Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
Since forming 25 years ago, Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys have toured continuously and become torchbearers of American roots music. As a singer, songwriter, bandleader, and entertainer, Big Sandy has few contemporaries. With a dynamic live show, Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys at once acknowledge and celebrate the past while setting the stage for further exploration and interpretation of the musical forms they are most passionate about.
Beloved by many, the band has released fourteen albums of undiluted, upbeat and soulful music pulled from honky-tonk, western swing, rockabilly, rock & roll, rhythm & blues, soul and doo-wop. Their latest album, ‘What A Dream It’s Been’, on Cow Island Music, is a collection of the band’s favorite original numbers – all acoustic, reinterpreted with fresh new arrangements, rhythms, and instrumentation.
The band has toured constantly for the past two decades, playing over 3,000 live shows, which include performances at the Grand Ole Opry, opening for the likes of George Jones, Johnny Cash, Morrisey and The Monkees, along with several appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and many national radio shows.
Growing up with a single mother in San Benito, Texas, the hometown of Tejano star Freddy Fender was not easy for blues singer Charley Crockett. Hitchhiking across the country exposed Crockett to the street life at a young age, following in the footsteps of his relative, American folk hero Davy Crockett, who also lived a wild life on the American frontier. After train hopping across the country, singing on the streets for change in New Orleans’ French Quarter, busking in New York City and performing across Texas and Northern California, Crockett set off to travel the world and lived on the streets of Paris for nearly a year before searching for home in Spain, Morocco, and Northern Africa.
The blues artist returned home to Texas and released his debut solo album titled A Stolen Jewel in 2015, receiving critical acclaim in Dallas and ultimately landing him a Dallas Observer Music Award that year for “Best Blues Act”. A record “rich with Southern flavor, a musical gumbo of Delta blues, honky-tonk, gospel and Cajun jazz,” Jewel proved that Crockett, born into poverty in the Rio Grande, had come home to make his musical mark on the South. Crockett, who is self-described as elusive, rebellious and self-taught, has been compared to legends like Bill Withers, Merle Haggard, and Gary Clark Jr.
He released his sophomore record In The Night, an admirable nod to his Texas country and Louisiana blues roots, on June 4 and ended 2016 having played over 125 shows. “In the Night” and Crockett’s song “I Am Not Afraid” received international recognition from top tastemakers after being picked by NPR Music as one of the “Top 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing” and selected by David Dye to be featured on World Cafe in late July. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram called it “an impressive calling card, full of Crockett’s plaintive soulfulness and swinging tempos” and Central Track noted the artist as having “the well-rounded songwriting capabilities of Van Morrison and a vocal approach that finds common ground between Bill Withers and early Dr. John.” Crockett graced the cover of Buddy Magazine in May 2016, who called him “the archetype of the new American vagabond.”
He has shared the stage with artists like Turnpike Troubadours, Leon Bridges, Justin Townes Earle, Citizen Cope, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Sean Hayes, Tab Benoit, Ace Enders and others.
Now in its fifth year, River Town brings the music of America’s heartland to the south west in a summer celebration of roots and Americana music. With a vibrant programme of blues, bluegrass, country and gospel, 2019’s series is packed full of performances from global icons and rising stars.
In 2019 the River Town series takes place at venues across Bristol including St George’s
Bristol, The O2 Academy, SWX, The Winston Theatre at Bristol University SU and The Crofters Rights,
and also makes its first foray into Bath with two performances at The Forum. With artists including k.d. lang, Lucinda Williams, The Shires, The Mavericks, Keb’ Mo’ and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, it’s the most ambitious programme yet.
River Town began in 2015 under the banner of Bristol Americana Weekend and under a co-producing partnership between Colston Hall and St George’s Bristol presented Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Larkin Poe, Police Dog Hogan, Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham and many more outstanding artists of American roots music.
The festival returned after wide-spread acclaim in 2016 to feature Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Mary Chapin Carpenter and the now internationally famous The White Buffalo.
In 2017 we launched the festival for a third year under the new name of River Town and showcased some of the finest blues, gospel, country and bluegrass, from across the pond and closer to home in Colston Hall, St George’s Bristol and for the first time in O2 Academy. Three UK greats – Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Andy Fairweather Low – joined forces in a rare trio performance that celebrated their shared love of American R&B, soul and country. The compelling singer songwriter Martha Wainwright performed along with R&B powerhouse, gospel legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples. Plus performances by duo The Shires with crossover stars Ward Thomas brought country-pop to Bristol.
In 2018 the festival expanded across the city as part of our Colston Hall Presents programme, showcasing events taking place in venues across Bristol during the Hall’s Transformation project. In it’s fourth iteration River Town’s line-up featured music icons
Graham Nash and Rosanne Cash alongside The Barr Brothers, Steve Earle & The Dukes, The White Buffalo.