Berkeley Cafe—It was night two of New Orleans' Ponderosa Stomp, a gathering of veteran and, in many cases, largely forgotten roots and soul artists. Wanda Jackson, the Queen of Rockabilly and a brand new Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, was a couple songs into her set, not yet having reached the point where she offered a three-song tribute to her former tour mate and brief boyfriend, Elvis Presley. Suddenly, from the stage-left balcony, Bonnie Raitt stood, clapped and pointed down at Jackson, saying thanks for paving the way for female rockers.
So, nope, Wanda Jackson is not among the largely forgotten, thanks to Raitt and Rosie Flores (whose work continues to celebrate Jackson and fellow pioneer Janis Martin) and hard-core rockabilly and roots fans. She's been in the music biz since the mid-'50s, and her ability to alternate between red-hot-and-rapid rockabilly to mid-tempo, even torchy country and western make her a force. And 50 years after Jackson got her start, Neko Case, Robbie Fulks, late locals Trailer Bride and others paid tribute courtesy of Hard-Headed Woman: A Celebration of Wanda Jackson on Bloodshot Records. She's currently completing her first album since 2003, with Jack White.
But years be damned: Jackson's tours are far from low-energy victory laps. She can still shimmy and shimmer as she powers through "Mean, Mean Man" and "Hard-Headed Woman." See for yourself at this 7 p.m. show, with Jackson backed by The Lustre Kings. Tickets are $15. See www.berkeleycafe.net. —Rick Cornell