Lucinda Williams’ powerful voice has showed no sign of wear or tear — even after beating it up a bit earlier in her career.
In the past, Williams admits, she did not know how to sing properly. That eventually led to vocal nodules on both of Williams’ vocal chords that forced the songstress not talk for six weeks.
“I couldn’t sing for six months and in Arkansas I ended up taking speech therapy and just enough voice lessons to teach me how to breath properly in the mid to late ‘70s,” said the multiple Grammy award-winner. “I’ve had periodic problems with hoarseness... I’ve been really fortunate. I like my singing voice now.”
Williams plans to perform a slew of Southern California dates with her opener the Kenneth Brian Band starting with a sold-out Feb. 18 concert at the Troubadour in West Hollywood before a Feb. 21 show at the Glass House in Pomona.
The 61-year-old country, blues and rock singer/songwriter then plans to head back to Los Angeles for a handful of shows in the area.
Williams is touring off a 25th anniversary reissue of her 1988 album “Lucinda Williams.” She won her first Grammy in 1994 for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance when Mary Chapin Carpenter covered “Passionate Kisses,” which is also on the self-titled album.
“That really opened a major door,” Williams said of the honor. “That was the first big break really. It’s crazy to realize how much time has gone by. I always introduce it by thanking Mary Chapin.”
Carpenter and Williams have since become good friends, Williams said. The two actually tour together with Roseanne Cash in the early 1990s before Carpenter recorded the song.
“We did an acoustic in the round thing and went to New Zealand, that’s when Chapin asked for my blessing to record it. She wanted it to be first single off her album,” Williams recalled. “They said they didn’t think it was good idea. They didn’t think it was country enough. She said, ‘I don’t care.’... I’m sure that really blew people’s minds when she won a Grammy for Country Song of the Year — especially when they said it was not country enough.”
For her set, she’ll perform a mix of old and new songs with unreleased material as she’s been recording a double album that “grooves.”
Joining Williams is the Kenneth Brian Band, whom she describes as “somewhere between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Drive-By Truckers.”
Lead singer Kenneth Brian said his band was up to the task of warming up audiences with their hard to categorize blend of Southern rock and country after opening for Williams last year.
“They really just responded well to our music and the lyrics and the personality of the whole group,” Brian said.
Front man Brian has a tattoo of the confederate flag on his chest, shown in the group’s 2011 video “Welcome to Alabama,” which has sparked controversy in the past. But Brian emphasizes that he nor the band are racist.
“That is part of where we come from and who we are. It has nothing to do with racist issues or slavery, or anything like that any more than the American flag,” Brian said. “I realize not everyone feels that way. I’m not trying to offend anyone or turn anyone off. It’s just about music, it’s not political. I’m a grandson of a confederate veteran. To me, that war was about a lot of things other than what people think... It’s about smaller groups of people deciding what’s right for them instead of a centralized government. It’s like a California flag in Santa Monica.”
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 18 at Troubadour; 8 p.m. Friday Feb. 21 in Pomona; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 25 at Echoplex; 9 p.m. Feb. 27 at The Canyon; 7 p.m. March 3 at The Hotel Café.
Where: Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona; Echoplex, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; The Canyon, 28912 Roadside Drive, Augora Hills (without Kenneth Brian Band); The Hotel Café, 1623 Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles.
Cost: Sold out at Troubadour so try resellers such as www.ticketsnow.com or www.stubhub.com or location closer to date; $25 for Pomona; advance tickets sold out at Echoplex so try resellers or location closer to date; $56.95 or $83 for The Canyon at www.ticketmaster.com or 800-745-3000; $54 for ages 21 and up at The Hotel Café at www.hotelcafe.com.