Slapping bass. Hollow body electric guitar. Pompadours and sideburns. Full skirts and heels. Pegged jeans and sneakers. It’s rockabilly night at the Star Community Bar in Little Five Points, Atlanta, Georgia.
doderama picked me up at my hotel. It had already been a long day. I’d had a breakfast meeting at 6:30am and then attended several other meetings. This was a chance to get out of downtown Atlanta. One thing I noticed as we were driving around is that a lot of US cities are different than NYC but they’re all different than NYC in the same way. When we drove past The Vortex (across the street from the Star Bar) there was a long line so we went to the other Vortex in Midtown. They are famous for their burgers and they should be – delicious. It was cooked exactly the way I asked for it. There are tons of toppings to choose from and the sides are some of the best. I didn’t have the highly recommended tater tots but did have the perfectly battered onion rings.
On our way back to the Star Bar we got a little lost but I didn’t care because it gave me an opportunity to see more of Atlanta. The Star Bar is a small dive with a stage that has the musicians close the audience. Just my kind of place. doderama told me that making note of the Bettie Page bangs is a drinking game. If we had played we would not have been able to walk out of the bar. Half the women had the bangs and half of the bangs girls had bows in their hair. The other half of the non-banged women were also be-bowed. The first thing I noticed were cigarettes. You can smoke in the bars in Atlanta. I’m not a smoker but I miss the atmosphere of smoke filled clubs.
We found a place off to the side and I had a beam to lean against. The Right Reverend Andy Hawley, DJ of Psychobilly Freakout on Garage 71 and one of the promoters of Atlanta’s rockabilly revival was the emcee. First up was Grim Rooster, who are more honky-tonk, punk bluegrass than rockabilly. Phil on lead vocals/guitar, Jeremy on drums, Dylan on upright bass, and Nate on mandolin had the crowd foot-stomping and dancing. A guy who looked very much as I imagine Santa Claus looks in the off-season – long white hair, white beard, big (slightly stoned) smile with cowboy boots, jeans, and flannel shirt and not fattened up yet – put out his hands for me to dance and I shook my head no. Turns out that Santa Claus is a very good dancer. He and one of the Bettie Page woman were showing off their stuff.
We went downstairs (a smaller bar and no stage – just you and the band) to see The Sideburners. It was very LOUD and dark so we decided to head back upstairs.
Sonoramic Commando was the first real rockabilly band of the night. The crowd was bigger and the dancing got more intense. Several times we had to move back because the dancers were twirling and swirling and didn’t care who was in their way. This was also the band’s cd release party so they mentioned the cd several times. The band is Rodney Bell on lead vocals and upright bass. I always marvel at someone who can play bass well and sing well at the same time. Matt Spaugh on drums and vocals is a fantastic. He plays and performs – spinning cymbals and making the perfect hit on the snare at the same time. Chad Proctor plays a beautiful hollow body electric guitar and sings backup vocals. The sound is down to earth old country and early rock and roll.
At this point it was almost midnight and I was failing so we left before the headliner Hi-Test (and the reason for the Rumble because no one can follow them) performed. But that’s okay because it was a great night of great music and lots of fun and laughs.
By Carene Lydia Lopez