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A different kind of old school cool

Rockabilly BBQ offers day of music and more

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What if you wanted to throw a backyard party with some of your friends and favorite area bands, but didn't want to have it at your house? That's the basic idea behind the Rockabilly BBQ at Puckett's Farm Equipment. Four years ago, Mark and Lisa Cline wanted to organize a gathering, but didn't want to worry about the cleanup.

Instead, they brought the concept to bar owner Gary Puckett who quickly agreed to the idea. Now, the BBQ is continuing to grow as the bands have become more regional, the vendors will extend around the property and the audience is sure to be lined up out the door.

The June 2 event begins at noon with a car show and ends when the last chord is played around 1 a.m. The all-ages event runs until 4 p.m., at which point it becomes over 18 and an admission of $13 is charged.

"It's a lot of fun to see everyone we know and everyone that comes out," Mark says. "It's like a homecoming." The couple has traveled to different rockabilly events around the country and have met people that make the trek to Charlotte for the BBQ. Lisa adds that they usually announce the day early enough so people who are traveling can make plans to attend -- usually about two weeks after the last one.

The lineup for the BBQ includes Hick'ry Hawkins, The Throttle Kings, The Droptops, The Defilers, Rev. D-Ray and the Shockers, Straight 8's, The Tremors, Jem Crossland & Hypertonics, Highway 13 and The Belmont Playboys. Each band will play for 45 minutes. A swing dance lesson will be held at 4 p.m. You can find out more at rockabillybbq.com.

The Clines started the event because they wanted to help support the music scene, but weren't directly involved with any of the bands. They thought a regional event would help bring members of the rockabilly scene throughout the state together at one central location. "The first year, we had about 200 or 250 people show up," Mark says. "It was about four or five bands at night. There wasn't a day thing; it was kinda like the Cash Bash. It was before MySpace and any Internet promotion." While the couple worries the all-day event may now draw too many people, they don't see it leaving Puckett's because of the atmosphere and fees -- an outdoor version or other venue may create permit requirements and higher expenses.

Lisa, who runs rockabillybabe.com, adds they were worried that no one would show up, but happy when they drove by Puckett's on the day of the first event and saw 50 people lined up early. "The scene has grown three-fold since we first started," Mark says. "Now, we know bands from all over the place."

The event has continued to grow since then. As rockabilly and classic cars seem to go hand-in-hand, the couple felt a car show was a logical addition to the event. Mark is quick to point out the free show isn't for "trailer queens" -- classics that aren't driven, but carried to events on a trailer. The Rockabilly BBQ is a more likely home for vehicles with duct-taped upholstery and rusted bumpers. The show focuses on pre-1970s autos, with no Camaros, Mustangs or foreign cars. Some might even win a trophy.

"They're homemade trophies," Mark says. "It's just crap you can buy. It's kinda funny. We have an award for Best Beater, which is the biggest piece of shit that still runs. The trophy for it was a model that I chopped the top off of and sanded the side of it, primered half of it and one door won't stay shut. You want the trophies to be representative of the show." Other awards go for categories such as Best in Show, Furthest Driven and Ladies Choice.

The down-home event has a backyard feel thanks to the pond out back and the option for attendees to relax outside under the shade trees while the bands play or venture back inside during the heat of the day. Of course, there will be barbecue sandwiches, as well as a number of vendors selling vintage clothing, car parts and other goods that go with the scene. That doesn't mean you have to look the part to attend.

"What I like, is it's not just a bunch of people with cuffs, chains and bangs," Lisa says. "One of my friends loves the music, but doesn't care about dressing like it. You don't have to subscribe to the lifestyle to enjoy all of the elements of the day." Mark adds, "Music lovers love good music."

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