Dextone Records label. It is distributed by Rhythm Bomb Records in Europe . I recorded it at Moletrax West / Danalog recording studios in California and mixed it at Roseleaf Recording in Portland with mixing engineer Jimi Bott (drummer for the Fabulous Thunderbirds). I’ve had total control over this album and consider it to be a great rockabilly album.
PONYBOY: Being inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame is such an amazing achievement as an artist. Congratulations. The high must have been incredible.
LEVI DEXTER: It really means so much to me! I am in there with all my peers and friends. For years to come new young people discovering rockabilly music will see my name and check me out. I’m far from done, but after so many years devoted to rockabilly music, it feels really good to be honored in this way. I will always consider it a special achievement in my career.
PONYBOY: You’re now in Portland, Oregon with your wife Bernie Dexter, the legendary pin-up model and clothing designer whom you shoot constantly. We love the images that you take of her. Tell us what daily life is like with your glamourous wife.
LEVI DEXTER: Bernie and I live a very normal life in Oregon. We work together every day and live in a lovely English manor house, spending every moment together. I am so proud of her! She’s such a hard working woman who always has a positive attitude, and friendly and good spirited to everyone she meets. She works tirelessly on her clothing company and photo shoots. I’m always happy to shoot the photos as it’s some of the most fun we have, it’s always a party. When we’re not working we just spend time together and enjoy every moment we have. We’re still both madly in love with each other and are never tired of each other’s company.
PONYBOY: We read that your favorite thing to do is perform at rockabilly weekenders/festivals. We love weekenders as well. Tell us your favorite festivals in the past. And also, do you have any performances scheduled at any upcoming festivals?
LEVI DEXTER: My favorite festivals that I’ve played at are the Green Bay Rockin’ Fest in the U.S., the Hemsby Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekender, the Americana Festival, the Ace Cafe in England, the Good Rockin’ Tonight festival in France, the Valencia Hall Party, and the Screamin’ Festival in Spain. Strangely, I’ve never been asked to play the Viva Las Vegas weekender?
I’ll be playing the Good Rockin’ Tonight festival in France in March, as well as playing in Milan and Italy in April. Bernie will be at the Atomic Festival in England in April. And May 31st – June 1st, I’ll be playing at the Kustom Kulture Festival in Washington State. I’ll also be attending the Rockabilly Rave with Bernie in England in June. Bernie has a fashion show there. And I’ll be touring Japan with the Gretsch Brothers (one of my favorite bands to play with) for most of September.
The Levi Dexter -Roots Man album will be out this year on CD and vinyl. Later in the year, the Levi Dexter & the Gretsch Brothers album will also be out on CD and vinyl. It’s out now on CD in Japan. It’s going to be a busy year!
PONYBOY: Lastly, we know you’ve been asked this before, but please refresh our memory. Tell us your favorite musicians, past and present.
LEVI DEXTER: There are so, so many great rockabilly artists. My advice is to dig as deep as you can and give a listen to everything! My favorites from the 50’s (in no particular order):
Gene Vincent & his Blue Caps
Bill Haley and his Comets
The Collins Kids
Johnny Kidd & the Pirates
My favorites from the present:
The Blue Cats
Crazy Cavan & the Rhythm Rockers
Cherry Casino & the Gamblers
Marc & the Wild Ones
Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys
PONYBOY: Do you have any last comments or thoughts?
I’d just like to thank everyone who has supported my music and rockabilly music in general. It’s been underground for over half a century now and is bigger and the scene is stronger than it has ever been. It’s strange that many music styles have come and gone over the years, but rockabilly music has always been there and has always been an alternative to other styles of music. I love seeing the new young generation coming up and getting into the scene. It makes me feel good to know new people are discovering rockabilly music and living the rockabilly lifestyle. For me, singing rockabilly music is like dancing. It’s a celebration and I do it because I can. Apart from Bernie, it’s the most important thing in my life! I truly feel that the best days are yet to come and it will only get bigger and stronger as time passes. Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this and thank you Ponyboy for including me! Levi Dexter
This trio hail from the streets of Liverpool and are being tipped as the UK’s break-out band. With a relentless touring schedule, Furious have been cemented as one of the hardest working and wildest live acts around. Their appeal crosses so many borders and with their self penned songs about teenage life today, they are turning the world’s kids onto a wild rock ‘n’ roll beat.
Even from their early days playing in youth clubs around Liverpool, they caused a big stir. They have starred on MTV as ambassadors for the Liverpool music scene. Their debut album reached number 10 in the UK vinyl charts (above Elton John & Thin Lizzy). They have been featured on the computer game ‘Rock Band’ with one of their songs ‘All Night Long’. And more recently, they’ve just joined Wild Records label with a new album From the Cavern to California destined to cause a stir.
They have played countless gigs abroad, all over Europe. And following two successful tours of Russia and America, it looks like Furious are about to take Viva Las Vegas by storm. The critics are already comparing it to the arrival of The Beatles. So, prepare yourself. This isn’t for the faint of heart. This is the real roots of rock ‘n’ roll!
Editor’s note: Ponyboy was pleased to have Mike Lewi, co-creator from New York City’s infamous “Midnite Monster Hop” as our guest interviewer, as well as photo contributions by the very talented Elisa Gierasch.
MIKE LEWI: You’re on the eve of performing at the 2014 Viva Las Vegas festival to thousands of people, a primarily American audience. How do you anticipate a teddy boy band being accepted by that audience?
FURIOUS: If it’s anything like our shows around New York or California, it’s going to be crazy! We haven’t been let down by American audiences yet, so we’re expecting “crazy” on a big scale!
MIKE LEWI: What do you bring that may be considered new to American audiences?
FURIOUS: Ugly, out of control rock ‘n’ roll! We’re the anti-pretentious, anti-poser rock ‘n’ roll that seems to be everywhere these days.
MIKE LEWI: Can you explain for Ponyboy readers the history of Edwardian culture?
FURIOUS: Teddy boys were working-class teenagers who bought expensive threads on layaway to better themselves when they had nothing, and to show the upper classes they wouldn’t bow down and be quiet – to then go and drink and brawl in them. Basically, they were the scallies of the 50’s and it’s been going right through the years since then as an underground sub-culture.
MIKE LEWI: You’ve met and been inspired by many men and women that grew up in the bombed out rubble of post WWII England, at the birth of the original teddy boy movement. How did those originators of the first teenage rebellion wave define themselves at a time that actually even preceded rock’n’roll?
FURIOUS: It was the clothes and the attitude, to look smart and answer to no one. They had no blueprint or predecessors to base themselves on. These were the first “teenagers” to leave bomb-raids and rationing behind and they were going to make the most of it.
MIKE LEWI: You started your band at a very young age. Please tell us how that came about.
FURIOUS: We were just kids in school dying to hear some rock ‘n’ roll, but there was none about so we started a band. There was never a plan, we were just lads having a bit of fun. And that’s what it still is. We’d play the dives and dirty clubs around Liverpool, anywhere that would pay an underage band in beer. And then the word spread.
MIKE LEWI: I have heard that your parents grew up within the ted culture, so is it safe to assume you’ve lost touch with the world outside of rock’n’roll?
FURIOUS: That’s not really the case. Rock ‘n’ roll was the soundtrack to our childhood, but we were just scallies growing up. We looked like skin heads as well, because there wasn’t much money back then and our grandad would “style” our hair with his old army clippers. It was a skinhead every time!
MIKE LEWI: Are your parents proud of you?
FURIOUS: We hope so, but they party every time we leave the country. Don’t know what they’re trying to tell us!
MIKE LEWI: Considering the amount of original teds still regularly supporting rock’n’roll events, and many of the original rock’n’roll revival bands consistently still playing live, what has been the reaction towards Furious by UK and European audiences?
FURIOUS: It’s been great! Better than we could have ever expected. Right from day one, the original teds took us under their wing. And wherever we go, there will be a good crowd of them going crazy til’ the early hours.
MIKE LEWI: I know over the years you’ve had some various line-up changes. Tell us about Jimmy.
FURIOUS: We met Jimmy at a gig in an old ted pub in London where he was playing with another band. We were going through drummers like bog roll at the time. So after a few pints, he foolishly agreed to play some shows with us in Sweden and that was him trapped! He slotted in like an old mate we’d known for years.
MIKE LEWI: Is it strange to bring what, in some respects, is American music back to America?
FURIOUS: There’s so much talent stateside, we were surprised there was room for us. The music we go mad for happens to be rock’n’roll and that just happens to be American. So as strange as it is, we enjoy the challenge and look forward to dodging the old tomatoes and beer cans!
MIKE LEWI: You’ve just recorded your second album. How was that process different from recording with Nervous Records?
FURIOUS: Well, this was a strange thing for us! Normally, we record locally or wherever Roy Williams can book us into a studio in between our live shows. So, every time it’s been a different process. But we gained some attention from the gigs we played up and down California last summer, which lead to an exciting invitation by Reb Kennedy from Wild Records to join his label! The entire experience was mental! One day we were in Liverpool, and then all of a sudden, we were in his studio recording new tracks at a lightning pace (16 songs in 10 hours). Hours later, we were flying out of Hollywood back home! We haven’t heard the mixes yet, but Reb is really excited and we hope you’re all going to love it.
MIKE LEWI: You’ve recorded a cover on your first LP, Punk Bashin Boogie, originally recorded by Don E. Sibley, who wrote the song at the height of the teds versus punks war in the 1970’s. Have you ever met Don? Are there teds that still hold these views?
FURIOUS: Yeah, we met Don. He came to a show we played in Southampton years ago. The drummer out of the Dixie Phoenix was a punk as well, so the song was just a bit of fun back then, like it is today. And I can’t say we know of teds who still get wound up by punks. A lot of the anger towards punks came from them wearing signature ted clothing (creepers, drapes), and covering Eddie Cochran songs and claiming them as their own. Today teds, punks, mods and skins have got a lot more in common with each other, than not.
MIKE LEWI: Are we living through the rock ‘n’ roll revival revival?
FURIOUS: We’re not sure if anything is being revived, but we’re living through some amazing times. We’re playing shows right across the world with the music and people we love! We can’t get any more lucky than that, can we?
MIKE LEWI: How do you feel sharing the bill with Crazy Cavan at this upcoming Viva Las Vegas?
FURIOUS: We’ve been lucky enough over the years to share the stage with these ted legends on loads of occasions. But this feels a little more special. Not only were these rockers a massive weapon in orchestrating the 70’s revival, they have played a big part in what we are and the music we play too! So, seeing our name on the same bill in Las Vegas is a huge honor!
MIKE LEWI: Do you have any future plans for Furious?
FURIOUS: We just want to make that perfect rock ‘n’ roll record. We might never do it, but we’ll keep on trying until it kills us!
Upon first meeting Bloodshot Bill at the 2006 Drop Dead Festival in New York City, we were enamored by his musical talent. A Montreal-based rockabilly one man band, Bill has a raw and wild 50’s style, which has often been compared to the great legend Hasil Adkins. Shortly after that festival, Bill was no longer able to gain admittance into the United States, in fact, for five long years. Luckily for all American rockabilly fanatics, he is now able to tour freely throughout the U.S. Bloodshot Bill is also now on the Norton Records label.
PONYBOY: Bill, please tell us about your background.
BLOODSHOT BILL: I’m Trinitalian (half Italian, half Trinidadian, that is) and born and raised in Canada. I started playing music in high school – the drums first – and only started playing guitar in my early 20’s. I play with many bands, as well as doing my own solo/one man band shows. I have many recorded releases and hope you pick one up.
PONYBOY: At what age did you start getting into music?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I was pretty young. My best friend in First Grade had an older brother with cool records, and an older cousin who actually played in a rockabilly band. We thought it was pretty cool. I recently played a show with the older cousin (George Stryker). It was the first time I’d seen him in about 30 years! Also around that age, when my family would go on little weekend trips in the car, we’d always have this one Conway Twitty tape on. And we’d all sing along! I knew all the words and never got sick of it. I guess I was 6 or 7 years old.
PONYBOY: You toured in the United States for a while, then were forbidden to re-enter the U.S. Please tell us a bit about that.
BLOODSHOT BILL: I crossed into the States without a proper work visa. That’s it. And I was banned for 5 years. Now, I’m allowed back in and have the proper visa, etc. All is well, but what a pain it is to get that visa going. Eeef!
PONYBOY: Did you feel it set your career back at the time?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I don’t know. My expectations aren’t too high considering the kind of stuff I do. I was really bummed to not be able to play, see friends, travel, etc
PONYBOY: Since you’ve been able to enter the States and play, it seems like you are now touring more than ever. Is this correct?
BLOODSHOT BILL: No, I used to tour much more than I do now. I still get around. I’m just more selective of where I go. Before, I used to just hop in the car and be gone for months and months at a time. Now, I try to just head out on weekends, or for two weeks tops.
PONYBOY: You are now signed with Norton Records, a great American label. How has that been for you? It seems a perfect fit.
BLOODSHOT BILL: It’s a really great feeling to be on my favorite record label, and a huge honour to be one of the very few modern acts to release albums with them. I love everything they’ve done. And they really are the greatest people, too.
PONYBOY: How many records have you done with Norton? And many have you done in total?
BLOODSHOT BILL: With Norton, I’ve released 5 albums (as Bloodshot Bill, Ding-Dongs, and Tandoori Knights), 7 singles/EPs (as Bloodshot Bill, Tandoori Knights, and Bollywood Argyles), and have a new album planned for release this year with them. In total, with various labels (and not counting tracks on compilations), I have had 40 releases.
PONYBOY: That’s quite an extensive music library at a young age. We also love that you have your very own Bloodshot Bill Pomade Nice’N’Greasy. How did that come about?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I played a weekender in Kansas City years ago called Greaserama. The organizers also ran American Greaser Supply. We hit it off really well, and they sponsored me. They made me my own Frankenstein blend of their greases. It was the best. I still have some left but am hanging on to it hoarder-style, since they sold the company years ago.
PONYBOY: You now have a family. Please tell us about your daughter.
BLOODSHOT BILL: My daughter is the best! I love her so much. Her name is Penny Lee. She’s turning two next week. I smile everytime I look at her.
PONYBOY: What are your plans as far as recording and future touring?
BLOODSHOT BILL: I’m gonna “keep on keepin’ on”. I’ve got lots of new recordings coming out this year and plenty more touring. I’m heading to Florida next week, France, Belgium, and maybe the Yukon at some point this year. I’ve got lots of fun stuff planned.
Boston based New England Shake-up founder Beck Rustic has launched her first East Coast Rockabilly weekender. And it’s all about the music, including incredible performances by bands such as the Racketeers, the Rip’em Ups, Bloodshot Bill, Jittery Jack and the Screaming Rebel Angels. We caught up with the very busy Miss Rustic for questions about her weekender and the East Coast rockabilly scene.
PONYBOY: Please tell us your inspiration for starting this weekender?
BECK RUSTIC: Well, I’ve always loved music and have been booking shows around Boston for quite a while, just one–off regular shows. This seemed like a natural progression for me to do something that stretched out over a weekend, in a larger venue, to a larger group of people that are excited about the music that I love. And to be honest it’s nice going to a weekender that I can drive to instead of hopping on a plane!
PONYBOY: Prior to yourself, who do you feel on the East Coast has been the most successful at doing something steady in this genre?
BECK RUSTIC: DJ Easy Ed has been booking great shows in Boston for years, and has a radio show as well. Laura Rebel Angel in New York puts on great shows. And Rebel Night is a great monthly event in NYC.
PONYBOY: Who are your past favorite rockabilly bands/musicians?
BECK RUSTIC: Mac Curtis, Glen Glenn, Warren Smith, Al Ferrier, Billy Lee Riley, Carl Mann, Buddy Knox, Dale Hawkins. There are so many, I could go on and on really!
PONYBOY: And present day rockabilly bands?
BECK RUSTIC: I got really lucky the first year of the Shake-Up. I was able to book bands that I really love like the Bloodshots, Jittery Jack, Rocky Velvet, the Racketeers, and the Garnet Hearts. Everyone on the bill that played year one are bands that I listen to regularly. I also booked acts that aren’t really rockabilly, but are really high energy, like the Rip ‘Em Ups, Bloodshot Bill and Dollar Bill. There are a TON of great bands out there right now. Everytime I get asked this sort of question, I feel bad as I can’t list everyone. The list would be pages long!
PONYBOY: Why do you think the 50’s rockabilly movement is so big on the West Coast, and not on the East Coast?
BECK RUSTIC: I’ve thought about this a lot. I think quite a bit of it is because there seems to be a lot of younger kids experiencing the music scene on the West Coast. We have had less of that happening here the last few years. Those young kids that come out are really excited as they discover this type of new music. Unfortunately many of us take the scene for granted and we need these kids to help us from getting jaded. I think without that youth, things start to feel stale and people don’t go out as much. This hurts ticket sales for touring bands to justify hitting the East Coast cities. But recently I have been seeing some new faces out at shows and I think the East Coast is on the beginning of an upswing. So that’s good!
PONYBOY: Can you give us a hint of any bands/dj’s you might have booked for next years Shake-up?.
BECK RUSTIC: Nope! I’ll be announcing that in January. But I will say that I got really lucky again with the line-up for the second year. There are going to be fantastic musicians on the Shake-Up stage in 2014, as well as really good DJs for the late night record hops.
PONYBOY: Do you go abroad for any of the big weekenders?
BECK RUSTIC: I haven’t as of late, what with airfare costs being so expensive. The Shake-Up eats up all of my time, as well as everything in my wallet!
PONYBOY: Have you been to every Viva Las Vegas?
BECK RUSTIC: I’ve been to the last ten Viva’s. I’m 32 years old, so I wasn’t old enough to attend the first few years!
PONYBOY: Is Tom Ingram aware of you? Has he shown any support to your event?
BECK RUSTIC: He and I have emailed back and forth.
PONYBOY: Lastly, who would be your ultimate dream band for the Shakeup?
BECK RUSTIC: I’m not saying, as I don’t want to jinx it!