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Rockabilly Resurrection rocks Kannapolis VFW

By Wayne Hinshaw
For the Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — The third annual Rockabilly Resurrection brought rockabilly music and dances, a pre-1973 car show and a pin-up contest to Kannapolis VFW Post 8989 on Saturday.

Rockabilly music became popular in the Southeast in the 1950s, the result of stirring together of early rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm ‘n’ blues and “hillbilly music” to form a new sound.

Johnny Cash with his “Folsom Prison Blues,” Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” and Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” helped start the rockabilly culture. It became the music of rebellion, sexuality and freedom for teenagers. The sound went national about 1956, continuing until the late 1960s.

Dr. Kenny Welch, who had a love for 1940s and 1950s music, sponsored the first Kannapolis show three years ago. The rockabilly subculture fans celebrated with vintage cars, music, dance and a pin-up contest.

Some of the car owners in the show were David Dellinger in a black 1940 Ford Coupe and Daryl Nicholas in a yellow and blue 1948 Ford Coupe. John Aclair brought a red 1947 International pickup and 1953 Plymouth. A red 1959 Cadillac belonged to Whitney Everhart of Lexington. R.K. Sales of Salisbury showed a red 1957 Chevy Corvette. Ronnie and Pat Whitten of Rockwell showed their bright red 1950 Buick Rivera. 

There were dozens of other vintage cars and trucks to cast your eyes on.

Every car owner has stories to tell about their love affair with their cars. Every car is special with its own history and restoration.

Bert and Lauren Murphy of Lexington were standing beside their black, red-top Oldsmobile Super 88. Bert has owned the car about a year, but when he first found it, he said, “Its color was four shades of rust.”

He said the front fender had been crushed in an accident. The car had a black body with a white top originally. The seats were in good shape.

“I have had 45 cars before,” he said. If I see a good deal, I can’t resist. I always say I’m going to sell them, then I see another and get the itch to buy.”

Bert lamented that he “had a nice ’65 Chevy and had it fixed up in a year. I sold it to buy my wife an engagement ring.”

Lauren was dressed in a bright red swing dress with white polka-dots. Her hair was pulled up in a ’50s hairstyle, and she wore sunglasses. She came dressed to enter the Rockabilly pin-up contest later in the day.

Three from Concord — Kailey England, Summer Buchanan and Peyton Irby — were looking for items at the Retro Lucy’s Boutique tent to accent their ’50s dresses for the contest. Buchanan said with a giggle that her powder blue dress with white polka dots was her “dress for her eighth-grade formal dance.”

“I have graduated from high school now and it still fits me,” she said. “I’m going into the Air Force soon, so I have tried to stay in shape.”

Ataina Pryor of Mint Hill walked up to the retro tent wearing a full swing skirt with a low-cut red top, bright red lipstick and red hair. She said she likes to wear vintage clothes. This was her third year entering the pin-up contest. She was the winner the first year.

Asked if her hair is really red, the funeral director answered with a smile, “Well, you see that it’s red today.”

Inside the VFW Post, Jem Crossland and the Hypertonics played vintage rockabilly music with the sound being simple, very loud and very fast. Crossland has long, wavy black hair like Elvis and heavy sideburns.

Michael Bassett and Tommie Pfeiffer started to dance in the center of the warm room, doing the Lindy Hop from the 1920s. Bassett was dressed in pants that had one pink leg and one green. His shirt was yellow with a print design. His shoelaces were pink. It was a perfect rockabilly outfit.

Kevin Connor and Kathy Schwarz joined them on the dance floor in the two-step or the jitterbug. Connor wore a black shirt with a giant yellow guitar on the left front.

Back outside, Wanda Lowder was sitting with her husband behind a 1964 blue and white Chevy Impala station wagon. There were not many station wagons in the show. Wanda’s husband said the car was hers, since she had to approve the financing for it.

The car was a three-seated station wagon, with the third seat facing out the back glass. She said her grandkids love riding around Albemarle in the back seat.

Trophies for the car show winners were custom made of car parts, making a one-of-a-kind recognition in each category.

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