Big Sandy and His Fly–Rite Boys rolled into town Sept. 25th to open for Los Straitjackets at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis. The audience was all dressed up for an evening of Rockabilly, Country music, and Western Swing. The SRO crowd ranged from the twenty-somethings to geezers, all wearing clothes reminiscent of the 1950s. The stage was set with incredible vintage equipment and when the band ambled out to play in their matching black and white polka dots and cowboy boots, the audience went crazy.
Their first song, “Heaven is the Other Way,” was a country song reminiscent of Johnny Cash or Carl Perkins. It was powerful and set the mood for the subsequent songs. Next came “It’s Time,” which was a Jump song featuring Ashley Kingman on an amazing guitar solo. The intensity of the crowd was turned up substantially. The next song, “Not In This Town,” was reminiscent of a Buddy Holly dark love song, and slowed the audience down slightly to set the mood for “How Did You Love Someone Like Me.” It was as if Roy Orbison was resurrected into the darkness and sang of yet another foreboding relationship.
Big Sandy’s next song was “Hey Lowdown Better Slow Down,” a rock and roll song about cars and the carefree life of a teenager hooked on fast cars. Big Sandy really shined on this one, acting more like a preacher giving a sermon on the evils of living and driving too fast.
“If You Fall Out of Love with me,” was a hardcore Country tearjerker that sounded like Buck Owens. The audience stopped dancing and just listened as Big Sandy showed his ballad singing strength. The band recently released as a 7” record and they sang both sides – “My Eyes are Open But There Ain’t Nobody Home,” a Buddy Holly-like tune, and the B-side, a Conway Twitty song titled “Don’t Get Too Far with the Girl at the Bar.” The audience loved both tunes, and the fact that it they were part of a 7” made it all that much better.
Big Sandy and the Fly-rite Boys took a drink and toasted headliners Los Straightjackets and then slowed the tempo down to play “Waltz of the Wind.” The dance floor cleared except for the few obligatory Hippie solo dancers who made their whirling strangely out of place appearance, and then drifted off … hopefully to their own era. This was an evening of 1950s rock and roll innocence.
“Love That Man” came next and it was reminiscent of The Del-Vikings “Come Go With Me.” The band roared into “Little Cabin on the Hill,” which sounded like Elvis’ “Mystery Train.” The band took another short pause and made a toast to drinking. They were swamped with shots of tequila from the crowd, which they drank while they played. Of course, “Tequila Calling” was only appropriate. It totally brought the house down. The band immediately launched into “Jumpin’ from 6 – 6” which ratcheted up the energy even further. It was a tour de force moment and the audience was ecstatic.
They walked off stage and ten minutes later, which the audience was about to tear the house down, the band came back out for an encore – “Chalk it Up to the Blues,” from their 2003 release “It’s Time.” Everyone was exhausted from either dancing or listening. Big Sandy and the Fly-rite Boys finally left the stage as the crowd cheered wildly.
The only constructive criticism I have is that they would do well to have a crew help them on and off stage. The illusion they’d created was blurred when they had to become their own roadies.
The band was spectacular and they are:
Big Sandy ~ vocals/guitar
Ashley Kingman ~ guitar
Kevin Stuart ~ bass
Joe Perez ~ drums
The Fine Line Café was transformed into a Country bar for one evening, and from my vantage point I could clearly hear and see the band perfectly. The staff was very courteous and the cuisine was excellent.