Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
For all Washington's preoccupation with the South, D.C. audiences rarely seem to have a feel for real southern boot-and-bottle rock 'n' roll. Carlene Carter may be a combination of Nashville blue-blood country and British pub rock, but there's too little honest spice in the mixture.
But take Marshall Chapman, a play-maned palomino mare with long legs and clean lines, out of Spartanburg, S.C., by Nashville, Tenn. There's Jick Jagger in her rock and Hank Williams in her roll, and she's the hottest thing to hit the Childe Harold since Delbert McClinton.
Just as brevity is the soul of wit, so is starkness the soul of road-life rock 'n' roll. There's little glamor in the road Chapman sees, and few sunrises, only drained cigarette packs ad wet-mouthed bottles. The night life ain't no good life, but it's her life. "Here I am again," she sings, shrugging, "turning a page."
It's not easy growing up to be a woman rocker without resorting to either decolletage or leather, Chapman, who was probably delivered in blue jeans, has written both humorously and bitterly about the struggle to remain her own musician. The scars are clearly visible - "Why can' cha be like the other girls?" moans her mother, her lover, her agent in Chapman's lyrics - but the humor holds out.
Are you one of them?
Are you one of those?
Well, you never own tell
(That's how it goes ) . . .
In your rock 'n' roll clothes.
Pretend you're a natural southerner, like me, or pretend you're a professional southerner, like Ham Jordan in Wednesday night's audience; but at your next opportunity, try to see Marshall Chapman rise again.