The Beehive Queen Promises to Create a Buzz in Brooklyn
Editor’s note: On Saturday, June 25, at 9:30 p.m., Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez will be at Hank’s Saloon, 46 Third Avenue at the corner of Atlantic Avenue in downtown Brooklyn.
She’s commonly referred to as “The Beehive Queen” for her very vertically teased blonde hair. Her retro hairdo, however, belies this modern-day musical marvel. Her name is Christine Ohlman and if you don’t think you’ve heard her music before, think again: She’s a current and long-time vocalist with the Saturday Night Live band and a regular guest singer on the HBO series, Vinyl.
But don’t let the beehive and regular TV appearances fool you. Ohlman is a relentless touring musician, dazzling fans from coast-to-coast and sharing stages with some of the biggest names in the industry, including Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Steve Miller, Graham Nash and Bill Medley, to name a few.
So why, with such a remarkable and storied history, Brooklyn Roads asks, does her vertically not-challenged hair remain the same?
“I always admired the look and sass of the ‘girl groups’, in particular, The Ronettes . . . and so I adapted that, at first with vintage clothing to match, then later with a kind of edgier look, but still with the beehive,” Ohlman tells us.
Staying faithful to her signature hairstyle, Ohlman is equally dedicated and true to making music, which started at a young age. “My brother had a band and they tapped me to be the lead singer. [As] time went on I discovered I loved nothing better than to be on stage, sharing with an audience, and that it was so very easy for me to express emotion and feeling that way,” she says, adding: “Coming into my own as a songwriter has been a very, very satisfying thing for me, because for years I sang the original tunes of others.”
Recently, Ohlman performed in Nashville as one of the “Divas of Roots Music,” a two-hour broadcast radio show produced and aired by the legendary Music City Roots, which was filmed for PBS to be aired later this year.
Brooklynites, however, won’t have to wait long to hear Ohlman. Her extensive tour, touting her new DVD, The Grown Up Thing . . .Live Hive, and latest CD, The Deep End, brings her to Hank’s Saloon on June 25 with her band Rebel Montez (Michael Colbath on bass, Chris Bickley on guitar, and Larry Donahue on drums).
“The folks at Hank’s have been very kind and good to work with. We can’t wait,” Ohlman says.
While Ohlman was born in the Bronx and is a self-proclaimed “Bronx girl,” she holds Brooklyn close to heart. “My grandfather used to take us shopping for fabric in Brooklyn and I loved the hustle and bustle of it,” she tells Brooklyn Roads.
When asked about future collaborations, Ohlman says, “I have worked with so many folks, from Dion to Levon Helm to Ian Hunter to Chrissie Hynde to Dr. John… too many to list. Mavis Staples is someone I’ve always wanted to sing with. Previously, I might have said Candi Staton, the Queen of Muscle Shoals soul, but two years ago she invited me up on stage with her, so that dream has been fulfilled.”
With so many dreams fulfilled, regular TV appearances and an upcoming tour, what more could Christine Ohlman possibly want from her career? “[For] Mavis Staples to cover one of my songs,” she told Brooklyn Roads. And based on her past achievements and current successes, that just might come true – anything seems possible for Christine Ohlman.