The Sweetback Sisters return to the Pocahontas County Opera House April 25, at 7:30 p.m., bringing their signature combination of classic country, swing, honky tonk and old-time music.
While the Sweetback Sisters may not be blood relations, their precise, family- style harmonies recall the best of country music from the Everly Brothers to the Judds, as well as the spirited rockabilly energy of Wanda Jackson. Like the artists they admire, the Sweetbacks are concerned with the traditional subjects of heartbreak, revenge, remorse and staying strong in the face of relationships gone wrong – albeit with a contemporary sensibility.
“We’re a renegade retro band that mixes up country, swing and honky tonk,” singer Zara Bode said. “Sometimes what we deliver is straight out of the 1950s; other times it’s BR549 meets The B52s.”
Their energetic stage show balances yesterday’s hits – from Patsy Cline to Hazel Dickens – with contributions from the band’s songwriters, Bode, Emily Miller, and Webster County-native fiddler Jesse Milnes. While the music may be energetic and sassy, sentiments of heart-ache, loss and longing are dominant.
“Those are the themes that make country songs resound with listeners,” Miller said. “We don’t only want to make classic sounding records, but a classic feeling records, as well.”
The music of The Sweetback Sisters includes a few subtle surprises – ensemble vocals a la The Sons of the Pioneers on “Cowboy Ham and Eggs,” honky tonk piano on “It Won’t Hurt When I Fall Down From This Bar Stool,” the raw passion of Bode’s vocal on Hazel Dickens’ old-time ballad “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There.”
On their 2011 release, “Looking For a Fight,” the Sisters and their talented brothers continue to forge their own sound by delivering arrangements that combine the soul of classic Nashville with an undeniably contemporary edge.
Tickets are $10. Youth 17 and under are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.
The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton. Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.
The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals, the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Pendleton Community Bank, the Law Office of Roger D. Forman, Brightside Acres, Glades Building Supply and Burns Motor Freight.