Cool cars and retro guitars

Classic car shows, rockabilly and surf combine for throwback fun in the sun
Cars and Guitars

Looking for summer fun? How about cool cars, twanging guitars, and the sound of the pounding surf?

Folks who love everything about their mid-century modern homes make up one of California’s livelier subcultures. So do fans of mid-century hot rods and rockabilly and surf music—which somehow, someway, seem to go together.

Car shows, concerts—and car shows plus concerts—can be found throughout the area year-round, but are particularly prevalent during the summer. Where to find them? Among the more useful websites are the Yahoo group NorcalRockabilly and SurfGuitar101.

“There is definitely a community around the cars and the music,” says Hank Forss, the man behind NorCal Knockout, a car show-rockabilly festival July 6 at the Solano County Fairgrounds. It features “pre-1970, all American hot rods, custom race cars, and ‘40s-‘60s style motorcycles,” he says.

Aloha Screwdriver is a Bay Area surf band that has played car shows alongside rockabilly bands. The two styles of music differ—but relate, says Aloha’s guitarist, Donald Bell. “The twanginess of the guitars is similar. It’s a classic guitar sound.”

Bell loves surf music for “the excitement in the sound and a spookiness to the reverb. It’s also tied into a nostalgia for that era. It does something for me.”

Here’s more on NorCal Knockout. Also, more on NorCalRockabilly, SurfGuitar101, and Aloha Screwdriver.