Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys Early Warnings (Music) Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Fri., Jan. 31, 9 p.m. 2014

Anaheim band Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys have long been one of my favorite acts in roots music, rockabilly division. Though singer and front man Big Sandy (aka Robert Williams) is the only remaining original member, the 25-year-old group sounds as nimble and impassioned as ever—and it still refuses to have anything to do with the rockabilly caricature of slicked-back hair, upright slap bass, and songs about hot rods. Last year the Fly-Rite Boys celebrated their quarter centennial with the delightful What a Dream It’s Been (Cow Island Music), revisiting some of their favorite original tunes in an all-acoustic setting. And the album is more than simply unplugged—it also features new arrangements for its graceful, hooky melodies, which underline the importance of doo-wop and early soul to the first decade of rock ’n’ roll. “Baby Baby Me” and “I Know I’ve Loved You Before,” for instance, get treated to Jamaican grooves that fit surprisingly naturally. The phenomenal Ashley Kingman continues to do the heavy lifting on guitar, his zesty solos in no way hindered by the lack of electricity; Big Sandy actually benefits from the acoustic setting, which highlights his expressive range. He dispenses with cliched shouts and hiccups in favor of careful, ebullient phrasing, subtle shading, and a swooping, propulsive delivery. Sandy and Kingman are joined by bassist Kevin Stewart and drummer Joe Perez, and this concert will include an all-acoustic set. —Peter Margasak

Price: $15

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