Sophia Johnson, an English musician lured to Austin by Western swing, can’t remember exactly when she first learned of Cindy Walker.
“My dad is a steel player, so I’ve been listening to Bob Wills as long as I can remember,” she shares. “If there was a [Wills] song I liked, I would look up who wrote it – Cindy Walker every time. You know that ‘Behind every great man there’s a great woman’ thing?”
Born in 1918 near Mart, Texas, the undersung late country songwriting legend’s expansive body of work spans Ray Charles to Willie Nelson. After organizing a Walker tribute at the 2019 Ameripolitan Awards, Johnson and her Women of Western Swing bandmate Georgia Parker present Bubbles in My Beer, named for Walker’s 1947 Texas Playboys tearjerker. At ABGB, the WOWS unite Johnson and Parker with Katy Rose Cox, Rose Sinclair, and Karen Biller as the house band.
“I’ve been to a lot of these tribute shows, but the house band was always all dudes,” says Johnson. “It feels really in the spirit of Cindy to have an all-female house band with some male singers coming up, to flip the script.”
Swinging guest vocalists include Brennen Leigh, Teri Joyce, Selena Rosanbalm, Candace Hastings, Bob Appel, Blake Whitmire, Meg Bodi, and more. Proceeds benefit the SIMS Foundation, which Johnson has utilized for therapy since moving to Austin in 2015. The guitarist enthuses over plans to play Walker-penned Roy Orbison hit “Dream Baby” and “Goin’ Away Party” – one of her father’s favorites.
Thu., Nov. 11, 7pm