Rockabillaque 2023 brings vintage music and rockabilly culture to South Florida

Festival Review

Squirrel Nut Zippers. Photo by Chyrisse.

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

 General Review: Rockabillaque at Seminole Casino, Immokalee, Florida – January 21, 2023

First in a Series of Three Articles – separate articles with photo galleries of specific bands and rockabilly ladies will follow this one–so look for them. Link to #2. Link to #3.

J.D. Wilkes of the Legendary Shack Shakers. Photo by Chyrisse.

Rockabillaque, Florida’s premiere rockabilly festival, was held on Saturday, January 21st, at the Seminole Casino, Immokalee, Florida. With the festival going into its third year, it featured national live acts, vendors, a vintage car show, and plenty of contests to amuse the rockabilly crowd–and those lucky enough to stumble upon the festival while heading to the casino. In addition, local acts entertained the crowd inside the casino, which served as a nice reprieve from the 90-degree weather (unusual for January).

Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones. Photo by Chyrisse.

Rock At Night rolled into Rockabillaque just in time to see the Legendary Shack Shakers (unfortunately, we missed our mates Black Valley Moon, featured in our summer print issue). J.D. Wilkes was killing it on the harp, prancing on the stage, and throwing water on the audience to cool them down. Next was a tattoo contest, where guys and gals flexed muscles and pulled up clothing to show off their colorful artwork.

Hailing from New York, Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones performed a rousing set. It was late afternoon, so we ate a Cuban sandwich from one of the many food vendor trucks. There was quite a variety of fare to choose from, including Seminole Indian fry bread to East Indian curry. Canopy tents housed merch (e.g., t-shirts, memorabilia) for purchase, and the VIP tent offered a nice covered area to sit. Most of the rockabilly fans brought lawn chairs for sitting and people-watching. As one can imagine, there were quite a few gals dressed in vintage attire–bright dresses, hats, stiletto heels, pinned-up curls, and ruby-red lipstick.

Pin-Up beauty contest. Photo by Chyrisse.

Lone Wolf, a one-person band with a resonator guitar and stomp percussion, filled in the gap before Eddie Clendening and the Blue Ribbon Boys performed “Unheard Elvis ’55” music. Looking very dapper, Clendening crooned on his classic-style mic and sported an interesting leather-covered acoustic guitar. Next, Los Straitjackets performed a slick set of surf-style covers of the 50s and 60s standards. Wearing their traditional Mexican wrestling masks and speaking broken Spanish, the band’s set was tight and enjoyable.

Eddie Clendening and the Blue Ribbon Boys. Photo by Chyrisse.

Rockabillaque held a Pin-Up Beauty Contest which featured a stage full of gals in all their vintage glory. Contestants were judged on their appearance and the answers to questions. In the meantime, we dashed inside the venue to see the instrumental surf band, the Patina Turners. The band is featured in our fall print issue. As soon as the floor emptied of swing dancers, we could scooch in and snap some photos of the band.

Squirrel Nut Zippers. Photo by Chyrisse.

The last band we caught was Squirrel Nut Zippers, which filled the stage with a horn section, guitar, banjo players, keyboards, and numerous vocalists. Performing swing and Dixieland, the music filled the festival with a wall of sound.

Overall, Rockabillaque was a fun, well-organized alternative to the usual festivals we attend. The vintage music brought back memories of playing monaural 45 and 78 rpm on a suitcase record player. Also, seeing people dressed in their vintage garb and enthusiastically “playing the part” added that extra “oomph” to the festival.  We give two “thumbs up!”











Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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