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Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013 02:59 pm

Rosie blooms

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Rosie Flores, also known as the Rockabilly FIlly, plays Sat., Sept. 7 at the Hoogland.
PHOTO BY TOM ZINN

Few other Americana artists spent a lifetime as creative, consistent and challenging as Rosie Flores. From her early days with the Los Angeles cow-punk, rockabilly scene to a current life-defining record, her work from constant live performer to recent record producer follows the music muse.

I first met her in June of 1999 at the famous Texas gathering known as the Kerrville Folk Festival held in the Hill Country outside Austin not to far from the Luckenbach, Texas mentioned in the popular Waylon Jennings song. Rosie was a featured performer on the Kerrville main stage, a pinnacle of many a singer-songwriter’s career. I’d not heard her before, but my son, Sam, about 3 at the time, and I were there as she did a solo acoustic show. We were both taken by her performance and went to the merchandise tent after her show to say hello. When we found out she lived in Nashville and played Chicago frequently, we soon had our first Rosie Flores show at The Alley in Springfield, thanks to Sean and Jamie Burns who started up the Sangamon Valley Roots Revival music organization at that time. She’s since played here several times, and now, after a long wait (thanks again to Sean) is back for a Hoogland show on Saturday.

“I would have been here sooner but I moved back to Austin several years ago and don’t get up this way as often,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I wish you were closer, I’d play here lots more.”

Her latest record, Working Girl’s Guitar, features Rosie doing all the guitar work on the recording. She’s also out playing with a three-piece band this tour doing all the live guitar as well. On this run, Joe Perez, a recent member of Springfield favs Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys, plays drums, plus Tommy Vee, son of singer Bobby Vee plays bass. Vocalist Marti Brom joins Rosie to sings songs from a recent album Flores produced for the late rockabilly artist Janis Martin, whose untimely death came four months after completion of the record.

“Joe has worked with us before and now it’s great to have him full time. Tommy’s dad sent over some songs he’d written. We cut one and Bobby sang harmony on it,” Rosie said. “After we made the Blanco Sessions with Janis, she never got to go out and sing the songs, so Marti is covering that part of the show to promote the record we made.”

From all her many albums through the years with big-time and small-time record labels,  Rosie set a standard of excellence and carried off her nickname of the Rockabilly Filly quite well. Her latest offering, Working Girl’s Guitar, is a special set of songs that capsulizes a lifetime of work in music through influences, both lyrically and musically.

“This could be my last album in a way because it chronicles my life through songs. I challenged myself to be the only guitarist and to do songs that told the story of my playing through different styles of music,” she explained. “I go from my days growing up in San Antonio, through the 50s and rockabilly, 60s with surf guitar music, Motown, the Beatles and Stones on to country rock and the rock guitar style I play now.”

Here is Rosie in full bloom, making some of the finest music of her career some 40 years, several records and many miles into a lifetime of playing, making and sharing music to fans, friends and family all over the world. Thanks Rosie, you’re the best.

Rosie Flores with Marti Brom plays the Hoogland Center for the Arts, Sat., Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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