Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

Big Sandy What A Dream It's BeenBig Sandy plays three tracks from What A Dream It's Been and talks to Rick Cornell about his early days playing rockabilly on the beach boardwalk, playing “American” music on High Tone, and his European cult classic.

Rotation 380

  • Van Gough / Two Cow Garage / The Death of the Self Preservation Society / 2:48
  • Snake Drive / North Mississippi Allstars / World Boogie Is Coming / 2:48
  • Bread / Barrence Whitfield And The Savages / Dig Thy Savage Soul / 2:44
  • Do Our Thing Together / Swamp Dogg / Rat On! / 3:56
  • Honey Jar / The Wood Brothers / The Muse / 3:59
  • The Beauty Of The Better States / I See Hawks In L.A. / Mystery Drug / 3:41
  • Le two-step du forgeron / Ganey Arsement / Le Forgeron / 2:58
  • Pocket Change / Mando Saenz / Studebaker / 3:39
  • Trouble Looks Good on You / Wild Ponies / Things That Used to Shine / 3:12
  • Have You Ever Seen The Rain / John Fogerty / Wrote A Song For Everyone / 3:18

Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys

Interview Recap

Big Sandy talks about their touring show. He says it's a mixed show. He says there are some rousing rocking numbers but they also strip it down and have an acoustic set in the show too as a head nod to their latest album What A Dream It's Been which was recorded acoustically.

Rick Cornell notes that this is the 25th Anniversary of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys. Rick asks him to talk about his aspirations back in '88. Big Sandy says he'd been in several local rockabilly bands in southern California at the time. He says a lot of people he was playing with were influenced by The Stray Cats and others. “I dug that but I wanted to get a band together that was a little more tuned to the original old records I grew up listening to. In my playing and through networking with different garage bands in the Orange County area. I met some other guys who were wanting to play something with a more traditional approach and we started getting together in my garage in '88. We started going down to the beach and playing the boardwalk with the guitar case open. And that's how we got some of our first gigs. Somebody in Europe found out about us and invited us to a rockabilly festival over there and a bunch of promoters saw us there. We started touring over there heavily in Europe before leaving California. Dave Alvin kind of toque us under his wing and he got us on the High Tone label and we recorded a couple of albums in the Capitol Studios in Hollywood. I guess that's when things took off for us.”

[Rick Cornell plays “Parts Unknown” from What A Dream It's Been by Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.]

Big Sandy talks about what it was like to revisit these songs. “It was interesting sitting down and listening to these songs. Some had fallen by the wayside so it was an interesting process. It brought back a flood of memories. You remember the person you were with that inspired the song. I think that because we had been away from these songs for a while we could start with a clean slate. Some of these songs we'd never even played live before.... These songs are kind of snapshots of where we were at different points in our lives.”

Rick Cornell notes that they have branched out from Rockabilly to Western Swing, Jump Blues, R&B. Big Sandy says, “My description of the music has changed over the years. Maybe because of the work we did with Dave Alvin it felt good to say 'we play American music.” But now there's other style in the mix. On this record there's a little bit of Jamaican influence because I listen to a lot of it these days.”

Rick Cornell asked about Big Candy's connection to the song “Big Sandy” by Bobby Roberts. Big Sandy says it's one of the greatest rockabilly songs of all time and one of the greatest rockabilly guitar solos of all time. Big Sandy says, “He recorded to song in the '50's on a small label trying to be the next Elvis but he never made it. That song became a dance club hit in the 80's in the UK. I ended up tracking him down and became friends with him. That figured into taking on the name Big Sandy even though my name is Robert Williams “

Big Sandy sets up “Glad When I'm Gone.” Big Sandy says “That song was originally on an album called On the Go. We recorded it in Georgia. The song itself and the whole album became kind of a cult classic in England and throughout Europe.”

[Rick Cornell plays “Glad When I'm Gone” from What A Dream It's Been by Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys.]

Big Sandy sets up the tile track “What A Dream It's Been?” Big Sandy says on the surface it works as a guy singing to his girl kind of song... But actually when I wrote the song I wrote it about the guys who were leaving the band. It was my ode to them. ” He says in this latest incarnation he had the chance to record it with Grey DeLisle, who is a well known voice actress in the cartoon word.

[Rick Cornell plays “What A Dream It's Been” from What A Dream It's Been by Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys.]

Americana Music Show


The Americana Music Show is podsafe and copyright 2013 by Taproot Media. The music and interviews in this episode are used with permission of the artists.


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  1. jonny august says

    Calvin, found your Malcomb Holcombe show the other day, Have been a big fan of his for years. Very talented
    guy , do you know if he has been to the Ark? in ann arbor. or Steve Earl did get his inspiration
    for oxicontin blues some where down south. I would love to see him in Mi.
    Big sandy & his fly-rite boys what more can be said , to live your dream and travel the world and live
    every day like it is Saturday WOW please sign me up.

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