Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sonny West: Rare Chance to Hear First Generation West Texas Rockabilly

I had the rare honor of seeing Sonny West in concert on May 20, 2006. Sonny, of course, wrote two of Buddy Holly's biggest hits ("Rave On" and "Oh Boy") and recorded excellent records of his own. He played a concert in a club I never heard of in Mission, KS, a suburb of Kansas City, on May 19, then at the Performing Arts Center in the historic downtown area of Leavenworth, KS, on May 20. This is a beautiful old movie theater with about 500 seats and old Altec speakers (so common in the old theatres AND Norman Petty's control booth in Clovis!). Both concerts were apparently recorded for release on CD and DVD. Sonny played a really nice set of his old rockabilly tunes, his hits for Buddy, and a killer version of "Haunted House" (the Jumpin' Gene Simmons hit), masterfully strumming a cream colored Fender, creating a tone younger guitar players just can't get. In between songs he told jokes demonstrating a modest, understated sense of humor that seems common among folks from West Texas. He seemed actually shy while speaking but tore it up while singing. Unfortunately, there were only 25 people in the audience. There seemed to be very little advance publicity that I know of. Maybe the Kansas City media had something. I sure didn't see anything even on the Internet. The only reason I knew about it is because they were handing out fliers at Wanda Jackson's concert at Knuckleheads in Kansas City, MO, on May 18. Sonny signed the cover of my copy of the Rockin' 50s magazine with his youthful face on the cover! Seeing Wanda Jackson and Sonny West in person just a week after attending the Ponderosa Stomp festival in Memphis, I'm still in a spin over all the great live music I've heard this month!