The Portland Mercury wrote that Miss Lana Rebel is “the badass matriarch of local dustbowl country.” It’s an appreciative nod to a songwriter whose presence can cut through the din of a crowded honky-tonk, and a voice that has been likened to ladies such as Loretta Lynn, and June Carter. She is widely known as an excellent country musician and songwriter, though her musical history is not quite so straightforward.
Growing up among the desert scrub of Tucson Arizona, Lana Rebel learned about music from land-locked punk rockers that would pride themselves on their uncompromising disregard for the mainstream in the name of creative freedom and expression. Inspired by this concept, she started out her musical life wielding a thundering bass guitar in the explosive and experimental band Last of the Juanitas. The group toured the country many times in their decade-long career, significantly contributing to a scene for the musically displaced, alongside bands like The Champs, Karp, and Drive Like Jehu. When the time came for a less bombastic outlet, Lana started teaching herself old country and western tunes. She found a strong affinity to the music, enjoyed writing in the style, and discovered her own voice to be a natural fit for the genre. This led to the formation of her first country band, Juanita Family and Friends, and the start of a new direction for her musical focus.
Lana Rebel’s songs certainly channel a bit of Golden Era country (Think Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams Sr.) and stay pretty true to traditional country in arrangement. Lyrically, Lana pulls from influences such as early folk and blues artists like Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, as well as character songwriters of the seventies such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt. Time honored themes of love and heartache are skillfully narrated, and the outcome is a dusty lonesome sound that is uniquely her own. Her distinct, slow and easy guitar phrasing highlights her clear yet gently whiskey-worn voice. The mood she creates is the perfect tranquil soundtrack for a long road trip, or a late night porch gathering on a quiet summer night.