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Flores keeps on dreaming

By Rick Teverbaugh, March 1999

Rosie Flores is a nearly non-stop talker and a performer with a yen to juggle the moods of the listener. Both traits serve her well on her new Rounder disc of rockabilly, country and swing, "Dance Hall Dreams."

Though "Dreams" is a new release, the material was recorded nearly a year ago. The basic tracks came from a pair of live dates at the Cibolo Creek Country Club in San Antonio, Tex.

But the disc isn't billed as a live outing because the material was then taken into the studio for additional work.

"We recorded it live for feel and energy," says Flores in a phone interview just prior to the disc's release. "Our mission in the studio was to enhance what we did live. We wanted to sparkle it up."

Whether it was re-recording a steel guitar solo or adding a background vocalist, the end result is a nearly perfect cross section of Flores' repertoire.

Ray Kennedy, one-half of twangtrust, the production duo that also includes Steve Earle, had a big hand in producing the disc.

The other hand belonged to Flores. "I've never put out a record I wasn't happy with," says Flores. "That's why I insist on being involved in the production."

One of the disc's highlights is a collaboration with Radney Foster, "Bring It On." Not only did the duo write the song together, but Foster, of Foster & Lloyd fame, also came into the studio to add his distinctive voice to the chorus.

"I really feel fortunate to be able to work with him," says Flores. "I'm also one of the lucky ones to have already heard his new album. It rocks out."

Several cuts on "Dreams" also rock out as Flores displays the greatest diversity she has shown on a single disc. "It is a diverse record," admitted Flores. "It's got swing, rock, storytelling and rhythm and blues. I'm a songwriter, and each song is a life story. I try to fit the music to the story."

Some songs are much more thoughtful and melancholy like "Who's Gonna Fix It Now," about the loss of her father. She wrote it with Don Henry, who penned Kathy's Mattea's "Where've You Been?"

That song is followed by the only cover on the disc, "Funnel Of Love," a hit for Wanda Jackson. "I like to be able to change people's moods," says Flores, who toured with Jackson a few years ago. "I don't want them to be too sad for too long and that's why I went with 'Funnel' right after 'Who's Gonna Fix It Now.'"

She also returned to her basic rockabilly mode on the disc's opening "Little Bit More" and on the stomping "59 Tweedle Dee."

"Dance Hall Dreams" is the first disc of new material for her new label Rounder and so far everybody is happy. "We're still in the honeymoon period," says Flores. "I'm signed for two more albums. For the time being, I'm absolutely thrilled. The people there are positive. They are hard working. They seem to really like the record."

Flores, 42, has been around long enough to know the difference. She blossomed out of California in the mid-'80's and was even in an all-female punk band the Screamin' Sirens, which were part of a made-for-HBO movie. She released a Pete Anderson-produced disc on Warner/Reprise in 1987.

Considered too traditional for country radio, Warner dropped her. She resurfaced on "Heartbreak Train" with Albert Lee on the "A Town South of Bakersfield, Vol. 1" compilation.

Flores moved to Austin in 1988 and eventually began a four-disc deal with Hightone in 1992. Flores released "After the Farm," "Once More with Feeling" and "Rockabilly Filly," which contained duets with Janis Martin and Jackson.

"At my last label, it was like I would call them and say, 'Hey, remember me.' I just felt kind of lost and forgotten."

Flores shares her Rounder's enthusiasm for the record.

"I think it's so good and I'm so proud of it," says Flores.

But she has very little time to enjoy the artistic success and she won't even get to support the disc in this country for a while to help it be a commercial success.

She headed to Australia at almost the same moment the disc was released. That move will be followed by touring that will take her to Amsterdam, Russia and possibly Portugal and Spain.

But before she left she decided on an American booking agent so that she can be active in support of "Dreams" when she returns.

Then there's the matter of finding a new permanent home. She is living in Los Angeles now but will be relocating soon. Her next home will likely be either back to Austin or Nashville.

"Los Angeles is fine but everyone is all spread out," says Flores. "I don't feel embraced by the songwriting community, and I need that."

But even if Nashville wins out, don't expect her to fall into the mainstream country community. "I don't hear much twang in whatever they're calling country at the moment," she says. "Mainstream is becoming too corporation oriented. Thank goodness for Americana because at least it does embrace twang."