Editors Note: New Year’s Eve is upon us and as with each year, Nevada County’s vibrant arts scene offers something for everyone to ring in 2013. From swinging dance parties in Grass Valley, high-energy rock jams in Nevada City, cover tunes and benefit concerts in Auburn to more refined affairs throughout the area. This issue of Prospector is filled with events, concerts and activities to help you decide.
If movies are more your thing, check out Page 6 for what local theaters have on the reel for Monday. Not looking to go out at all? Page 5 has a summary of the latest DVD releases.
With the long holiday weekend, there are concerts, community theatre and sure to please the wide range of tastes.
Paul Emery and the Grass Valley Downtown Association team up once again for their third New Years Eve Dance party at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Grass Valley. This year Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys will headline with Nevada County’s own Earles of Newtown opening the show at 9 p.m.
“Big Sandy and his band are one of the great roots rock bands touring today and we’re very fortunate to have them for this years show,” Emery said. “They are constantly touring worldwide but had New Years Eve open and it just worked out. With the Earles of Newtown opening we are assured of having a great evening of dancing to swing blues and bit of rockabilly music thrown in. The Vets Hall has a great dance floor with lots of room for even the most energetic dancers.”
The Downtown Association will provide beer and wine and party goodies to add to the festivities.
Since forming in 1988, Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys have emerged as one of the world’s most respected practitioners of American roots music — western swing, rockabilly, and traditional country — playing it like they invented it.
“I think of us as just a rock and roll band — a rock and roll band that’s letting the roots show,” said bandleader Big Sandy.
Whether they’re playing the Grand Ole Opry, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, or simply climbing out of a bus after rolling into your town, these guys are bringing us some great old-time rock and roll.
“I think we’ve gotten to the point where we fully and more accurately represent the full spectrum of what we were listening to when all of us were growing up,” Big Sandy said. “I mean, when I was growing up in Southern California, a lot of the old R&B guys were still playing. The first show my parents took me to was Ray Charles. I used to go see Richard Berry (of Louie Louie fame), and was a regular at the weekly talent show at the Palomino.”
Over their last 10 albums, the group has recorded in such hallowed musical ground as the Capital Records studios (for the albums Jumping from 6 to 6 and Swinging West, both produced by Grammy winner Dave Alvin) and Hollywood’s classic Electro Vox studios.
Big Sandy’s cohorts in his Fly-Rite Boys include Ashley Kingsman on guitar, Joe Perez on the drums, and bassist/vocalist/songwriter Jeff West. The band was formed in Anaheim during the California roots revival of the late eighties, and at first were only a trio.
Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys are almost always on the road, enough to burn through two tour buses in recent years. The first was a converted passenger bus from 1949 that they retired for use on an old movie set, followed only a few years later by a yellow 1970 school bus that they left for dead in Montana.
“We’re flying more now,” said Big Sandy. But before the school bus died, Big Sandy tells the story of driving it to one particular thrift store: “There was a kid out in front, and he was just like in awe when we pulled up. He looked a little bit confused, and then we come walking up, and he wasn’t sure if he should approach us or not. Then he asked us, ‘Are you guys from the past?’” Big Sandy laughs. “As if we were traveling in a time machine or something.”
For many acts playing music of this era, there is a tendency to look no further than the novelty of the style. Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, however, have continued to transcend their genre the same way all iconic artists do by creating music so good, songs that are so well written, that the genre is simply a launching pad for the integrity of the art. Their music is timeless.
Opening the show will be hometown band Earles of Newtown, led by Earle Ford — host of Wednesday Open Mic nights at Cooper’s Ale Works in Nevada City. Ford has a remarkable ability to play a variety of instruments and sing while conducting a complimentary 8-piece ensemble that swings and sways through dance numbers and ballads like a time machine of American folklore hits. Through stories of love and loss the group boasts a rich variety of old-timey instruments including (but not limited to) trumpet, fiddle, banjo, clarinet, saxophone, dobro, washboard, stand-up bass, mandolin and “madness.”
Earles of Newtown combines swanky and classy with a down-home style and musical sophistication rarely seen in this electronically driven modern era. The group is sure to create a positive dance scene while pleasing the “cool listener” with a gumbo of 1920s Texas Swing, Classic Country, Dixieland Jazz with a dash of Jugband Blues.
For information about the Earles of Newtown, go to www.facebook.com/pages/Earles-of-Newtown.