Monday, April 12, 2010

Hungarian Rockabilly

I've just run across an entertaining article from 2007 about the Hungarian rockabilly scene, on the website The rockabilly scene  in some places is a sort of offshoot, or at least is incorporated, into the country scene (the German rockabilly band The Lennerockers has been touring for 25 years and is a staple at country events, such as last month's Country Music Fair in Berlin).

Some of the descriptive of the Hungarian rockabilly scene sounds like the way country fans describe getting involved with the music.
Since its birth, rock and roll has evolved into a dizzying array of scenes and styles. But the original, rebellious allure of rockabilly - a once-daring fusion of hillbilly boogie, swinging country and traditional blues that rocked the youth of 1950s America - has held its own as a music subculture, and is continually embraced by new generations of youth, including more than a few in Hungary.

Once the Prison Band finished their set, I asked Kid, a 19-year-old from Budapest, why he liked rockabilly. Short on English, he blurted out, "Rebel!"
But at least for Kid, it's an unusual kind of rebellion. He told me that his interest in the music and its accompanying scene was sparked by his parents, who listened to rockabilly when he was, well, a kid. It may have been hard or impossible to find Western rockabilly records during Hungary's Soviet era, but the music seeped in, mostly via bootlegs and radio waves.

When Hungary's ambassador to the United States, AndrĂ¡s Simonyi, made a well-publicized appearance several years back at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, he described how he and his brother used to listen to an old Bakelite radio at night that picked up Western music shows on Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and Radio Luxembourg. But some local rockabilly fans who grew up during the Communist era recall first hearing the genre via less "underground" channels.

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