from the cover.
from the cover. Elvis Presley was a badass. Yeah, he may have ended his reign as King as a bloated mass, dead on the toilet, but when Elvis was coming up, man, he had the stuff. Ducktail. Sideburns. Tight pants. He took that trashy hillbilly music, set it to a strong backbeat and just let those hips swing in a way that made people… downright uncomfortable. That’s the climate in which rock and roll was born. It was rebellious. It was subversive. It was raw and rude and, dammit, people just loved it. Ever seen footage of Buddy Holly fans going crazy after a set? Buddy Holly? You kidding me? Total badass. That immortal combo of guitar, simple drum kit and upright bass. His geeky glasses and primal roar. That six-string jangle. Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly… who else? Throw in Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Waylon Jennings, Jim Morrison, Jerry Lee Lewis. Ronnie Van Zandt because he went down on tour. Otis Redding for the same reason. Stevie Ray Vaughan because he threw down. Little Richard because he was freaky. These were the guys Mike Martin and Dave Quick had in mind when they conceived Winston-Salem’s Heavy Rebel Weekender back in 2001. “Heavy Rebel,” Quick said on a cold January night behind the Millennium Center. “Like the heaviest rebels of rock and roll.”
A concept was born that night that has evolved into a three-day bacchanal celebrating all that’s wild about rock ‘n’ roll. Rock ‘n’ roll was built upon the wild men and women who took it from its infancy and merged it with electric guitars, tattoos, bourbon, cars, Zippo lighters, Mohawks and black leather to form its many-hued offspring: rockabilly, punk, metal, alt-country and every little thing in between. The Heavy Rebel Weekender doesn’t discriminate. Among the 60 or so musical acts there are names like Rev. D-Ray and the Shockers, the F’n A-Holes, American Speedway, Sasquatch & the Sickabillies, the Big Bad, Deadneks and Locke & Load. They fill three stages in the Millennium Center: the main stage upstairs and the subterranean Jailhouse and Underground rooms, nestled in a warren of chambers that are very poorly lit. Interspersed between the acts, there are bass and guitar contests, a beer drink-off, a wet wifebeater contest and a chance to prove how much ’nanner pudding you can suck down in a minute. And a procession of hot rods and choppers lines Trade Street the entire time. It’s a magnificent mess, and I was fortunate enough last year to spend three days bouncing around the festival, swilling PBRs, wandering into shows and connecting with outlaws of every stripe. My personal festival highlights were watching Hick’ry Hawkins jam in a hotel room as the sun rose and a blistering set by Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival down in the Jailhouse. I learned to keep a beer in my pocket and to bring as many cigarettes as I could
The 8th annual Heavy Rebel Weekender is July 4-6; Winston-Salem; heavyrebel.net