Wanda Jackson, unquestionably the true Queen Mother of rock and roll, was fashionably late getting on the stage Saturday night at the Continental Club. It was her seventy-second birthday, and she had played Austin the night before. Who could blame her for being a little slow to the drawl? Miss Wanda backs a mighty rockabilly howl in her tiny frame. If you would have seen her anywhere else other than the stage at the CC, you would have wanted to make sure that she got into her car okay, or asked if she needed help to the parking lot with her groceries. But when she opens up her voice and that iconic voice comes forth, even the burliest rockabilly girls and boys in the crowd could do nothing but stare in awe.
Since coming out of Oklahoma in 1954, Jackson and her sassy-mama growl have enchanted generations of rockers and a healthy rockabilly and roots fanbase. The crowd at the CC stood in reverence to the woman through her entire with rapt attention. Then we looked over to the man playing keys for her and realized it was Earle Poole Ball, the man who played with Johnny Cash on his hit variety show during its heyday.
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The honky-tonk piano player is also responsible for the tones on the Byrds' sprawling and genre-creating Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. He also has a residency out at Sengelmann Hall in Schulenburg as well. Traditional rockabilly guitarist Danny B. Harvey stood on Jackson's right, plugging away with his signature sound. His list of credits includes work with Brian Setzer and none other than The Head Cat, the trad-rock side project of Aftermath godfather Lemmy Kilmister.
Strapping on a pink custom Daisy Rock acoustic guitar, which Wanda lauded for being cut just right below her chest, she began a set of her own hit " In The Middle of a Heartache" and Elvis Presley's versions of "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "Hard Headed Woman." Her strumming is still devastating and matches the ache and fire in her voice. Aftermath has witnessed history before in his career, but very few things can compare to Wanda Jackson live. The best thing you can do is see as many of these pioneers as possible while we still have them roaming the Earth. Judging by the performance and tenacity of Jackson even to this day, the train is going to keep rolling for a long, long time.