Monday, July 15, 2013

Preserving the historical legacy of Route 66: Rockabilly on the Route weekender

Ever heard of Tucumcari? Yeah, I hadn’t either. But if you’re a rockabilly fan, you will start hearing about this little stop on Route 66 in New Mexico. The first annual Rockabilly on the Route Festival was held June 7-9, 2013 and featured live music, a car show, a cruise and burn-out, a pin-up contest, a burlesque variety show, and a gospel brunch. All events were located along 6.66 miles of Route 66. The Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson, was the headliner this year, along with The Chop Tops (CA), Danger Cakes (TX), and various other bands from the Southwest.

Rockabilly on the Route is the brainchild of Simon Cantlon of Vive Le Rock Productions and Ungelbah Davila of La Loca Magazine. Cantlon has been involved in the production of The Motels of Route 66, a documentary film exploring the stories behind the owners and travelers of those iconic motels. Davila’s La Loca Magazine, based in Albuquerque, is New Mexico’s first vintage lifestyle magazine. What better people, then, to organize a rockabilly weekender that pays tribute to the legendary culture, music, and history of Route 66’s heyday? Tucumcari was chosen for the festival in part because The Blue Swallow Inn and Motel Safari were featured in the documentary. Moreover, the festival’s proceeds benefited the development of theNew Mexico Route 66 Museum which will commemorate the state’s 604 miles of the celebrated highway.

Tucumcari, then, is clearly an appropriate setting for a rockabilly event which honors the legacy of that bygone Golden Era. The Main Street still offers a window into the past with the vintage neon signs that adorn the hotels and remains of classic cars that rest (and rust) in people’s yards. The city of Tucumcari whole-heartedly embraced the event by closing down a stretch of Route 66, known affectionately as the Mother Road, for a classic burn-out and cruise that seemed straight out of a hot rod movie from the ‘50s.

I got a chance to chat with Miss Davila about Rockabilly on the Route, La Loca Magazine, how she got interested in rockabilly, and what the Albuquerque rockabilly scene is like. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE INTERVIEW.

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