Rockabilly Revivalists Turn Back The Clock

By Buster Fayte, Featured Author, Sad Man’s Tongue

Step into a club with a hot rockabilly band on stage and it’s easy to imagine  that someone has turned back the clock. The music can transport you right back  to those magical nights of 1956 or 1957. The band’s clothes, their haircuts, and  the instruments they play look like something that was pulled out of a storage  locker that’s been sealed for 55 years.

But modern rockabilly musicians are about more than just revival. They don’t  consider themselves to be “oldies” bands. Oldies bands simply regurgitate the  hits of a time gone by. There’s no particular originality in that and for the  most part creativity on the oldies circuit is more about how well the band can  sound like the record. Sure, there’s skill involved and it is fun to see a band  that can play all the old hits note for note. But that’s not what modern  rockabilly bands are all about. Instead, they are playing a living, breathing  form of music that’s always growing and maturing and they’re constantly adding  brand new original compositions to the ever-growing rockabilly treasure  trove.

Rockabilly musicians and bands are more than just reenactment actors because  modern rockabilly is more than an aped reenactment. Sure, most modern rockabilly  bands cover a healthy dose of the old songs in their sets, but by and large any  truly great modern rockabilly band puts their own spin on the music and adds  their own original compositions to the body of rockabilly work. They don’t try  to sound like Carl Perkings or Charlie Feathers. Instead, they do a Perkins song  and put their own signature sound onto it. This keeps the genre alive and  exciting even after nearly 60 years.

In fact, it’s quite amazing how fresh and exhilarating a hot-rocking  rockabilly act can be. After a genre has been around for over half a decade,  you’d almost think that everything that can be done by a three-piece rockabilly  band must surely have been done by now. And just when you think that, you stop  in to see a performance that knocks your socks off all over again.

What is it about rockabilly that fosters that kind of excitement? What makes  each rockabilly show you see as interesting as the last and makes you look  forward with anticipation for the next? I’m convinced that it’s some kind of  magic. The same magic that Elvis unleashed upon an unsuspecting world in 1954 is  still just as strong today. In fact, it may be even stronger. After all, when  the world saw Elvis for the first time, they’d never seen anything or anyone  like him. They’d never heard music sung with such amazing and indescribable  delivery.

Today’s rockabilly bands don’t have the luxury of that element of surprise.  Modern rockabilly bands play to audiences that have been jaded by decades of  rock and roll diversity. And yet, the fans still love rockabilly and these new  bands. To me that proves that it wasn’t a matter of Elvis just getting lucky and  hitting at “the right time.” It was a musical art form that was bursting at its  seams waiting to explode upon the scene. It just needed the right catalyst to  set the explosion off and Elvis in all his original brilliance was that  catalyst.

But the music and the style stood on their own then and they stand on their  own now. And that’s why when a good rockabilly band takes the stage even today,  it’s easy to get lost and drift back to a time over a half century ago when the  music defined a new generation. As the band rocks out–whether to an old cover  tune or to one of their original rockabilly numbers–time moves backwards and it  takes you with it. And that feeling sticks with you when you leave the concert  after the show. It’s the magic that still thrives in rockabilly music.

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Buster Fayte is an author and rockabilly musician. He Blogs at “Buster Fayte’s Rockabilly Romp” where he writes about the passion he shares with millions of musicians and fans for rockabilly and oldies music. Buster has written several books including the “Complete Home Music Recording Start Kit”. He writes original songs, sings, and plays both guitar and bass.

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About Sad Man's Tongue: Rockabilly Bar & Bistro - Prague

We are a Bar and Bistro where old school meets the new school, dedicated to preserving the roots of rock and roll and it's modern adaptations as well as preserving the cultural identity of our neighborhood through our food, the the principles of the slow food movement. A little bit of rockabilly and retro combine with the kustom kulture of today, in an atmosphere devoid of Pretension.
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