Whole Lotta Shakin in Central Park

The Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, performed in New York's Central Park on Wednesday night.  Irish singer Imelda May was there to join her on stage for a rendition of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic  “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” that led into Jackson’s own signature hit “Let’s Have a Party.”

Imelda May - Mayhem

If there's an overlap between burlesque and rockabilly, Dubliner Imelda May embodies it. While she looks amazing in skintight leopard-print and red lipstick, musically she shows there's nothing retro about rockabilly.  For her it's a living, vital genre. 

Mayhem is May's third album and was originally released in Ireland and the UK in September and October of last year respectively and spawned an impressive four singles.

She wrote virtually every song (apart from a cover of Tainted Love, which has been rejigged as a feverish waltz for guitar, drums and voice), and sings them with heart and humour.

Except for the two more-than-competent country-inflected numbers, “Eternity” and “Proud and Humble”, May and her band otherwise remain true to their core repertoire of upbeat rockabilly and slower balladry.

“Kentish Town Waltz” is a strong step forward in terms of making May’s slower tracks almost as compelling as her upbeat work, but on Mayhem the softer side generally continues to play second string. The propulsive “Let Me Out” brings the main body of the album to a classy conclusion, not least because of her husband and guitarist Darrel Higham’s dynamic solo.

Things are going well for May these days. Professional support from Jeff Beck and Wanda Jackson, with whom she’s performed several times, including at a gig in Central Park earlier this week, is helping May become as well known in North America as in her homeland.
Mayhem is an essential listen for those who believe, as May does, in the living, breathing powers of rockabilly and the blues.

Queen of the Minor Key.

Eilen Jewell, from Boston, is back with her fourth album, Queen of the Minor Key

If you haven't heard Eilen (her name rhymes with feelin'), then she's been described as  Lucinda Williams, Peggy Lee and Gillian Welch combined.  This new record features elements of the blues, surf guitar, rockabilly and country 
Eilen says she suffered a case of writer's block after her 2009 release of Sea of Tears.  She decided to head to a cabin in the mountains of Idaho, where she's originally from.  It was there, cut off from the outside world, electricity and running water, that Eilen was able to focus solely on writing sketches of songs, break the block and build the framework of  Queen of the Minor  Key.

Along with her long-time band of Jason Beek (drums, harmony vocals), Jerry Miller (electric, acoustic and steel guitars), and Johnny Sciascia (upright bass), together the players turned the sketches into songs.

Produced by Jewell and her band, Queen of the Minor Key, also features guest appearances from Zoe Muth and Big Sandy (from Big Sandy and the Fly Right Boys).


Nick 13

After four albums and more than 10 years of touring with psychobilly outfit, Tiger Army, frontman and songwriter, Nick 13 has released his first solo album.  And he says it's time to really explore the country genre. 

Nick 13 told CMT.com that he's taken his inspiration from Western ballads and what has emerged is a self-titled project that harkens back to hs favorite era of country music -- the '40s, '50s and '60s -- and benefits from some of the most highly regarded musicians Nashville and SoCal have to offer. Famed steel guitarists Lloyd Green and Greg Leisz contribute their talents (Leisz also co-produces the record) while Sara Watkins, formerly of Nickel Creek, provides the fiddle tracks.

Nick 13 told CMT.com that he simply wanted to make a record of the music that was exciting him at the time, but he doesn't mind the idea of exposing his Tiger Army fans to country, either.

You can check out the full interview here, on why a punk rocker would be interested in country music, how he found more than he bargained for in Nashville and why he wants to remind Californians of their heritage.

You can also grab the album now...either on MP3, CD or limited edition Vinyl.

The Wanda Jackson Tour Continues

There's still time to catch Rockabilly legend, Wanda Jackson as she continues her tour around the country, now playing with  Imelda May and Justin Townes Earle.

Wanda is credited as being the first woman to ever record a rock and roll song—”Let’s Have a Party” in 1958—when was convinced by her friend Elvis Presley to cross over from country to rock and rockabilly music. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she is now known around the globe as “The Queen of Rock” and “The First Lady of Rockabilly.”

Jackson opened for the young British singer/songwriter Adele for nine sold-out performances in May and June. She says of these shows, “I was thrilled to learn that my music has been an influence on such a talent as Adele. I am looking forward to the concert tour with her. We’re gonna have a party!”

Wanda will be playing tracks from her latest album, The Party Aint Over which was recorded by fan and new-found friend Jack White at his Nashville studio and recorded with a late-night honky-tonk feel by members of My Morning Jacket, the Raconteurs, and Dead Weather, among others.

The White-curated lineup of tunes, says Jackson, showcases "all the various types of music that I've done through the years-some country, some gospel, some rockabilly, some rock n' roll. It's got all of that, and we threw in a Bob Dylan song 'Thunder On the Mountain,' just to be safe."

The album has received tremendous critical praise, with NPR saying “White coaxes a performance from Jackson that fits her as well today as it did in 1958,” and the New York Times concurring that Jackson “still sounds fantastic, and her gnarled, feisty vocals are a good fit with Mr. White’s scrappy production.”

Wanda is playing with Imelda May on the following dates:
  • July 26, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
  • July 27, Central Park SummerStage, New York, NY
  • July 28, The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA\
  • July 30, Musikfest CafĂ©, Bethlehem, PA
  • July 31, Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI
  • August 5, Edmonton Folk Festival, Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • August 6, Music in the Zoo, Apple Valley, MN (Justin Townes Earle)

Amy Winehouse

Sad news today that British singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead at the age of 27.

It seems she lost her battle with addictions since becoming a star in 2007 with Black to Black, winner of five Grammys. 

The soul diva follows in the tragic footsteps of similarly troubled artists from Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin to Kurt Cobain.

Reuters reported that Winehouse was  found dead at her home in Camden, north London, England. Police were called to the address Saturday.

"Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death at this early stage. It is being treated as unexplained," a police representative said.

Last month, at Winehouse's performance in Serbia, she was jeered by the crowd, struggled to perform her songs and keep her balance as her band gamely played on. On some tunes, the audience did most of the singing.

The performance, which was posted on YouTube, prompted her management to cancel all her scheduled performances and give the performer as long as it took to recover.

The Guardian writes:

Winehouse's music spoke to people so persuasively that her second album, Back to Black, became Britain's bestselling record of 2007 and reached number two in the US, making her one of only a few British female soloists to achieve that level of transatlantic recognition. Its success spurred sales of her initially overlooked first album, Frank (2003), so titled because of the diary-style lyrics that produced songs such as Stronger Than Me, which railed against a "gay ladyboy" ex-boyfriend. The two sold a total of more than 10m copies worldwide.

Born to a Jewish family in north Finchley, north London, Winehouse grew up listening to the jazz albums of her taxi-driver father, Mitch. He and her pharmacist mother, Janis, later divorced.

Amy caught the performing bug so early that by the age of eight she was attending stage school. She spent time at three, including the Sylvia Young theatre school, central London, from which she was expelled for "not applying herself", and the Brit school in Croydon, south London. Rebellious instincts surfaced in her mid-teens: by 16, she had acquired her first tattoo and was smoking cannabis. "My parents pretty much realised that I would do whatever I wanted, and that was it, really," she said later.

RIP Amy Winehouse

Pin-Up and Rockabilly Makeup for Vintage Styling

The author of Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques, Lauren Rennells, has released a new book, this time on vintage makeup called Retro Makeup: Techniques for Applying the Vintage Look.

It's a fantastic guide for anyone wanting step by step tips and techniques on how to achieve the retro/pinup/rocakabilly look with with LOTS of pcitures to illustrate each step.

Retro Makeup: Techniques for applying the Vintage Look is a history and application guide for vintage cosmetic styles. It is a companion book to Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques. It starts with a brief history on the acceptance of makeup at the beginning of the 20th century and continues to explain in detail the styles, colors and techniques for applying makeup to look like the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Included in each decade are step-by-step directions on full makeup styles inspired by famous women such as Josephine Baker in the 1920s, Jean Harlow in the 1930s, Rita Hayworth in the 1940s, Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s, and Twiggy in the 1960s. The book also includes factual information about what defined the makeup looks of the decades based on popular culture of the time.

About the Author

Hair and makeup artist Lauren Rennells works in the photography and film industry. She freelances providing unique designs for advertisements, films, television and private clients. Her passion for beauty of the past led her to write Retro Makeup: Techniques for Applying the Vintage Look and Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques.

Retro Makeup: Techniques for Applying the Vintage Look

The Gangster's Ball


The Gangsters' Ball is back.  For the fourth year in a row you can catch it in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in September. 
Each year more than 3,000 people turn out for a fully themed night of fashion, style, humour and classic entertainment of the '30s and '40s.  It features some of the biggest names in Cabaret, Sideshow Vaudeville, Magic/Illusion and Big Band Swing.
This year’s headline acts include renowned MC and Comedic Vaudeville performer Asher Treleaven, stunning Burlesque artist Gypsy Wood, acclaimed Acrobatics troupe This Side Up and Australia’s leading female Magic and Illusion artist, Cath Jamison
Dates for the Gangsters' Ball 2011:

Saturday 3rd September 2011:
The Gangsters' Ball SYDNEY - Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Saturday 10th September 2011:The Gangsters' Ball BRISBANE - The Tivoli, Fortitude Valley, QLD

Saturday 17th September 2011:
The Gangsters' Ball MELBOURNE - Forum Theatre, Melbourne, VIC

Head over to The Gangsters' Ball for more details

Viva Las Vegas 2012

It's the weekend that really rocks.  Tickets for the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender are on sale already!

It runs from April 5 to April 8 2012 and you won't want to miss it.

It's all about getting on your best 50s garb - sorting out your hair, checking out the burlesque shows and bathing suit contests, pool parties, fashion shows, round the clock rock 'n' roll bands, add in plenty to drink and more than 700 rods and you have a weekend that rocks!

Here's just some of the highlights:

Car Show

The Viva Las Vegas Car Show is the best car show of its type anywhere. Cars are strictly pre-63 that have to be in a style from that era. Please check out the photos on the Car Show page. The VLV Weekender and VLV14 Car show attracted over 700 cars with about 20,000 attending to view the car show. If you wish to put your car in the car show, you can register it after you buy tickets for VLV.

Burlesque Competition

This has become one of the major events on the Burlesque calendar. Between October and December, hopeful contestants submit their photos and information onto the Viva Las Vegas website. Once all possible contestants have submitted, a panel of anonymous judges from the burlesque scene will choose four lucky contestants to compete at VLV then the judges will choose ten from the remaining contestants who will be featured on the website during the month of January and the public will decide on the next top four whom will join the “Judges Choices” live at the “Miss Viva Las Vegas” Burlesque Competition VLV finals. The eight competitors will then battle it out on Saturday evening to win the final VLV Burlesque Competition. Prizes include Cash, Gift Vouchers, Merchandise, Photoshoots, and publicity.

Tiki Pool Party

The Tiki Pool Party has become one of the major events at VLV, and will take place on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is a great opportunity for girls (and guys!) to show off their vintage swimwear.

VLV Annual Swimsuit Contest

Attention all vintage fashion fanatics!!!! Shine up your vintage beach-side best and get ready for the mother of all swimsuit competitions. VSbM is sponsoring the VLV 14 pool party Vintage Swimsuit Competition, hosted by Vegas’ Pocket Pinup: Lisa Luxe. Guys and dolls alike are encouraged to enter: the only requirement is that your suit MUST BE VINTAGE, no modern/repro suits will be allowed in the competition. Contestants will be… judged on their suit alone, not by how well you can dance or how you answer silly pageant questions. . .

It’s all about the fashion!