Rockabilly Weekend, Viva Las Vegas
Two DECADES! For twenty years now, this crazy rockabilly Weekend show was held in Las Vegas at the Orleans hotel has been happening. Show promoter and rockabilly music enthusiast Tom Ingram took an enormous chance and held his first rockabilly weekend back in 1997 at the Gold Coast hotel. It wasn’t very big, but word of mouth spread, and in year two, a few more people attended – notably a generation of young twenty-something hot rodders showed up from around the western United States in their rides. After twenty years of gathering steam, it has snowballed into the longest annual music show in the history of Las Vegas. All that’s missing is the King himself thank you very much.The car show, which started out as a side attraction to the indoor acts, has now taken on a candy-colored life of its own. Many people come just for the car show only. The car side of Viva Las Vegas started with a bunch of young hot rodders in the Shifters Car Club of Los Angeles who rolled in with around 30 cars during the first couple of years. In contrast, this year’s blowout featured over 800 vehicles and over 13,000 fans. While many drive their vehicles, thousands come from around the globe just to peep at the traditional hot rods and customs. Different nationalities, people of different religions, different languages, and different colors – it doesn’t really matter. They’re here for a good time blending hot rods, hot rod Betty’s, rockin’ tunes, greased up hair and whiskey. Lots of whiskey! Sleep is elusive in the town that never sleeps.
A true global affair, we met people at this year’s 20th annual event from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Guam, Sweden, England, France, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and just about every other spot you can list. As much as they dig the cars, they’re equally infatuated with the music of Viva Las Vegas, specifically rockabilly music. Technically speaking, rockabilly was a style of music that really only had a two-year life span from 1954 to 1956.
Today rockabilly Weekend describes the early rock and roll of the 1950s. It was dangerous, defiant, and scared the hell out of the establishment at the time. That spirit of defiance, of “my way, or no way” is precisely what brings all the people and cars here. Rockabilly, in spite of its popularity, is still anti-establishment. Viva Las Vegas is for the young of heart, no matter the actual age of attendees. The Viva Las Vegas weekend is anti-pop music, anti-cookie cutter cars, anti-cookie cutter anything really. It’s big on style, big on good music and fun. The Reverand Horton Heat was here as was 60s star Brenda Lee, James Intveld, Lee Rocker, Los Straight Jackets and countless others. It was a rockin’, baby.
Viva Las Vegas is many things to thousands of people. It’s counter-culture with a heavy helping of creative mechanical mayhem and those who prefer the simplicity of retro style. The way it used to be, the way it should be. Thank you….Thank you very much!
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