The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
It is surely difficult to categorize Becky Barksdale – blues, R&B, rock … B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Janis Joplin.
So, perhaps the safest way to describe the Port Arthur native is “unique” and “powerful” as she escorts her audience to a place of raw passion and musical bliss where guitar riffs rip at the very heart and soul of anyone within earshot.
Barksdale, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur, has played with the legends, provided the soundtrack for Hollywood movies, and ripped wild solos with Michael Jackson during his “Dangerous” tour. She is the definition of the small-town girl gone big-time.
Now, Barksdale is joining the legends of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana as the newest inductee into the Music Section of the Museum of the Gulf Coast. She will join artists like ZZ Top, George Jones, Percy Sledge … and Janis … during an induction ceremony on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. when her exhibit is unveiled at the Museum, located at 700 Procter Street in Port Arthur.
On Saturday, Nov. 3, Becky will perform in the Performing Arts Center Main Theater on the campus of Lamar State College-Port Arthur, located at 1500 Procter Street. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 and available for purchase at the Museum of the Gulf Coast or on the night of the concert as supplies last. Seating is general admission. Advance tickets may also be purchased by calling the Museum at 409-984-7200. Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Museum of the Gulf Coast and the Commercial Music Program at Lamar State College-Port Arthur.
“We are very excited to welcome Becky into the Gulf Coast Music Hall of Fame,” says Museum Director Shannon Harris. “She is truly an original performer and an inspiration to aspiring musicians of all genres, particularly women. Her music and performances reveal a depth which transcends the traditional boundaries between blues and rock.”
The Museum’s curator Ami Kamara is working to complete Barksdale’s permanent exhibit which will feature a variety of objects related to her colorful career including a guitar and one of only a handful of special edition tour jackets from the Michael Jackson Dangeroustour. In addition, at the concert, Barksdale will present the guitar she played during the Dangeroustour to the Museum for temporary display.
It was Barksdale's grandfather who gave her a guitar when she was twelve. A professional at sixteen, she learned to play and was introduced to the blues gigging with local musicians and performing in a number of regional bands. After nailing down guitar and vocal duties with boogie-blues masters Canned Heat, Barksdale landed the lead guitar spot with Michael Jackson adding some fiery punch to the King of Pops 1993 Dangerous World Tour.
The first artist to be signed by the House of Blues Music Company, Barksdale appeared on two compilations on the label before releasing Real Live, a gripping mélange of electric blues and steamy rock that easily justified the growing hype crowning the Red Hot Queen of the Blues. Cowgirl Blues, an EP of five original songs unearthed her country roots (two great uncles were members of the Sons of the Pioneers), while Blues Revue Magazine declared that there was more emotion packed into the dozen real-deal blues tracks on Out of the Blue than racks of others.
Those unfamiliar with Barksdale's discography will certainly have heard her musical compositions highlighted by her scorching guitar work and gritty, soulful vocals on numerous trailers and soundtracks for acclaimed motion pictures like Mission Impossible lll, Predator, Inception, Munich, Cold Mountain, Finding Neverland as well as many of the latest scream-inducing horror flicks including a featured performance of Becky’s Amazing Grace for Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.
Descriptions of Barksdale's live shows from sources such as Guitar Player Magazine (unearthly intensity) and Fender Frontline Magazine (soft crying bends, raunchy riffs) really don't do justice to what this siren with a tell-it-like-it-is attitude does when she commands a stage bare foot. Tough, teasing vocals, pugnacious tone and solos that sting like well-placed uppercuts, even when Barksdale slows down the tempo she turns up the heat.
Ultimately, for Barksdale, interacting with an audience is more fun than toil. “This may sound weird,” she insists, “but often I’ll walk off the stage and won’t know what happened. I get into this zone where I feel completely connected with everyone in the place and nothing else matters. It’s the ultimate vacation.”
Becky Barksdale CDs and t-shirts are available for purchase at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. The Museum of the Gulf Coast is owned and operated by the Port Arthur Historical Society in partnership with Lamar State College - Port Arthur and the City of Port Arthur. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information please visit www.museumofthegulfcoast.org.