Saturday, December 15, 2007

They are women, hear them...rock

Despite how much I talk about it and blog about it, I'm not a dedicated fan of honky tonk music or country music in general compared to some people, but it's fun to watch it happen live, especially when friends and acquaintances are on stage. Such was the case last night. Since I was already familiar with 3 of the 5 ladies that are collectively known as the Honky Tonk Angels, it was a treat to see them perform last night at the 5 Spot in East Nashville.

Casey Kessel, mandolin; Kimberly Quinn, drums; Kelly Archer, acoustic; Sara Beck, electric; Lauren Lucas, bass

The group is made up of singer-songwriters who are all enjoying various levels of success in the industry. Casey Kessel and Kelly Archer teamed up with their pal Danielle Peck to write some of the songs on her debut album. Among her other cuts, Kelly’s “Biker Chick” was released by Jo Dee Messina this year. Lauren Lucas had a “glimpse” of the mountaintop as an artist; though her Warner Bros. debut album didn’t see enough airplay to satisfy the “gimme now or hit the road” demands of executives beholden to corporate investors, her talent and fan support seem more than adequate to carry her to glory via her current alternate route as an independent. Sara Beck garnered local press recently by enjoying the privilege of sharing the stage with Stevie Wonder at his personal invitation. I was not familiar with Kimberly Quinn, though my tablemates Linda and Milton (both relocated employees of Nissan in nearby Smyrna) were; obviously she has something going on talent-wise to share the good company of the other ladies on stage.

Their song choices were mostly drawn from the repertoire of groundbreaking female country artists such as Loretta Lynn and of course Kitty Wells, but they did stray from the formula to include pop hits such as “Be My Baby” and “Delta Dawn.” [Yes, I realize the latter was also a country hit, but for me it’ll always recall the image of Helen Reddy: short hair, red dress and defiant attitude. I didn't relate to her role as feminist diva, but I liked her music anyway.]

The performance was loose--sometimes looser than planned. Even though they sheepishly apologized to the industry-hip crowd for the occasional goofs, since HTA is mostly a just-for-fun project for its members (as far as I can tell), they were less concerned with perfection than just having a good time. The crowd quickly adopted their philosophy; after all, these ladies have more than earned the right to cut loose and laugh at themselves, so why not join in?

Wherever your opinion falls in the argument over whether God made honky tonk angels…given the talent, beauty and charm that graced the stage last night, I don’t know anyone else who’d be qualified. In a good way.

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