JOHN BEECHER presents:
CLOVIS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2006 (3)
John Mueller might take a few brickbats from Holly purists over his
impersonation of our hero, but he does a great show and deserves
credit for the work he puts into it – with JP Richardson jr (the Big
Bopper) and Ray Anthony (Ritchie Valens) he rocks the joint to
the point that your hands and feet ache.
rocks the joint
in Clovis NM.
John brought up Gary & Ramona Tollett, David Bigham and Peggy Sue
to do the backup vocals on “That’ll Be The Day” and this was a huge
hit with the crowd. But the highlight of his show for me is his
‘undubbed NY demo’ section where he runs through the songs Buddy
recorded in New York with great simplicity and understanding of the
mostly sad lyrics. And this year John refused to be intimidated by
Maria Elena’s legal team – who again tried to shut down not just him
but the whole festival with threats of legal action, invoking
non-existent laws and silly demands that Mueller remove his
BH glasses while on stage. Credit to him for refusing and laughing
at the idiocy of it all; and to Liz and her team for ignoring the empty
threats from the Richbitch.
Party through the night til dawn seemed to be the order of the night
back at the hotel and we did our best before falling into bed in the
early hours to dream of driving with Joe B along Highway 84 at
135 mph while he took his hands off the wheel to light a cigarette.
All this excitement meant we were up late and missed the Desert
Cruzers 50s car show at the Hillcrest Zoo Park, by all accounts
something to be seen.
The FanFair (or Fanfare as it seems to be called in Clovis)
beckoned at noon the next day and we went along to set up our
merchandise and meet other fans and artists for a bit of ‘meet
and greet’. A short interlude for me in manager Nick
Mondragon’s office with Liz to view some previously unseen
pictures of the studios brought along by Vi’s cousin Georgiana
Hagen was fun. Pictures of Vi and Norm looking young and
happy was a reminder of how thrilling the 50s and 60s must
have been for them, with all those young rockers flocking to
the studios (and helping out with decorating). Georgiana told
us how she travelled to New York by train (her dad worked for
the railroad so she got a free pass) to meet the Crickets and
Norman during their first tour – and she produced the picture
of herself, Jo Harper and Vi with Buddy, Niki, JI and Joe B to
prove it. The fans meanwhile were getting stuck into
autographing and buying with a vengeance and we happily
flogged a few CDs and rare bits of vinyl while the LA Party Dolls
entertained in the auditorium. Meanwhile we heard that
Tommy Allsup and a few others were actually recording in the
7th Street studio – and as I left the hotel later, there he was.
Despite my sequencing his “Songbook” album in the 60s we’d
never met so introductions were made and Tommy was
charming. I hope we’re now old pals.
the joint at
Finally the grand finale - the Saturday evening show. Sonny West
drew the short straw and was first up, although he’s so modest
nothing like this bothers him. Sonny turned in a very professional
show, backed by Johnny Mulhair’s band, who get all his riffs just
right. If he talks a little too much one can forgive him; he’s such
an engaging personality that I believe he could stand on stage in
silence and get applause. Some stories of old Lubbock and Clovis
gave him a chance to breathe between his uptempo old and new
song, with the crowd going wild for “Rock-Ola Ruby” and “Oh Boy”.
Sonny does a neat “Cast Iron Arm” with his own mutterings thrown
in and I doubt many in the crowd knew the history of the song but
they loved him just the same.
Again, a family night out for many people, which led to a few leaving
before the end with tired children. This seems strange to those of
us who know only Rhythm Riots and Hemsbys but it does seem all
ages in Clovis are happy to embrace a good show of any kind if it
comes to town. This means that The Fireballs hit the spot as they
are entertaining (almost to the point of cabaret some might say)
and very visual. They’ve been working on their act for a long time
and as their hits encompass 50s RnR, 60s instros, beat vocals and
almost-progressive rock, there’s something for everyone. Apart
from a sad moment as some of us remembered last year when
Chuck Tharp appeared with the group for the last time and
charmed us all, it was all good rockin’ stuff. I suspect many, like
me, prefer their instrumentals like “Bulldog” and “Kissin” and they
certainly didn’t disappoint anyone who had come to hear their hits,
but the surprise appearance of their vocalist Jimmy Gilmer to sing
a few in the later part of the show drew even louder applause.
Jimmy was obviously delighted to be back on stage after 30 or
more years and he was visibly thrilled by the reception he got.
I have to make a confession; I like “Daisy Petal Pickin’” – one of
his more bubblegum hits, so it was just a tad disappointing when
he announced he didn’t like it and wouldn’t be performing it.
The Fireballs undoubtedly would have gone to two or three
encores but they were dragged off at the end of their slot as it
was time for Mike Berry.
Mike is the ultimate professional. Having struggled in the 60s to hit
the same notes as his speeded up Joe Meek productions on record,
he finally took advice and had some voice training. The difference
is amazing. Despite carrying a load of coal to Newcastle so to speak,
Mike delivered a great show, sensibly sprinkling the Holly and
Crickets hits throughout a wide-ranging rock’n’roll and rockabilly
set. He’s as much at home on “It’s Late” as he is on “It’s So Easy”
and “Stay Close To Me”. A real highlight was Lee Jackson’s “Holly”
but the show was lifted higher when Mike brought back Sonny West
to join him on “Rave On” and “Oh Boy”. These two guys appreciate
each other and this might have closed the show, but Mike got a
second wind and carried on for another 20 minutes before the
audience finally let him go. It was great to see the Union
flag-waving Brits at the front giving him encouragement all through
his act, and the Outlaws – Alan Jackman, Alan Jones and Mark Lewis
– were sensationally cool with great solos, sounds and backing
vocals and deserve equal credit for a great set. The PA sound, as
with all the artists on the Festival, was exemplary – visually the
provision of giant video screens was probably unnecessary but
probably helpful for those in the poorer seats (or at least it was
until some clown in a hat tripped over a cable and pulled the plug).
and Mike Berry.
The Festival closed with a Gospel singing session at the 7th Street
studio on Sunday morning. It was good to see so many fans
attending this and contributing to a collection for the ailing Carl
Bunch who came along in a wheelchair, having travelled hundreds
of miles to attend the Festival. The Dead Good Tours (man!) bus
was revving up outside and many had to leave but those of us
who never miss a party were soon back in the hotel for more chatter.
Hopefully the minor irritations of the venue this year will be sorted
for 2007 and I understand artists are already booked for the event.
Anyone with an interest in West Texas and Clovis music history
should book up early, details will be announced on the festival
website. We should all be grateful to all the nice folks on the
Chamber of Commerce team who made things run so smoothly,
the people of Clovis who forgave us trying to drive on the left,
and especially to Liz Eisenbraun who had the vision and
determination to put it altogether – for Clovis.
We’ll be back!
Here they are:
The LA party dolls with a car from yesterday.
Mark Lewis Outlaws Guitar Man
Mike Berry on stage at the Clovis Music Festival 2006
He's got it.
Keep Rockin' Mike !
I know you can do it just like Buddy
Two good buddies on stage:
Mike Berry and Sonny West
Dave Tobin and John Beecher
Dave passed away on the 28th of September, 2007
Peggy Sue's there, too
RANDY STEELE + killer glasses gets the gals
The "Gentleman" on stage:
Vi's cousin Georgiana Hagen
Carl Bunch, Hans' good buddy, attended gospel sing at 7th Street Studios.
All the best to you Carl from Buddy's German buddy Hans.
Gospel sing at studios.
Ken Broad leads Gospel Sing at studios
Sing out !
Dave Tobin from the UK, a real Buddy nut.
Now he is near to Buddy in heaven.
Balloons go up for Chamber of Commerce' Ernie Kos
Buddy's birthday and we're here for a good time
Clovis Postmistress Pat gets in the groove
Congratulations, son, you win the guitar
Hans' friend Jimmy Torres of the String - A - Longs
LA Party Dolls
LA Party Dolls get the festival started for the early birds
String - A - Longs
to listen to
What a show