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Hail to the Queen 

Wednesday, Apr 8 2009
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Teenage Wanda Jackson, inspired by the spunky Western-accented sounds of Bob Wills and Hank Thompson, began her career as a country singer in the 1950s. After high school, she began to tour, often sharing the stage with Elvis Presley, who encouraged his young friend to pursue this new thing, rock ’n’ roll. Jackson’s sizzling singing resulted in some of the greatest rockabilly records ever: “I Gotta Know,” “Let’s Have a Party,” and “Fujiyama Mama.” Most of these songs, alas, were regional, not national, successes, but “Mama” shot to No. 1 on the charts in Japan, notwithstanding the lyrics, “I’ve been to Nagasaki, Hiroshima too/The things I did to them, baby, I can do to you!” But it was too cool to last. Jackson transitioned into mainstream country in the early ’60s, and then to gospel. In the early ’80s, European promoters invited Jackson over to record and perform rockabilly, and thus began her renaissance. Her most recent disc is I Remember Elvis, a nifty no-frills tribute featuring ex-Blondie drummer Clem Burke. Jackson’s voice is intact, and the 2009 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still has that spunk.

Red Meat opens.
Fri., April 17, 9 p.m., 2009

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Mark Keresman

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