The last full weekend of September sees the idyllic New England town of Sturbridge invaded not by leaf peepers but vintage loving Rockers. The New England Shake-Up is a roots rock weekender held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center, put on by Beck Rustic of Retroactive Northeast.
For three days, four if you count the pre-party on Thursday night, folks gather from around the world to watch bands and dance to djs playing some of the best rockabilly, western swing and greasy rock and roll to be found! There’s also a classic carshow on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday they throw a pool party!
Unlike many of the larger rockabilly weekenders here in the States, The Shake-Up is dedicated to staying focused on the music. This year’s lineup features bands and djs from the UK, Canada, The Netherlands, Texas, California and beyond.
Headlining the weekend are Red, Hot ‘N Blue (U.K.), Barrence Whitfield and Miss Mary Ann & the Ragtime Wranglers (featuring Big Sandy!) Those 3 acts are reason to buy a ticket alone! The slate of talent booked this year is incredible.
In addition to the music, there’s a whole bunch of vendors featuring a variety of goods and services from a barber to vintage clothing dealers. There’s even a massage therapist set up in the vendors Shopping Lounge!
The main ballroom sees live music every evening with djs spinning tunes between the acts and keeping folks dancing til 5 every morning.
Saturday day is jam packed with the car show, hosted by Diablogato in the parking lot and Sean Mencher’s Rockin Afternoon in the seminar theater. The car show features live bands to enjoy and vendors to shop while ogling some sweet vintage rides. Sean Mencher (of High Noon) plays host for several informative sessions from rockin’ guitar tips to profiles of Fortune Records, Chet Atkins & Les Paul, and Cliff Gallup & his Gretch.
I called The New England Shake-Up “a party not to be missed” and that is exactly what it is: a big party! Sponsored by Narragansett Beer and Sailor Jerry Rum and located across the parking lot from one of New England’s largest liquor stores, a tasty beverage is never out of reach. Folks with poolside rooms decorate their balconies. There are multiple record release events and meet & greets over the weekend.