Thursday, July 07, 2005

Wanda Jackson/Rosie Flores at Cafe Nine

It's a day after George W. and I shared our 59th, so what the fuck am I doing out 10PM on Thursday night in this urban, bohemian Sam the Clam's waiting for the show to start! Cafe Nine is modestly full as I pay my twenty bucks and amble (yes, I amble) in, wedge myself into a spot halfway down the bar from the tiny stage, and order up a Guinness.

Johnny Gumbo and I discovered Rosie Flores on Labor Day past at the 2004 Rhythm and Roots Festival in Charleston, RI. They throw alot of music at you at those events, but her brand of rockabilly left me thinking I would like very much to see her in a smaller venue. Therefore, when I found the Rosie/Wanda Jackson date on the Cafe Nine schedule, I decided to make the effort. Gumbo had to opt out to care for Suzi, who is recovering from double knee replacement (hope everything is coming along smoothly, Suzzzzzzzz). The boys, JFK and GDK, were willing to accompany me as a birthday tribute, but I let them off the hook. Now, to try to look occupied for a half hour waiting for the show!

Rosie is up first, her cool/hot lead guitar playing backed by upright bass/keyboards/drums. According to AMG, "In 1995 Flores recorded Rockabilly Filly, a spirited tribute to the music she grew up with. The album featured duets with her longtime idols Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin, both of whom Flores brought out of retirement for the project. The album led to a cross-country tour with Jackson, who hadn't played in nightclubs in over 20 years." Her set was a thoroughly enjoyable mixture of rockabilly, blues and even a little tango thrown in. The Jon Voight-ish keyboard player was impressive both interacting with Rosie on the jams and taking his solos.

Good show. Break. I kinda wish I'm going home, but I owe it to myself to see someone about whom Elvis Costello, in an open letter, says "This is to propose that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally nominates Wanda Jackson for induction. For heaven's sake, the whole thing risks ridicule and having the appearance of being a little boy's club unless it acknowledges the contribution of one of the first women of rock and roll." Ok, I'll stay.

I'm more curious than excited. Turns out that Rosie and the boys serve as backup for Wanda, who squeezes (she's a few years/carbs removed from those 50's pinup shots) onto the stage looking like the grandmother (perhaps great?) she probably is. Self-effacing and a little shy, she fiddles and chats until she's finally satisfied that everything is in place. Then, suddenly, Wanda turns into a growling cat as she jumps into her set with startlingly energy and impressively strong voice. I'm relieved that it isn't going to be a pitiful nostalgic act; the chick can still bring it. She introduces each song with a bit of history (Elvis Presley's One Night With You preceeded by a mention that she and Elvis toured together before he was a star and that they 'dated' for a year). Charming. I waited for the biggie and she finally did a rocking, if abbreviated, Let's Have a Party toward the end of her show. I'm going to pay for this tomorrow, but I'm glad I stayed for Wanda.

The concert was sponsored by Go Kat Go Radio, a show on WNHU (University of New Haven) "specializing in rockabilly and psychobilly" on Tuesdays from 8-10 PM. Some photos of Rosie from their website - Here

New Haven Advocate article

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