Feature Rockabillaque2014LEAD

Published on November 12th, 2014 | by Ballard Lesemann


The All-Day Rockabillaque Festival Returns to Park Circle

After making a splash in the North Charleston neighborhood of Park Circle last fall with a full day and night of greasy rock ‘n’ roll, vintage hot rods, cold suds, strong libations, and pin-ups, the Rockabillaque Festival is set to return to East Montague Avenue this weekend with an even bigger lineup of bands, stages, and special events.

North Charleston-based filmmaker and promotor Simon Cantlon (top exec of Vive Le Rock Productions) partnered with Park Circle eatery the Barbeque Joint and organized the inaugural Rockabillaque last year with the mission showcasing various local and touring acts, classic cars, and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll culture in general. Hundreds of music fans, families, and neighborhood folks turned out for the daytime and late-night events in the heart of Park Circle.


This year’s schedule has expanded considerably with live music on three stages along East Montague, a classic car show, a vintage bike show, a tattoo contest presented by Roses & Ruins Tattoos and Fisticuffs Tattoo Balm, a pin-up contest presented by Guilty Pleasures & Optic Axis Sunglasses, a mustache/beard contest hosted by Holy City Beard & Mustache and Grave Before Shave Beard Balm, rockabilly fashion show Presented by RE-mix Shoes, a carnival sideshow circus, and several new vendors.

“We wanted to add new events and features to keep things family-friendly,” Cantlon adds. “Contests, competitions, vendors, awards ceremonies … these are ways to draw a diverse crowd of music fans and car fans and different people to the day and evening events.”

A panel of local musicians and artists will judge the pin-up contest and fashion show early in the afternoon. Acclaimed Charleston-based stylist and clothing designer Sabrina Michelle will return to oversee the contests, makeovers, and presentations. “Sabrina’s style fits perfectly into the festival,” Cantlon says. “She’ll be running around, working hard during these presentations.”

The musical roster features a cool variety of bands, songwriters, and performers, including the Straight 8s, Jem Crossland and the Hypertonics, the Malamondos, Molly Sue Gonzalez and the Mean Mean Men, Blood Red River, Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths, Jordan Igoe, Mr. Bonetangles (“the old-skool puppetry of Will Schutze”), and more.

“We’re closing out more blocks in Park Circle this year, and we’ll have more out-of-town bands coming in from a lot of different places like Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia,” says Cantlon. “We tried to invite a few bands who don’t get to come to the Charleston area very often. We try to diversify it and give it a mix of styles and a little bit more flavor.”

Musically, most of the featured acts share a lot in common, whether drawing from the rowdy side of early rock and rockabilly or the blues/country roots of rock and pop in general.


Simon Santlon and Sabrina Michelle at Rockabillaque 2013 (photo by Ballard Lesemann)

“I think they’re all influenced by classic roots-rock and particular eras of rockabilly, early rhythm and blues, garage, country, and rock ‘n’ roll,” says Cantlon. “Even the bands with more honky-tonk roots overlap with that. It’s all different branches of rock ‘n’ roll. We didn’t want to only have rockabilly bands; we wanted an eclectic mix of bands who could easily support each other on regular double or triple bills.”

Beer vendors will have cold lager on hand (Miller High Life and Pabst Blue Ribbon), and fest co-presenter Sailor Jerry — the rum company named for tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins — will have samples and specialty drinks available, too. Other festival presenters include Guilty Pleasures and Fisticuffs Mustache Wax.

Presented by Lowcountry Harley-Davidson, Nostalgia Garage, Creek Rats Kustoms, and Lowbrow Customs, the classic car and vintage bike show with span the length of the festival — several blocks along East Montague Avenue. Contestants and participants will exhibit their finest rides — from classic race cars and custom automobiles from the U.S., U.K., and Europe to vintage motorcycles (pre-1974) and choppers. The contest categories include Best of Show, Farthest Traveled, Preservation/Custom, Top Rat, and Sexiest.

Car Show Placard2014

“We wanted to grow the car show, and we wanted keep it interesting by developing it more,” Cantlon says.


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

“There are only so many venues on so many blocks, but the great think about Park Circle is that it continues to grow and new venues continue to pop up,” says Cantlon. “We might be able to move things out one more block each year. When I first came to Park Circle five years ago, there were only one or two pubs with live music. Now there’s like eight or so. It keeps getting bigger.”

Rockabillaque is set to take place on Sat. Nov. 15 from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. in Park Circle, North Charleston. Visit rockabillaque.com and the Facebook event page for more info.

Poster art and logos Cristiano Soares.

Rockabillaque 2014: Full Schedule

Park Circle (E. Montague Ave.)

12-5 p.m. — The Rockabillaque Classic Car & Vintage Bike Show

Outdoor Stage A (Barbeque Joint, 1083 E. Montague Ave.)

12 p.m. — Whiskey Diablo
1 p.m. — The Rockabillaque Fashion Show
2 p.m. — Beard and Moustache Competition
2:30 p.m. — Mr. Bonetangles
3 p.m. — Miss Rockabillaque 2014 Pin-Up Contest
4:30 p.m — Classic Car & Vintage Bike Awards Ceremony

Outdoor Stage B (Sparrow, Chateau and E. Montague Avenues)

12 p.m. — Mr. Bonetangles
12:30 p.m. — Molly Sue and the Mean Mean Men
1:30 p.m. — Don Merckle and the Blacksmiths
2:30 p.m. — Tattoo Contest
4 p.m. — Jem Crossland and the Hypertonics

Outdoor Stage C (Madra Rua/Mill Stage, E. Montague Ave.)

2 p.m. — Whiskey Diablo
3:30 p.m. — Jordan Igoe

The Sparrow (Chateau and E. Montague Avenues)

8:30 p.m. — The Malamondos
9:30 p.m. — Mr. Bonetangles
10 p.m. — Blood Red River
11 p.m. – Straight 8’s

The Mill (1026 E. Montague Ave.)

9:30 p.m. — Arleigh Hertzler / Mr. Bonetangles
10:30 p.m. — The Lonely Teardrops


Skunk Ruckus performs on the Outdoor Stage at Rockabillaque 2013 (photo by Ballard Lesemann)


The Rockabillaque fashion show, 2013 (photo by Ballard Lesemann)


The Barbeque Joint in Park Circle (photo by Ballard Lesemann)




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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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