To recreate her blazing, Jack White-produced record, The Party Ain't Over, Wanda Jackson--the 73-year-old queen of rockabilly--employs an emissary to line up bands with horn sections around the country to accompany her on different legs of her tours. The bands, Jackson told me this morning, are only getting better.
"I'm finding great bands all over the nation, better than they were even a few years ago, and I thought they were good then," she said from her home in Oklahoma City. "Better bands are coming to the front now, which makes it nice for me. It's having your cake and eating it, too. I don't have to carry a band and have all that expense and worry. I still get these great bands."
One of the regional bands Jackson is smitten with is Seattle's own Dusty 45s. They've already accompanied her on the road for one tour, and they'll be hitting the road with Jackson again in June. Although the full band won't be backing Jackson during her stop at Neumos on May 6, bandleader and trumpeter Billy Joe Huels is expected to sit in. Ms. Jackson hopes he behaves himself.
"At South by Southwest, Billy Joe . . . sat in with my band that I use in the south part of the nation," Jackson says. "I told him later, I said, 'Billy Joe, I've never worried about a horn player stealing the show from me, but you just about did.' Because what he's playing is so tasty, and also his way, I mean, he's quite a showman."
Yes, Jackson does let Huels indulge his trademark and set his trumpet on fire from time to time.
"I said that worries me a little bit with fire going on. He said, 'No, not to worry, it's very safe. I've done it for 13 years.'"