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

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Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys


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On paper LA's Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys look like the worst kind of authenticity bores. The fetish goes way deeper than their meticulously assembled vintage-store getups: the bio that came with the recent It's Time (Yep Roc) goes into numbing detail about the distinguished lineages of various instruments ("a 1957 custom Magnatone solid body designed by guitar-making pioneer Paul Bigsby") and the rigorously historical conditions under which they were recorded. Fortunately, little of that curatorial fussiness bleeds into the actual music. Nearly inaudible drumming and percussive upright bass haven't been a regular feature of rock music in more than four decades, but this five-piece combo has always managed to transcend nostalgia with passion, precision, and invention. Front man Robert "Big Sandy" Williams continues to grow as a singer, complementing his Hank-to-Elvis phrasing with a deep love and understanding of doo-wop harmony; two pieces here feature the harmony group the Lonely Blue Boys shaping wordless sounds behind him. On "Bayou Blue" the band visits Cajun country a la Hank Williams, and "Catalina" glides along on quasi surf guitar, but by and large the group sticks to what it does best: serving up a hot smorgasbord of rockabilly, western swing, and hillbilly bop. Preacher Boy opens. Thursday 23, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $12.

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

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