Arts & Entertainment

Rosie Flores is an ambassador of ‘Ameripolitan’

She'll bring rockabilly, honky-tonk and Western swing to the Auburn Event Center
By: Paul Cambra, of the Auburn Journal
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Rosie Flores Band
With Bob Woods and Swampbilly
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, April 18
Where: The Auburn Event Center, 180 Harrison in Auburn
Tickets: $10 advance, $15 day of show

She was playing alt-country in the ’70s and cowpunk in the ’80s. The Southern California music scene was thriving and she was right in the thick of it.
“It was a fun hang back in those days,” said Rosie Flores. “I’m not having that much fun anymore (laughs). It’s probably better for my health. But it was a really exciting time to be employed as a young musician. Like everywhere else in the world, music was exciting. There were a ton of cool bands.”
Hers were “Rosie and the Screamers” in the ’70s and the all-female “Screamin’ Sirens” the following decade. Sounds like a whole lot of screaming going on.
“It was just fun,” she said. “You had the country bands that were playing Gary Stewart, Tammy Wynette and George Jones. Then there were bands kind of like the one I was in that did more Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris. There was the whole New Wave going on. X was young, the Blasters were young. A lot of really cool, young guitar players, especially in Hollywood.”
Her own guitar prowess once earned her a ranking in the “Top 75 Greatest Female Guitarists of All Time.” Jeff Beck, Albert Collins, B.B. King, Danny Gatton, Kenny Vaughan, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul … she loved them all but she had a certain affinity toward British rock ‘n’ roll.
“I really dug on Keith Richards until I discovered his biggest influence was Chuck Berry,” she said. “Then I discovered the Chuck Berry twang. When I was really young I thought he was just a songwriter. It took me awhile to learn that was him playing guitar.”
In 2012, she was part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s tribute to Chuck Berry, playing country-flavored renditions of “No Particular Place to Go” and “You Never Can Tell,” duck walk and all.
Her own music blends rockabilly, honky-tonk, jazz and Western swing. She’s toured with Wanda Jackson and produced an album for Janis Martin, two queens of rockabilly.
 “They both taught me a lot about professionalism, how to work a crowd,” Flores said. “I really got to hang out with them, learn about their experiences, how to stand up for myself, get paid what I’m worth. How important it is to find great musicians.”
Her backing band - Bar Brawl, from Austin – features Matt Thomas on guitar and steel guitar, Chris Rhoades on bass and Eric C. Hughes drums.
Flores is back in Austin, for the third time, after a stint in Nashville. She was born in San Antonio but moved to San Diego when she was 12. In 2006, the mayor of Austin proclaimed August 31 “Rosie Flores Day.” She recently won a Peabody Award for her narration of the documentary “Whole Lotta Shakin,” and a pair of Ameripolitan Awards (Best Female Honky Tonk and Best Female Rockabilly).
“It’s not part of Americana, it’s Ameripolitan,” she said. “It covers honky-tonk, rockabilly and Western swing. It’s to get people to appreciate and pay respect to people that aren’t necessarily singer-songwriters or in the straight-ahead folk, country, bluegrass genre. This is about finding a place for rockabilly.”
She’ll also be playing the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville next month.
“I met him at the Austin Airport once, we were walking to get our baggage,” she said. “He was kind of a cut-up, a jokester kind of guy. He pointed to his eyes and said ‘I’m gonna get my bag, I see you already got yours.’ How many people get ribbed by Johnny Cash?”