Northants airfield weekend hosts national jive competition

Atomic Bombshells
Spreading the news: The Atomic Bombshells
A major new weekender is organising a search for the UK's top jivers.

A national rock'n'roll jive competition with cash prizes will be held at the ATOMIC Festival in Northamptonshire over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

Rock'n'roll clubs across the UK are being invited to stage local heats.   Organiser Robin Weathersbee explained: "Each club hosting a heat will receive two free pairs of weekend tickets for the festival: a pair for the heat winners and a pair for the club organisers.

"Heat winners will then have the opportunity to test their skills against the finest dancers from across the country, with a £250 first prize up for grabs, cash prizes of £150 for the runners up and £100 for the third placed dancers.

"In addition, the club that provides the eventual winners will also receive a cash prize of £100."

Incredible jivers

The first local heat has already been held at Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry, organised by DJ Tojo with Ray Doull from the Rock Til U Drop club.

Glasgow jive competition
Jiving at Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry
"There are so many incredible jivers out there," said Colette Weathersbee. "We are looking for a wide selection of established rock'n'roll clubs to choose their representatives to come along to ATOMIC and show everyone what they can do."

Heat winners will dance in the quarter-finals at Sywell Aerodrome on Saturday 3rd May, with the semi-finals and final taking place on Sunday 4th.

Clubs wishing to hold a heat of the jive contest can email Robin & Colette now at   Full details and online booking are available via the website at

"Sywell is so centrally located," said fellow organiser Jerry Chatabox.   "It's the ideal venue for a national competition of this type.   The whole place will be buzzing, so this will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best jivers on our scene."


Between them, Jerry Chatabox and Robin & Colette have run many of the UK's biggest 1950s events during the last 25 years, including the Rhythm Riot, Rockabilly Rave, Hot Rod Hayride, Rockin’ Ranch Parties and Jiving Jamboree, plus Maddy’s Jiving School.

ATOMIC is being billed as one of the biggest vintage music and dancing events of 2014, with a top-quality international band and DJ line-up, rock'n'roller rink, drive-in movie, flag-start drag racing, huge vintage market, air displays, dance classes, traditional fairground rides, wall of death, and much more.   "It will be a full on celebration of mid-century music, dancing and style," said Robin.

The band line-up includes Eddie Clendening, Bobby Brooks Wilson, The Starliters, The Revolutionaires, Lights Out, the Doggone Honkabillies, Si Cranstoun, Paul Ansell's Number Nine and Mike Sanchez.   On-site camping will be available.

Classic American magazine will be holding one of only seven heats of their prestigious 'Car of the Year' competition at ATOMIC.   And radio DJ and TV personality Mark Lamarr will be hosting one of the venues, introducing his favourite bands and playing some of his collection of records.

Atomic “We are really excited about ATOMIC,” added Robin.   “We started working on this idea two years ago and can’t wait to see it come to life.   We’ve secured the ideal venue, and are working closely with an enthusiastic team of experts.   Drawing on our own, and other people’s passion, we can already feel how ATOMIC will be a unique and very special event.

"With datelines of 1946-1962, ATOMIC will embrace the glamour and excitement of this golden era."


Sywell Sywell Aerodrome near Northampton already hosts its own bi-annual charity airshow and has been used as the venue for Music In Flight, which combines flypasts with a classical concert.   The site also has an art deco hotel and an aviation museum, which opened in March this year, telling the wartime history of the site and the airmen that used it.

The airfield opened in 1928.   During the Second World War, as RAF Sywell, it was used as a training facility for pilots of the Tiger Moth, and later as a centre for the repair of Wellington bombers.   Extensive sheds from the time still remain on the site.

Many aerial shots for the film Battle of Britain were taken over the airport and nearby area.

1000 discounted 'earlybird' tickets for the ATOMIC Festival will be released soon to those who register at

  Chocks away: The best of the other airfield festivals
Twinwood Festival   Huge August Bank Holiday weekender at the Bedfordshire airfield where Glenn Miller departed on his final flight.

Retro Festival   August weekend of wings, wheels, steam and music at White Waltham airfield in Berkshire.

Fly To The Past   Oxfordshire all-dayer and airshow - cancelled in 2012 but could be back in 2014.

Waveney Hangar Dance   Fundraising hangar dance held annually since June 2001 at Ellough Airfield in Suffolk.

Huge festival moves venue... and brings in Chas & Dave

Americana 2014 Americana International is set for major changes as the festival moves to a new venue with a racetrack, and brings in mainstream acts including a T-Rex tribute band and Chas & Dave.

After 33 years spent mainly at the County Showground in Newark, the huge weekender will move to Prestwold Hall near Loughborough this July.   The site is seven miles from the M1.

Organisers say security is a prime concern, following complaints about crime at the 2011 and 2012 events.   "The venue is easy to get to and to keep secure including the campsites," said festival boss Chris Jackson.   "Security presence will remain key for the future of the Americana."   Camping zones will be designated as standard, family, quiet and disabled.

Jackson is exploring ways of using Prestwold's 1.8-mile purpose built racetrack, which is on the site of a forner airfield.   "There is a huge race track on-site, which we hope to utilise in the future to please all our petrolheads.   We are currently in talks on how we can work together on this area," he said.   The track already hosts a range of driving experience days and courses.

Tribute acts

Chris Jackson In another shift, the music policy is being broadened from country and rock'n'roll to include mainstream pop, with Chas & Dave and tribute band T-Rexstasy booked for next year.   Chris (pictured) explained: "The Americana umbrella encompasses so much.   2014 will include all the usual genres of cool Anglo-American music and stars from across the globe.   From the 1940s to modern day, country, r'n'r, rockabilly, hillbilly, r'n'b, 60s and 70s, and now we will be introducing some Motown and stars from the mod era to the mix.   The line-up will be dependent on our early bookings and support."

Other bands in the line-up are Carmen Ghia & The Hot Rods, Si Cranstoun, the Alley Cats, Al Kilvo and Johnny Pat, Almaboobies, the Black Cat Trio, Kelly & The Railroaders, Cool Cat Cry, Country Cattin', the Drugstore Cowboys, Greggi G & His Crazy Gang, the Doggone Honkabillies, The Hayriders and The Wanderers.

Other attractions include a 'kidzone', a dedicated area for fashion stalls, annual fashion show, beauty parlour, a larger craft fair area and other related trade stands and food vendors, custom bike shows, displays of American and pre-1975 European and British classic vehicles, 50s style fairground, face painting, street entertainers, native American Indians, tattooists, evening burlesque shows, free line dance and jive lessons, the return of the settlers encampment and a Wyatt Earp Western-style shootout.   Early bird booking fees will apply until the end of September.   The show will take place from July 10th-13th.

American dream

Described as the "largest must see festival for fans of the American dream", Americana International grew from humble origins in a pub car park in Bramcote, Nottingham in 1980.   It was founded by classic car and bike fans Chris and Bev Jackson and is still a family affair, with daughter Letitia taking on much of the behind-the-scenes work.

Despite occasional excursions to Donington Park and Wollaton Park in the 1980 and 90s, the Newark County Showground has been the festival's main home for most of its history.

Beefed-up security Things turned sour in 2011 when the festival was hit by a spate of thefts and outbreaks of disorder.   Regulars bombarded Americana's online guest book with complaints about tents being slashed open, thefts from stalls, damage to show vehicles and thefts of generators and bands' equipment.

"I too am disgusted with what was allowed to happen and a serious re-think on our long serving security group is now on the cards," said Chris Jackson at the time.   "We pay out a hell of a lot of money to the security group and I and my daughter feel very let down by them."

A new contractor, Definitive Security Services, was brought in for 2013, promising a "zero tolerance policy", with the removal of "any persons who commit or attempt to commit a crime, are abusive towards staff or others, display any sign of intimidation or anti-social behaviour".

The tougher approach won general praise from those posting messages on the event's Facebook page following the 2013 festival... apart from one visitor who complained he had been ticked off for spending too long in the toilet.

Strollin' Steve Strollin' Steve's Ardsley Rock'n'Roll Party no.1 takes place at Ardsley House Hotel, Doncaster Road, Barnsley S71 5EH from May 2nd-5th.

Steve says: "It's in beautiful countryside on the River Dearne.   It's three miles from Barnsley shopping centre and surrounded by heritage sites, museums, working mills and nature reserves."   There'll be live music from The Bobcats, The Downtown Daddyos and Danny & The Seniors.

The Bournemouth Rock'n'Roll Party no.14 runs from May 16th-19th at Heathlands Hotel, Grove Road, East Cliff, Bournemouth BH1 3AY.   In the line-up are The Firebirds, The Bobcats and The Revolutionaires.

Info from Strollin' Steve on 01638 712187 / 07808 340776 or visit

Yesterday Once More has an Amazing Jive Weekend from April 25th-27th at Beverley Park Holiday Centre, Goodrington Road, Paignton.   There's music from The Firebirds, Kingcats, Blast Off, Bernie Woods & Forest Fires, The Unconditionals, Colin Paul & The Persuaders, Jive Street, Joey & The Jivers, Jets, Class of 58, the Dough Boys, JJ King & The Coolers and Livestock Davies & Low Down Snakes.

From May 16th-18th it's Summertime Blackpool Rock at The Imperial Hotel, North Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire FY1 2HB.   Bands are The Firebirds, Jive Street, Colin Paul & The Persuaders, Joey & The Jivers, The Heartbeats and the Dough Boys.

From July 4th-6th at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool it's the Billy Fury Weekend with Colin Paul & The Persuaders plus Colins solo show, Joey & The Jivers, The Graduates and Paul Da Vinci.

From August 29th-31st at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool it's Jive Weekend 4 with Colin Paul & The Persuaders, The Unconditionals, The Kingcats, The Firebirds, The Bobcats and Jive Street.

The Atomic Festival rocks Sywell Airfield in Northamptonshire on May 3rd and 4th with a line-up including Eddie Clendening, Bobby Brooks Wilson, The Starliters, The Revolutionaires, Lights Out, the Doggone Honkabillies, Si Cranstoun, Paul Ansell's Number Nine and Mike Sanchez.

The Kings of Rock'n'Roll Weekend takes place from May 3rd-5th at the Westland Leisure Centre in Yeovil, featuring the Buddy Presley Band, The Kingkats, Phil Haley & His Comments and Jive Street. Tickets on 01935 848380

Hemsby 52 runs from May 9th-12th with the Tennessee Three, Art Adams, Travis LeDoyt, Jimmy Gallagher, Lee Dresser & The Crazy Kats and many more.   Venue is the Seacroft Holiday Village, Hemsby, Norfolk NR29 4HR   Info on 01772 761522.

The Rock'n'Red Hot Club has a weekender from May 9th-12th at the Redcliffe Hotel in Paignton, Devon.   Bands are the Killer Dillers, Rob Davies & The Lowdown Snakes, Bernie Woods & The Forest Fires, Play It Cool and The Rockatoons.   To book, call Mike on 07879 228451 / 0117 967 5114

The Shakedown Weekender runs from July 18th-24th near Dursley, Gloucestershire with bands including The Jets, The Revolutionaires and Carlos & The Bandidos.   More info on 01772 761522 or 01453 543221.

Holiday Rock presents Folkestone Jive Weekend 5 at the Grand Burstin Hotel from September 5th-8th with Si Cranston, Earl Jackson, The Bobcats, Kingcats, Good Rockin' Tonight, Bernie Woods, Johnnie Fox and The Heartbeats.   More info on 01733 324283.

If it jumps, jives, bops or strolls we want to know about it.   Email or call 07833 703189.