We were really looking forward to seeing Big Sandy, we had seen him with Los Straitjackets and had thoroughly enjoyed it. So, there we were, Sherri and I, along with Joe, Lori and Kelly, Barry and Caroline. Had snagged good seats close to the outdoor stage, nice pleasant late spring evening. Good crowd, the local chapter of the rockabilly mafia were out in full force (Hepkat, Toodles, Slammer, Lurlene, Lil Rachel et al). Always cool to hang out with a crowd that just looks right wearing outfits from the 50’s, know what I mean?
Right at 9:00, the ‘warm up’ band Hillbilly Casino took the stage. Lead singer Nick Roulette greeted the crowd, counted off 1-2-3-4 and the band tore into their opening song. And when I say they tore into it, that is exactly what I mean! At the same time Nick leaped into the air and for the next 90 minutes did his best impersonation of a whirling dervish!
Oh man, this guy was non-stop motion, dancing, singing, running back and forth across the stage, hanging from the rafters (literally!), leaping off the speakers, just never once stayed in one place. He would leap into the air and do a karate style high kick, and I felt my hamstrings twinge just at the sight of it. During every song he would whip out a comb and try to smooth back his pompadour, only to have it totally messed up within 20 seconds. As for the music, just a powerhouse rockabilly band, sort of an Elvis meets Van Halen style with the sound of ‘Southern Culture On The Skids’. At one point I told everyone at our table that if I did write a review, there was just no way I would be able to describe just how wild he was. And everyone agreed, you would have had to been there to believe it! These guys were the very definition of psycho-billy, and I mean that in a good way!
Backed by a guitar, stand up bass (with a skull on top) and drums, these guys were just a blast to watch. By the end of their set you could tell that multiple Jaeger shots were having an effect. Late in the set they did a rockabilly rap cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Get Rhythm’ that was just too cool for words. And anybody who knows me KNOWS just how much I detest rap! About halfway through the set, Nick tore off his shirt and he had the coolest Hank tattoo on his bicep, first time I had seen one like it. With a few more shots I probably would have been tempted to get one just like it. Ahh, the power of music…
After a short break, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys took the stage. Wearing a black suit, white shirt and black bowstring tie, he was the epitome of cool. Backed by guitar, stand up bass and drums (each wearing a black outfit with a white bowstring tie) they proceeded to entertain the crowd for the next several hours. And that entertainment was fueled by multiple shots of tequila and whiskey!
The first set went off without a hitch, nothing but good music and entertaining stage patter from Big Sandy, dance floor pretty much in use throughout. Good time rockabilly, done well. Then they took a break.
Second set was a different animal altogether! By this time, I would guess Sandy and the band had each done 5-6 shots of various sorts of alcohol, and the shots just kept on coming throughout. So, as you can probably imagine, things got a bit…loose! But, no drop-off in the performance, in fact the alcohol probably contributed mightily towards Big Sandy agreeing to do the uncensored version of ‘Big Dan The Back Door Man’. Trust me, once again you would have had to have been there, just use your imagination because no way I can describe it!
Towards the end they launched into about a 20 minute version of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ that was just an absolute blast! Earlier Big Sandy had encouraged the entire crowd to sing along with him, and on this song he managed to make up several lyrics that were just hilarious! I told you, this guy is an entertainer!
Well, it got to be close to 1:00 and we figured things were gonna wrap up since most bands finished at 1:00. Not Big Sandy! I guess the buzz was just too great to stop playing, so the band just kept on a going! Even after the sound guy came out and signaled them it was time to wrap it up they STILL kept playing! Finally, by about 1:40 they finished off and took their final bows. So, at last we were able to stagger out of there, sweaty and sore from grinning all night, with yet another great night at Knuckleheads under our belt!
Submitted by your roving rockabilly reporter,