Posted: 08-30-2013
Wanda Jackson

Written by Rosie Renkow

On July 25, The Brooklyn Arts Center hosted legendary, Hall of Fame, rock-and-roll icon Wanda Jackson. The show was nothing short of spectacular, which is always the case with Jackson, who got her start performing as a 17 year old (with Elvis Presley!) and hasn’t stopped rocking since.

Opening act Matrimony took the stage at 8 p.m. Based out of Charlotte, NC, Matrimony is comprised of husband and wife duo Ashlee Hardee Brown and Jimmy Brown, along with Hardee Brown’s brother Jordan Hardee on banjo, and close friend Shae Wooten on bass. Matrimony effortlessly combined many distinctly separate genres, including rock, folk, and Americana into one harmonious and brilliant sound. They played hits such as Obey Your Guns, a piano-driven tune that demonstrated their excellent lyricism and incredible vocal harmonies, and the melancholy Southern Skies, which Hardee Brown lists as one of her favorites from their discography.

Following Matrimony’s powerful performance, Wanda Jackson took the stage. The anticipation was palpable as her backing band, The Dirt Daubers, began a bass line that announced Jackson’s imminent arrival. “Are you ready to keep rockin’?” Wanda asked the audience before she broke into a flawless rendition of the classic hit Riot In Cell Block Number 9. The audience certainly was ready to rock and continued to cheer and clap as Jackson made her way through hits like Fujiyama Mama, Rock Your Baby, and I’ll Bet You My Heart.

One of the most delightful parts of Jackson’s historic performance was the fact that between each song she gave the audience insight into what was happening—in her life and historically—at the time it was recorded.

One of the most amazing stories she told was one that involved another legend: Elvis Presley. “I toured with Elvis Presley in 1956 and ’57,” Jackson said, “and he encouraged me to keep going. He said, ‘You can do it, and you need to do it.’” Fans of rock and roll everywhere are indebted to Elvis for this invaluable advice. Sure enough, Jackson went on to say that due to the encouragement she received from Elvis she continued, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, which, Jackson said, was “truly awesome.” At the end of the story, Jackson lit into a fantastic version of Heartbreak Hotel, as a tribute to Presley, and the BAC crowd went crazy.

The show was filled with Jackson’s fabulous storytelling, sharp wit, and her stunning musical ability, which remains as impressive as it was 50 years ago. Fans were not disappointed; people were dancing and singing along to each and every song. One fan, Christian Podgaysky, captured the feeling for the night: “I can’t believe I’m seeing her. This woman is a legend. I never thought I would be able to watch her perform. Tonight is just magical.”


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