My favorite annual event took over the Orleans Hotel April 18th through the 21st again this year as Rockabilly fans come in force from all over the world for Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend!
Thanks to Tom Ingram who brings us this unique festival every year that in my opinion outshines all the other festivals in Las Vegas! It is like you take a step back in time with elegant styles and cars with swing dancers and everyone dressed top notch! There is something for everyone with spectacular music, cars, tattoos, style and fashion, incredible vendors, burlesque and excitement everywhere!
This year featured some amazing music from my favs DELTA BOMBERS and REVEREND HORTON HEAT who headlined the car show. The DELTA BOMBERS thanked John Burnette for writing one of their songs who was in attendance. John is one of the famous Burnette’s who is a member of the family that my documentary “Raised on Rock – The Burnette Family Legacy” is based on. In fact this festival was where I met Rocky Burnette and decided to do my film in the first place! There is always so many cool people to meet at the show! Back inside the Orleans there was major rockin’ in the house! LOS STRAIGHT JACKETS, HOTSHOT DRIFTERS and so many more. STARS OF ROCKABILLY which featured rockabilly legends, took over the Mardi Gras room on Friday along with hundreds of other amazing rockabilly artists all through the hotel.
On Friday, I barely had time to grab a program booklet and check in before heading over to the Burlesque Showcase in the arena. Incredible Burlesque performers to say the least! Then I ran over to catch the premiere of the documentary BOMBSHELLS AND DOLLIES which was premiering in the showroom. While waiting in line I sat down at a slot machine and there were two really cool guys playing the slots who I found out were from France and in the band SPUNY BOYS. They told me their singer was upstairs with his hair piled high like a shark. So I went on a search for this rockabilly cool cat and he was easy to find! I caught up with “Remi” who was rockin in the Mardi Gras room I and asked him to come down and take a photo with the other guys downstairs. These guys were really amazing and won the award in my heart for my newest favorite rockabilly band this year.
Then I headed into the showroom to catch the BOMBSHELLS AND DOLLIES world premiere. This was a great film that followed pin up models from all over the world who live the rockabilly lifestyle and put their hopes and dreams in winning the Viva Las Vegas Pin Up Contest. Dita Von Teese made an appearance in the film and it was
really interesting to see all the beautiful girls compete for the title and how the lifestyle and contest has changed their lives. Many of the girls were at the Car Show on Saturday and as always I have a blast putting some of these gorgeous models with cars and taking photos.
I ran into Dave Gambler from GAMBLERS MARK at the Car Show and I have to admit I was disappointed they were not performing at the festival again this year.
GAMBLERS MARK was the band that originally got me into rockabilly music. They were performing at a little lounge at the festival years ago and they set the room on fire! I got so excited I fought my way up to the stage for a GAMBLERS MARK bottle opener! Not only were they such incredible musicians with an incredible sound, these guys couldn’t have been more kind and humble. I ran into them the year after that and I kept them in mind that if I could ever do something for them, I would. So fast forward to 2017 and I had them be my house band for my film! I was so happy it all worked out and they did such a good job. I have to get my film out to show the world how incredible these guys are! And hey Tom Ingram please try and find a slot for these guys next year!
See you at the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend # 23!As always this festival makes Easter an even more special holiday. But when Monday rolls around and the festival is over each year, I find myself a little melancholy with all the rad cars and hot tattooed guys and gals leaving town. But there is always next year and I can’t wait to see what Tom Ingram brings to us in 2020!
Photos: Sally Steele