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Among After the Farm's best musical implements (all written or co-written by Flores) are rhythmic rockers "Blue Highway" and "More to Offer," the latter written with the godfather of Austin songwriters, Guy Clark. "That's Me" is a funk-fueled beat grabber, while "Dent in My Heart" is a prime cut of soon-to-be-classic country co-penned by Jimmie Dale Gilmore, another big-time Texas troubadour.
Finally, after a full decade of label-hopping, Rosie Flores seems to have found a permanent home. Her next, as-yet-untitled project for HighTone is slated for a June 1 release.
"We'll be cutting em throughout April," Flores discloses enthusiastically. "It'll be great not having to worry about how management will think this is too risky or how that isn't country enough. HighTone is ready to gamble. They like my old traditional music as much as the blues and rock or whatever else I might come up with. They see that it can work." A new distribution deal that will get Flores' new post-Farm product into the big city with even greater efficiency is but a signature or two away.
In the interim, however, Flores has kept herself in musical form in California through a variety of "side projects." Among these was an extended stint with L.A. girl group the Bluebonnets, where Flores provided the lead guitar until Bluebonnet Kathy Valentine, ex-bassist for the Go-Go's, decided that she wanted to move upstage. Flores moved on.
"Hey, that's all right," she says quickly. "But I'm a guitar player. Anytime I can get a job playing the guitar, I'm gonna do it. I just like playing and working with other songwriters. But when that job is over, I'll leave. Not a problem."
It would be fair to assume that Flores most likely had been keeping an eye peeled for new band people, too, while she strummed around the San Fernando Valley. With After the Farm's success, a couple of key members succumbed to heavy recruitment, most notably guitarist Duane "D.J." Jarvis--who left to join up with John Prine's band--and longtime pedal/lap steel pal Greg Leisz, who is hitching his wagon to k.d. lang's star.
Flores' new group will make its Arizona debut on February 28 at the Rockin' Horse in Scottsdale with Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Flores also will appear at the same locale on March 14 as a back-up singer for the Pleasure Barons, a touring, 11-piece ensemble that includes the offbeat ilks of Dave Alvin, Country Dick Montana and Mojo Nixon.
"There'll be plenty of horns and plenty of noise," Flores laughs. "We'll drown out any electric margarita machines that try to compete. Usually, my parents go to all my shows in the [Southern California] area, but with the racket--not to mention what Mojo and Country Dick might do--I suggested that they sit this one out."
While Flores looks forward to her Valley visit, her last stop in these here parts was a disaster. She was one of a handful of headliners recruited to join local songsters in 1991's ill-fated Arizona Music Conference.
"They [the conference's organizers] still owe me about seven or eight hundred dollars," Flores alleges, her voice sounding more resigned than ired. "And my band never did get paid. Sure, they did put us up at a beautiful hotel [The Buttes], but on the second night, the manager called and told me either to bring down a credit card or be out in an hour." Eventually, Flores sighs, that was settled, but the whole affair was generally torturous.
Yet Flores is naturally inclined to look forward, and it took considerable prodding to have her comment on that past comedy of errors. Her present concerns center on the upcoming gigs with Gilmore and the tour with the Pleasure Barons--after which she'll repair into the recording studios. Flores says that she's in a country frame of mind these days, and the upcoming HighTone collection will reflect such.
"I've been hangin' out in the honky-tonks again," she says happily, "places like the Agoura Valley Inn in Agoura Hills. This new album will have a lot more country on it than After the Farm."
Not that Nashville will be calling anytime soon to try to smother her with a big contract and a blanket of blandness, since this new work will still contain heaps of noncountry tones and textures, too. But any doubts about Rosie Flores' main musical bent should be forever dispelled by the next recording.
"I am a country artist and will always be a country artist," Flores says. "They [Nashville] never could get that."
Alas, it appears that some creative catastrophe will have to occur before the powers along Music Row deign to widen their scopes some. By that time, it may be too late. When the supernova that is current country explodes--and it will, as the past has proven--there may be nothing left but a big black hole and Billy Ray Cyrus.
In other words, nothing.