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Rockabilly Rebels

The seventh annual Rockabilly in the Redwoods Festival at the miniature livestock Arena in Scotia, Humboldt County, was held during the weekend of July 20-23 as an alternative to the Ka-Ka in the River Festival at Bongbow near Ganjaville on the South Fork Eel River.

Rockabilly is considered weird music by sophisticated world music devotees because rockabilly is derived, in part, from European barbarian old world music.

Thanks to continental drift and plate tectonics the Sierra Nevada mountains have migrated west to Boonville, the new home of the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, and at the same time the Rocky Mountains have migrated west to Scotia, the home of Rockabilly in the Rockies, also known as Rockabilly in the Redwoods.

Why rockabilly? Because it's the purest of all rock 'n roll genres since it never went anywhere. It is preserved in perfect isolation within an indistinct time period, 1954-1959, during a brief transition when country music almost died and aging hillbilly stars rushed to record the new style — a cross-fertilization of rhythm and blues and country.

Rockabilly was a music of almost classical purity and definition -- blues inspired and bluegrass-based, "blues with a country beat" as Carl Perkins put it.

The music didn't die, they just went underground to little juke points, dives and honky-tonks where the performers always sing from the heart, where powerful, vigorous, crazy music animates the beaten-down audience of old men in coveralls and bright eyed factory girls desperately seeking release from their workaday lives.

This year's headliner was shamrockabilly sensation, Monica Mayhem, the Celtic bombshell from the tiny Irish village of Ballingspittle, home of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary's moving statue. Monica's music celebrates the barbarian Celtic roots of  rockabilly.

As a special treat festival organizers were able to book two high octane groups, the Thunder Jug band from Wahoo, Nebraska, and the Lone Star Truckers, a honky-tonk trio from Turkey, Texas, home of Bob Wills, the King of Western swing.

To avoid paying for expensive gasoline, I converted my 1943 Czech Tatra to run on methane harvested at Rancho Puerco, my compound on the south slope of Duncan Peak west of Hopland -- home of the Okie Razorbacks. On the road, there's always plenty of free methane available from politicians and public radio personalities.

In solidarity with America's current downsizing, I traveled light this year, hauling several jugs -- not tanks -- of quadruple distilled Mooney homebrew (Mooneyshine) made from an old secret clan recipe brought from Ireland by my ancestors in the early 18th century. My uncle, Andy Mooney, has custody of the recipe so he brewed a large batch and distributed it during our annual St. Paddy's Day clan reunion when we feasted on the Mooney traditional holiday meal — corndogs and coleslaw were washed down with Mooneyshine.

After a stellar performance as "vibes watcher" at last year's festival, my stud boar razorback, Sharpie -- who's bulked up to 900 pounds -- stayed behind to protect his harem from an upstart wild boar named "Ripper." And, at 900 pounds, his aggressive style was deemed over the top even for rockabilly.

My departure from Hopland was a day early to avoid the Highway 101 gridlock on stoner caravans heading north to Ka-Ka in the River and to allow time for a visit with an old friend en route.

I packed clothes, bivvy bag, shelter half, entrenching tool, cooking gear, cooler, and hooch, then slalomed down the mountain to Hopland's five-star Bluebird Cafe for a traveler's breakfast.

Against better judgment I headed north on Highway 101 which would take me through the crank/pot theme park of Skunktown (Willits), a pharmaceutical oasis for speed and weed.

Approaching  Ridgewood Summit south of Skunktown, the visual assault of Harris Quarry nearly decked me. It's an Appalachian style vertical strip mine providing an ominous gateway to Skunktown. As further insult, the quarry will add a noxious asphalt batch plant to feed the California road nazis.

To avoid the visual squalor of Skunktown's main drag, I traveled the country roads east of town through Little Swamp Valley which will be permanently decimated by the Caltrans road nazis mission to blast a half-assed two lane freeway bypass through the scenic, bucolic valley starting this year, turning Skunktown into ghost down. Delusional enviros have sued Caltrans, but nazis don't respond to lawsuits.

On East Hill Road near the railroad tracks, a neo-Mussolini modern style hospital is being built to replace the obsolete, attractive, historic Howard Memorial Hospital in town that was financed in the 1920s by Charles R. Howard, the owner of Seabiscuit, the famous racehorse, in memory of his son who died in an accident at the Howard Ranch south of Ridgewood Summit.

Some townfolks are worried that the old hospital will be demolished and replaced by an ugly, tacky modular building to house Skunktown's official pot dispensary and museum.

Traveling along Reynolds Highway skirting the Okefenokee section of Little Swamp Valley, I wondered how the arrogant Caltrans road nazis could justify building a 30 foot high freeway viaduct across a bottomless gumbo. Adios Little Swamp Valley. Adios Skunktown.

Grinding up Oil Well Hill on 101 toward the pot mecca, Laidbackville, I reminisced about the good old days when pot was just a mellow way to get loaded. Since then, it has gradually evolved to a compulsory social drug, a lifestyle cult, and finally to an organized religion with its pot Vatican centered in Laidbackville, home of the annual Emerald Cup stoner confab where a college of tweety birds elect a new dope pope every year. The holy stoners even have an ecumenical pot litany and a pantheon of saints and martyrs displayed in decks of pot holy cards. Pot isn't everything, it's the only thing.

With Skunktown bypassed by Highway 101 traffic, Laidbackville will metastasize into a commercial hub for tourons traveling beyond the Redwood curtain. Lumpy Gravy's Camp Winnacashflow will boom and boomers will bloom as smart money gobbles up all available real estate along the town's 101 corridor. Skunktown's "Gateway to the Redwoods" arch will be appropriately moved to Laidbackville. Thank you, Caltrans.

After Rattlesnake Summit on 101, I veered the Tatra up Spy Rock Road to Two Rock Ranch for a rendezvous with my old teammate at Okie University, the infamous Buddy Roach, unofficial mayor of Spy Rock, a decorated middle linebacker in the 60s who, at a trim 6'-3" and 240 pounds today, looks like he could suit up and bash some heads. Imagine Dick Butkus without the rug.

Buddy's entirely bald now except for a 13 foot long braided dreadlock that emerges from the top of his head which he uses as a bullwhip to keep order. The Lash Larue of Ecodopia.

He's the official vibeswatcher for the Ka-Ka in the River Festival and rides through the amorphous waves of zigzag zombies astride a tie-dyed Connemara pony. If the zigzaggers start to drift, Buddy flicks his head and whips them back into formation.

Buddy is a fearsome sight. In addition to the dreadlocked topknot, he has braided his nose hairs and ear hairs together to form a spooky ear-to-ear mustache.

In recent years, he has noticed that some aging rasta dudes are faced with the frightening dilemma of thinning hair and dreadlocked combovers. Oh, the horrors, the horrors.

As fellow Okies, we both love rockabilly -- the music of our teens -- but Buddy reluctantly chooses to miss the annual Rockabilly Festival because the Ka-Ka in the River gig is so lucrative. He gets free pot, eager chicks and a percent of the gate.

A catskinner friend of mine who's worked the Spy Rock area in the past calls it "asshole country," so I asked Buddy, "What gives?" He laughed and said, "Those days are over. It's upscale now. I see more luxury sedans than jacked up muscle wagons. It's just a new breed of assholes."

Buddy offered me some weed for the road, but, per doctor's orders, I declined. He graciously accepted a small jug of Mooneyshine and promised to "sip it slowly."

Back on 101 the traffic had intensified as more early birds were attempting to avoid the Ka-Ka gridlock. At Richardson Redwood Grove, I was hoping to see another enviro exhibitionist nudie tree grope, but no such luck. Caltrans plans to cut some of the giant redwoods to widen the highway for super big rigs. The issue is now in court where Caltrans always wins.

At Bongbow south of Ganjaville, a thick, hazy pot smoke bubble had already formed a day before the Ka-Ka Festival had begun.

Since the Woodrose Cafe is in decline, I shot through Ganjaville without stopping. The only reason to stop there now is to score some weed.

Near Philipsville I downshifted for a leisurely saunter along the Avenue of the Giants redwoods, one of my favorite drives. At Shively, the farmers offered fresh veggies so I stocked up since rockabilly cuisine is primarily meat and potatoes.

At Scotia, the arena grounds were swarming with rockabilly clubbers positioning their vintage cars and teardrop camping trailers -- a 50s style scout camp for grown-ups guzzling cold beer from longnecked bottles, scorching meat over open fires and jamming the blues away.

The best vintage vehicles this year were contrasting models from the late 30s -- a mint condition candy-apple pink 1938 Cadillac Fleetwood V-16 including Goddess hood ornament and a 1938 John Deere Model L tractor. The Cadillac was the standard of luxury in the late 30s and the John Deere Model L brought the American dream to small farmers who had a homestead and a little Deere to work it with. My grandfather Mooney used a Model L on his homestead in Binger, Oklahoma.

Some arrogant pwogs dis Rockabilly in the Redwoods as a redneck Bohemian Grove since it's not publicized, has no advance ticket sales, attracts the common folks, and bars private vendors encouraging attendees to support local merchants.

In fact, it's just a joyous celebration of freedom from world muzak, electronic gizmos, and self-important nice people.

The rockabilly motto is "eat wisely, drink moderately, dance excessively, and have a good time."

Hopland's massive Buddha Bud, the human beer keg on stilts, aptly handled the festival program while effectively winnowing the more troublesome oddballs. Early Friday evening he was approached by a strange dude from Mendopia village named Antonio Ram, dressed in metallic alien garb, who offered to act as Festival vibeswatcher, a trade he learned from Mendopia's ace vibesdude, Larkin Chirpalot, who used a limp zucchini as an empowerment tool. Mr. Ram claimed to have combined the disciplines of astrology and proctology to become a certified "asstrologist" reading stools as if there were stars. Buddha Bud sent him packing to Ka-Ka in the River where his services would be appreciated. Rhama Llama Ding Dong.

Festival show time fired up at dusk after chow as the five-piece Thunder Jug Band opened with their warm-up series of novelty tunes mingled with fart jokes. Their final set featured covers of Austin Lounge Lizards hits including "Old, Fat and Drunk," "Golden Triangle" and "Hot Tubs of Tears."

Then headliner Monica Mayhem swivel-hipped on stage covered head to toe in spangled emerald green spandex and unleashed her sultry voice to perform a set of original recordings and old standards including, "Road Runner," "Gypsy," "Blues A Callin'," "Hip Shakin' Mama," and Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight."

After  warm applause, she launched a sentimental journey honoring some of the long forgotten rockabilly artists including, Warren Smith "Rock'n Roll Ruby," Ruckus Tyler "Rollin' and a Rockin'," Scotty Burns "Real Cool Cat," Farmer Boys "Cool Down Mame," and Ray Smith's "Swingin' Boogie."

After bowing to a standing ovation, the Celtic bombshell closed with a sentimental tribute to the great Janis Martin, singing "Drugstore Rock'n Roll," "Barefoot Baby," and "My Boy Elvis."

Saturday morning after breakfast, the rockabilly crowd assembled in the arena for a welcome day of sports and games based on an aggie 4-H theme. The 4-H symbol is the four leaf clover -- the American shamrock.

The open goat-roping contest was a big success netting several trophy goats for dinner, but the greased pig contest was a bummer because organizers had asked local high school boys to "round up some porkers" and the clueless dudes herded porcupine instead.

The gunnysack race was canceled for lack of gunnysacks -- only turkey bags were available and the three-legged race was a bust because contestants erroneously tethered their left legs together and everyone ran around in circles.

The battleaxe throwing contest was canceled due to protests from the Gray Panthers but the hilarious toe-wrestling contest was a success, won convincingly by Bigfoot Shoats from Willow Creek who, thanks to the wonders of medical marijuana, has developed three-inch long toes with biceps.

The lawn croquet tournament using bowling balls was won under protest by Frisco's Sutro wrestling champion, Sister Boom Boom, who used a custom-made mallet for launching aerial shots.

The main event, held in early afternoon, was the melon and cucumber contest won by the team of Titania, a barn party celebrity from Burlington, Iowa and Rooster Canard, a chicken rancher from Jackpot, Nevada. Titania performed an interpretive square dance and Rooster did a novel version of the swing bop boogie.

This year's special event for the kids -- the pet hamster olympics -- was the highlight of the day, particularly the 100 centimeter dash, and the shot put and pole vault contests.

After an arduous day of extreme sports and games, the famished rockabilly mob stampeded for evening chow which included rockabilly goat stew, sauteed lima beans, turnip greens, Shively corn on the cob, Bud, and Wonder buns, followed by handcranked ice cream donated by the Ferndale milk maids topped with porcupineapple upside down cake.

Bloated and a buoyant, the rockabilly mob gathered for the Lone Star Truckers grand finale when the three sleek, willowy, bluegrass-fed fillies from Turkey, Texas pranced on stage -- Stacey, Lacey, and Jaycee, blonde, brunette, and redhead, togged in hand-knit body stockings respectably colored red, white and blue, white Stetsons and blue suede boots.

They opened with a medley of rockabilly standards while gradually unraveling their costumes: "Be bop Baby,"  "Sixteen Chicks," "Teenage Queen," "Swingin' Boogie," and "Wild, Wild Women." After a prolonged standing ovation they closed with the Carl Perkins rockabilly anthem, "Don't You Step On My Blue Suede Boots," then cartwheeled offstage, hats and boots intact, leaving behind a mingled pile of red, white and blue yarn.

The mob went wild, hooting and hollering for more as the entire ensemble returned for an emotional, patriotic sing-along of the tune "America the Beautiful," then the misty-eyed crowd filtered back to the campground for some Mooneyshine-fueled all-night jam sessions.

Sunday, the day of reckoning, opened with a rockabilly reveille high noon sunrise service led by defrocked Catholic priest Padre Peckerdillos, from Happy Valley, Pennsylvania who railed against moral turpitude and decadent living. Unfortunately, Padre's rant fell on deaf ears since most of the rockabilly revelers were still zonked flat on their backs recovering from all night jamming. Those few who were awake peered at the sun above and thought they were standing, viewing the sunrise.

Even with the Not So Great Depression still at hand, festival attendance had notably increased this year nearing the 250 person arena capacity and the crowd had a typical upbeat attitude because listening to -- and playing -- live music with friends and kindred spirits is the best medicine to cure the blues.

After resupply at the local market and an early afternoon loggers breakfast at Rio Dell, I motored south on the Redwood Highway, amping up the pace for my rendezvous with destiny, high atop Eagle Peak near the headwaters of Mendopia's Big River.

At Bongbow, the pot smoke bubble filled the entire valley and Reed Mountain was "fogged in" forcing me to wear a bandanna facemask to avoid hallucinating.

At Leggett, I detoured southwest to Coast Highway 1 beelining to Fort Bragg for an early dinner on the Cafe 1 lunch menu, but a caravan of dawdling, behemoth motorhomes brought traffic to a virtual standstill south of Rockport. Trapped like a rat, I looked west across a calm, sun-dappled ocean thinking about the radioactive crap drifting our way from Fukushima, Japan. Payback time.

The rotund road hogs mercifully pulled over at Westport allowing a long line of cars to safely get past. These monster rigs are just bovine transport for bloated Americans, the majority of whom have cheerfully chosen to be fat, dumb, happy and enslaved, rather than thin, aware, troubled and free. They are committing slow-motion suicide and enjoying every minute of it. Can't say that I blame them.

I hit Cafe 1 in time for a late lunch and craved fish after the rockabilly goat glut, but all the ocean predator fish are now contaminated with mercury and guppies weren't on the menu so I had veggie enchiladas and a North Coast brew.

In South Fort Bragg I turned east on Highway 20 for a winding trip along the Noyo River -- an area some call Bassler Canyon. After a stomach churning carnival ride up seven mile grade, I reached the Highway 20 summit for a pit stop and map recon.

My goal was to head south on backcountry roads and jeep trails to reach the base of Eagle Peak off Reeves Canyon Road, thus avoiding a trip through Skunktown.

In exchange for a jug of Mooneyshine I was given gate combos and a crude map of local "roads" which were barely two-track jeep trails.  The deal also required my silence regarding pot plantation locations even though they were clearly visible from the moon.

The roads were gnarly but Tatra friendly since my sturdy vehicle was originally designed to traverse the rugged Tatra mountains bordering the Czech Republic and Poland.

Tracking was tedious and slow until the Walker Creek Road east of Irene Peak and Impassable Rocks, but with dusk rapidly approaching I stopped to set up camp at Walker Lake on historic Ridgewood Ranch, home of the heroic Seabiscuit.

During my evening goat stew dinner, a spooky vision of a pure white stag emerged in the mist across the lake, an obvious hallucination until I remembered that European white deer were imported in the 1920s and a remnant heard is flourishing on the ranch.

At predawn I broke camp and traveled along Walker Creek to its juncture with Forsythe Creek, then over the ridge to Mill Creek across Reeves Canyon Road and along Jack Smith Creek to the base of Eagle Peak.

My ascent of Eagle Peak was a hand over hand scramble that terminated at sunrise when I planted the rockabilly flag depicting a 50s-era hot-rod pulling a haywagon over a horizontal field of red, white, and blue stripes.

Eagle Peak, at 2700 feet elevation, is an indigenous power spot that resembles the ancient Ziggurat of Ur. After chanting the rockabilly anthem, I glassed the horizon and detected a familiar monolith, Duncan Peak, 26 miles to the south, calling me home.

My slip slide dissent from Eagle Peak was fast and easy, but I burned holes in the seat of my jeans and in the elbows of my shirt. After minor first aid and a change of threads, I motored down to Reeves Canyon Road then zipped back to Highway 101 South traveling through a hot, smoggy Ukiah Valley where the fanatic Costco cult is hell-bent on cramming another corporate big box store into the treeless "Redwood" business park driving more local merchants out of business.

Why can't the Ukiah Occupied Movement hire Norman de Vall as a consultant to help stop these wackos?

After a homecoming dinner at Hopland's Bluebird Cafe, I labored up Duncan Peak to my fortified compound, Rancho Puerco, home sweet home.

Sharpie was strutting like a rooster and Ripper was nowhere in sight. I tossed the porkers a goat carcass that had been packed in dry ice, then poured myself a tumbler of Mooneyshine and wondered if Ripper had kids.

Looking back, I would tag 2012 as a watershed year for the rockabilly movement which has now reached critical mass thanks to increased popularity generated by rockabilly festivals and rockabilly queen, Wanda Jackson's triumphant West Coast Spring tour including SRO performances in Frisco and Arcata.

At the festival I heard no political discussions whatsoever during the so-called "pivotal" presidential election year. Clearly, a significant majority of Americans has totally given up on  electoral politics as a solution to our problems.

The emerging rockabilly rebellion and other blue grass roots movements will fill the gap that politics has abandoned. We rockabilly rebels love our country and we're going to take it back. The Occupy Whatever movement has lapsed into self-parody while the rockabilly rebellion as just begun. "Don't tread on me! And don't step on my blue suede shoes."

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