Defiant country artist Nikki Lane coming to Ink's Middle of the Map

Nikki Lane
Nikki Lane Submitted

Country stars are supposed to be deferential and agreeable. Nikki Lane is neither.

The Nashville-based musician’s penchant for rule-breaking makes her one of the most intriguing artists in country music.

Lane will showcase her defiant attitude and surly songs on the Lead Bank Stage at Crossroads KC on Saturday, June 30, as part of Ink’s Middle of the Map festival.

Born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1983, Lane is a polarizing figure. Her three albums act as referendums on the state of country music by challenging common practices and subverting convention. Although each effort was released to great acclaim, Lane has distanced herself from her first two projects.

Not afraid to burn bridges, Lane has expressed displeasure with her 2014 breakout album "All or Nothin'." Produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, the album kicked off with the stunning tribute to honkytonk decadence "Right Time." Yet Lane disavows it.

She recently confessed that "All or Nothin'" “didn’t really reflect what my taste was. It was like someone’s interpretation of me.”

While she’s pleased with her most recent release "Highway Queen," the acerbic tone of some of its songs may repel listeners who demand bland platitudes from country artists.

True to her no-holds-barred nature, Lane proclaims her disdain for country music’s core audience and her unbridled ambition on the paradoxical “700,000 Rednecks.”

Snarling “that’s what it takes to get to the top/Seven-hundred-thousand rednecks/No, there ain’t no one gonna make me stop” isn’t going to endear Lane to admirers of stalwart country artists like George Strait and Carrie Underwood.

Lane discharges similarly striking resentments on “Big Mouth.” She vows that “if you don’t shut that pretty mouth then I think I should show you how” on the song about small town gossip. The startlingly impudent composition is a homage to Loretta Lynn’s 1968 hit “Fist City.”

Lynn is Lane’s most obvious reference point. Fifty years ago, as now, the majority of the country hitmakers were comparatively innocuous. Lynn also regularly roiled the Nashville establishment with controversial songs. And like the trailblazing Lynn, Lane has a strong sense of style.

High Class Hillbilly, Lane’s vintage clothing store in Nashville, offers unique apparel that aligns with her discriminating sensibility.

Fancy duds aren’t required to attend Middle of the Map. Audacious sass will be all that’s necessary to recklessly howl “yippee-ki-yay” along with Lane during a rendition of “700,000 Rednecks” on Saturday, June 30, at CrossroadsKC behind Grinders.

Ink's Middle of the Map Fest

Main-stage events will take place at Crossroads KC. Bands will also perform each night at the RecordBar, the Brick and the Black Dolphin. Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30. Tickets range from $45 for Friday to $200 for a 2-day, VIP pass.

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