Nancy Apple Brings Unique`Cadillac Cowgirl' Show to Blues Alley
By Panny Mayfield - Clarksdale Press Register, May 12, 1999
Memphis entertainer, songwriter, and actress Nancy Apple brings her band to Clarksdale for a Blues Alley May concert.
If the weather repeats its stella [sic] performance from last Friday's Blues Alley concert and bugs continue to no-show, expect standing ovations for Nancy Apple's Cadillac Cowgirl show this week [May 12, 1999]. The Memphis entertainer whose "rock-a-billy" style defies categorization will star in the second Friday night in May show. The vocalist, composer and band leader has a major CD, High on the Hog featuring numbers predicted by the Memphis Flyer to become "white trash country classics." Apple, who has toured internationally and lives next door to Keith Sykes, is featured in a movie with Harvey Keitel and Bridget Fonda [Finding Graceland]. "I got to cast the band and most are my regular band mates," says Apple. Apple says her band is the only group from Memphis and surrounding area to be invited to play at St. Louis' TwangFest June 10. Apple has strong ties to the Delta including designing the Delta Blues Museum's Muddywood T-shirt for ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. She's also performed at Hopson Commissary. However, this will be her first gig in town. Included in her group is guitar player Jay Harrington from Marks.
The Memphis Flyer reviewed her first major CD, High on the Hog as "a fine debut with some outstanding tunes." Highlights include Mattie and Jessie, a brooding gothic rocker with menacing fiddle; Gun Shy, some primo bluesy pop co-written with Keith Sykes; and the infectious high honky-tonk of Truck Drivers Woman, “sure to become a white trash country classic."
The album contains ten original tunes including country and western-drenched boogie-woogie, rock n' roll, blues and R&B. A former art director for The Memphis Flyer, Apple has been a longtime supporter of Memphis music through her hosting of Newby's Tuesday night musician jam. She also is one of the publishers of Memphis Musician. Asked to describe her new CD, Apple replies, "it's got so many different things in it, I just have to say, '1 think it sounds good.'" She says one of the strong points of the CD is the all-star band of local musicians. Apple is partial to old cars and especially Cadillacs. She also favors cowboy hats and boots. Although her real name is Apple, she did make up her nickname, “The Cadillac Cowgirl."
This Navy brat was born in San Diego, however, and she grew up humming and writing poems. She says in the third grade she combined poetry and humming and became a songwriter. She says her first song was about a fictitious dog named Candy. "Then I went through my early high school and junior high school phase when I was a big Alice Cooper freak," she admits. "I would write these really dark operatic metal type things." Later she switched to Carly Simon before trading Simon and Cooper for country music shortly after moving to Memphis in 1975. "When I first moved here everybody thought I really talked funny and I sounded like a valley girl or something," she revealed in an article for The Commercial Appeal. "Over the years, I've acquired this Southern thing unconsciously with my voice. No matter what I sing now, no matter how pop the music is, it sounds country.”
She also began playing drums and says she got "really good at it for a while and played drums with Willie Cobb,” of Greenwood. Although her schedule is busy with performances, Apple spends a great deal of time composing. "I've learned that a lot of your greatest songwriters may not necessarily be the most perfect musicians or vocalist. It's just a matter of creating something universal and applying it to your instrument.” Memphis magazine selected Apple in its Top 40 Musicians in Memphis in 1996 and 1997. She has toured extensively with her band performing USO shows in Southeast Asia.
[Left Photo: MZMF director Skip Henderson gets ready to accept the "Keeping the Blues Alive" Award with Nancy Apple, Hopson's James Butler, Cheryl Bader, and Gayle Dean Wardlow.]
For an update on her music since this time, visit Nancy Apple