Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez
This queen of blue-eyed rock n’ soul, who grew up loving equally the sweetness of a Memphis horn line and the raunch of an electric guitar riff, whether played by Muddy Waters, Keith Richards, or Pop Staples, teased her blonde hair into a beehive in honor of Ronnie Spector and never looked back, picking up a guitar and forging a career as a songwriter in the process. She’s the current, long-time vocalist with the Saturday Night Live Band (SNL40’s anniversary post-show concert also featured her star turn onstage with Jimmy Fallon, Elvis Costello and the B-52s), whose latest CD, The Deep End, was honored on five national Top Ten lists and features special guests/duet partners Ian Hunter, Dion DiMucci, and Marshall Crenshaw, plus Levon Helm, GE Smith, Andy York, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, Catherine Russell, Big Al Anderson, and others. Ohlman topped the Alternate Root.com’s Readers’ Poll as top Americana vocalist, joining other winners Paul Thorn, The Mavericks, and Rodney Crowell.
Ohlman’s legendary voice and stage presence (she’s known as “The Beehive Queen” for her towering blonde hairdo) have most recently been featured at the 2016 AMA Conference in Nashville; The PBS series “Music City Roots” with Bonnie Bramlett, Sarah Potenza and the McCrary Sisters during June, 2016; 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival’s Tribute To David Bowie; on numerous guest vocal shots on the HBO series “Vinyl" that feature a duet with Elvis Costello; on SNL’s 40th Anniversary telecast (pulled onstage by Jimmy Fallon at the after-party concert at the Plaza Hotel, she tore the roof off with the B52s as her backup vocalists), “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” (guest shot with Black 47); the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Concert in Cleveland (filmed by HBO); the Carnegie Hall tribute to the Rolling Stones; the 2012, 2013 and 2015 Little Kids Rock galas in NYC (taking the stage with Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Steve Miller, Graham Nash, Bill Medley, Tom Morello and others); and the 2012-2015 WC Handy Festivals (she was the special guest of the Blind Boys Of Alabama and soul queen Candi Staton, and helmed a sold-out tribute to legendary producer Jerry Wexler; in 2015 she was the festival’s Grand Marshall and co-billed with iconic guitarist Travis Wammack), as well as on both SNL’s 25th and the aforementioned 40th Anniversary telecasts; Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary bash at The Garden (with George Harrison, Chrissie Hynde, and others); the 2013 Obama Inaugural Gala in Washington, D.C.; The Lincoln Center “American Songbook” series with Sting, Lou Reed and Van Dyke Parks; and the Central Park Summerstage Tribute To Janis Joplin (where she fronted both Big Brother & The Holding Company and the Kozmic Blues Band).
In 2017, she was inducted into the National Blues Hall of Fame of American Heritage International. She appears on Grammy nominees A Tribute To Howlin’ Wolf (with Taj Mahal and Lucinda Williams) and Charlie Musselwhite’s One Night In America (with Marty Stuart); sings the theme song for NBC’s 30 Rock; worked on a musical with the late Cy Coleman (who compared her sense of timing to Peggy Lee’s); duets live with friends like the aforementioned Miss Spector, Mac Rebennack, Americana stalwart Paul Thorn, Bonnie Bramlett, Muscle Shoals legends Donnie Fritts and John Paul White of the Civil Wars, and New Orleans mainstays The Subdudes (she joins The ‘Dudes, BB King, Irma Thomas, Richard Thompson and others on Get You A Healin’ to benefit the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and has guest-hosted five editions of “Down On The Bayou” during successive Jazz & Heritage Fests with Widespread Panic’s JoJo Hermann, again to benefit The Clinic); worked often with the late blues giants Hubert Sumlin and Eddie Kirkland; collaborated on critically-acclaimed tracks with Marshall Crenshaw (Labour Of Love: The Music of Nick Lowe), Big Al Anderson (Pawn Shop Guitars), and Ian Hunter (When I’m President and Shrunken Heads); edited legendary Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham’s autobiography 2Stoned and appears also on Oldham’s historic 2013 release “Andrew Loog Oldham and Friends Sing The Rolling Stones Songbook Vol. 2”). A musicologist of note, Ohlman is a cover-story-writing contributor to Elmore Magazine, and worked with Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder & others on the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Awards.
Ohlman tours relentlessly, torching clubs up and down the Eastern Seaboard in support of her recordings with her band Rebel Montez (Michael Colbath-bass; Cliff Goodwin-guitar; Larry Donahue-drums).
“I’ve come here tonight to set your souls on fire,” she’ll tell an audience. And she will.
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