Get ready to rock n’ roll
Narrandera’s Rockin’ on East Festival is on again this October long weekend. The festival is a three day celebration of rock music, vintage cars and pin-up fashions.
Friday is the kick off, with a relaxed evening at the Narrandera Bowling Club. Local Cootamundra band Gedupndans will be playing from 7.30pm. Entry is $15 at the door.
The main drawcard of the long weekend will be Saturday. The main street of Narrandera will be given over to street stalls, food stalls, buskers and performers. A main stage will be set up in Bolton Street, where bands will be performing for the day.
Amitie will be taking the morning shift, playing from 9am to 12 noon. Hailing from Parkes, Amitie are a vocal group specialising in the hits of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. They
specialise in lush three-part harmonies.
An institution in Parkes, the band are a staple at the Parkes Elvis Festival. Playing in the afternoon are Miss Kitty and the Memphis Trio.
Travelling interstate to be at the Rockin’ on East Festival, Miss Kitty and the Memphis Trio have a strong 50s focus in their music. Miss Kitty – aka Karen Ritchens – leads up the band with her strong voice and stage presence.
On top of the entertainment is the pin-up girl competition, which will begin at 12pm on Saturday. Catalina McCaw will once again make the pilgrimage to Narrandera to be the MC and host of the competition.
Ms McCaw has competed in pin-up competitions internationally and will be making her way through town in a bright pink Cadillac. Categories are open for kids, men, women and couples. Entry to the competition is $5.
For those of us who love vintage fashions but don’t know our pin-curls from our victory rolls, there will be a Pin-Up Polish session on Saturday morning. The workshop will be held at the CRC Church Hall in Bolton Street.
At 1.30pm the main street will be closed and the street parade will make its way downtown. Vintage cars, pin-up girls, fire trucks and the many people who help make the Rockin’ on East Festival a reality will all take part.
It’s not about the music, mind. Dance teacher Johnny Phung will also be running rock and roll dance lessons for beginners. A former competition dancer, Mr Phung has won over 80 competitions in rock and roll dancing, including the North East title, the Victoria title and South Pacific title just to name a few.
Mr Phung was also one of the 2014 Championships Judges for the State Championships, with a wealth of knowledge and experience he is happy to share.
The class begins at 3.30pm in the Narrandera Ex-servicemen’s club. An intermediate class will also be held on Sunday at 10.35am, and participants are free to try either.
On top of the classes, Mr Phung also organised a demonstration of Rock ‘n’ Roll dancers, known as Johnny’s Rockers, who are quickly becoming a regular and welcome sight around Narrandera.
On Saturday night the party will keep going with an evening of great music from the Smokin’ Wingtips. The band have come all the way from Melbourne and will deliver a high energy night of rock and rockabilly classics Get ready to rock n’ roll at the Ex-servicemen’s Club.
Entry is $25 and the band kicks off at 8pm. Sunday will be a more relaxed affair, with markets and music in the Marie Bashir Park. Joe Attana and Two Much Trouble will be on stage in the park, while there will be markets with food and – most importantly – coffee.
There will also be a Show and Shine, with vintage cars across the oval. The prizes for the People’s Choice will be announced at 3pm. A car boot sale has also been organised for bargain hunters.
Miss Rockin’ on East 2016 Summer Matthews strikes a pose with a vehicle of the era. To cap off a legendary weekend, Sydney band On the Prowl will be playing from 8pm till late in the Narrandera Ex-servicemen’s Club.
For a weekend of music, fashion, food and fun, you can’t go past The Rockin’ on East Festival.
Music mayhem all weekend
Rockin’ on East is all about the music, and this year the festival is playing host to some amazing bands. Groups are making the journey from Sydney, Melbourne, Wangaratta and Cootamundra to be a part of the festival, and their shows are not to be missed.
Local group from Cootamundra Getupndans are kicking off the festival on Friday night. A three piece band, the group is just as happy to mingle on the dance floor with the crowd as they are to rock out on stage.
On Saturday morning, the festival takes to the street, and taking the stage will be Amitie. A vocal trio singing hits of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the group are particularly known for their magnificent three-part harmonies.
Hailing from Parkes, Amitie are an institution at the Parkes Elvis Festival each year. After Amitie, Miss Kitty and the Memphis Trio will keep the afternoon buzzing with their particular brand of ‘50s music.
Lead singer Miss Kitty will be taking the crowd through the best songs of the decade with her stunning vocals – she’s been compared to ‘50s dynamo Wanda Jackson with her powerhouse voice.
This will be the first year the Miss Kitty and the Memphis Trio have performed at Narrandera. The Smokin’ Wingtips will make their way to Narrandera from Melbourne to keep the crowds dancing the night away.
Known for their high energy performances of rockabilly, foot tapping originals and vintage interpretations of modern classics, the Smokin’ Wingtips are a favourite amongst rock and roll dance troupes for their fast paced tunes. Playing at the Exies club on Saturday night, they go from 8 til late.
Joe Attana will take on the morning shift in the Marie Bashir Park on Sunday. An avid musician for over 40 years, Mr Attana has a long history of playing in Narrandera.
The Criterion Hotel was a popular choice for travelling musos, and Mr Attana was no exception. Mr Attana played a fundraising concert in Narrandera in August, but this weekend he plans to have a whole new show organised.
Two Much Trouble are Terry Leonard and Nigel Stanley. The pair will be playing in the Marie Bashir Park from 1pm til 4pm. Playing a combination of rock and roll and country, Two Much Trouble will keep the crowds entertained for the afternoon.
For those who want to get out of the sun, Brian Nolan will be performing in the main bar of the Ex-servicemen’s Club from 2pm til 5pm.
To cap off the weekend, Sydney band On the Prowl will finish off Sunday with a show at the Ex-servicemen’s Club. On the Prowl is one of Sydney’s best known rock and roll groups and have toured with Frankie J Holden and Wilbur Wilde.
This will be the band’s first Rockin’ on East Festival, and they’re looking forward to making the trip. Playing from 7pm til late, entry is $25.
Get your frock on
It’s not a good rock and roll festival without celebrating the fashions of yore. Circle skirts, wiggle dresses, winged eyeliner, and red lips are the staples of the ‘pin-up’ look, and a pin-up competition will be held at 1pm on Saturday at the Rockin’ on East Festival.
Catalina McCaw will again be the MC of the competition. A committed and admitted devotee to all things vintage – she now owns two magnificent vintage Cadillacs – Ms McCaw competes regularly in pin-up competitions, and has recently returned from a trip to the US.
“I went to a rockabilly event called Tiki Oasis; I try to compete in one international competition a year,” she explained. “It was a bit like a Hawaiian Luau that went for week.”
With a fresh perspective on the different styles of pin-up and rockabilly outfits that people can pick from, Ms McCaw said she’s keen to see more locals get involved in this year’s event.
“It’s time we gave the crown to a local girl,” she said. The pin-up competition has two children’s sections, one section for teenagers under 18, a couples competition, as well as Mr and Miss Rockin’ on East.
For those who are less confident in their abilities and would like a few tips before the big event, there will be a pin-up polish workshop on Saturday morning in the CRC Church Hall.
“It’s more of a pin-up prep. We’ll just help with some styling tips; make sure your victory rolls are pinned in and your eyeliner is on point. Come with your hair already curled, bring your own makeup,” Ms McCaw said.
The workshop is $10 to take part and participants can enter the pin-up competition either in the workshop or before the event. Entry forms will be at the CRC Church Hall.
Pin-up competitions have emerged as part of the revival of all things ‘50s. Rockabilly music – a combination of rock and roll and country music (‘hillbilly music’) – has enjoyed some mainstream success since it first emerged in the ‘50s, but it can’t compete with the popularity of the fashions.
Despite the difficulty of ‘50s fashions – elaborate curls and winged eye-liner, as well as quite complicated outfits – all aspects of ‘50s styling, from the kitschy to the glamorous, has found a strong community of followers.
“People were coming out of World War II,” Ms McCaw said of the appeal of 50s fashions.
“It had been a really terrible time, and everything was rationed. And so people threw their energy into this time of chrome and colour. Kitchen tables were pink and yellow; chairs were green and blue. It was a time to celebrate being alive.”
“Nobody’s grumpy in a rockabilly skirt and red lipstick,” she said.