Rockabilly Rumble debuts Saturday

New one-day festival brings sights and sounds of 1950s to Chemainus’ Waterwheel Park

This Saturday, a new day-long festival in Chemainus will bring the rockin’ sights and sounds of the 1950s to Waterwheel Park.

The Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society (CVCAS) presents the first Chemainus Rockabilly Rumble Saturday, July 12 from noon to 8 p.m. at Waterwheel Park.

Performers include Hank Angel, Slim Sandy, Sweet Potato Brown, Hell Katz, and Tropic Mayhem. There will also be a display of vintage cars in the Waterwheel Park parking lot throughout the day.

Victoria-based Hank Angel has been writing songs and performing for more than 30 years, after starting out as a busker on the streets of Edmonton.

Slim Sandy, who lives in Victoria, plays a combination of his own compositions and rockabilly or country blues songs from the late 1940s and early 1960s. He has played drums for Sun Records legend Billy Lee Riley, and he was the original drummer for Ray Condo from 1985 to 1994. He has been the lead singer and rhythm guitars with the Crazy Rhythm Daddies since 1988.

Sweet Potato Brown is Shelley Brown’s latest band, playing oriental music and covers in the alt-country vein.

Hell Katz is a Duncan-based rockabilly band, and Tropic Mayhem is a surf and beach band.

The festival was born when members of Hell Katz wanted to have a rockabilly festival and approached the CVCAS about using Waterwheel Park, explained CVCAS president Bob Johns. The society said it would see what it could do about organizing the festival, and now, the event is just days away.

“It’s brand-new this year,” said Johns. “The rockabilly community is promoting it quite well, and we’re expecting quite a good turnout for it. It will be kind of a Happy Days, 1950s thing, and I’m sure a lot of people will be in the mood and will dress 1950s style. The music was the very first rock ‘n’ roll that came out, and I think people will really enjoy it.”

Admission is by donation, with $15 being suggested.

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“It’s supposed to be a fun day,” said Johns.