On a chilly night in Columbus, the average age of attendees and temperature align in the 40s for Nikki Lane at the A&R Music Bar.
At 7:30 PM there was just one lone cowboy hat in the crowd. Two more trickled through the security check by 8 PM when Jaime Wyatt started the night’s music performance. There was an older crowd, but not the typical die-hard country music fan. Local favorite Angela Perley arrived on the scene. The room was filled with free-thinkers flirting with the idea of country music. Nikki and Jaime were indeed country music artists, but both iconoclasts in their own right.
Both artists performed the night before in Cleveland for Nikki’s Denim & Diamond tour to support her latest album. They had some diehard fans from outside of Ohio in the front row and present for both shows.
Even if you weren’t familiar with any songs from her two albums, Jaime Wyatt was impossible to miss. She walked in the front door just before 8 PM with the rest of the attendees, dressed in red and ready for a night bigger than you might experience in Columbus, OH. Moments later, some people were surprised to see her silently step onto the dark stage.
Jaime addressed the audience before every song. She made mention to her sexuality and the pandemic which a lot of people found relatable. Her voice transcended the connection she made with the audience. With each song, the audience seemed more available to listen to her than continue in their own conversations. She only played seven songs, but they were all worthy of a listen. She ended her set with “Neon Cross,” the title track from her latest 2020 release.
Waiting to see how fashionable Nikki Lane is going to look before she steps into the lights is half the fun of the anticipation. She is known for her music and her fashion sensibilities. She used to be a fashion designer and still owns her own curated vintage clothing store in Nashville called High Class Hillbilly. Even her merch area had corduroy hats and wicked tees. Continuing her vintage look, she had a simple classic look with a tee, jeans, and a white cowboy hat.
After four LPs and an EP, she had 16 tracks to offer us in person. The sound guy struggled to get Nikki’s monitor to her optimal level, but by the time of her fourth song, they had it ironed out. Older crowds tend to fill up slower. This audience was no exception. Fortunately, by the time Nikki’s performance started, the place was packed and complicated to navigate.
Nikki Lane is at the forefront of today’s outlaw country scene, so much so that she has been kicked out of her own dressing room before. Although she performed and looked the part of a vintage country singer, she managed to keep any riotous tendencies to a minimum.
Aside from slide guitars and cowboy hats, Nikki and Jaime exist outside the mold of what contemporary country music has become. The music is there and the soul is there, but they lead the movement away from what women have been expected to be. They are entrepreneurs and outspoken about their sexuality. They are foul-mouthed and independent. They are outlaw country.