SP: The Pleasure Trip to Horton’s Hayride Festival

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By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

Rock, psychobilly and diversity were part of this year’s Horton’s Hayride festival in San Pedro. Perhaps, the festival, which used to take place in Long Beach, signals more upcoming activity to come to the other side of the twin harbors.

If there was anything lacking from the festival, perhaps it was a lack of audience engagement and more entertainment. The vast space of the venue lended itself to more variety, which the power backing of The Knitting Factory and fan base would have helped support.

Several attendees at the Sept. 17 fest said they came specifically to see singer, songwriter and guitarist Reverend Horton Heat, the stage name for musician Jim Heath. Reverend Horton Heat also is the name of his Texas-based psychobilly trio. This is the third year Heat, known as the king of modern rockabilly to his fans, brought his festival to the Harbor Area.

Ten bands were on the lineup, with Reverend Horton Heat and Friends closing the show. Other performers included Junior Brown, who plays what he named the guit-steel double neck guitar. It’s a hybrid of electric guitar and lap steel guitar, which he actually invented in 1985 with some assistance. When he performs, Brown plays the guitar standing behind it, while it rests on a music stand. Concert goer’s quickly swarmed the stage.

Jennifer Vargas, a second-time attendee, said the music line up drew her to the festival.

“We love the music; we’re here to see Horton,” Vargas said. “But also the ska band, Los Kung Fu Monkeys, The Delta Bombers and Manic Hispanic

The festival even had a burlesque show on the bill, The Lalas. This troop of professional dancers appear at Federal Bar in both Long Beach and North Hollywood. They also have film and television credits including Beyoncé’s Who Run The World? video and The Lala’s made the L.A. Weekly list of  Top 10 burlesque shows in the city.

Horton’s Hayride included 10 food trucks, from lobster and Latin food to Flyin Hawaiian Sliders and a Fry Fry truck. Retail vendors supplied rockabilly wear and accessories and, of course, there was a Kustom Car Show. Cars entered had to be made prior to 1965 and winners received cash prizes for Best Hot Rod, Best Kustom, Best Low Rider and Best of Show.

Many people were decked out in their best rockabilly outfits. Girls donned ruby red lips with flowers in their pin up girl styled hair and retro dresses. Others wore 1950s vintage skirts and carried parasols. Many boys sported pomade styled hairdos with rolled up jeans and buttoned down shirts.

A couple who attended and go by the moniker, Los Pachuquitos, Clara Sandoval and Carlos Avila,  Ventura stood out. Sandoval wore a red bustier top with a hand painted vintage Mexican skirt, ballet flats and a parasol. She had the big under curl in her bangs and a prominent red and white flower in her hair.

“We travel all around and check out these events,” said Avila, who was decked out in a suit and hat.

Here’s hoping if they do it again next year, Horton Heat’s loyal fans will see an enriched event. The audience is there.

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