Wanda Jackson put on a pretty good show last night at Shenaniganâ€™s Pub here in Richmond. The Lustre Kings warmed the crowd up and also served as Wandaâ€™s backing band. She performed all of her hitsâ€”Hard Headed Woman, Mean, Mean Man, Letâ€™s Have a Party, Fujiyama Mamaâ€”as well as a few covers, including her recently recorded version of Amy Winehouseâ€™s You Know Iâ€™m No Good ( it was the first time they played that one live and it was, to put it delicately, a trainwreck). Oh,well. The woman is in her 70â€™s, but sheâ€™s still got some fire in her and is clearly enjoying herself.
Richmond.com has a profile of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Wanda Jackson, who is performing tonight tomorrow nightÂ (sorry) right down the street from me at Shenanigan’s Pub.Â Now 73, Wanda has an impressive rock-n-roll pedigree.
Jackson, often referred to as The Queen (or The First Lady) of Rockabilly, began her career in the mid-’50s. As a pioneering rockabilly artist she was a peer of other early key figures such as Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, and shared bills with (and briefly dated) Elvis Presley. She recorded for Decca Records as a teen, though Jackson had initially talked with Capitol about a deal, where she was told by a producer, “Girls don’t sell records.”
It’s been remarkable for Jackson to see the evolution of her audiences from the last years of her country career in the 1970s to today’s shows where she is held in reverence by fans who recognize her as one of the few remaining rock & roll pioneers. “The people are different these days, even in clubs. I’ve noticed that the generation, the people who are coming to see me now, are young adults. There are a few scattered people my age, from my era, but most of them are this new generation of rockabilly and ’50s-rock fans. They’re so cute because they know all of my songs, which is always shocking, and they sing along with me, and they know so much about my career. They’re just really great fans and they seem to esteem me very highly, which is very nice. Plus, I get paid a little bit more these days. That’s always nice, too.”
Shenanigan’s seems an unlikely venue for such a notable performer as Wanda. I would expect her to perform in a larger or more well-known space. But, really, all things considered, it’sÂ perfect.Â Shenanigan’s is one of Northside Richmond’s trusty watering holes,Â low-lit with a small stage by the door.Â When you walk in you can smell the odor of stale beer mingling with bleach. Dedicated smokers cluster outside on the sidewalk, puffing away. It’s the ideal setting to hear the reigning Queen of Rockabilly sing about hard-headed women and mean, mean men.
OK, OK. I have to make it clear that I am less susceptible to “cutesy” videos than most people: giggling babies, clumsy kittens gettin-inta-trouble, sleeping puppies, etc. But for some reason, this video took an immediate hold on me.
Anyone who has met me knows I have a very large, very soft spot for hound dogs. And who doesn’t love a monkey (am I right), especially an orangutan? Put the two together and you got an irresistible combination of instant monkey-dog love. Watch and you’ll see: