The Power Of Pause: Nikki Lane Returns To Houston

Nikki Lane is back on the road with a stop at Houston's Warehouse Live on Sunday, July 11.
Nikki Lane is back on the road with a stop at Houston's Warehouse Live on Sunday, July 11. Photo By Bobbi Rich
The past year's global change of pace even forced the highway queen herself, Nikki Lane, to slow her roll but now that live music is returning so is she, as she is scheduled to perform this Sunday at Warehouse Live.

“I can't wait to be back at my normal job and back in Houston,” says the quick talking Lane from her home in Nashville where she also has her vintage shop, High Class Hillbilly.

Prior to the pandemic, Lane had relocated to Austin where she lived behind the city’s best kept secret, Sam’s Towns Point, an old establishment nestled in an Austin neighborhood since 1981.

Though Lane enjoyed her two years in Austin and doesn’t rule out finding a new hideout there, the constant back and forth between the two cities often left her spent and spread thin, hardly able to find her favorite pair of jeans. As a self admitted workaholic, she took her forced time off the road as an opportunity to focus her attention and skills on improving her home and herself.

“It’s been really good,” says Lane of her time off from touring. “Everybody had their own experience last year but I think a lot of musicians felt bad saying that they felt good about their year off because they don't want to say it to the tolls that it took on people physically, monetarily or emotionally. But I had a really nice time.

“I don't stop, so to be forced to stop is also an opportunity to be forced to reflect, domesticate, become a really good cook and take care of yourself. I like watching everyone come out of hiding because it’s the same thing, everybody is having their own journey.”

“I feel like there are certain things that last year instilled in all of us that I’m going to keep,” she says.

Lane says the time off has allowed her and other musicians to realize that they can be on the road for the fans and their careers but also allow themselves time to focus on their home lives and families.

“It’s a hard job,” says Lane, who also is well aware that she chose to be an artist and isn’t looking for sympathy. “It’s the bandwidth too because most entertainers, especially until you're at a bus level, are the driver, the coordinator and the performer.”

Lane will be getting her feet wet with a short Texas run, including her return to Houston, and filling the rest of her summer and early fall as a supporting act for Chris Stapleton at concerts rescheduled from last year. She will also be touring later on in the early fall with her friend Brent Cobb.

“I think Chris Stapleton is and continues to be the number one example of doing things the right way. Him and his wife they've worked so hard to be as big as they are and then they take my favorite roster of artists as their openers. They treat us and pay us so well comparatively to other people at that level. I really hold that family as a prime example of what you do with success.”

This year Lane was also an unexpected guest on Lana Del Rey’s March release, Chemtrails Over The Country Club for the hauntingly beautiful track “Breaking Up Slowly” which the two artists wrote together and gets a shout out on the recently released Blue Banisters title track.

Lane describes how the two bonded after being introduced by Lane’s old manager and their friendship evolved into the two fishing together and finishing each other's sentences.

“I really just say that we just hang out but as a byproduct, we also write songs which I've never really done with boyfriends or husbands,” says Lane.

“I definitely thought that I would be the odd couple but man, we are like two peas. She is on such a different level. She's astronomical in terms of her success and she’s killer but she is a real girl and a real woman and therefore in our job, we go through the same shit. It’s easy to be around somebody like that, it's easy to write with somebody like that and it's easy to celebrate and experience bullshit with somebody like that.”

Lane has also been busy putting together her next album, a project she remains tight lipped on and protective of. This new album will be her fourth release with New West Records and come four years after the highly autobiographical Highway Queen.

“My whole record was based off of living in a van, Highway Queen, and I was tired and I sounded tired in my other writing,” she says. During her time off she focused on a more third person approach to storytelling.

“Until last year, I didn't take time off. I pushed it really hard every single year and got lucky that I could stretch what was considered a record cycle into a touring cycle. Moving to the backyard of Sam’s was about trying to have a personal life for the first time since I had started touring and I got one,” says Lane.

“I might have hit a spot on this record where I feel like I finally became Nikki Lane in that way and I'm going to be able to show you guys exactly what I sound like and maybe then you will get to hear my songs detached from first person. It was such a reflective period to be able to write in, I got a great team together and just wrote my ass off.

"I consciously always rushed so I could do the next thing so I'm consciously holding tight. I like this record the most of all so don't go too fast just cause it's burning a hole in your pocket, let the money burn a hole in your pocket,” she says with a laugh.

Nikki Lane will perform on Sunday, July 11 at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel.  Doors open at 7 p.m. $20-275/VIP table of 4
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.
Contact: Gladys Fuentes