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The Blanco Sessions

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Album Review

Rosie Flores brought rockabilly legend Janis Martin in to sing on her 1995 album Rockabilly Filly, sparking a friendship that eventually led to Flores producing Martin in 2007. Janis passed away a few months after she cut 12 songs with Flores and co-producer Bobby Trimble, and those recordings remained shelved until Cow Island Music's 2012 release of The Blanco Sessions. The idea behind these sessions was to cut Martin the way she recorded back in the '50s, when she was one of a handful of pioneering female rockabilly singers. Flores and Trimble rounded up a bunch of Austin musicians, headed out to Blanco, and then recorded live with Martin, tearing through these songs in a mere two days. The Blanco Sessions does indeed feel alive: it jumps and swings, there's grit and dirt in the grooves, it has the spark and crackle of a live performance. Flores and Trimble evoke the spirit of Sun studios without desperately chasing a ghost; this has the ambience of a small room, so there's a bit of a noir-ish mystique to the sound of the album that's hard to resist. Conceptually, this is a throwback, but The Blanco Sessions is too lively to be categorized as nostalgia, and that's not just because the material is varied, with Dave Alvin's "Long White Cadillac" sitting alongside Jerry Lee Lewis' "It'll Be Me" and Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams." This is music that lives for the present, which means although Martin is singing in the style she did back in the '50s, it's from the perspective of a 67-year-old woman. And what a voice she had for a 67-year-old woman! She sounds full, strong, and rich, arguably more resonant than she did in the '50s, and she tears into these songs. There is a palpable joy to this music, coming from Martin and her band, and that's what makes The Blanco Sessions such a terrific coda to her career: this is not a self-conscious last testament, but rather a celebration of everything that made Janis Martin great.

Customer Reviews

The Female Elvis

In the mid 50s there were several female rockabilly performers, but none bigger than Janis Martin who RCA signed and proclaimed as the Female Elvis. Her debut single, Drugstore Rock n Roll, which she wrote was a major single hit, followed up by several solid charting singles. However, when in 1958 Janis became pregnant at age 17 by her first husband, who she had married secretly in 1956, RCA dropped her like a hot potato. Her career received a mild boost in the early 60s in Europe but her second husband didn't approve and she devoted her time to raising her family. Not until near the end of her life in 2007 was she coaxed back into the studio to lay down tracks for a CD. This is the result, produced by Rosie Flores (a great rockabiliy artist in her own right), but not released until the summer of 2012 almost 5 years to the date of Janis' death from lung cancer. It is incredible when you listen to her strong vocals on this CD to think that she recorded these tracks not long before cancer consumed her. The Blanco Sessions...a great tribute to a great early female artist! Buy it!

The Blanco Sessions

Got this album some time back and have really enjoyed it. Hats of to Rosie Flores for getting this done. If you like rockabilly then you will like Janis Martin and this album.
Very much like rockabilly from the days gone by. She belts these tunes out. Would like to hear some of her older recordings if they are available. Glad this was put together before she passed.


Awesome. What more can be said.


Born: March 23, 1940 in Sutherlin, VA

Genre: Rockabilly

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

Janis Martin was a unique figure in the history of rockabilly -- there were other women working in that male-dominated field (Lorrie Collins for one), but Martin was the one dubbed "the Female Elvis Presley" by RCA, reportedly with the approval of Colonel Tom Parker. This was probably the kiss of death, evoking images so contradictory that no one could really hold it properly in their mind. The fact that she was signed to RCA probably didn't hurt, but as a hot-rocking female in a field where men's...
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