Rockabilly party kicks off music fest

Visitors to the launch of this weekend’s Lynn River Music and Arts Festival might want to check out Friday’s dress code before leaving the house.Gals are invited to wear their pin-up poster best. Guys will want to put on a clean T-shirt and lube up those ducktails, for it’s going to be Rockabilly by the River all night long.Friday’s lineup sets a rocking tone for this weekend’s fest that will be tough to follow.Organizers have rounded up a number of talented musicians dedicated to the retro-rebel sounds of rockabilly pioneers such as Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash. They and a host of others launched rock ‘n roll into an exhilarating new direction in the 1950s when they put a blues-boogie spin on down-home country bluegrass.“Rockabilly music has a little something for everyone and can get even the wallflowers up and dancing,” says Suzie Major, the self-described “boss lady” of Suzie’s Bombshell Boutique in Port Dover and an enthusiastic devotee of today’s rockabilly revival.“Rockabilly could be called the granddaddy of modern music as its musicians pioneered new sounds and introduced an edgy, often fast-paced feel that paved the way for experimentation in music. It was ground-breaking and has stood the test of time.”A vibrant culture has evolved in memory of music’s rockabilly past. Participants look and talk the part and adore the vehicles of the period when rockabilly music was first heard through tinny speakers. It’s no surprise that Friday’s event in Wellington Park in Simcoe begins with a classic car show at 4 p.m.Fest patrons will want to be on hand at 5:30 p.m. when centre stage is given over to an old-time “pin-up parade.”After a jumping, jiving dance class at 6 p.m., the music begins in earnest at 7 p.m. with Snow-Heel Slim and The Boogie Infection. Snow-Heel Slim will be followed by King Jives, The Hellbent Rockers, Riff Off, and the sultry, sassy stylings of Ginger St. James.Major – whose known in rockabilly circles as Miss Suzi Bombshell – warns visitors that they may come away from Friday’s revival converted. She says there’s a vast rock-and-roll subculture out there ready to welcome one and all.“Rockabilly is alive and well and is, in fact, thriving,” says Major. “Current acts like Reverend Horton Heat, Brian Setzer, Stray Cats, JD McPherson and Tiger Army tour worldwide and sell out venues.  Other scene favourites include Hillbilly Moon Explosion and The Delta Bombers.“Rockabilly shows often include not only the music, but also the classic cars and fantastic throw-back fashions. Those who are immersed in the culture flock to events like Viva Las Vegas where they will spend days and nights enjoying band after band while strutting their stuff and staying up way too late jumping and jiving.“These types of shows and weekenders are popular in the United States and Europe and are making their way into Canada. Here in Ontario, we enjoy Red Hot-‘n-Blue in Brockville, Jalopy Jam-Up in Rockton, and my baby – Rockabilly Rev-Up — which takes place on the Saturday of the May long weekend in Port Dover.”The Lynn River Music and Arts Festival is the successor event to Simcoe’s former Friendship Festival. Local musical acts, such as The Schotts, Small Town Girls, Black Creek Collective and The Atkinson Brothers,  take centre stage Saturday and Sunday.The public is invited to join local MP Diane Finley, local MPP Toby Barrett and Simcoe-area Ward 5 Coun. Ian Rabbitts for the official opening ceremonies 10:30 a.m. Saturday on the main stage off Bonnie Drive [email protected]

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