Wanda Jackson

Stagecoach 2011 – Day 2 Review

The acts we watched at Day 2 of Stagecoach 2011 were a mix of excellent, bad & downright offensive – ah well – you didn’t expect that I would go to a US country music festival and not be offended did you?  Day 2 was another good day of people watching.  The stuff I saw in the crowd that I found most distasteful was mainly t-shirt slogan related and here are a few examples:

·         Guy with his girlfriend wearing a t-shirt that he’d hand written on the back of “Ladies, what happens at Stagecoach stays at Stagecoach” (see pic no 2 attached)

·         Grossly ugly guy with a t-shirt reading “Free Chorizo” and featuring an arrow pointing towards his rather grubby pants (his mate next to him was wearing a green t-shirt that simply said “Stoner”)

·         Old man with a t-shirt that said “The Dixie Chicks still suck” – yeah – I’m sure they’re also losing sleep over what you think…

·         A lot of anti Obama general redneck stuff.

All of this paled into insignificance however when Jay deMarcus of Rascal Flatts (yep – that’s a band for anyone who’s wondering) stopped playing 30 minutes into their set and announced from the main stage to the 55,000 person strong, alcohol fuelled and very patriotic crowd “that sonofabitch Bin Laden is dead”.  The reaction was surprisingly flat.  I guess everyone was thinking – Wow – that took a long time.

I dread to think what Larry Gatlin from the Gatlin Brothers has made of this bit of news although I’m glad he wasn’t on stage at the time and able to announce it.  His was the musical performance that I would rate as the most offensive of the day.  He’s a pompous & odious little man, full of his own importance.  He stopped playing one of his songs to berate the audience as he’d deemed they weren’t reacting in a sufficiently excited way to being present to hear the Gatlin Bros playing one of their biggest hits.  He claims to keep politics out of his show but talks about nothing else from the stage – oh except for a story about how he & his wife used to live in a small house same as everyone else (he bizarrely included details of how small their tv was) until the day he received a phone call saying that Elvis wanted two songs he’d written and they were able to go out the next day & buy a great big house.

Earlier in the day, Rosie Flores had done her level best to get the crowd in the Palomino tent moving with her lively rockabilly mix but it wasn’t until she was joined on stage by Big Sandy (of the Fly Rite Boys – what a voice he has!) that they shifted their arses out of their portable chairs & got dancing.

The highlight of Stagecoach 2011 for me was seeing Wanda Jackson again.  Wanda is the undisputed Queen of Rockabilly and there isn’t anyone out there that can touch her.  Yesterday she was in good form and in fine voice and clearly on a high from her recent collaboration project with Jack White of the White Stripes (their album is called “The Party Ain’t Over).  She sang 3 or 4 songs from the new album, all of them appear to have been selected to make the most of Wanda’s unique voice – I’ll certainly be buying – it’ll wake me up in the mornings driving the Fig up to Derry.

Wanda played a long set yesterday & even came back on for an encore – something I’ve never seen done before at any of the Coachella family of festivals (Leonard Cohen disregarded his finish time a few years ago & just carried on playing).  She had time to tell some of her legendary stories including a few about former boyfriend Elvis.  Last time I saw her play was at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, CA and Robert Plant was in the audience – that’s how much of a legend Wanda is.  She finished up yesterday with her famous “Let’s Have a Party” and everyone in the Palomino tent was up on their feet.  (Wanda had previously advised the crowd it would be good for them to have blood circulating to some of the places it might not have recently been.  A cursory look around confirmed that she was probably right).

Wanda always has a lovely way of interacting with the audience & making her shows very personal.  Yesterday she expressed interest from the stage in the guy beside me’s very impressive Mohican, asking him if he had to start from scratch with it every day and saying she thought keeping her own hair nice was hard enough. 

Thanks to Wanda Jackson & Kris Kristofferson for two great shows at Stagecoach 2011 – says something when the septuagenarians are clearly leading the way – long may you both reign.

Interested in your stories if you were also there or comments/questions if you weren’t.


A Whole Lotta Love…


That’s certainly what the audience was feeling for Robert Plant and to be fair the rest of his fabulous Band of Joy on Monday night at Dublin’s intimate Olympia Theatre.  Janet Harkin and I were there too – diehard Led Zep fans both – and we had a truly momentous evening – even though we had to run from the theatre via the back door on the stroke of 10.30pm like a couple of latter day hard rock Cinderellas (last bus back to Derry was leaving Busaras at 11pm and we needed to be on it – even though it did appear to have a bullet hole in the front windscreen).  We did stop briefly on the pavement outside just to jump up and down on the spot for a minute with excitement and remark to each other how buzzing we each were from the gig.

Last time I saw Robert Plant was in Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, California.  He was next to me in the audience, jigging about & singing along to Wanda Jackson’s version of “I Saw the Light” – and shouting out “Worcester” when Wanda asked “Where y’all from tonight?”  Just a normal guy enjoying a night out at a local music venue admiring the legend that’s Wanda.  I chatted to him of course & listened to him talk to the musicians in the band after the gig, which he did at length.

There’s no doubt he’s a force to be reckoned with and a legend in his own lifetime.  When I think about all the bands and performers I’ve seen in the last three or five years (and believe me there have been a few) Robert Plant and Leonard Cohen are the two that for me have ridden the waves of time most successfully…Cohen because there is such substance to him as a poet and Plant because he keeps going on to do new & interesting projects.  The Band of Joy’s certainly one of those.  The gig was like being at a party where a few friends pick up some string instruments, start jamming and find out they’re actually quite good together – so they keep going and it gets better and better.  It was like peeking in at a gang of good friends having a great night together or it was like dying & waking up in Hillbilly Heaven.  Buddy Miller & Patty Griffin were as good as we hoped they would be and Plant didn’t hog centre stage all night – when it was someone else’s turn he was happy to blend into the background, sing backing vocals & play his harmonica.  He also told stories, entered into a bit of banter with the audience and even answered a few of the comments that were shouted over to him.  I liked his story about how he and his friends at school in the West Midlands in the 60s used to listen to Howlin’ Wolf and the Reverend Gary Davis – it was all Motown and northern soul by the time I went to school.

So – the big question – did they play any Zeppelin songs.  They did – but not in a way you would straight away recognise – they Nashville-ised them and played Tangerine, House of the Holy, Misty Mountain Hop and Gallow’s Pole – Plant parodying his 1970s on-stage persona a little – curling his still impressive mane into ringlets with his finger.  Everyone in the audience sang with him – it was like being part of a religious experience – and you really could feel the love – you could almost reach out and touch it.

Robert Plant – thank you and long may you reign.  Nothing else is getting a look in this week in the Fig – Band of Joy is all I need.