Although she doesn't tour nearly as much as she probably could, Austin-based vocalist Lou Ann Barton is one of the finest purveyors of raw, unadulterated roadhouse blues from the female gender that you'll ever hear. Like Delbert McClinton, she can belt out a lyric so that she can be heard over a two-guitar band with horns. Born February 17, 1954, in Fort Worth, she's a veteran of thousands of dancehall and club shows all over Texas. Barton moved to Austin in the 1970s and later performed with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
Although she has a few great recordings out, notably Old Enough (1982, Asylum Records), produced by Jerry Wexler and Glenn Frey, Barton has to be seen live to be fully appreciated. She belts out her lyrics in a twangy voice so full of Texas that you can smell the barbecue sauce. She swaggers confidently about the stage, casually tossing her cigarette to the floor as the band kicks in on its first number. The grace, poise, and confidence she projects on-stage is part of a long tradition for women blues singers. The blues world still needs more good female blues singers like Barton, to help to broaden the appeal of the music to diverse audiences and to further its evolution.
Barton has a pair of excellent albums out on the Austin-based Antone's Records, Read My Lips (1989) and her cooperative effort with fellow Texas blues women Marcia Ball and Angela Strehli, Dreams Come True (1990). Old Enough was reissued on compact disc in 1992 on the Antone's label. Her recordings at the turn of the millennium included Thunderbroad (1999, Blues Factory) and Someday (2002, Catfish), and she has also subsequently guested on albums like Omar Kent Dykes' Big Town Playboy (Ruf Records, 2009). Here's hoping that this premier interpreter of Texas roadhouse blues will be well recorded in the years ahead. ~ Richard Skelly