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Published on November 11th, 2013 | by Ballard Lesemann


Greasers Galore at the Inaugural ‘Rockabillaque Festival’

North Charleston-based filmmaker and promotor Simon Cantlon denies having much musical skill, but he’ll readily admit to being a rock ‘n’ roll fanatic. He especially admires the greasy side of the early rock ‘n’ roll era when elements country, blues, gospel, and swing converged to create the new style.

On Saturday, Nov. 16, Cantlon and his team of local co-sponsors will celebrate the rough beauty, romantic nostalgia, campiness, and fun machismo of rockabilly and the 1950s rock ‘n’ roll culture with Rockabillaque — a day-long block party with live music, suds, hot rods, and pin-up girls.

“It’ll be all about the different styles of music of that time, not just traditional rockabilly,” Cantlon says. “It’ll be a great bash in the heart of Park Circle, where a lot of the local musicians and artists are already big fans of the rockabilly style.”

As head exec of Vive Le Rock Productions, most of Cantlon’s experience with music and art have centered around filmmaking. He recently co-produced the independent documentary The Motels of Route 66. That experience led to him organizing a three-day rockabilly music festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico last summer called “Rockabilly on the Route.”


Festival organizer Simon Cantlon (provided)

“I really enjoyed doing ‘Rockabilly on the Route’ along several blocks of the historic Route 66,” Cantlon says. “When I relocated back to Charleston [where he previously lived in the 1990s], I was anxious to put another event like that together.”

Earlier this summer, Cantlon partnered with Park Circle eatery the Barbeque Joint, Holy City Tattooing Collective, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Nostalgia Garage, and several local bands and artists to organize the inaugural Rockabillaque (the name cleverly ties the BBQ with the music, of course).

Cantlon commissioned Brazilian visual artist Cristiano Soares to create the official poster and logo for Rockabillaque. “We communicated about the basic idea, and then he submitted this incredible, rockabilly themed illustration,” Cantlon says. “We were really impressed and honored to have it.”

North Charleston-based Nostalgia Garage (located on Dorchester Road) specializes in building and preservation of classic racecars and custom automobiles from the U.S., U.K., and Europe. They’ll be on hand as part of the Classic Car Show — the opening event that will kick things off at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“I’ve worked very closely with [owner] Scott Cloud from the Barbeque Joint, and I wanted to make sure the main stage was adjacent to what they’ll be doing on Saturday,” Cantlon says. “Most of the hot rods and classic cars will be positioned nearby as well.”

A portion of the proceeds from Rockabillaque will benefit This Is Noteworthy (TIN), a non-profit division of the Music Initiative.

“I just love how supportive the This Is Noteworthy and the Music Initiative have been with local bands in recent years,” Cantlon says. “They’re very dedicated and determined, and I’m glad to support their efforts to promote and cover live music in the area.”


The Defilers, live at the Mill (photo courtesy of the Mill).

Running from 1-6 p.m., the block party along East Montague Avenue will be free to the general public. Based out of Mt. Airy, Georgia, the Ivy Mountain Distillery will be at the festival, too, offering samples of their sour mash whiskey and other spirits to those of proper drinking age. There’ll be a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer truck on hand, too.

The man outdoor stage will be classic flatbed stage positioned “parking-lot style” along the main drag, next door to the Barbeque Joint at 1083 East Montague Avenue.

“The schedule for the main stage and participating clubs fell together really well,” Cantlon says. I tried to accommodate the bands that were coming in from out of town, and some of them are set to play several sets on the black party stage and later in the night at one of the venues. Arleigh Hertzler of the Defilers helped us out a lot by taking the reigns at Madra Rua [where Hertzler works as a manager and bartender] and at the Mill, where his band will be playing.”

Also on the main stage, a panel of local “celebrity” musicians and artists will judge the pin-up contest and fashion show early in the afternoon. Veteran stylist and clothing designer Sabrina Michelle created 10 custom-fitted dressed for the 10 local models in the fashion show. “Sabrina’s style fits perfectly into the festival,” Cantlon says. She’ll be running around, working hard during these presentations.”

A variety of bands are scheduled to perform at five nearby bars and clubs later in the night. Featured local acts include the surf-rock styled Jason and the Juggernauts, bluesy trash-swing trio Whiskey Diablo, and the heavy-hitting punkabilly power-trio the Defilers (back together after a hiatus). Local producer/spinner Greasy Gregg (a.k.a. Worship the Sky) will spin tunes throughout the day at the block party.

Maryland-based band Sean K. Preston and the Loaded Pistols handle a traditional style of rockabilly. Several Asheville, N.C.-based acts are on the bill, including twangy songwriter Pierce Edens, loud and bashy band Skink Ruckus, and swingin’ rock duo the Mad Tea (formerly known as the Mad Tea Party). Winston-Salem-based quintet the Bo-Stevens round out the roster.

“We’ve shuffled a few things to make the festival as cohesive and flexible as possible,” Cantlon says. “I think there’ll be something here for everyone — plenty of fun things to see and hear and do.”

Rockabillaque 2013: Full Schedule 

Main Stage (E. Montague Ave.)

1 p.m. — The Rockabillaque Classic Car Show w/ music by DJ Greasy Gregg
1:30 p.m. — Pierce Edens
2 p.m. — The Rockabillaque Fashion Show
2:30 p.m. — Skunk Ruckus
3:30 p.m. — DJ Greasy Gregg
4 p.m. — The Rockabillaque Pin-Up Contest
4:30 p.m — Sean K. Preston and the Loaded Pistols
5:30 p.m. — Classic Car Show Awards

Cork Bistro (1067 E. Montague Ave.)

6 p.m. — Whiskey Diablo (live music until 8 p.m., free admission)

Dig in the Park (DIG) (1049 E. Montague Ave.)

6 p.m. — TBA (live music until 8 p.m., free admission)

Madra Rua / free admission (1034 E. Montague Ave.)

6 p.m. — Pierce Edens (live music until 8 p.m., free admission)

The Sparrow / $10 admission (1078 E. Montague Ave.)

8:30 p.m. — Mad Tea
9:30 p.m. — Sean K Preston & The Loaded Pistols
10:30 pm. — Carnivalesque
11:30 p.m. — Jason and the Juggernauts

The Mill / free admission (1026 E. Montague Ave.)

10 p.m. — The Defilers
11:30 p.m. — The Bo-Stevens

Visit rockabillaque.com and the Facebook event page for more info.

Top image by Cristiano Soares.




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About the Author

Ballard Lesemann

is a musician and writer. Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he spent years playing in bands and working for Flagpole Magazine in the bustling music town of Athens, Ga. He returned to his hometown and served more than seven years as the Charleston City Paper's music editor. He's better at drumming than he is at playing guitar.

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