Review and photographs by Ed Conway
Another mid-week and another rockabilly show – this time with a bit more western swing – greeted a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Ale House in Troy. After the wildly successful two-night stand of Los Straitjackets the week before, it was going to be tough to pull off the triple. But pull it off they did, to another packed house.
If you’re just a casual observer of Brian Gilchrist’s venue, you be hard pressed to figure out how they can fit a band in, let alone a national touring act. Somehow, he has been pulling it off for years, though, with acts as diverse as the Spampinato Brothers, Chandler Travis’ many incarnations and the aforementioned Eddie Angel project, Los Straitjackets (which had two sell-out nights of 150 tickets each); and Big Sandy was no exception. After removing the tables, there was plenty of room to stand, and if you didn’t mind being front and center, you could dance as well.
The first set was a “short” 1:20, which allowed lead guitarist Ashley Kingman to fix a broken string. This went unnoticed by front man Big Sandy, aka Robert Williams, as he kept up his hot licks with the five remaining strings for a couple more songs. Upright bassist Kevin Stuart laid down a solid groove while adding in some rapid-fire rockabilly slap (you’d swear he was using both hands). Drummer Joe Perez kept it all in line with a very nice beat himself.
As midnight approached, Nippertown’s own Mark Gamsjager (guitar) and Chops LaConte (bass) sat in for a couple and had the whole place jumping. It was hard to pick out a stand-out moment for the evening as the band flew songs, both new and old, from their songbook, but the final one of the evening seemed to be perfect for a late-night bar crowd, the bawdy “Back Door Dan.”