Rockabilly Fillies

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Photo By Gary Miller

Rockabilly Fillies

Austin Convention Center, Thursday 14 It has been a whole generation since the original rockabilly cats shook up pop music, and the reverberations of what they did continue to this day. If anything, the seminal female rockers of the period continue to have even more effect than their male counterparts. In attendance were proto-rocker Wanda Jackson, journalist Holly George-Warren, Bloodshot Records honcho Rob Miller, songstress Kristi Rose, and filmmaker Beth Harrington, director of the absorbing SXSW entry Welcome to the Club: Women of Rockabilly. With her plethora of life-and-music-biz experiences, Jackson was of course the centerpiece of the panel. Starting on the guitar at age six, her family later moved to Bakersfield, putting her in close proximity to Buck Owens, Ferlin Husky, and other like-minded folks, with her idol Hank Thompson helping with her first major leg up in the business. Given the mores of the Fifties, women rockers faced certain stigmas regarding their all-important reputations; hence, Jackson toured with her father as chaperone and road manager. It was the Big E himself who helped steer Jackson toward rockabilly, and soon she was writing songs and molding her own identity as a musician. The panel's most relevant point was the continuing popularity of the female side of rockabilly and the way groundbreaking women like Jackson have served as role models for new generations of female rockers -- a fact that was a surprise to Harrington on her first visit to the Viva Las Vegas rockabilly festival. The continuing legacy can be seen in Bloodshot Records' female-skewed band roster; Miller noted that journalists to this day still make it a point of the fact that women are in a given band, like it's a novelty or gimmick. Nonetheless, it's heartening to see a new generation of torchbearers who keep the traditions of rockers like Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, and Lorrie Collins alive.

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