Happy Days band

Jerry King & Rivertown Ramblers
put on a wild 1950s-style show

King resides in Vevay
and plays throughout the area

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

VEVAY, Ind. (September 2005) – Four guys dressed in cuffed jeans with Hawaiian type shirts, white jackets and greased back hair singing and playing their instruments sounds like a scene from the movie “Grease” or maybe an old Elvis film. This is exactly what you’ll see if you catch a music set of Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers.

Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers

Photo provided

Jerry King and the
Rivertown Ramblers
play at Joeyg’s
this month.

However, this is not your average “stand in front of the crowd and play” band, but rather a high energy performance as entertaining as the music itself.
Hailing from Vevay, Ind., Jerry King, 29, is the lead singer and acoustic guitarist of the local 50s rockabilly band. The Rivertown Ramblers include Dave Johnson, 26, on drums, John Pigeon, 26, on lead guitar, and Jeremiah Brockman, 31, on upright bass. The Ramblers are all from the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area.
Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers will be performing at joeyg’s Restaurant and Nightclub, 218 E. Main St., Madison, on Friday, Sept. 2 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., and again on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at the same time. The band has played at joeyg’s for three years and it is one of the only local venues where they play. They also play at the Southgate House, 24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky.
King and his band have been around for a little more than three years. Brockman and King are the only two musicians left from the original members, making Johnson and Pigeon the two newest members. Brockman had an interest in rockabilly music and learned to play bass. He wanted to start a band as a side project, so he brought in King.
Kings’ parents listened to the music of the 1950s, so, of course, King “grew up to the old guys singing it,” he said. His biggest influences are Elvis, Carl Perkins, Conway Twitty, Johnny Horton, and then many other lesser known 50s artists.
Joe Gayles, the owner of joeyg’s, describes the band as pure “rockabilly.” He enjoys their “traditional Elvis 1954 style,” which is one of the reasons they have played at Gayles’ venue so many times. Gayles believes the band “puts on a vibrant live show” that “provides a cultural diversity that’s desperately needed in this area.”
The band’s live show includes their getup of 50s clothes and hair along with upbeat music and Brockman playing away while literally standing on top of his upright bass. This exciting display of music usually leads to a broken bass, which King claims to now be an expert in repairing.
King and his band have recorded three CDs all at the Sun Studio in Memphis, Tenn., which, according to Gayles, is “the birthplace of rock and roll.” The music the band plays varies from cover songs of the 50s from the guys they love to other songs from that era that weren’t so popular, to their own original music. Their first two CDs were a blend of cover songs and original tunes but the third CD is mainly originals. Their CDs can be purchased at the House O’ Hits music store, 207 E. Main St, Madison.
Rockabilly music, which is a combination of rock and roll and old country, is more popular on the East and West Coasts than in the Midwest. Rockabilly hit its peak in popularity in the late 1990s, but there are still many bands out there today representing this type of music. According to King, there are other rockabilly bands composed of younger people as well. However, it’s not as popular as today’s country music.
King and the Rivertown Ramblers mainly travel around the country playing at festivals and group concerts. The band’s biggest honor came when they played at Country Thunder in Twin Lakes, Wisc. This concert featured country greats such as the Charlie Daniels Band and today’s hit artists like Sara Evans. Though King and his band are still a young music group, they have already shared the stage with many legendary and popular musicians.
According to their website, they have had “the honor of sharing the stage with Lynard Skynyrd, Hank Williams Jr., Leeann Rimes, Keith Urban, Ike Turner, Tim McGraw, Montgomery Gentry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Texas” and a long and impressive list of many others.
The band members all have regular jobs since they perform mainly on the weekends. Luckily for them, most of their bosses are supportive of their side profession and are relatively flexible if they need time off for their music. Usually when the band plays at a local venue, their family and friends come out in droves to support them. They, too, dress up in the 50s garb making the whole rockabilly scene complete.
The band members themselves always dress in the 50s style because King believes it’s “an important element to look the part” of the music they play. The band is not sure where they’ll head from this point but are simply enjoying playing their music while traveling around the country.

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