Rockabilly on the Route extended to four days of events

By Steve Hansen

QCS Managing Editor


More nights, more bands and more events, plus some of the most popular events from last year will mark this year’s Rockabilly on the Route, according to the event’s organizers.

The celebration of 1950s nostalgia with some 21st century tweaks starts June 5 and continues through the weekend, ending with a “Rockin’ Gospel” service and celebration on Sunday, according to Ungelbah Davila, publisher of the Albuquerque-based Loca magazine that caters to the rockabilly scene and organizes Rockabilly on the Route.

The four-day weekend event is likely to start with a parade down Route 66.

“This time we hope to include floats, entries from businesses and organizations from the local community as well as out of town,” said Simon Cantlon, the South Carolina consultant promoting the event. It will also start at Mountain View Lanes, with an evening of rockabilly music and other fun, Davila said.

On Friday, the center of the action will again move to the Tucumcari Convention Center.

There will be two big shows at the Convention Center on Friday and Saturday night featuring headline rockabilly bands that have not yet been signed, Davila said. Daylight hours will be filled with classic car shows, a burnout contest and, at dusk on Friday, a “Cruise on 66” event designed to reproduce the experience of cruising in the 1950s and 1960s.

As last year, this year’s Rockabilly on the Route will feature a post-show Friday evening at the Lizard Lounge, including a burlesque contest, and a “Midnight Madness” event at the Tri-Star Inn, a “last hurrah” event, Cantlon said.

While headline acts remain elusive, many of the at least 18 bands that have signed on, according to Davila, include:

• Mad Max and the Wild Ones out of Provo, Utah.

• Eddy Clendening, a Colorado-based singer who “channels Elvis Presley but without imitating him,” Davila said. Clendening has portrayed the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” on the Broadway stage.

• Voodoo Swing, a rockabilly band formed in the 1990s;

• Piñata Protest, a band that combines elements of rockabilly and Mexican music.

• The Dorados, a rockabilly band from Medellin, Colombia.


Repeat attractions will include the classic car show, sponsored again by the Voodoo Creeps and Straight Razors car clubs from Albuquerque, and the burn-out event in the ALCO parking lot on Saturday.

Davila and Cantlon said Tucumcari demonstrated last year that it is great community for the Rockabilly on the Route event.

Richard Talley, another organizer and owner of Tucucmari’s Motel Safari, said that unlike many of the nostalgic old towns along old Route 66, “a lot of Tucumcari’s Route 66 buildings have been in continuous use.”

The Motel Safari, the Blue Swallow Inn and Teepee Curios are examples of buildings built during Route 66’s heyday that have never stopped being used for business, he said.

In other Route 66 towns, Talley said, the buildings have been restored but are only used as tourist attractions.

Rockabilly is a form of popular music that bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll in the 1950s. A resurgence of interest in rockabilly, updated to 21st century sensibilities and sometimes in a raw form called “psychobilly,” has also generated a renewed interest in the cars, fashions and styles of the 1950s, Davila said.

The rockabilly scene is especially popular among young adults in their late 20s and early 30s. The renewed interest in nostalgia has united these young adults with parents and grandparents who remember the trappings of the era from their own experience, Davila said.

Cantlon said Tucumcari has the potential to become to the rockabilly movement what Sturgis, S. D., has become to Harley Davidson riders. Tucumcari, he said, could easily become, “Rockabilly meets Sturgis.”

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