This past October, an amazing new venue opened in Nashville in the form of the Eastside Bowl. Formerly a K-Mart, this retro-style venue prides itself on its vintage 1970s aesthetic. Not only does it have the coolest bowling alley in town, but it also houses an arcade, filled with a collection of old-school games and pinball machines. You will find pretty much everything from Pac-Man to Donkey Kong. On top of that, it has a diner on the inside with some really great food! Yet, none of these things would be the reason I would be heading to the east side of Nashville on May 20th; the 1st Annual Eastside Boogie would be taking place this weekend and, for me, it was like entering rock and roll heaven.
This festival had everything an old-school music fan could love!
There was a hot rod cruise, pin-up coaching classes, two full nights of music and a vinyl records fair to finish it all off. This event was essentially two full nights of classic rock and roll and Rockabilly music! As soon as I walked in, the standup bass was slapping and a good majority of people were swing dancing to the sounds of Jane Rose and the Deadend Boys. Almost everyone was dressed up in western wear, similar to Hank Williams, or they had on their sexist pin-up attire. The music was nonstop high energy and it made me wonder why more people don’t take the time to listen to the widely overlooked genre. Deke Dickerson was my favorite performer of the night, as his sound was a cross between Carl Perkins and Porter Wagoner. He was even selling merch from the stage, which I found hilarious.
The night was capped off musically with local rockabilly favorites Hillbilly Casino. Imagine Dropkick Murphys without bagpipes and a lead singer who pretty much never stops sprinting around the stage. I am not sure I have seen such a live performance in a very long time. The one thing that stood out the most to me was the fact that people almost twice my age didn’t seem to stop dancing the entire night. It truly blew my mind, as I could barely stay awake on my drive home!
Day Two kicked off with a hot rod cruise, as car owners from across the city brought their coolest rides to line up for show. I don’t know much about cars, but some of these people must put a lot of time, effort and money into making these cars look as amazing as possible. My day of music would start with Anthony Ray Wright who would be filling in for Art Adams, as he sadly had to cancel at the last minute. Anthony’s performance reminded me of what it must have been like to see shows during the 50s — everything about his performance felt vintage. He even played an encore of one of my favorite Jerry Lee Lewis songs “Drinking Wine”.
Next up was The Hi-Jivers, another Nashville group who had more elements of blues than all the other acts. This husband and wife led group could easily share stages with the best southern blues rock bands in the game today. They also had a grittier edge that perfectly contrasted the next performer, Tammi Savoy. Tammi Savoy is what you would get if you combined Ruth Brown, Lavern Baker and Donna Summer. She is beautiful and her voice can serenade you one moment and rock your socks off the next. She has the vintage look down to a T and her aesthetic provided me with some wonderful live concert photos.
Overall, it was a fun and entertaining weekend! While everything didn’t completely go as planned and the weather didn’t exactly cooperate for the vintage clothing vendors on Saturday night, I highly recommend attending next year! The Eastside Bowl, in my opinion, is going to be the next great music venue in Nashville!
Photography by Derek Jones