Rattlesnake Daddy to play at free Christmas party

Published 10:37 am Thursday, December 11, 2008

“The economy got you worried?”

“The weather making you grumpy?”

“The work week seem just a little bit longer than five days?”

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Ronnie Tabor and Val Johnson have asked themselves those questions.

They decided there were all kinds of reasons for wanting to celebrate this weekend and came up with an idea: Rattlesnake Daddy rocks the Christmas city of Austin.

“We just want people to have fun for one night … at least … this winter,” Johnson said. “There’s so much worry and anxiety over the economy and other things. We just want people to forget that and have fun for a night at our Christmas party.”

The fun is promised from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday and early Saturday morning at the Austin Moose Lodge. It’s been five years since a rock music dance has been held at the former OakLeaf Restaurant along South Main Street.

Only those 21 and older will be admitted to the free dance.

A bucket will be available to collect free-will donations to defray expenses.

The organizers, Tabor and Johnson, emphasized the Friday night party is for young adults.

Grandparents need not show up.

Anytime a Christmas party is advertised with Rattlesnake Daddy, it means something different, and Tabor and Johnson say they will have that Friday night.

First, there will be a Christmas trivia game held throughout the evening just for knowing stuff about Christmas.

How many reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh? What part did Jimmy Stewart play in “It’s a Wonderful Life?”

What did Chevy Chase want to build in his backyard with his Christmas bonus in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?

There will be prizes awarded for the correct answers.

There will also be drink specials offered by the Austin Moose Lodge bar staff.

Lest anyone get too enthusiastic about that, Johnson said “DDs” or Designated Drivers will be available.

Most of all there will be the music of Austin’s home-grown Rattlesnake Daddy band.

Tabor, lead guitar and vocalist, has been playing the guitar since he was a boy and received a free lesson from his music teacher in school “Mrs. Darlene.”

Tabor started playing in bands as a teen: Shane and later, Robin Breeze.

Now, he freelances for bands in addition to his role in Rattlesnake Daddy.

Fans have come to expect Tabor to sing Hank Willliams and Dwight Yoakum songs and perform his impersonation of the King: Elvis Presley.

Johnson, vocals and violin, comes from music royalty in Austin: Her father was the legendary fiddle player, Ole Hanson.

When Hanson and his daughters performed as Sweet Country, their fans spanned generations from youth to old.

Johnson opened her own small business: Have Message, Will Travel, a singing telegram business in 1989 and continues to perform in costume when she delivers the message with music.

A special education teacher for Austin Public Schools, Johnson is also known for her portrayal as “Mrs. Santa Claus” in local holiday celebrations such as Christmas In The City.

Warning: She no longer makes Christmas Eve visits anymore, preferring to spend time with family.

Jonathan Thompson, drums, is the son of well-known drummer, Craig Thompson.

The young drummer joined the band last August and brings the knowledge he gained at Luther College, where he studied music theory and music education.

Bill Hoy, bass and vocals, joined the band shortly after they performed at the Windrift Lounge. “We needed a permanent bass player, and Bill just happened to be there,” Johnson recalled.

During a break, Hoy told the band’s lead guitar player, Tabor, he knew how to play bass.

Tabor responded he had heard that before.

Then, Tabor quizzed Hoy on chords and invited him to the band’s next practice session.

He has been a band member ever since.

Hoy has a background in performing arts, including community theater. He has also performed a solo act at area coffee houses.

Hoy has kept his “day job” with Austin Public Schools, while playing with Rattlesnake Daddy.

Together, Tabor, Johnson, Thompson and Hoy, play classic rock from the 70s, 80s and 90s with newer country from Big and Rich and Jason Aldean.