I know I talked a lot about it when I returned from Viva Las Vegas last year, but I will say again: people in the rockabilly scene are the nicest, most genuine batch of folks you will ever have the good fortune of meeting. Here are some observations about Texas Rockabilly Revival that I made:
1) The musicians who come to these things do it because they, too, really, truly love this music. I shook hands with members of nearly every single band that performed; bass players were happy to chat with me about their set ups, lead guitar guys passed out hugs and autographs; drummers sat at your table and bought you beers. They talked about being on the road and about venues good (thumbs up to the Continental in Houston and Austin both) and bad (the shitty place in Houston in the strip mall without house sound.) They roamed the crowds, and stood behind the security fences, and played while feeling less than 100%, and still posed for pictures at 1:30 in the morning - because they realize that they are lucky to do what they do. They love the music, and the people who love the music.These two boys (Kevin on the bass and Walt ON the bass) can drink their own weight in Jagermeister
2) It is not very hard to make friends. By definition, the folks who show up to events like this have something in common. Aside from mile high hair and coloring books for arms and legs and backs, fans of rockabilly (as shorthand for all the 'billy genres out there, no slight intended) also love: fast cars, old shit, ladies who look like ladies, and people who can DO things, not just talk about doing things. That is how, within ten minutes of shaking their hands, Brandon and Emily took me under their wings and spent the remainder of the weekend driving me from place to place, feeding me, giving me drinks, assuring I was well away from the wrecking pit, and generally making sure I was secure. I can't thank them enough, and I am very, very grateful that we found each other. They are solid, through and through. And my dance card was filled by the fine gentlemen from Atlanta and El Paso, who on respective nights made sure I had a twirl or two on the floor.
3) Bartenders deserve every damn penny they make. This goes without saying, but I want to give a special round of applause to LindZ, who went out of her way to find my lost card, and gave me water when she saw I had had perhaps a beer too many. When I returned on Saturday, she also checked in with a huge bottle of ibuprofen and looked relieved when I asked her for a glass - JUST a glass, thank you, not a bucket - of iced tea.
4) Unlike so many other subcultures I can think of, the ladies who inhabit the world that surrounds the music have no qualms about telling each other how lovely they are. I heard compliments about dresses, hair, shoes, make-up... Mostly I saw women look each other over, and rather than deeming each other lacking in some way, admiring one another and acknowledging it. Rockabilly girls are PRETTY, there is no denying it, and every last one of us tries our hardest to look that way.
5) Unlike so many boys I can think of, the gents who frequent events where these lovelies gather have no qualms about letting their admiration be known. They say it gallantly, like Brandon to Emily when we stepped out at the car show: "Someone has to take your picture today, because you look real pretty in that dress." They say it easily and well-practiced, like Steve saying to me: "You sure are in fine form today, what ever your name is!" (he couldn't remember my name was Stella, not Sylvia.) They say it wheedlingly, like the Gretsch guy to me and Emily as we walked past the booth; "You ladies both look so beautiful! You NEED your picture taken with one of these guitars!" It was a revelation to be around men who were not afraid to tell a women he appreciated the hours of work it took her to turn his head.
The crowds never got ugly, just a little rowdy when the Rev played Ace of Spades for Lemmy, who had to cancel. Even the usual suspects were mostly respectful and subdued. Any hard feelings were soothed with a cold beer. It's weird that a rather small genre of music could restore a good deal of my faith in humanity.
I came home after three days on my own in the big city to a family who was very happy to see me, and a boy who was as well (somewhat to my surprise.) I showed them all how much I loved them by promptly passing out with a fever of 102 and an assful of penicillin first thing the next morning, courtesy of a wicked strep infection I picked up along the way. There is always a price to pay. You know what, though? I met Slim Jim Phantom, and was backstage for the last two songs of Wanda Jackson's set, so it was totally worth it.