Let's Have a Party!
I just found out that one of my all-time favorite musical influences is coming to Charlottesville. This Saturday, Wanda Jackson – the Queen of Rockabilly – is headlining at the Jefferson Theater. I could just pop!
I first learned about Jackson back in the late ‘80’s when my friend, Billy Brockman, decided we should form a band. I was in my twenties at the time, and Billy -- an established Charlottesville frontman, guitarist and songwriter -- had taken me under his wing. We’d been playing in a duo together, so he knew my voice and thought it would be a good fit for one of his favorite genres of music – rockabilly.
If you aren’t familiar with rockabilly, it’s a sound that emerged in the early ‘50’s combining blues, country and gospel with what was then still a fairly new style of music – rock ‘n’ roll. Thanks to Billy, not only did I discover a cool genre of music and a collection of talented songwriters, I also had the opportunity to front my first “real” band -- “Terri and the Terrifics.”
Together with Skip Haga on keyboards, Ayuko Yotsukura on bass, and Richard Stickley on drums, Billy and I covered Wanda Jackson’s hit tunes “Let’s Have a Party” and “Fujiyama Mama” as well as songs by Brenda Lee, the Everly Brothers, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and many more. We played at parties and popular music spots like Zipper’s in Charlottesville and Joker's in Harrisonburg. While I agree the name of the band wasn’t the best, the actual band was pretty darned good. To this day, I feel very fortunate to have been a part of that group and to have been inspired at an early age by such great musical pioneers like Wanda Jackson.
Jackson was the first woman (she was just a teenager at the time, actually) to really sing rock‘n’roll, and she sang it even better than the boys. That was back in the ‘50’s, and she’s been touring ever since. Now in her seventies, she shows no sign of slowing down. She was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and just last year she released an album produced by rocker and White Stripes founder Jack White. The CD is aptly titled “The Party Ain’t Over.”
Like Wanda Jackson, I’ve been playing music most of my life, and like her, I’ve toured, made albums, taken breaks and done a little reinventing. I don’t know what you’ll be doing on February 11, but I will be at the party at the Jefferson Theater listening to the Queen of Rockabilly and taking notes.