The Oneida '50s Fest, July 7-13, 2002,
Green Bay, WI: Reviews and Comments

Bob Timmers, Ersel Hickey and Wanda Feathers (Charlie's daughter) at Green Bay

Posted July 18, 2002 -Sheree Homer -
Hi all, I just got home a little while ago. I have been gone ten days. First the rockabilly festival last week then my grandma's this week. I am sorry I haven't posted sooner about the festival. Let me tell everyone that it was a BLAST!!! I have never been to a better event. I have never met so many nice people in my life. The music was rocking. I think the artists lied about their ages because the music was just too good to be true. It was truly a dream come true for any music lover.
           I saw about 18 acts, and everyone was great. Jack Scott, The Collins Kids,Gene Summers, Jimmy McCracklin, Sonny Burgess, Ronnie Dawson, and The Comets gave some of the best performances along with the other people mentioned below. I interviewed seven different artists/groups: Billy Lee Riley, Sanford Clark, The Collins Kids, The Crickets, Rocky Burnette, Paul Burlison, and DJ Fontana. I want to thank all the artists for their kindness. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to allow me to interview you. I have never felt more loved and accepted. I felt like I really belonged and hope the casino does this again next year.
           Also I want to thank Bob Timmers for all the support in regard to my interviews and for helping to put this awesome event together. Please thank Phil for my mom and I. We couldn't have been more happy with the shows and the event in general. It was wonderful to be able to meet and greet the artists after their shows. Also, it was great to be able to get autographs from everyone.
I made more friends than I can count. Everyone was super nice and gave excellent performances. I still can't believe I was there. I have to pinch myself to know it is really true.
           It was really nice meeting all of the artists, Bob, and Wanda too. Wanda, you are a very nice lady. Gene Summers sent me the nicest autographed photo. If he is on the list, thank you. I will make sure to email him privately to thank him also. I hope Paul Burlison is doing ok now after his surgery. Dale, you gave an excellent show as well and were very nice to my mom and I after the show. We thank you for that. Thanks for playing all our favorite songs. I hope the festival takes place again next year. I will be there with bells on. I also hope to keep in contact with all the artists I have met. I consider them to be my friends. Keep on rocking for at least another 20 years.
           Johnny Vallis, my wonderful friend, I owe you big time. You missed out on quite the event. I will never be able to repay you for the wonderful gifts you have given me. You are cool beyond words.
           Two more things then I will hush I promise. Tomorrow, I will email photos that I took, so everyone can see them. I took 10 rolls of film. Some of them turned out really nice. I am proud of them.
           The other thing I wanted to say is in regard to Billy Lee, you will be rocking for another 30 years not to worry. You were one of the best performers I saw. I love the songs "Pearly Lee" and "Got Your Water Boiling Baby?" I audio taped the show and listen to those songs over and over. Your band was fantastic too, especially that piano player, WOW. I hope to see another one of your shows soon. My mom had an awesome time too. She wants to thank everyone also. Everything I said, she agrees with.

Posted July 18, 2002 - Li'l Rachel -
           Hello friends! I felt that the festival in Green Bay was definitely worth mention. The Oneida Casino Rockin' 50's Weekend was, in my opinion, the best rockabilly festival I have ever attended. I think that it was a tremendous success, and I commend the promoters Marc and Phil for a job well done. Things ran very smoothly, and I don't know anyone that went that didn't have a good time. That being said, I will attempt to give a brief review of my personal highlights from last week's event. I must admit that I was expecting the worst. I was convinced that there would be too many people and the whole thing would be mass chaos. I am still in disbelief that a festival with over 120 rockabilly bands was pulled off so smoothly. But the ballrooms were large, and the shows were staggered so that neither room was ever filled to capacity. It seemed also that the attendance was comprised of people who had come mostly for the music and seeing friends, as opposed to people who just wanted to party. After all, Green Bay, WI is not exactly a big party town. Overall, I thought I would be tired of it all, since I opted to stay the whole week, but even at the week's end, I was not ready to come home - and I live in Austin, the Live Music Capital, so I am always happy to go home. I have never heard so much good music and seen so many great people in one place. I felt like I saw every band, but reading the reviews, I am remembering how much I really missed. It is hard to narrow it down from so much good stuff, but I will try to list my highlights from each room.
           3 Clans Stage: This was the biggest ballroom, where most of the "legends" and more established acts played. Sometimes I find the older fellas don't have what they did way back when, but this festival showcased a lot of great acts that still have it. I had seen many of them before, but it is always a treat to see them again. However, this was my first time seeing the Collins Kids. That was thrilling, since I sing in a harmony duo myself, and the Collins Kids have always been a big influence. Of course, their voices sound much different than when they were kids, but they still put on a great show. And Larry and Deke playing together was the closest thing to Larry and Joe Maphis that I will ever get to see. The Comets were even more amazing than last time I saw them. They didn't have that British fellow singing with them this time. But they still sounded great and put on a Hell of an energetic show. As did the Treniers. It was my first time seeing the Treniers as well, and they were a hoot! Also worth mentioning were Joe Clay, Sid King, and Billy Lee Riley. Other highlights from the non-geriatric category of the 3 Clans were Carl Sonny Leyland, the Flyrite Trio and Flyrite Boys, and High Noon (even though I am spoiled and see them all the time, I never tire of them-brag, brag). Acts I wish I had seen but didn't were Janis Martin (I was playing another stage), Jimmy McCracklin, and the Space Cadets.
           Iroquois Ballroom: This was the slightly smaller stage that housed most of the International and current contemporary rockabilly favorites. I have to say my favorite moment was when Nick Curran took the stage in his leopard coat, rock star shades, and gold top Les Paul (which matched cohort- er, uh- Co-Horton Bobby's gold top Les Paul) for a 60's garage rock set complete with electric bass. It was hard to hear the vocals over the twin Les Pauls, but I gave it two thumbs up for the sheer balls and offensiveness of doing a 60's garage rock show at a rockabilly weekender. Nick has more style than anyone I know. What a rock star. But his antics were nearly rivaled by another guitar god-Deke Dickerson. I particularly enjoyed being drenched in beer during the surf instrumental "Pabst Blue Ribbon", and seeing all his fellow guitar masters attempting to play simultaneously on only 3 guitars for "Green Bay Boogie". Deke- always the showman. Aside from those novel acts, there were some that were equally as impressive on the musical level. I finally saw the fellow gal duo The Ranch Girls. What a great show. Fabulous band and super tight harmonies. No one does it like the Dutch when it comes to gal singers. Annita and the Beaumont Playboys were incredible as well. She is possibly the best female vocalist in the scene these days. And while the Dutch have their gal singers, the Swedes have those raw rockin' guys. Swedish friends Wildfire Willie and the Ramblers, Jack Baymoore and the Bandits, and Sonny Rogers and the Kingpins are always a treat to see. My most favorite of the Scandinavian bands has to be the Barnshakers though. I wish I could see them more often. I forget how damn good they are. Bands I wish I had seen but didn't include the Paladins, the Raging Teens, and the Racketeers.
           Purcell's Lounge: This was the smallest venue. It had the atmosphere of playing in a club as it was the hotel bar, and only venue that permitted smoking. We (the Casey Sisters) were fortunate to have played both the Iroquois Ballroom and the Purcell's lounge, and honestly, I preferred playing the smaller venue. There is always a more intimate interraction with your audience. And Cave Catt Sammy was really cooking as our back-up band with the addition of Randy Rich on piano. I had a great time playing both sets, but the Purcell's was my favorite, because I could actually see Janis Martin in the audience. What a rewarding experience. Honestly, other than our show, I didn't spend much time in the Purcell's lounge. I did make a special effort to see the Bellfuries (one of my favorite bands in the whole world), and Bones Maki and the Sun Dodgers, who both had great sets.
           The Pavillion Tent: After a whole week of nothing but rockabilly, the R&B tent was a pleasant change. This was perhaps my favorite part of the whole week, as I am a sucker for all that "colored" music. Barrence Whitfield was the only act I missed in the Pavillion tent. There wasn't a weak link in the line-up of that venue. My favorite of the day had to be Big Sandy with Nick Curran and the Nitelifes and the Lonely Blue Boys all playing together. What a show! It gave me goosebumps all over. The only regret was that I didn't find a boy to share all that romantic music with. I felt like I should have been making out in the corner or something. Sigh. Maybe next time ...
           Well, that about does it for this review. I saw so many great acts, I thought I might have died and gone to Heaven. And yet, I still feel like there was a lot I missed. At any rate, I don't regret a moment of it. The first hour I was there made it worth the time and money I spent on the trip to Green Bay. I hope Marc and Phil get the funds to do this show again. I think it was the most fun I've ever had.
Li'l Rachel Casey
The Casey Sisters
Austin, TX

Posted July 16, 2002 -
           Green Bay was a hoot. I missed Sunday and Monday (the Fly-Rite Trio!, Treniers, Collins Kids, Sonny Rogers, Bellfuries) and got in about half-way through Tuesday evening. Highlights ...
           Tuesday: Marti and the Barnshakers(great of course... not the greatest set I've ever seen her play... that'd be the Dixie Rumble a few years back with the Blacktop Rockets backing her) and Jack Baymoore(great cover of Tooter Boatman's "Thunder & Lightning" and encored with "AV-8 Boogie to a room of cheers"). Lowlight ... Lloyd Trip. I enjoy Lloyd's music, but his drummer's behavior during the set turned me off from that band forever and caused me to leave after just a couple of songs).
           Wednesday: Larry Donn was great as was Jack Scott. Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms (w/ Bobby Trimble on drums) surprised me greatly ... esp. their cover of Lonesome Tears In My Eyes. Ramblin' James & the Billyboppers were one of the few bands that kept me in a single room for an entire set... great set, though they didn't play "Weight of the World". I was completely surprised by Annita & the Austin Playboys. Annita's great (loved the Haystack Hi-Tones), but I've seen that backing combo (in various forms behind many folks) so many times... a bit safe IMO ... and a few other people's opinions... her new cd ain't too shabby, either. Really liked her encore and the song about space which rocked along nicely. Mouse and the Space Cadets blew me away ... tough beat. One of the week's highlights was watching Mouse use the PA cable to pull himself to the top of the speakers and prepare to dive, but didn't ... I left to see a few minutes of Jack & the Rippers(who I was anxious to see, but wound up leaving me a bit non-surprise), and came back to "Awakedeeawakeedo" or whatever the song was barreling down the crowd with a gal putting her wiggle dress to full effect on stage. Big Sandy and the Boys were great as usual ... played all the great one's, brought back "Miss Tracey" for those who missed the Trio set and then dug back for "Goodbye Little Star".
           Thursday: Eddie Bond, though he looked a bit like what elvis might look like if he were still alive was great. Not a whole lot of energy, but he can still wail. The Ramblers backed him wonderfully. To hear "Slip Slip Slippin' In" by Eddie was so amazing. Missed the Crickets, but heard mention of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. The Comets I caught for a second and the room was packed. Great to see them, and Marshall's snake joke cracked me up. I dug the Raging Teens for the few songs I caught ... ripping cover of Phil Trigwell's wild "Bizzy Bee" and nice take on "Little Red Book". Miss Amy just looks tuff up there. Deke ... AMAZING. You go to Green Bay and there's just so much going on and ya' think I've seen this so many times. I heard rumors about Deke talking to different guitarists about playing during his set all day so I thought I'd catch it. I walked in as he was bringing "Pabst Blue Ribbon" back from the Untamed Youth. This was by far the most beer soaked set of the weekend. For his encore he sung his latest song, "The Green Bay Boogie" ... funny enough. Then he brings out Sean Mencher to play a bit on one of the double necks. Then Ashley Kingman to play along on the neck not in use. I don't remember who was next... but by the end it was Ashley, Sean, one of Jimmy Sutton's Four Charms, Lester Peabody, Bobby Horton, Dave Biller, Graham from the Sun Dodgers, and three other guys I can't remember spread out over the two doublenecks and then the cat from Starline Rhythm Boys(whose set I stupidly missed!!!) and JJ on the Fender(new record for combined weight on a single-neck?). It was loud, it was hypnotic, it was great, and Sean laughed the entire time. And Deke walked around directing traffic and playing the part of mad scientist ... The Barnshakers BLEW ME AWAY. First time I've seen them, and they were amazing. Watching Lester play- he's intense ... The Nu Niles seemed down a member, but I walked in to see Levi Dexter and Eddie Nichols (of Royal Crown Revue) doing a clapper boy routine to "Lotta Lovin'"... I scooted over to the Lounge to see Three Bad Jacks. Elvis was wound TIGHT all week, and he exploded on stage. He was full of fire and he set the drum kit and bass on fire. He was still wound tight when I ran into him at 9 or so Friday morning. All that energy spent and he was still going a million miles an hour.
           I'll hit Friday and Saturday later ... Nobody's mentioned it so far, but Nick Curran swerved everybody - pissed off a pack of kids from the Continent, and had Bobby Horton doing stuff I never thought I'd see him do in a million years ... all in the course of a 45 minute set.
B Cook
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