When it comes to talented singer-songwriter Nikki Lane, AllMusic says it best: “Nikki Lane reinvents the nostalgic sounds of 1960s country music for a modern audience, mixing Southern twang with lush orchestral arrangements and the occasional pop/rock hook.” She dropped out of high school in South Carolina before hightailing it to Los Angeles to work as a fashion designer. Later, she moved to New York City where she began making acoustic country songs following a bad breakup, before ultimately settling in Nashville, where her career would eventually take off. Her first full-length, Walk of Shame (stream it below), came out in 2011, earning her comparisons to Wanda Jackson and Neko Case. All or Nothin’ (stream it below), produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, followed in 2014. “If Lana Del Rey had pores, bodily fluids or even the rare hair out of place, she might be Nikki Lane, the East Nashville firebrand who understands sangfroid is a lot more explosive when you roughen up the edges and throw down a gauntlet,” raved Paste. Lane (above, performing “Jackpot” live in studio for WRLT FM) returned with her third full-length, Highway Queen (stream it below), just a couple of weeks ago. “Three albums into her career, Lane remains true to her vision of classic country by way of alt-rock—a pigeonhole she seems happy to inhabit,” according to Exclaim. “This is her best album yet.” Find out how it sounds live when Nikki Lane plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday night. A pair of singer-songwriters, Brent Cobb and Jonathan Tyler, open the show.
Tag Archives: Wanda Jackson
Wanda Jackson – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 21, 2011
Wanda Jackson has been singing and playing guitar since racking up hits as a girl in the ’50s. She’s toured with (and dated) Elvis and most recently collaborated with Jack White on her new album, The Party Ain’t Over. On Friday night at Music Hall of Williamsburg, the dapper black-and-pink-clad Third Man Band warmed up onstage while the sold-out crowd eagerly awaited the Queen of Rockabilly. As White wailed out a funky, dirty guitar riff, Jackson, petite and smiling, appeared, sporting a sparkly, fringed white jacket and black bouffant hairdo. “New York City!” she cried out in her spunky Southern lilt. “Are you ready to rock? I sure am!” She began her old hit “Riot in Cell Block 9” and the crowd started to dance. Brooklyn, too, was ready to rock.
Jackson’s voice, brassy and throaty, punctuated here and there with a delicate little growl, was in fine form as she ran through a mix of hits from the ’50s and ’60s (“Mean, Mean Man,” “Fujiyama Mama”) alongside tracks off the new album (including a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”). The singer was good-humored and a bit feisty during song breaks, praising White’s guitar playing (affectionately calling him “sweetie”) and her two backup singers (“how do ya’ll like my little cupcakes over here?”). “I saw Elvis do this once in Vegas,” quipped Jackson, referring to a lyric sheet she used for one number. “I said if it’s good enough for the King, it’s good enough for the Queen.”
Although there was plenty of talk of White being a “savior” of rock and roll back when the White Stripes first emerged, perhaps only now, after his fruitful collaboration with Jackson, is this notion truly appropriate. Over all these years, Jackson has never stopped singing and performing, but White’s imprint on her new recordings may help generations of music fans rediscover (or discover) this powerhouse—someone who was really there back when rock and roll first took shape. Wanda Jackson’s spirited performance with the Third Man Band this weekend made it clear that classic rock and roll is here to stay. —Alena Kastin
(Wanda Jackson plays The Bowery Ballroom on 2/24.)