Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sew What?! What's Black and White and WILD All Over?

There are two kinds of people in this world, Wanda Jackson fans and Janis Martin fans.  Although, perhaps it is too strong to characterize it as an issue of mutually-exclusive preferences.  Speaking in generalities, however, most folks familiar with the music of both artists fall firmly into one category or the other.

Wanda vs. Janis
Whose side are you on?
(clink on images for a link to the source)

In all honesty, I happen to enjoy the music of both performers but if I had to choose, without question, the choice would easily be Janis Martin, "The Female Elvis."   I just prefer her mellow, smooth, country-tinged voice to Ms. "Queen of Rockabilly" Jackson's well-known, raw, box-grater-in-a-blender vocal stylings.  

The disappointment I experience over never having seen Janis Martin perform while she was alive is only assuaged by the fact that musicians, like Mary, are carrying on her musical tradition.  In keeping with the style and tone of Janis Martin, I made Mary a dress that is, to coin a new phrase, a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n roll. 

To call this the "latest" from Mr. Tiny's workshop would be an out-and-out lie.
This dress has been in the back of Mary's closet for nearly a year waiting to
make its debut.  Luckily, the opportunity arose last weekend in the form
of Wild Records' Young & Wild Weekender.

Very much channeling the young Janis Martin

Don't you think?

More often than not, I stay away from a black and white color scheme.  For one thing, it becomes a trite and hackneyed story amongst a sub-culture dominated by an obsession with the pre-color-television world.  For another, I just prefer sewing in interesting and vivid colors and, in general, Mary prefers wearing them.  Though when we found this fabric, we new it had major possibilities.

Made from a screen-printed, brushstroke, border print cotton that I picked up
for only $0.99 per yard, Mary said the dress was a hit!  I turned the black border
 to the top of the skirt and the bottom of the bodice so that the brushstrokes
radiated from the waistline.

Wearing black, baby doll pumps and black & white bangles,
Mary added the black, cowhide belt for western flair.

The Fujiyama Mama & Mary
Wait a cotton-pickin' minute...

Okay, okay, so as usual, I may have overstated my case just a tad.  Maybe it isn't such a black & white issue; there might be room in this world for folks who truly are fans of both of these legendary performers...even though legend has it that Wanda and Janis were pretty bitter rivals.

Putting rivalries aside, this dress is a kind of hybrid of the sweet, rockabilly darling (demure, tea-length full skirt) and the raging, rock 'n roll wild child (stark color story and brushstrokes printed with apparent abandon).  It bridges the gap between the "Female Elvis" and the female Elvis took out on the town.  

The very same guitar with which Mary is pictured above (one on
 which she played a couple of Janis Martin covers) is signed by
none other than Wanda Jackson.

Well, what do you say?  Between Wanda and Janis do you have a favorite?  Is there another female, roots rock 'n roller that strikes your fancy?  Do you create such elaborate and/or polarizing interpretations of the clothes you make and/or wear?


Cheers!

Mr. Tiny

30 comments:

  1. I now feel like I need to check out Janis Martin! I would say I'm team Wanda. I saw her for my bday a couple years ago and she amazed me. She was a whirling tornado of jet black hair and hot pink fringed bolero! Prior to going to see her, I didn't know much other than her queen of rockabilly title...but I left awestruck. Being that she's getting up there in years, they have her a stool to perform on...but she never sat down once. She was engaging and spry...and flirted with jack white from the stage. I only wish she was my kookie aunt.

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    1. Please do check out Janis! We've gotten to see Wanda several times (Mary and our brother have actually been on the same bill as her) and she sounds incredible. Her voice hasn't aged a bit! I love her fringe and her mid-set testimony!

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  2. I wish either of my brothers had your sewing skills and willingness to create such stellar ensembles for me!! This is gorgeous! Mary is one lucky gal!

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    1. Thanks! I guess I'm lucky to have a living mannequin to wear these things that I make. She is so easy to sew for; not too many complaints and she has to wear everything I tell her to! Hahahaha!!!

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  3. That is one spectacular-looking dress. I love it!

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    1. Thanks Peter!!! That is a big compliment coming from you. Maybe your cousin needs a new b&w frock!!!

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  4. You make THE best clothes. That fabric was just hankerin' to get into your hands. My favorite will always be sweet Wanda. I like her big ole growl!

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    1. Thanks Eartha!!! Wanda seems to be the unanimous favorite! It is so unbelievable how her voice has remained unchanged after so many years. She still sounds like a teenager!

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  5. Seriously? You don't like black and white? But-but-but it makes such a STATEMENT in these days of out-of-control colour! As you both found out when Mary put on this outfit! Tell her to try it with a teeny-tiny hit of RED..the belt, or the bracelets, or the earrings...or the SHOES...there's nothing like a black-and-white outfit with a touch of RED!

    Oh, and the hair is fabulous, too!

    PS: I have never heard of EITHER of these singers! but I am most definitely NOT a fan of 'country-and western' music!

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    1. I love black & white movies! I like black and white, I usually am just drawn to colors; this dress has started me on a B&W kick.

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  6. You did a great job with the dress and yet again another great price on fabric. The only time I find good cheap fabric like that is at thrift stores.

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    1. I am always on the hunt for deals...and we found a secret spot where I will go and buy 40-50 yards of fabric at a time because it is so inexpensive (but can be unreliable as the inventory is based on closeouts from other retailers). Thanks!

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  7. Bravo!!! That dress is gorgeous!! (Though I am very partial to black-and-white myself!)

    I love Janis AND Wanda... but if I haaad to choose, Wanda for sure. Love that growl 'n' tight sparkly dresses! Sparkle Moore is another rockabilly lady whose style I adore; she was literally a female Elvis, down to menswear and a killer beehive/pompadour hairstyle.

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    1. I love Sparkle Moore's hair!!! I guess I am in the minority because Wanda seems to be the favorite here. I have always gone for the girl-next-door type but I do love Wanda too!

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  8. If you ever want to live in Florida, I will make my husband empty out his Star Wars room so you can have it and sew me dresses in there all day long.

    I have loved Wanda for a long time. When I saw her play 5 years ago I turned into a giddy school girl, eager to be photographed with her idol. I stood in line with other way-too-old-to-be-that-giddy people and when my turn came she was clearly tired out from the excitement and seemed annoyed, but God bless her she smiled for the shot and I have one of the neatest pictures ever to remember my young and fancy free days by. I saw Brenda Lee at the Strawberry Festival that following year and though I never got close enough to meet her, I will always smile as I remember how she told dirty jokes the whole time she was on stage. Those ladies know how to have a good time, there is no doubt about that.

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    1. You've got a deal! Wanda seems to enjoy the fame and attention, it's her husband that seems to get a little irritated and cut things short for her (he's probably just being a good, protective husband). I would LOVE to see Brenda Lee; she is one of the GREATS!!!

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  9. THAT is one cool black & white dress - I'd wear that!

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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  10. I love me some Janis, but I'm firmly in the 'Wanda camp' when it comes to a favourite! I want to see her sooooo badly! I'd probably do an imitation of 'Tongue Tied' if I ever met her! I've had several people tell me I remind them of her and THAT, my friends, is the largest complement I've ever been paid!...of course they were all older and prefaced the compliment with, "You're far too young to know who she is but...." What? Nobody's too young to know Wanda! She's a legend!
    I love love love that dress! Beautiful! I tend to shy away from black and white prints when I'm sewing. Black, fine. White, fine. But together, they just seem too, well, cliche. But THAT'S how to do it right, brother! I may rethink my black and white stance after this! And that you found that fantastic fabric for .99 a yard! Whoooosh! Jealous! And she looks amazing in it! Absolutely beautiful!

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    1. I guess Wanda is the winner!!! Like I said everybody has a favorite but there is room in my heart for both. My friend covers "Tongue Tied" in her set and everybody always goes wild.

      I'm with you; I like black & white but it always seems so obvious. When I can find cool fabric like this, then I feel like I can approach the issue with a bit of freshness (I hope). THANKS!!!

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  11. I love all the rockabilly Ladies. Janis and Wanda being in the front. Before you give the prize to Wanda I will put in my vote for Janis. I have seen both live and well Janis was a bit more fun. Wanda's live shows (at least when not at a weekender) seemed to be a bit more canned. Though to be fair I never saw Janis not at a weekender. Lori Collins can really rock too. Brenda Lee probably seems like more of an old lady than the rest and super canned show when I saw her perform live. Ruth Brown was extraordinary live.

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    1. I get so sad when I think about Ruth Brown; I never got to see her perform. I love all of these gals but I'm glad that we've gotten one more vote for good, old Janis!!!

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  12. PS someday I really want to see Mary preform!!!

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    1. Hopefully someday soon we'll make it out your way or you'll make it out ours. OR, even better, we'll meet up at some awesome weekender in a foreign country!!!

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  13. What a dress! The collar and pattern remind me of a gown Audrey Hepburn wore in "Sabrina", fantastic job well done! Your sewing skills are out if this world, and Mary looks enchanting as always.

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    1. Thanks Mick! Audrey Hepburn - that is the BEST kind of association!!!

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  14. Shelby Ranch! Did you get the fabric at Shelby Ranch in Solvang,Ca? 99cents a yard? I redid my daughter's headboard using that fabric. I sure do miss that place.

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    1. Even though it's gone, I still feel like I'm giving my secret spot away. Yes, this fabric is from the wonderful Shelby Ranch. We would drive hours just to go fabric shopping there and I always left with at least 30 yards each time. I miss that place - honor system fabric for only 99 cents? I'm in! Thank you!!!

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  15. By the way it looks AMAZING as a dress! I wish I had thought of it. Would love to have copied you!

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