Modern Rockabilly Cats Copy Their Heroes

By , Featured Writer, Sad Man’s Tongue

Rockabilly music is unique in many ways. The style, the look, the  instrumentation, the attitude…all of these things and more went into making  the original rockabilly scene unique at the time. And rockabilly remains unique  for another reason too: in reality, it hasn’t changed much over the 60 or so  years of its existence.

For the most part, modern rockabilly musicians go to great lengths to emulate  their heroes from the original pioneering days of the later half of the 1950s.  We wear clothes that look like the clothes they wore. We cut our hair in  pompadours. We tend to use vintage instruments that look and sound like the  instruments our idols used. We even try to record songs that sound like those  old recordings made on primitive recording equipment and that can be a difficult  thing to achieve!

That’s not to say that rockabilly hasn’t evolved because clearly it has. One  of the defining characteristics of early rockabilly was that it was a melding of  musical styles. Healthy doses of blues, country, and R&B all mixed together  to create a new energy and style. And with so much music having been created  over the past 60 years, simply ignoring that music would be a very  “unrockabillyish” thing to do! When the rockabilly revival finally took major  hold in the early 80s, the new rockabilly cats brought in elements of heavy  metal, punk, British invasion pop, and other influences into their music.

Check out the Stray Cats form that era. Visually, they looked rockabilly, but  with a touch of glam rock thrown in. Their pompadours where stylized and their  earrings were dangly evoking David Bowie almost as much as Gene Vincent. And the  tattoos. The early guys weren’t quite as painted as modern musicians. I once  read somewhere that there is historically a consistent resurgence of tattoos as  we near the end of each century. This clearly happened in the rock world and the  Stray Cats were a big part of that trend. It’s a trend that has stuck with  modern rockabillies and it doesn’t seem to be fading.

And rockabilly had its offshoots too and thus grew in that way. Chief among  these is the pshychobilly genre. These guys look and sound like rockabilly mixed  with heavy metal, death metal, and Goth. So you really wouldn’t say that  rockabilly has been stagnant all of these years. It hasn’t remained unchanged  for all of this time.

And yet, if you dig to the core of it, it’s surprising how close so many  rockabilly acts and rockabilly fans these days stick to the original formula.  These bands make music that sounds like it could have been recorded 55 years  ago. They write songs that are amazingly true to the original music that came  out of those times. They use recording techniques and instrumentation that would  have been cutting edge in 1958. Their clothes are accurately retro. It’s  constantly amazing to me how a form that on its face is so simply constructed  can continue to be mined by generations of musicians that find different ways to  express themselves within that form!

What other modern musical form with that long of a history has stayed so true  to its roots? The Blues? Maybe. Jazz has been all over the place because that’s  exactly what jazz is. Rock and roll has changed faces so many times it’s  difficult to keep up! But rockabilly stands unique as maybe the only modern-era  musical genre that remains essentially the same today as it was in its infancy.  That speaks to the power of rockabilly music. The raw energy of it. The sheer  joy in it. When something is that beautiful, then why would you want to  mess with it?

Yes, us modern rockabilly musicians are copy cats. And the fans seem to love  it exactly like that!

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.

Article Source: Ezine Articles

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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