Friday, September 4, 2015

SXSW: Kinda Fonda Wanda

SXSW: Kinda Fonda Wanda


"I tell you, Jack White pushed me and pushed me on these songs," rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson said at the Beauty Bar Palm Door annex on Wednesday night, "until he pushed me right into the 21st century."

SXSW isn't just for start-up bands trying to raise their profiles. It's also about older acts who are rebooting. (And there as nowhere more appropriate for the 72 year old Jackson to reboot,  since they sell cowgirl footwear at the Palm Door, right in the place where the merch stand should be.)

Jaqckson, who Bob Dylan once called "an atomic bomb with lipstick," was the greatest of the '50s red-hot rockabilly mamas, and as she reminded the early evening crowd on Wednesday, she dated Elvis Presley when she was a teenager. "I was a bigger name in the business than him for that long," she said with a grin, snapping her fingers. 

Jackson's in the studio recording an album with White, and she gave the old heads and hipsters a sampling, in a more credible than kitschy cover of Amy Winehouse's fabulous "You Know I'm No Good," acting out the lyrics with relish. Backed by Oklahoma youngsters Green Corn Revival, she was spry and sassy, and if her vocals were a bit wobbly, she can still growl like nobody's business, as she demonstrated on "Mean Mean Man" and "Let's Have A Party." It was easy to hear why White was attracted to hand picking songs and producing her, in the style of 2004's Loretta Lynn project, Van Lear Rose.  Plus, they share a black-and-red fashion sense.

Previously: RIP, Alex Chilton

Inquirer Music Critic
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