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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys at the Tip Top

Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys core rockabilly sound is full of truthfulness.  Attendees for any show are likely to feel transported back in time as if witnessing the evolution of country boogie into rock-n-roll. Some might feel as though they’re listening to guitar-driven surf from a beach movie on the TCM channel. Their brand of authentic western swing has few equivalents. The Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill welcomes for the first time a genuine Rockabilly Hall of Fame inductee in Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys on Sept 30. As accomplished and identifiable as their sound has been for 25 years now, the act wouldn’t be the same without Big Sandy’s front man presence. There are only so many ways to describe the onstage chutzpah of Big Sandy (aka Robert Williams). One of them is to say that Big Sandy the entertainer looks to invigorate a fading show biz tradition every night: the one where laughs are earned the old fashioned way with lively stage banter and wit. “I do like the entertainment aspect,” Big Sandy said. “Some artists just play as in ‘we let the music do the talking.’ I like the entertainment side of the business and the way you present it. It’s kind of a lost art, the whole show business part of it.” Here’s the tip to that success: he got jokes. A little wit in between songs can go a long way. Improvisation helps makes songs sound fresh a little longer; Big Sandy says he tries to keep it interesting by mixing up the set list and doing songs just a little bit different from night to night. Between the music and the stage show it’s safe to say Big Sandy is left to carry on tradition to the unwashed masses. “It becomes second nature after all these years,” Big Sandy said. “We try not to think too hard about it. We don’t want it to be just an old fashioned retro thing but still relevant to now.” Early next year in celebration of their 25th anniversary in show business Big Sandy plans on releasing a new album. “We’ve just finished recording it and we’ll be mixing it when we get back home,” Big Sandy said. “We’ve taken songs off of each our albums and reworked some of them with acoustic versions.” If they were ever to bestow a Country Boogie Entertainer of the Year, Big Sandy  would be a favorite to win. Although currently on tour with Los Straitjackets, BS&FRB Grand Rapids show is theirs to mess up all alone. “This will be first show on this trip without Los Straitjackets,” Big Sandy said. “That’s not the good part. It just means we’ll get to play a little longer.”
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys wsg Delilah DeWlyde & the Lost Boys at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids today at 6:00pm.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

TMGR Publisher Wins Award

Taste Makers Grand Rapids publisher Chet Eagleman Jr. was recently recognized for work in multimedia journalism. The news slideshow "Art Prize 2011," featured on the website of The Collegiate newspaper at GRCC, won a MCCPA award for reporting.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Interview with Doug Deming: Remembering Gary Primich

When jump blues guitarist Doug Deming's band was hired in 2006 to back up harmonica master Gary Primich, Deming was already an admirer of Primich's music. "I liked his approach," Deming said. "We shared a musical vision. It was a pleasure to meet him and an honor to play with him." After that it didn't take long for Deming to become an equally ardent fan of the man himself. "He was one of the guys. It wasn't about any ego or star time. Gary was about getting the job done." Continuing a longstanding connection to Primich and his music Doug Deming and his band the Jewel Tones take part in the First Annual Grand Rapids Harmonica Summit, a Tribute to Gary Primich, on Sept 6 in Grand Rapids. Deming will play the original songs of  Primich and then back some of the brightest names in the blues harmonica world today. The harp players expected to descend on the St Cecilia Music Society for this one day event include Dennis Gruenling, Peter Madcat Ruth, and Hank Mowery. Deming and Primich shared a musical camaraderie before they ever met. Deming's buoyant, bouncy hollow-body guitar turned into a perfect match for the Tiny Grimes side of Primich, who passed away in 2007. Deming's dart tip emotion-loaded solid body guitar had pinpoint accuracy on the slow blues. "Within the blues genre Gary did a real variety of traditional styles," Deming said on the way to a tour stop in Springfield IL. "That's kind of where I live as well. I'm a fan of all the early American music which is largely blues based. It has a jump blues feel and we throw in a little jazz with a touch of rockabilly. It all filters into to a style we've developed." Deming, who ended up being the last guitar player for Gary Primich, has fond memories of their time together. "I was his last guitar player for his last few tours. We did a Midwest tour up into Canada in the spring before he passed. He was a great guy, always fun to be around. He liked nothing more than to hang out, listen or play some good music, and watch a football game." 

The First Annual Grand Rapids Harmonica Summit, Sept 6, St. Cecilia Music Society, 7 pm. $10 at the door.