Los Angeles used to be the center of the music industry, back when there was one. Now, that distinction in the post-digital era belongs to three towns: Austin, Nashville, and Brooklyn. And you’ve got to feel as if you’ve made it to the top of the stack when any one of the three names a day after you. But still, Rosie Flores (hers is August 31 in Austin) dances ever-so-slightly amongst the shadows of her industry peers. In a way, she always has, going back to when she first emerged on L.A. concert stages that rocketed acts such as Dwight Yoakam, X, and Los Lobos to much bigger careers. “I rise above the crowd,” Flores sings. “I’m little, but I’m loud.” And, brilliant.
- Wednesday, July 5, 2017, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
Critics label her a rockabilly icon, but I liken her more to a Tex-Mex soul-stress. And her guitar-playing is purely gorgeous. Flores, 66, can scrub out a solo that is as unadorned as a washboard and played in that completely understated 1950s truck-driving-music way. Her axe ultimately enlarges on whatever the concept of her vocals. And not a thing’s gone cold about her gig in all the years she’s been batting around cut-rate honkytonks.
There’s a local connection: I imagine there are people reading this who went to high school with Flores. When she turned 12, her family settled in San Diego. This is where she earned her musical chops, in a teen band called Penelope’s Child. Later, she fronted Rosie and the Screamers at venues such as the Spirit Club (now Brick by Brick), the Bacchanal (office space), or the Skeleton Club (predecessor to the Casbah.) In the early ’80s, Flores drove north, left punk behind, and landed in the midst of alt-country Hollywood. I wonder if, when she plays here next, she’ll call any of her old pals in the Beat Farmers to join her under the small lights.