Following the lead of the English rockabilly revival, America is starting to turn out its own rockabilly bands. D.C.'s Billy Hancock and the Tennessee Rockets and Boston's Memphis Rocabilly Band appeared at the Childe Harold last night and showed why the style, a compulsive hillbilly-blues fussion, continues to appeal to rock 'n' roll fans.
Hanock shook and shimmied his elephantine form around the stage with the grace of a young Elvis, while his band romped through Hancock's originals and '50s classics. On "Roly Poly," guitarist Bob Swenson, who shone all night with his tough, Chuck Berry-derived guitar, proved he is D.C.'s most underrated rock guitarist. Also outstanding was drummer Jeff Wadsen, whose playing is full of the rimshots and shifting accents that make rockabilly a hard but buoyant rock style.
The Memphis Rockabilly Band play a fun, if derivative, brand of rockabilly. Part of the problem is vocalist Bob Coover, who does a good job with the mumbling and hiccuping, but lacks the expressiveness that comes from mastering rockabilly's blues roots.
The band's star is guitarist Jeff Spencer, who flawlessly synthesizes everything from Chuck Berry to Scotty Moore and James Burton.