Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys 

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Lovingly produced by ex-Blaster Dave Alvin, the HighTone debut of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys, Jumping From 6 to 6, clocks in at 16 tracks, which is either more bang for your buck or too much same old, depending on your taste for authentic reproduction. What separates this Orange County-based quintet from lesser rockabilly outfits is its superb musicianship and its relatively expansive musical view. Influences include all the usual Sun suspects--Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and of course Elvis--but Big Sandy and crew also veer righteously into Bob Wills western swing, Jackie Brenston rockin' rhythm and blues, and country boogie a la Maddox Brothers and Rose. Many are called, but few are chosen, to pull off a Hank Williams song. Big Sandy, aka Robert Williams, digs into "Weary Blues From Waitin'," and, buoyed by crying steel and thumping bass fiddle, comes up with a version that's both lovely and understated. Elsewhere he applies his high, grainy voice to both classic covers and surprisingly vibrant originals. Sandy singsongily breathes "Yeah!" and "Uh-huh!" after particularly snappy, jazzy licks and steel-guitar Hawaiian fills. To the big guy's credit, these Bob Wills-esque "comments" aren't just retro rip-offs: they're exactly what they were the first time around, timeless exhortations to get down and rock. Saturday, 9:30 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont; 281-4444.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lori Eanes.

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