Frontwoman Tiffany Christie of Fanny and the Attaboys knows her old-timey quintet may have gotten more attention if they were around 20 years ago when retro-swingers like the Squirrel Nut Zippers and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were getting MTV and radio airplay.
There just aren’t as many devoted retro scenesters around now.
“It is a small but extremely devoted group that lives a vintage lifestyle in music and clothes,” Christie says. “It’s just not as prevalent. But it’s still here.”
Fanny and the Attaboys
...a six-song "mash-up."
Fanny and the Attaboys are at the center of San Diego’s zoot-suit culture, such as it is.
“It’s kind of sad that people have stopped making a big deal out of music,” says Christie. “Going to see a band used to be a primary form of entertainment. Maybe there’s too many options. Maybe it’s Netflix...”
Four of the five met five years ago at the local cradle for all things swing/rockabilly, Tio Leo’s.
“We say we draw from the music from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s...that was the roots of rockabilly — Depression-era jazz, bluegrass, Western swing. We call it American roots. It’s very general. We are half-original and half-covers.”
The band has a pedal-steel player but no drummer. “Our stuff is inspired by pre-drum music. We have a real strong rhythm section, so we found we don’t need a drummer. Plus, it’s easier to set up and break down. We once got a gig because we didn’t have a drummer.”
Do they ever get harassed for dressing up when they hang out in public? “What I hear a lot is we are like cosplay. Like what the ComicCon people do. We get people asking if we are in a movie...sometimes we tell them we are.”
Where do local retros hang out? “We like good old American diners. We like Rudford’s a lot...we really like the Cat Eye Club, which is a hip tiki bar downtown off Seventh. It’s super retro and has tiki art and cool lighting.”
If not San Diego, what cities have thriving retro scenes? “L.A. and San Francisco. But there’s also Fresno and Bakersfield, cities who have a history with this music. And, of course, Palm Springs, which used to be like Hollywood.”
370 Seventh Avenue, Downtown San Diego
Fanny and the Attaboys appear Friday at the Cat Eye Club.