Stacie Collins is hardcore. Raised over a honky-tonk in Muscogee, Okla., and toughened up on the mean streets of Bakersfield, Calif., Collins has vivid memories of dancing on pool tables as a 5-year-old after stuffing jukeboxes with donated quarters to play her favorite songs by Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn.
Incorporating her love for Chicago blues harp with raw, gritty, Haggard-like lyrics, Collins' sound mixes hardcore honky-tonk and blues-tinged rock. With the help of Georgia Satellites/Yayhoos guitarist Dan Baird as producer and player, Collins recently released Lucky Spot, a raw country record that rocks hard. But finding a label has been difficult.
"A lot of the people here in Nashville don't know what to do with it," Collins says. "The blues people love it, but they don't have any relationships in the country market, and the country people think it's too rock."
But with Gretchen Wilson bringing a harder sound into country, slipping Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and Heart's "Barracuda" into her concerts, Collins thought her chances for stardom were improving. But the manager of Montgomery-Gentry, the band with which Wilson shot to fame, told Collins that she could only rock onstage. If she wanted to make it, he said, her records had to be country. That's tough for Lucky Spot.
With a set that jumps from Muddy Waters' "Baby Please Don't Go" to a hard rockin' original, she already rocks live. Still, Collins' gritty descriptions of low-life bar scum ("Sorryville") and sorry-ass boyfriends ("Never Ever") demand attention, even if mainstream country avenues can't give it to her.
"I'd like to make a million dollars, but I'm already so much rewarded. There are so many people so excited and pissed that we're as good as we are but nobody knows it yet. It's been a win-win situation."
Stacie Collins plays Hideaway BBQ in Raleigh on Saturday, Oct. 28. Tickets are $5-$7, and the show starts at 9 p.m. For more, see www.hideawaybbq.com.