Besides being one of the most influential women in post-WWII country music, Rose Maddox was an Oregonian. Well...she was an Oregonian for the last few years of her life, having settled in Ashland near her brother's ranch. This might explain how she ended up recording for Portland records in the 1970s, something I found rather bizarre until doing a little research today, because Rose Maddox is as legendary as they come in the world of country music.
The Maddox Brothers and Rose were Alabamans who as children migrated with their family to California in the 1930s seeking a greater fortune than they had found in Southern sharecropping. After many years of struggle, they found their destiny, helping to usher in a new era in country music; One that drew equally from gut-bucket blues and hillbilly sensibilities. This new music, which focused more on the perils of life's earthly temptations (drinking and cheating were big themes) would become associated with the neighborhood bars in which it was performed, "honky tonk." The term had been used since before the turn of the century to define saloons in which a particular style of "honkatonk" piano-playing had been featured as entertainment.
This honky tonk style of music would lead to the backbeat-driven style of rockabilly, and Rose Maddox would spend the early years of her solo career straddling the fence between rockabilly/rock'n'roll and country. Her style was always electrifying visually and aurally. Whether it be a bopper or a ballad, a Rose Maddox performance jumps right off of the turntable and danced it's way directly to your ear canal.
Today I've chosen to feature Rose's early 60s version of "Down to the River", a song she performed pretty regularly for decades. It's another song about a woman seeking triumph over personal tragedy. This is really a killer record. Enjoy!