One of the great Wanda Jackson’s biographical talking points is the fact that she toured with and fleetingly dated Elvis Presley back in a time when her Rockabilly star shone as brightly as his. In a good many ways, Nikki Lane represents the 21st century manifestation of that vaunted pair’s musical DNA — she twangs and bangs with the ferocity of a roadhouse Rock band churning out amped up Country covers behind the sturdiest chicken wire known to man. Deals don’t come any more real than Nikki Lane.
The Greenville, S.C., native grew up to a soundtrack comprised of her father’s Country cassettes and her mother’s Motown collection, but her teenage leanings were more Punk/Alt Rock. After dropping out of high school, she headed first to Los Angeles, where she muddled through menial jobs and then began designing her own shoe line. Five years later, she picked up a guitar, wrote a couple of songs and played a couple of shows before taking a fast lane corporate job in New York. Her boyfriend at the time ended their relationship and headed to Atlanta to record an album; she quit her job and spent three months writing about her heartbreak and learning tunes by Waylon Jennings, John Prine, Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard.
After a particularly productive month, Lane headed to Nashville and recorded her self-released debut, 2009’s No Room for Cowboys (she’s called it her “revenge record”), then returned to New York where she signed with IAMSOUND, who paired her with producer Dave Cobb for her sophomore album, 2011’s magnificent Walk of Shame. Lane’s big break came with her signing to New West and the release of last year’s Dan Auerbach-produced All or Nothin’, which generated almost universally positive press.
Lane’s appearance in Cincinnati at MOTR Pub during last fall’s MidPoint Music Festival was a near religious experience … if your religion allows whiskey shots, a foul-mouthed choir and a hymnal packed with classic Outlaw Country and scorching Rock.
NIKKI LANE plays at Woodward Theater Friday, Feb. 20. Find tickets/more info here .