|She’s been on this stage countless times before. It’s the stage she talked her way onto for her first paid gig. But Kristine Jackson’s cheeks are shaded chianti in embarrassment.
Austin “Walkin’ Cane” Charanghat has wandered off in the middle of their set, and she’s sitting behind her guitar, looking fully like half a duo. Walkin’ Cane is sharing a story with some Parkview Nite Club regulars, and ignoring the look piercing through the back of his skull.
Kristine tries to get the crowd to cheer him back to the stage. He waves her off without turning his head or stopping his story. “OK, fine,” she says. The crimson leaves her cheeks just as fast as it arrived, and she picks at her guitar, belting out a soulful, bluesy tune.
It seems like everyone in the West Side bar knew it was coming except her. Her voice — too strong, too raw, too big to come out of such a little bitty girl — captures the audience, brings them along for the three minutes, and then Walkin’ Cane slides back in his seat, a smile filling his face, and a knowing glance thrown her way.
Kristine Jackson is the un-blues star. The 28-year-old is modest, and yet, even when she’s speaking humble words, she emits an aura of star power. Oddly enough, she sings the blues better now that she’s overcome the devil inside her, having faced a traumatic past head on.
“I first saw her back in October at a benefit, and I was blown away by both her singing and guitar playing,” recalls Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum vice president and chief curator Jim Henke. “It’s surprising to hear that voice come out of that body.”
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