"We don't have to play so loud today. We don't have to be Z.Z. Top," said Rosie Flores, Austin's honky-tonk heroine, as she stalked across the stage of the Hutchison School's Weiner Theatre, prior to a 12:45 performance today for the Southern Girls Rock and Roll Camp.
Flores, who plays the Hi-Tone tonight with hard country harmonizers Those Darlins, had played with all the musicians in the room at some point, just never at the same time. Playing a cherry red Taylor thin-line she rushed through her set's trickiest parts creating emergency arrangements, singing near the microphone and fretting over whether or not she was getting enough vocals in the monitor.
At 12:30, 60-plus guitar-playing, bass-slinging, drum-pounding female rockers between the ages of 10 and 18 poured excitedly into the theater. Since Monday, the girls have been learning about everything from recording and songwriting to music "herstory," and how to make a 'zine.
They've been forming bands with fellow campers and learning to play the songs they'll be performing at Saturday's showcase at Hutchison.
On Monday and Tuesday, campers took in midday concerts by harder-edged acts like Six Gun Serenade and The Faintly Red Mollies. Flores' vintage mix of country, rockabilly, and surf represents a radical stylistic departure, but within seconds the stage was lined with teenagers dancing to songs by Buck Owens, Link Wray, and Johnny Cash.
Flores gave a frantic, joyful performance, jumping up on chairs and letting girls in the crowd strum her guitar while she worked the frets. By the time they got around to picking Owens' "Hot Dog," the mix was perfect, loud, and the band sounded like they had been playing together for years.
After the show, Flores took questions from the crowd. She talked about being in a vocal group that wore matching dresses and beehives at age 14, and then moving on to straight-up rock and roll with an all-girl band at 16.
Flores also spoke about her world tour with Wanda Jackson, who is generally considered to be the first female rock and roll artist.
There were a lot of women making rock and roll like Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie. But Wanda Jackson was the first to become really popular," Flores said, introducing a new generation to the woman who scored an unlikely international hit when the atomic-age rocker "Fujiyama Mama" climbed Japanese charts in 1957.
After the Q&A, Flores attended a music "herstory" class to talk about the importance of women in country, blues, and early rock.
The Hi-Tone's doors open at 9 p.m. There's a $7 cover charge.