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Nobody's Business

Detroit roots

by James M. Manheim

From the October, 2018 issue

I first saw the Redford Township rockabilly trio Nobody's Business in July, when English soccer mobs materialized seemingly out of thin air for the Manchester United-Liverpool FC match at Michigan Stadium. Afterwards a large group showed up at the Mash basement bar on Washington, and, as the country song has it, they were pretty good at drinking beer. It wasn't a promising situation, but after a while Nobody's Business got the soccer crowd listening and then dancing.

Nobody's Business has been around since 1994, when the trio was formed by lead guitarist Bill Giorgio. They had a sharp set of original songs from the beginning and seemed on the brink of national exposure when they recorded an album produced by Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker. Fashions shifted away from roots styles, but Nobody's Business has kept at it, with the classic splendidly economical trio of Giorgio, drummer Scott Martin, and bassist David Roof, who has lately been the glue holding a diverse bunch of bands together. Nobody's Business has had recurring gigs at the New Way Bar in Ferndale, at the Woodward Dream Cruise, and for several years now at Mash.

With four albums and two decades-plus of bar nights, the band has a big collection of songs that can be tailored to the occasion. They do a certain amount of classic rockabilly--they call "Folsom Prison Blues" their "Old Reliable"--and have originals in the same vein. They play country and Cajun-flavored tunes and a mean "Suzie Q," with Giorgio replicating the otherworldly "Sleepwalk" effectively on an electric guitar. They even work the British-style power pop of Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe into their sets, and that might have been what brought the drunken Brits onto the floor.

The persistence of rockabilly, now more than sixty years old, is remarkable. It is not dominant anywhere, but it exists almost everywhere, and in addition to a retro-style subculture it's producing original songs such as those of the ideally named Indonesian band Kucing Kampung (Neighborhood Cat) that I encountered not long ago. Nobody's Business has a fresh mix after all these years, and with them there's no doubt that the heart of rock and roll is still beating. They return to Mash October 13.     (end of article)

[Originally published in October, 2018.]

 




 
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