Rockabilly, not unlike other musical genres, is a genre dominated by male singers. Women Rockabilly musicians exist though, and not just in the shadows. Wanda Jackson is the unquestioned Queen of Rockabilly with her performances with Elvis Presley and recent collaborations with Jack White. Joining Jackson in the ranks for Rockabilly greats is Kim Lenz, who just happens to be coming to Atlanta this week.
Lenz has been a part of the Rockabilly scene since the mid ’90s. Her vocal chops and sassy energy, mirrored in her fire-red hair, got the attention of music lovers and the music industry. Rockabilly just seems to be part of Lenz’s DNA.
“There’s so much room in rockabilly. I don’t think people realize how big the umbrella is,” Lenz says. “Thematically, some people like to keep it in a box. But I don’t think you have to keep it in the box. I think of it as writing haiku. There are limitations, but there are worlds and worlds and worlds you can do inside it. People see it in this limited way – they see poodle skirts and flames and Elvis impersonators, all these things that have gotten so kitschy. What I love about rockabilly is that it really is very emotional and very simple and direct.”
After releasing three albums and touring the U.S. and Europe, Lenz took a break to start a family in 2005. Now the mother of a son, Lenz is back touring and recording new material. In 2009 Lenz released a new album with her band, Kim Lenz and the Jaguars, entitled It’s All True.
“I really didn’t think I was going to make another record, to tell you the truth,” she says. “I was really burned out after spending four years on the road, doing 200 shows a year. I pretty much played all the big festivals and all the big cities in the United States and Europe. I always said, ‘I want to do this, I want to do that.’ Well, I’d done it all! And I loved it, but it was the time to take a break and have a child.”
The album brings together the last touring incarnation of the Jaguars, including guitarist Nick Curan, bassist Jake Erwin and drummer Scotty Tecce. It’s All True was released by Lenz’s own imprint, Riley Records. Her past records, Up to my Old Tricks Again (2005), The One and Only (1999) and Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars (1998) were released by Hightone Records.
Kim Lenz and the Jaguars perform Wednesday, February 23 at Star Bar in Little Five Points. Tickets are on sale for $7 and music starts at 9 p.m. Also performing are The Atomic Rockets, Junior and Dolan & Cash.
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