Big Sandy & The Fly Rite Boys @ Grand Social - Saturday Aug 20th 2016

It’s not too often lately that a gig will bring together such a wide bunch of rock ’n’ roll fans to appreciate live music as were at the Grand Social this weekend - music that encompasses boogie-woogie, jazz, rockabilly, rock ’n’ roll and the occasional instrumental twang. Tonight’s gig started with an opening set from veteran piano player Gavin Povey who most assuredly tickle those ivories with style. His fellow musicians know as the Fabulous Oke She Moke She Pops - Simon Farrell on upright bass and vocals alongside Shane Atlas, top hat, drums, vocals and dancing - offered solid support throughout with a set that is full of danceable rhythms and memorable hooks that were appreciated by the dancers and drinkers alike. The songs included a well deserved encore of Moon Mullican’s Seven Night To Rock as well as a tribute to Etta James, in the song of that name, as well as such gems as Go Cat Go, Hook, Line and Sinker, Red Man and Glory Bound.

The star attraction however was the return of Robert Williams aka Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys. Big Sandy is a regular visitor thanks to Ubangi Stomp Club presentations. It turned out to be Big Sandy’s birthday a reason for celebration overall but one that somewhat derailed the show mid set as Happy Birthday was sung to Sandy and also to other members of the audience who also claimed the day too. One who took the stage to sing his congratulations was Welshman John Lewis (a fellow rock ’n’ roll artist in his own right) who also brought a round of Tequila shots only to be called back onstage to sing a song with the band.

The songs ranged from the first song from Big Sandy’s first album to both sides of his latest 7” single release Fine, Fine, Superfine and Every Time (on Ruby Records). Other solid favourites included Jumping From 6 To 6, Tequila Calling (which it was!), The Greatest Story Ever Told and Chalk It Up To The Blues. As per usual the players in The Fly-Rite Boys deserve special mention and none more so than long-serving guitarist Ashley Kingman whose playing is every bit the attraction that Big Sandy is. A stunning guitar player who can turn his hand to many styles and moods. He is joined tonight by the current line-up of Kevin Stewart on upright bass and vocals and Ricky McCann on drums. The trio delivers a striking instrumental mid-set that was a testament to their undoubted playing skills.  

Yet it is the big man upfront who holds court whether joking with the audience or expressing his love for playing in Dublin. Asking “you been alright since we last met?” as well as noting that “a Mexican can now feel right at home in this international city”. The distraction of the “happy birthdays” aside he was in fine form and obviously enjoying singing and playing for the assembled finely-dressed fans who thoroughly enjoyed the show. They danced throughout and at the show’s end demanded an encore  - which they duly got. A three song set that started with Night Tide and finished fittingly with a extended and energetic Carl Perkins tune that left everyone in a good enough mood as they headed out into the rainy early morning.

(Top: Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys Below: Gavin Povey and Fabulous Oke She Moke She Pops & Dancers)

Review by Stephen Rapid  Photographs by Kaethe Burt-O'Dea