By Barry Gilbert
St. Louis Post-Dispatch


July 21, 2005

Rosie Flores - fresh from a gig backing up her hero, rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson -- doesn't want her fans to think that she's given up on the country-swing-rockabilly sounds for which she is known. But her next CD will be a double surprise.

"We've just completed it, and it's a wonderful, jazz-influenced Christmas album," Flores says, describing the music as an intriguing mix of "007 and B-52's-type songs."

"It's just something I love," she says of jazz. "I listen to it a lot. I listen to everything, from Wes Montgomery to Django Reinhardt to Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday, and now Diana Krall. It's challenging to me."

She laughs. "And if I want to feel good, I listen to some hillbilly music."

The holiday CD, "Christmasville," as well as her most recent CD, a solo concert disc titled "Single Rose," are on Flores' own record label, Durango Rose. She is hoping to build the label to the point where she can produce other artists as well.

And rounding out a busy 2005 will be a duets CD she has completed with Katy Moffat called "K/R."

Flores, who has been playing lead guitar in bands since she was 16 and has played rock, punk and country as well as rockabilly, says, "I just love the jazzy stuff meeting the hillbilly stuff. My idol for that is Chet Atkins. ... I try to mix all those influences, trying to come up with the Rosie sound.

"That's what I'm out here doing, working on the Rosie sound," Flores said by cell phone Saturday afternoon on the road between Winston-Salem and Asheville, N.C.

She will bring her Rosie sound to Frederick's Music Lounge on Wednesday.

In 1995, Flores' "Rockabilly Filly" album returned Jackson and fellow rockabilly pioneer Janis Martin to prominence, giving Jackson, who had been working mainly in gospel music, a second secular career. Flores says she was simply returning a debt.

"I first heard a Wanda Jackson record in the 11th grade," says Flores, 54. "I had an all-girl band at the time. A friend of mine who was a blues guitar player in high school said, 'If you're going to sing rock 'n' roll, you gotta hear this girl right here.' (The album) had 'Let's Have a Party' on it. I worked it up into my set.

"Through the years, I followed the trends, as most teenagers do. I listened to the radio and had favorites through the British Invasion and through country rock like Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers, and I found my way into the country niche to rockabilly, into punk and then back into rockabilly, swing and now jazz."

Flores says that between her mother and her older brother, a radio was on in the house all the time. Her father was a huge music fan, and Flores would watch "American Bandstand" and "Your Hit Parade" with him. Tapes even exist of Flores singing when she was 6 or 7 years old, because her father had a reel-to-reel tape recorder.

"My father was a writer; he wrote novels and a couple of songs," Flores says. "I still haven't worked on getting those recorded. I regret I didn't do it before he died. But his spirit is keeping up with me up there.