Concert review graphic from the September 1994 issue.

Concert Review: Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys: September 1994


On Sunday, July 10, Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys paid Salt Lake City a return visit. As I left the club after the show, I couldn’t help but think of Wanda Jackson’s party trilogy. “Let’s Have A Party,” “There’s A Party Going On” and “Didn’t We Have A Party.” This was not a simple club appearance nor was it a typical Zephyr night. On Sunday, the Zephyr suits and ties were preparing for their day jobs, they were safely tucked away in their beds. The club was filled with Salt Lake City’s underground rockabilly/western community and hardcore drinkers. Due to the large number of comp tickets passed out, the majority of the audience entered free, so they had plenty of money left to spend on drinks.

Many prominent local socialites attended this event of the month. Rockabilly hating columnist/satirist extraordinaire Helen Wolf was there. She was hiding out from the hit squad Z-93, who was hired after Wolf’s sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek announcement that Kiss would appear at the the station’s Livestock Festival. It seems that many SLUG readers took the news seriously and inundated the station with calls. Some people just don’t get it. Publishing tycoon JR Ruppel put aside his mouse and doghouse bass long enough to generously give his writers their pay in beer. Broken Hearts Andy Bellanger, Lara Jones, Tim Huntsman and Jerry Cochran mended long enough to leave their homes. Tag team swing-dancing partners and advertising executives Ann and Wendy dropped their strictly business daytime leathers for more casual shorts and tops. Speaking of leather, I spotted leather brained music hack Wa cowering in a corner. He was packin’ heat and pepper mace. He told me that he fears for his life after a skatepunk threatened to kill him with an empty can of Krylon for “crumbing on” the Offspring. Restaurant owner, Ramone, was there and so was record store executive Pablo. The crowd had ‘billies, hippies, punks and even the blues trio Too Slim and The Traildiggers laid over in Salt Lake City to attend the party.

The combo onstage dressed as if they’d stepped from the set of the Andy Griffith Show. They took the vintage clothing fashion trend to new heights. Wally Hersom, the stand-up man, looked like the high school geek from a ‘55 yearbook photo. On guitar was Ashley Kingman appearing as the JD in an old health movie who passed auto mechanics and nothing else. Drummer Bobby Trimble was the slickest of the bunch, next to Big Sandy himself. Trimble wore a shiny red shirt and vintage tie. Steel player Lee Jeffriess was the honky tonk hero for the group.

From this five-piece band came the sounds of an old fashioned barn dance. Almost from the beginning, the floor was filled with swing dancing couples. Girls paired off with girls and boys paired off with girls. I didn’t see any boys pairing off with boys—the single boys on the floor danced with themselves. For close to three hours, only stopping for a short intermission, Big Sandy and His Flyrite Boys kept the joint jumping. They played songs from their new album, did some covers and a few new tunes. The club was not jam packed, neither was it empty. Despite write-ups in almost every paper in town, the Sunday night scheduling must have had something to do with the sight of only a few new faces. The balcony level of the Zephyr was empty. Everyone in attendance wanted to be as close to the action as possible. Most saw Big Sandy the last time through and rain, snow or blistering heat wouldn’t have kept them from the return. The curiosity of the night was the complete lack of Wrangler-wearin’, big buckle sportin’, hat tippin’ cowboys tottering around on high-heeled ostrich skin Tony Lamas. I guess “Indian Outlaw,” “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” and “Reggae Cowboy” are as close as these folks can get to the true sounds of country swing. Too bad, because they’d have received the shock and pleasure of their lives.

The high point of the entire night came when Big Sandy invited Cochran, the Broken Hearts boy wonder fiddle and steel guitar man, onto the stage to bow a little. Cochran sat in for two swing tunes and held his own with Orange county’s best. He returned to the stage for the closing song and added his fiddle breaks to the guitar, bass, steel and Big Sandy’s incomparable vocals.

Big Sandy likes Salt Lake City, and Salt Lake City loves him. He’ll be back. Next time I hope that whatever club invites him throws down some sawdust and stacks hay bales around the floor for the dance. Hee-Haw. 

Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Stoneface: February 1993
Local Band: River Bed Jed