No “stripper with a guitar,” Kim Lenz gives rockabilly a sizzling touch 

Is it just me or is rockabilly everywhere? Maybe it’s just everywhere in Missoula. We have weekly gigs by local bands like Cash for Junkers, packed full of strutting followers. We have the steady stream of visiting acts that have been trickling through town, such as the Reverend Horton Heat and Deke Dickerson.

And now Kim Lenz, the firebreathing singer from the broiling concrete and glass glitz of Dallas, shows up with her backing band the Jaguars at the Cowboy Bar on Monday, Oct. 18.

Lenz says rockabilly has been an American presence since it first became popular in the 1950s, and the music is nothing less than a way of life. “It’s an actual lifestyle,” she says, “with the old cars and vintage clothes.”

Accordingly, Lenz’s style is retro-impeccable—after all, she does give her hair-and-makeup people shout-outs on the liner notes of the band’s blazing new CD The One and Only. She’s had plenty of time to practice, too, calling herself a lifelong “fanatical fan” of rockabilly, but she didn’t form a band until 1995.

And while rockabilly often conjures up the image of sweaty, leather-clad fellas cranking out testosterone-soaked “woman done me wrong” songs, Lenz says it’s the perfect form of expression for women at the edge of a new millennium.

“I’m frankly surprised there aren’t more women doing it,” she notes. In the music business, Lenz says, women seem to walk a fine line between being sexy and being taken seriously, calling “manufactured,” airbrushed, and silicone-enhanced performers like the Spice Girls “strippers with guitars.”

“So much in a woman’s life is about how you look, and that makes it hard for female musicians,” she says. “But I say, why give up your sexuality? Rock is such sexually based music, but women struggle with that, because there’s this idea that you can’t be a pin-up and a real musician.”

Taking a look at Lenz’s come-hither-if-you-think-you-have-the-cojones expression on the cover of The One and Only, the pin-up part is immediately obvious, but the good news is that she and her band can also burn it down. Despite their boyish faces, guitarist Nick Curran, upright bassist Shawn Supra and drummer Scotty Tecce play like seasoned veterans.

“I was the girl you tried to tame, a quiet lamb from wild game,” she purrs/growls in “Howl at the Moon,” the CD’s first song, one of seven penned by Lenz.

The CD whoops and hollers along in a similar fashion, with highlights like “If You Don’t Like My Peaches (Don’t Shake My Tree)” and “Choctaw Boogie.” Lenz even ventures into Latin rhythm territory in “Truest Love,” another of her originals.

What’s certain is that you could definitely shake a leg to The One and Only, and you get the feeling that Kim Lenz and the Jaguars are one of those bands whose energy is meant for the stage even more than the recording booth.
Kim Lenz and the Jaguars play the Cowboy Bar on Monday, Oct. 18. The Road Kings open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5 and all proceeds benefit KBGA.

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