When Wanda Jackson entered the Taft Ballroom on Saturday night, I’m not going to lie, I had my doubts. She was on the arms of two men and looked so tiny! Of course, whom I’m assuming to be her significant other held her purse and escorted her both on and off stage. But when she got on that stage… man, was she alive!
The backing band, all very attractive young men, played “Rumble” as Ms. Jackson made her way on to stage, a very fitting entrance. Decked out in her white fringe shirt and diamonds, she told us she was going to take us on a musical journey. And really, the show was as much of a history lesson as it was a concert.
Ms. Jackson told us all about her time touring with and dating Elvis. She said it was in 1955-’56, right when she was out of high school. Her dad went on tour with her because she had so much performing she would forget to get paid. Well that, and he was probably worried about the influence that the Rock n’ Roll hip shaker might have on his daughter. But Wanda Jackson gave Elvis credit for teaching her how to play rock. She then launched into an awesome version of “Heartbreak Hotel.”
As the Queen of Rock, Wanda Jackson got her start in country music. She sang a few of her older songs which even included yodeling. Her voice has held up so well throughout her career, and she still is quite the character. At one point someone called her a cougar (which she sort of is, choosing extremely attractive young men to play with her) and she responded, “I’m way past a cougar, I’m a toothless old lion!” Later on when some drunk guy kept yelling at her to play “Let’s Have a Party,” she said “Well we are, where have you been?!” She’s a very witty lady.
Of course I loved when she talked about recording with Jack White. Ms. Jackson described him as a “velvet covered brick,” as in he’s a very sweet man but always gets his way. She played both “Shakin’ All Over” and “You Know I’m No Good” from the album she recorded with him in 2011, The Party Ain’t Over.
And it really isn’t. Just this October she released her 31st album, Unfinished Business, produced by Justin Townes Earle. She played about three songs from the album and the crowd was very receptive to it.
Finishing up the night, Wanda Jackson ended her set with “Let’s Have a Party” and then came back for an encore of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.” It was a great night and amazing to get to see one of the original women in rock, who is still so talented.