The entertainment section of our daily paper listed an unusual act playing in town this past weekend. It was a band called Black Lung, and their musical style was listed as Punkabilly. That would be punk rockabilly, I guess. Intrigued by this combination, I decided to see if Black Lung was listed in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
That is not as unlikely as it might seem. The Rockabilly Hall of Fame has over 5,000 members, including such incongruous selections as Little Richard and Fats Domino. It turns out that Black Lung is not on the list, but don’t rule them out for future inclusion.
While I was in the Rockabilly Hall’s website, I decided to re-read what they had to say about Elvis. They referred to him as “The Hillbilly Cat,” which you don’t see too often. Another interesting thing was their comparison of Elvis’ success on the Louisiana Hayride versus his lack of it at the Grand Ole Opry. The Hayride Talent Manager’s enthusiastic praise of the different sound Elvis brought to the show in 1955 was followed by this un-attributed text, “That different sound came to be known as ROCKABILLY, a true mutt of music – a blend of everything from bluegrass to western swing to pop crooning. Rockabilly meant working-class boys ready to rock, decked out in checkered suits and bow ties, juiced on rhythm and blues. Rockabilly and “The Hillbilly Cat” were among the central influences of early rock ‘n roll.”
Now, fifty years later we have Punkabilly. It may still be performed by working-class boys ready to rock, but you know they aren’t wearing checkered suits and bow ties.
© 2005 Philip R Arnold