"Crazy" Joe Domingo can still remember the moment everything changed for him, musically speaking.
Domingo was on stage with his heavy metal band at the Chance in Poughkeepsie. Sweaty and screaming, he looked out into the crowd and suddenly thought, "Why am I doing this? I'm really not that angry anymore."
Before the set was over, Domingo, then 27, had an idea for a new band. It was simple, really. He wanted to play music that would make people dance.
The band that Domingo created, Slick Fitty, is still going strong 11 years later. It will be the headlining artist at Rockabilly Riot, billed as a celebration of 1950s and '60s Americana, on Saturday, July 18, at Saratoga Music Hall.
Justin "J Man" Birk, the group's saxophonist, describes rockabilly as "a mix of early rock 'n' roll with country twang." It was Slick Fitty's calling card in its early days, although Domingo acknowledges none of the members really had a background in that kind of music.
To learn it, he went to a music store, found the rockabilly section and picked out two compilation CDs featuring rockabilly's greatest hits.
"Literally, the band learned those two CDs," he said.
It was enough to fulfill Domingo's dream of having people dance to his music. Slick Fitty found that the rockabilly got people of all ages up and moving.
"Older people could relate to it, and for young kids, it was more hot roddy than that kind of music usually was," Domingo said.
The sound was not only a hit across generations, but across continents. In 2004, the group played at an open mic night at Savannah's in Albany. A woman in the audience was from Sweden and encouraged Slick Fitty to fly over and play at a hotel she owned.
It was a crazy idea, but Domingo and his band mates were game. "No one had serious kinds of jobs going on," Domingo said. "We were like, 'Yeah, why not? Let's just go and have some fun.'"