Rockabilly acts join gearheads, rat rodders for Okie Twist-Off 

Grease under their fingernails, beer on their breath and lust in their heart " that is how Jeff Beck described the culture he fell for decades ago, a metal motor romance that blossomed the moment he laid eyes on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air with a four-speed transmission and Cragar mag wheels.

His love extends beyond that Chevy's big-block engine to a burgeoning classic car scene that has spawned Okie Twist-Off, a two-day music festival and car show now in its second year, being held Friday and Saturday.


Beck owns the Rat Fink-inspired Beck's Garage, 4217 N. Western, and is a member of the Oklahoma City-based Ratty Bastards car club. Last year, he and fellow Bastards Kevin Burden and John Manson decided the metro needed an event that united all facets of the culture.

"We never did anything as a car club, and we wanted to do something fun," Beck said. "We wanted to get off our asses, now that we are a little older, and don't rely on alcohol to have fun "¦ as much."

With only two months of planning, last year's inaugural Okie Twist-Off proved a surprising success that attracted a crowd Manson estimated to be around 1,000.

"We were kind of shocked by how many people came out," he said. "We were not expecting it to be as big as it was."

Big enough to add a second day to the festival, Manson said. New this year is a Friday-night bar crawl that features several bands playing at clubs throughout the city.

The crawl kicks off at 6 p.m. at Spinozis, 303 N.W. 62nd, and will extend to Galileo Bar & Grill, 3009 Paseo; Sauced Annex, 2912 Paseo; VZD's, 4200 N. Western; and the Blue Note, 2408 N. Robinson. A $10 wristband will serve as admission to every venue.

Last year's car show featured more than 60 classic cars, and Beck hopes Saturday's auto showcase at 66 Bowl, 3810 N.W. 39th, will prove even larger. He admitted that gas prices might stifle the show's growth, but he's heard murmurs that car clubs from surrounding states still might make the drive.

"The car show concentrates on a lot of low-budget, do-it-yourself, backyard hot rods like they used to make 50 years ago," Beck said. "You work with what you have. Back before you could go to a catalog or online and buy all your components, you had to rely on your fabrication skills and robbing parts off a Ford to fit a Chevy and robbing parts off a Chevy to fit a Dodge."

Manson, whom Beck calls OKC's "godfather of punk," selected the music acts for this year's festival. Manson fronts psychobilly stalwarts Billy Joe Winghead, and has been a fixture of the local scene for years, either playing in or booking a number of venues throughout the metro.

The Flametrick Subs will return as a headliner. Brimming with anachronistic charm and high-torque libido, the Austin act sounds as if it formed after escaping from a Fifties zombie flick.

The metro's best rockabilly and psychobilly bands will convene with Saturday's car show on three stages at 66 Bowl. The lineup " which includes Brian Dunning & the Rock 'n' Roll Trio, The Oh Johnny! Girls and The R.I.P. Tides " starts at 2 p.m. and won't end until the bar's last call.

Manson said he hopes the festival becomes a regular summer stop for national and regional touring bands.

"We want to grow the festival, so that they view this as a destination," he said. "We're no longer making pitches to bands to come to it. Instead, they know it's going on, and they plan their touring accordingly."

Beck is cautious about the growth of Okie Twist-Off and doesn't want the event to lose its intimate charm, as he is particularly protective of the scene he's spent his entire adult life immersed in and a culture he has enjoyed watching mature.

"Twenty years ago, our network " our little group " was just a few people," he said. "But now you look around and can see rockabilly and psychobilly people everywhere with tattoos and greased hair getting into the old cars. Hell, you can find a Stray Cats CD in everyone's collection." " Charles Martin

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Charles Martin

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