I WAS THERE: Wanda Jackson Battles Laryngitis, Reminds Us Why She’s the ‘Queen of Rockabilly’ At Bowery Ballroom

[Photo by Bill Weisner]

The Artist & Their Latest Release: Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain’t Over (Third Man, 2011)

The Show: Bowery Ballroom, 2.24.11, with The Lustre Kings

A Short Review: “I don’t know about you,” said Wanda Jackson, as she basked under Bowery Ballroom’s soft spotlights, “But I’m ready to rock.”

And rock she did despite a pesky case of laryngitis that left the rockabilly icon barely able to sing in Boston the night before. While some new fans may have missed Jack White’s blues hammer hooks this time around–his “Third Man house band” backed Jackson in Brooklyn last month–a string of dusty soda shop singles (“Fujiyama Mama,” “Rock Your Baby,” “Mean, Mean Man”) benefited from the Lustre Kings’ road dog approach to classic rock ‘n’ roll. We’re talking the kind of timeless tracks your parents lost their virginity to; music that makes us want to slick our hair back, buy a hot rod, date a black-haired girl named Peggy Sue, and get Johnny Cash’s face tattooed across our bird chest.

Did we mention that Jackson’s 73 and one of the greatest natural born performers we’ve ever seen? Considering how coddled many of today’s young acts are, it’s hard to think of too many who’d howl, shimmy and shake through a throat condition that was clearly making every last line a struggle. Hell, Wanda Jackson with a blown gasket still sounds better than Amy Winehouse stumbling through “You Know That I’m No Good” on just about any other night.

Jackson also has the stories to back up her stage banter, from her early days of touring with Elvis to the time she was supposed to write a song for Brenda Lee (“Right or Wrong”) but kept it for herself because it was a surefire hit. Still not convinced why you should care about someone who’s old enough to be your grandmother? Here are some videos that show how Jackson earned her Queen of Rockabilly crown…