Local Music Reviews
It Don’t Matter
Lean Canteen = Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys + Wayne Hancock
As far as mainstream culture is concerned, rockabilly was a ’50s fad that ended quickly. To me, rockabilly is the exciting nexus point of honky-tonk, blues, western swing and R&B—and like all great music, it has continued to survive. Here in the SLC area, we have our own pocket of a rockabilly scene, and Lean Canteen is right at the heart of it with their monthly rockabilly nights at Piper Down Pub carrying the torch for the past few years.
Lean Canteen does lean (pun intended) toward the country side of rockabilly, and with a steel guitar player like James Cherry in the band, they can do country stompers such as “Lean Canteen Boogie,” which lets you know that these guys are all about a good time and good music. Not many bands can rock and swing, but they do it with a sophistication that many rockabilly acts lack. It’s difficult to stand out as a rockabilly band, since there is such a devotion to the past within the genre that creativity starts to feel forbidden. Lean Canteen have found a rare balance that allows them to use traditional elements in their own style.
The cheeky track “Back Side Of The Moon” shows the band’s lighthearted sense of humor, as well as lead guitarist James Melillo’s jazzy licks. A tune like “Red Hot Mama” displays how they can play with rhythms and put Paul Woodmansey’s stand-up bass slappin’ to good use. Craig Gawreluk’s mighty drumming will have you on your feet, cha-cha-ing around the room. I get the feeling from this record that the band has a passion for this kind of music—they put a lot of effort into these songs, and it shows. To keep up with their rockabilly nights and other performances, check out their website thefabulousleancanteen.com. –James Orme