My Friendship With Big Sandy (that he is unaware of).

My Friendship With Big Sandy (that he is unaware of).

Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys and I have a relationship and they are completely oblivious to it.

Way back in the early 90’s I was working at my first job after college.  I was not a happy camper. After a year on this job, I realized that I had made a bad career choice.  I realized pretty quickly that I was not going to make a lot of money doing TV production and master control.  I needed to make a course correction. I quit my job and started applying for graduate school. One of the places I applied to was UCLA School of Film.  Because I was not working and still looking for my purpose in life, I decided to go out to Los Angeles and visit my brother who was already going to graduate school at UCLA.  I thought it would be a good idea to check out the school in case I got accepted.  A former coworker of mine told me I should look up this guy Tim.  He was a former coworker of ours at the job I didn’t like. He had moved out to LA a couple months prior.  

I called him up and he was happy to go out and do the town.  He was new to LA and was eager to check out the city himself.  A coworker of his recommended some places. The first place was a bar called The Cat & The Fiddle on Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood area.  The 2nd place was on the Sunset Strip but it was kind of a lame poser nightclub. So we cruised to the 3rd place which was this tiny dive bar over in The Valley in North Hollywood.  

That was when I first saw Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys.  They were rocking the house. I fell in love right away. I was totally digging that scene.  After a couple of sets of music, Tim and I decided to call it a night. But something amazing happened on the way back to my brothers.

“Holy crap!  I almost forgot to tell you,” Tim said.  “You’ve been accepted to San Diego State graduate school.”

“Hah-min-ah, hah-min-ah (that’s my Jerry Lewis reaction spelled phonetically), what was that?” I asked.

San Diego State was one of the graduate schools I had applied to.  They had been trying to reach me but apparently the home phone number I provided did not work.  So they decided to call my old job. A mutual coworker of ours had heard I was going to LA and called Tim.  They told him that if he saw me to tell me that I had been accepted.

Just like that, my future had been determined.  I was moving to San Diego.

After returning home, I put in my notice to vacate my apartment and moved in with my parents.  I took a temp job to keep the money flowing. Eventually, however, I returned to Southern Cal to look for a place to live in San Diego.  While I was down there, I cruised back up to LA to see my brother, AND hopefully see Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys again.

Sure enough, Big Sandy et. al. were playing out in Pasadena.  My brother and I cruised out there and as before, Big Sandy was delivering the goods.  However, there was an additional memorable thing about that night. I met this beautiful young woman.  We were really hitting it off and having fun. Her friends had drove that night so she had to leave. I told her I was going to be moving to San Diego soon and that I wanted to look her up after I got down there.  She said that she could find me at that bar every time Big Sandy was playing there.  

I put that nugget of information into my memory banks.  A couple months later when I arrived in San Diego and settled in, I high-tailed it back up to LA to presumably see my brother again. But really it was about seeing that girl.  My brother had a lot of school work to do that night, so I made the trek out to Pasadena on my own to see Big Sandy–and the beautiful young woman.  

Well, as one might have guessed, she wasn’t there.  I hung out there at the bar all alone fecklessly waiting and waiting like a schmuck hoping that this young woman would make an appearance.  She never did.

What’s a guy to do except pout, get a good night’s sleep and move on.

Now, just when you thought the tale of Big Sandy was over, there is one last event worth mentioning.  Big Sandy made a trip down Interstate 5 to San Diego to play at some place I liked in downtown. While listening to the band, something struck me.  Had they ever been up to the Midwest?  

During a break, I went up to the bass player and asked him.  He said they never had. I told him that they should consider it because I thought the folks up in Minneapolis would really like them.  The bass player seem genuinely interested in what I was saying and thanked me.  

I didn’t think anything of it after that.  That was until a few months later when my buddy Jeff told me about this new band he and the gang back home had discovered called Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys.  I just about crapped my pants. They not only had played gigs at local bars, they had played some sets in local record stores I used to frequent.  

I can’t help but feel that I may have had something to do with that.  

So, if Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys ever read this story, I hope they send me an email.

I believe Big Sandy is still playing the circuit out in Southern Cal so if you’re ever out there, you should look them up.  Here’s a gem of a song by them that reminds me of that young woman in Pasadena.

If you like swingin’ music like Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, you might like The Fun Time Music Festival–a web exclusive program on KFAI.org.

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