Every now and then you write a story that makes you jealous, angry, and nostalgic all at the same time. This is one of those stories. Since I can’t make it to this year’s Rockabilly on the Route in Tucumcari, NM (June 4-7), I want to live vicariously through you. Here’s why you should go… (and why I’m so flippin’ mad I’m missing it)
For starters, I went last year to represent roadtrippers.com and had one heck of a time. Assuming this year to only be bigger and better, I’m pretty bummed. Here are the 5 very, ultra-important reasons why…
1. The cars
I like old cars. Yeah, a simple statement, but I especially like the kind of cars you’ll find at a rockabilly-style car show… Rat rods to show cars to lead sleds to motorcycles, they call come together at Rockabilly on the Route with a parade, car show, burn-out, and even a pinup contest. Hosted by the Voodoo Creeps C.C. and the Duke City Rockers, I have no doubt the whole Saturday shindig will be even bigger than last year’s.
2. The music
Last year’s lineup was pretty stacked, but, once again, they’ve outdone themselves and the 2015 Rockabilly on the Route lineup is pulling rockabilly acts from as far away as Japan. You won’t be able to go anywhere during this year’s Rockabilly on the Route without hearing some sweet tunes performed live by some of the best in the business.
Want a little taste? Here are the Gretsch Brothers coming to you all the way from Japan:
3. The town of Tucumcari
Located on a desert stretch of New Mexico’s Route 66, the town of Tucumcari was once a bustling little hotspot as travelers passed from Albuquerque to Amarillo, and many of the great Route 66 staples of the town have either survived or been revived as the caring folks along the Mother Road work hard to put Tucumcari back on the map. Here are a few of the places you’ll want to check out…
When you think Route 66, you imagine kitschy roadside attractions exactly like Tee Pee Curios. The new owners, Heidi and Gar, have been working hard to stock the shelves and to preserve, promote, and prosper one of New Mexico’s last great curio shops.
They’re all booked up for the event, but Motel Safari’s mid-century modern architecture, retro sign, and clever vintage advertisement reproductions around the patio area give you plenty of great photo ops.
Once again, by this stage in the game, you probably won’t find a room here, but you will find one of the most photographed spots along all of Route 66: the famous Blue Swallow neon sign. Grab some pictures during the day. Grab some pictures at night. Just don’t leave town without snapping some pictures!
Kix on 66
Classic old-school diner right on Route 66. Lucky for you, Kix on 66 is the host for the Friday “Blue Suede Breakfast”.
The new kid on the block, the owners of the Roadrunner Lodge have been working like crazy to restore, renovate, and reopen this historic Route 66 motel. They’re hosting a pop-up drive-in on Friday night for those of you not hitting up the live music at the convention center.
No fancy nonsense here, just good homestyle cooking. They’ll have the right fix for what ails you on Sunday morning with a Rockin’ Gospel Brunch from 8am-2pm.
The host of lots of events for Rockabilly on the Route, this is the place to be seen late at night in Tucumcari. Friendly bartenders and a fun-loving vibe make the Tri-Star Bar the perfect place to tie one on. (I also have a special place in my heart for the Tri-Star because it was here where an RoR organizer yanked a dead rabbit from the grill of my car roughly a half hour after meeting her for the first time.
Like antiques? Like odd stuff? Like talking to a super-friendly guy about said antiques and odd stuff? You should most definitely stop by the Tucumcari Trading Post to see what kind of crazy goodies he has this year. You won’t be disappointed.
4. The people of Tucumcari
Tucumcari was the first Route 66 where I ever spent more than a day or two, and I quickly fell in love with the friendliness, grit, and determination of the business owners and other locals of the town. The above list of places to check out is a testament to that… I’ve shook Joe’s hand and eaten his breakfast and Richard from the Motel Safari has taken me to the top of Tucumcari Mountain and given me a free beer or two.
Heidi from Tee Pee Curios, Tony and Russell and the gang from KTNM/KQAY radio station, David Brenner from the Roadrunner Lodge, and many others from the town still keep in touch and support me on social media to this day. After just 4 days in this town a year ago, I feel like it’s my unofficial Route 66 hometown, a place I’ll stop when anywhere nearby for as long as these great folks are there.
You may come for the cars, the pinups, and the rockabilly music, but there’s absolutely no way you leave town without a few new friends in the little town of Tucumcari, New Mexico.
5. The vibe
If you’ve never been around a rockabilly crowd, you’re missing out. One part vintage, one part edgy- it’s just plain cool. Guys with greased-back hair and girls in old-school dresses and pinup outfits spend each night during Rockabilly on the Route dancing, laughing, and having drinks. It’s just impossible not to have fun here. The local not-so-rockabilly crowd blends into the mix to create a Route 66 festival you’ll never forget.