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MUSIC | ROCKTALK

Road Rally

Bands will set the pace for Blessing of the Cars and Glendale Cruise Night.

July 23, 1998|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Things will be rockin' in Glendale on Saturday.

First, during the daylight hours, the annual Blessing of the Cars will happen at Verdugo Park. Besides the consecration of an expected 600 to 800 of the best Detroit has to offer, the event will feature continuous music all day with Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys, Randy Beckett's Rebel Train, Mr. Badwrench, Zen Dadio, and Door Slammer.

After the sun goes down, the annual Glendale Cruise Night concert happens on Brand Boulevard in the middle of town.

In previous years, the Glendale summer street concerts have presented major acts from the 1960s and '70s including Jefferson Airplane, Eric Burdon, Elvin Bishop, and Iron Butterfly. But this year's roster is made up of current local favorites: the New Suavetones, Lil Roy, Thee Midniter, the Bluescasters, the Older Guys, the Revolvers and Rattlers.

In addition to more than 300 pre-1972 classic cars, there will be displays of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the Batmobile. Appearances by Bugs Bunny and other Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters will be featured.

KRLA-AM disc jockey Huggy Boy will broadcast, direct from the scene. And best of all, admission is free.

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Oldies but Goodies--For the last several years, Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys have made a name performing rockabilly and country swing tunes.

This summer, the group has released not one but two new CDs on Oakland-based Hightone Records. An instrumental album, "Big Sandy Presents the Fly-Rite Boys," features the band doing the music that made it popular. But the second CD, "Dedicated to You," has Big Sandy with some different sidemen exploring a new genre: classic R&B and doo-wop songs from the 1950s.

Robert "Big Sandy" Williams, 33, grew up in Norwalk. As a child, he spent a lot of time with his parents' record collections.

"They had a passion for music, so there were a lot of records around the house," Williams said. While his dad favored country music, his mom's tastes centered on the Los Angeles-based R&B hits of the '50s.

"For me, it's the music I grew up with," Williams said. "I always wanted to sing like that and make something new with it, to make it my own."

Williams worked with the '50s L.A. vocal group the Calvanes and pianist Dewey Terry of Don & Dewey to record covers of 15 classics from that era, including: "I'm Leavin' It All Up to You" by Don & Dewey; "Have Love Will Travel" by Richard Berry; and "Love You So" by Ron Holden.

Williams remembers as a kid going with his dad to search thrift stores and bargain bins for old records. It's a habit Williams continues. He doesn't know exactly how many records he has in his personal collection, but he estimates it's in the tens of thousands.

Included are discs by Elvis Presley, Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell and George Jones, but also by obscure artists such as Billy Jack Wills, Bob's younger brother, or Justin Tubb, Ernest Tubb's son. "There's always something new to hear," Williams said. "It's almost endless."

* The Blessing of the Cars, Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Verdugo Park, 1621 Canada Blvd., Glendale. (213) 663-1265. $5 admission. Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys will perform at 1:45 p.m.

* Glendale's fifth annual "Cruise Night," Saturday, 6-10 p.m., on Brand Boulevard between Broadway and Lexington Avenue. (818) 548-6464. Free.

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Classic Rockers--By day, Rob Kendt has a "real" job. He's the editor of StageWest/Dramalogue, a weekly newspaper for people in the Southern California theater community. But when the curtain falls on that one, Kendt is a member of the rock band Millhouse, slated to perform Sunday at the Blue Saloon in North Hollywood.

Kendt isn't sure about the significance of the name. He realizes Richard Nixon and Bart Simpson's neighborhood friend spelled the name differently, but Kendt thinks it's catchy just the way he has it. Besides Kendt on guitar and vocals, the band consists of drummer Mark Baker, guitarist Jim Fisher and bassist Andy Dadekian.

The band performs classic rock covers and some originals. Their covers include tunes by Elvis Costello, Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and others.

Not surprisingly, Kendt says the originals are theatrical. "They're often character songs such as those by Randy Newman or David Byrne," Kendt said. "I like the songs to be about characters. It's not me up there baring my soul."

* Millhouse performs Sunday night at the Blue Saloon, 4657 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; (818) 766-4644. $5.

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