Rockabilly on the route 2015 Tucumcari, New Mexico

Posted by Dee-Ann On April - 14 - 20153,903 views

rockabilly on the route 2015Two years ago, folks in Tucumcari weren’t sure what “a rockabilly” was. Today Mayor Lumpkin is the self-proclaimed Ambassador of The Rockabilly, boasting, “Everywhere I went in Brooklyn I told people about Rockabilly on the Route.” Created in 2013 by La Loca Magazine owner Ungelbah Davila and Charleston-based Simon Cantlon, owner of Vive le Rock Productions, this rockabilly weekender is quickly changing the face of Eastern New Mexico. The creators, which now operate as Pink Flamingo Productions, chose the unassuming town of Tucumcari for its rich Route 66 history, colorful characters, and mid-century flair.

Since then the festival has grown into the largest of its kind in the state, drawing the attention of the New Mexico Tourism Department, PBS, and bands from as far away as Japan, Norway, and Colombia.

Unlike rockabilly festivals and car shows that are confined to a single venue, Rockabilly on the Route takes over the entire town, from the convention center-based car and bike show (hosted by the Voodoo Creeps Car Club and Duke City Rockers), to the cruise and parade down Route 66, to parking lot burn-outs, after parties at the Tristar Bar, pop-up drive-in movies at the Roadrunner Lodge, and

band performances at businesses town-wide.

The benefit of this? Visitors get to experience the charm and history of this neon-clad burg in the desert while staying in renovated mid-century hotels like the Safari, Historic 66, and Blue Swallow. Even better, the town itself, which has experienced a gradual economic decline since the interstate was build around it, reaps the rewards of all this gas-guzzling, beer-drinking, burger-eating tourism.

“We’ve found that this is a creative way to stimulate economic development in Tucumcari without compromising any of the historic infrastructure,” says Davila. “Rather, we are embracing our Route 66

heritage by bringing it into a fun, contemporary context.”

From its inception, the festival has operated as a benefit for the city’s burgeoning New Mexico Route 66 Museum. ( The museum, housed in the convention center, is

a grassroots enterprise to commemorate Tucumcari’s Mother Road legacy and position as the eastern Route 66 gateway to New Mexico. Currently the museum’s displays include the world’s largest Route 66 photo exhibit with over 166 photos of Route 66 from Chicago to L.A., a Loretta Lynn autographed Route 66 guitar, interactive history exhibits, a collection of classic cars, memorabilia, and more.

The museum’s founders, Bob Beaulieu, Gary Cardwell, John Dugger, Larry Bond and Richard Talley, immediately grasped the vision of Rockabilly on the Route and became instrumental in the

festival’s success.

“During last year’s festival alone, Rockabilly on the Route brought in over 1,000 visitors to the museum and approximately $2,000.00 in combined donations,” reported board member and Vice President Bob Beaulieu.

“The festival has been a major boost to our museum each year, as well as bringing thousands of new visitors to our community, and experiencing a small portion of what New Mexico’s Route 66 has to offer,” says Talley, museum board member.

Talley, who owns the Motel Safari, dedicated a suite to the event, which houses many Rockabilly on the Route commemorative items, as well as many of its musical artists’ memorabilia.

In 2013 Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson headlined the event alongside The Chop Tops, encouraging team ROR that they were on to something and to keep it up. The following year, the festival went international, bringing in Norwegian band The Lucky Bullets, and Colombians Los Dorados Rockabilly Trio, as well as Ultimate Elvis tribute artist Justin Shandor, Eddie Clendening and teenage sensation Mad Max and the Wild Ones. Always looking to up the ante, the 2015 lineup will be headlining Japanese rockabilly band The Gretsch Brothers, Toronto’s Creep Show, Wayne “The Train” Hancock, and Hard Fall Heart. Follow along at

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