One of the great crimes of modern music is the way stardom has eluded Tracy Nelson for more than 10 years. Nelson has at least as good a voice as Bonnie Raitt, Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt and is a more intelligent singer than Harris or Ronstadt. Nelson's only apparent deficiency is being less photogenic, but unfirtunately album covers sell a lot of records.
For those who want more than looks in a singer, kNelsonhs show at the Cellar Door last night was a true delight. Nelson draped herself around the microphone stand and poured her enormous voice through a repertoire of obscure country and blues songs. She maintained a lilting country warble even at full throttle and filled her blues with confidential asides.
If the show had a flaw, it was in the selection of songs, some of which were obscure for the wrong reasons. But even on her restrained passages, Nelsonhs voice was powerful enough to quiver with unspoken implications.
When she reached the climax of each sone, she shook her waist-length brown hair from her face, held out her left hand to feel the band's pulse, closed her eyes, tightly grabbed the mike stand with her right hand and let go with a sustained blues wail that ran through every possible emotional outcome of the song and delivered them all.
Tracy Nelson will appear with George McWhirter and the Horn Band, a recently formed local fusion sextet, at the Cellar Door through Wednesday.