Gonna rock this town!
By Errol Nazareth
May 25, 2012
Rockabilly rules Toronto this weekend. The legendary Royal Crowns celebrate the release of its brand new disc, Volume Three, at the Dakota Tavern tonight and Saturday while Christian D & The Hangovers lay waste to the Cadillac Lounge tonight. The Ronnie Hayward Trio is at the Dominion On Queen Saturday afternoon, Rock-A-Billy Shake-Up 4 happens at the Cameron House that night, and The Swingin’ Blackjacks slide into the Dora Keogh Saturday, too. If you’re still standing Sunday, I highly recommend catching Alistair Christl’s Rockabilly Sunday Brunch at the Dominion.
Rockabilly promoter/DJ David Faris says the Royal Crowns are a vital part of the local rockabilly scene and have been a central part of the action for over two decades. “Teddy Fury and Danny Bartley have deep musical roots stretching back to the early ’80s, playing in key bands such as The Bop Cats and Shotgun Shack. They work really well together and have developed a strong identity for the Crowns.”
The group have maintained a strong following and continue to play at the top of their game, he adds, noting that they’ve backed up rockabilly legend Robert Gordon on numerous occasions. But, are they doing anything that sets them apart from other rockabilly bands here?
“They’re known for their dynamite musicianship, their memorable originals, and their top-notch live shows,” Faris says. “All three players are accomplished musicians and can tear it up on stage, but they manage to keep the song upfront rather than getting too showy. The Crowns really understand how to craft songs, and not just belt out clichés, and they’ve built up a good repertoire of originals, which is often not the case for bands delving into well-established genres from the past.
“As a live band, the Crowns are consistently exciting. They’re also great guys, and pretty darn funny too,” he says. On its site, the Royal Crowns describe Volume Three as “rockabilly, rock and roll, hillbilly jazz, surf, and rhythm and blues all rolled up into a big fat platter of fun.” Faris says the trio has a knack for straddling a whole variety of genres while staying true to their identity. “The personalities and talent behind the band make it shine, and they’ve really picked up steam since the current lineup came together a few years back.
“The new album shows the group in fine form, maintaining the high standards we’ve all come to expect over the year.” Rockabilly Shake-Up 4 at the Cameron on Saturday features Tennessee Voodoo Coupe performing the Shakin’ Pyramids’ landmark album, Skin ‘Em Up, and The Greasemarks playing Johnny Burnette & The Rock ‘n Roll Trio’s classic self-titled album. Faris says this edition of Rock-A-Billy Shake-up “highlights the long-standing tradition of musicians embracing and einterpreting songs, a standard practice in the history of rockabilly and rock ’n’ roll since day one.
“Just as the original ‘hillbilly cat’ transformed material by artists like Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, Bill Monroe and Roy Brown on his mid-’50s Sun Records sides, so did his Memphis contemporaries, Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio.”