Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys come from Southern California, and instead of going forward from the Golden State's rather stylish versions of early rock 'n' roll they go backward, to Western swing, jump blues, country, and regional American styles. They're revivalists of the best kind, performing not note-perfect covers but originals, mostly by Big Sandy (Robert "Rusty" Williams) himself, that elegantly unpack iconic text conventions and sometimes inhabit modern evolutions of the emotional landscapes that helped set the original styles in motion. "I don't have a clue why I feel like I do," sings Big Sandy in "Her Hair Is a Mess," a droll rockabilly-swing chronicle of inexplicable attraction. "Maybe I'm just accident prone."
The last time Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy came to the Ark together, Los Straitjackets had just released their vocal album Rock en Espanol, and Big Sandy, who himself apparently has no Latin American background, sang classic east-L.A. "rocanroll" vocals in Spanish. This time, Los Straitjackets and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys will perform separate sets, perhaps joining forces for some songs later in the show. However they organize it, an evening of sharp vintage sounds, skilled and fun, is just about guaranteed.
[Originally published in October, 2010.]