After the year she’s had, Wynonna is ready to rock out her Christmas.
The country superstar and her band, The Big Noise, are set to tear up the Riverside Casino Event Center with two shows Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, (12/8 and 12/9) showcasing the best from the past, present and future of her stellar, award-winning country career.
- Wynonna’s Rockin’ Christmas
- Riverside Casino Event Center
- When: 9 p.m. Saturday (12/8) and 4 p.m. Sunday (12/9)
- Tickets: $38 to $55 at the Casino Gift Shop or Riversidecasinoandresort.com
- Artist’s website: Wynonna.com
Her husband will be at her side — which is nothing short of a miracle.
Married in June to her drummer, Michael “Cactus” Moser, 55, Wynonna, 48, watched in horror two months later when his motorcycle collided with a car near Hill City, S.D., shattering his hand and severing his left leg. They were traveling on separate motorcycles through the scenic Black Hills region Aug. 18, on their way back to a scheduled show in Deadwood.
“I watched him slam into a car at 65 miles per hour,” she says. “I just promised myself from that day on that I will never take this for granted ever again.”
About six months ahead of schedule in his recovery and rehab, he joined her onstage for the first time Nov. 27 in Regina, Canada.
“A month ago he was unable to touch his fingers to his palm,” she says by phone from her tour bus the next day, en route to a sold-out show in Winnipeg.
“He had eight pins in his hand, so for him to be playing drums, are you kidding me? I’m even astounded. I can actually admit I’m surprised,” she says, “because I knew that he was determined, I just didn’t know that he would be showing up.
“Yesterday I kept staring at him on the bus, like, ‘Oh my God, you’re really here. We’re really doing this.’ It was very surreal, watching him and thinking, ‘He’s the Duke, man.’ He is rub some dirt on it and get back into the game. He’s so on fire. He is a champion and it’s wonderful to be in his presence,” she says.
“He’s getting so much attention, that it’s actually healing him. It’s like light therapy. He’s getting so fed on that stage, it’s life-giving for him. It’s making him recover even better. He’s sleeping a little bit more, because he’s tired, but he’s so awake, so aware and so ready to go an hour before showtime, I can’t even be around him. He’s got more energy than I do.
“But he’s just so grateful. … He is just as happy and joyful to be anywhere,” she says. “To be around that is so good for me, because he’s just my light. I call him Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, because he’s always smiling and always just aware — keenly aware — of the fact that he’s alive. No brain injury, no internal injury. Sixty-five miles an hour into a car, on a Harley, chances are not usually very good. I saw his leg laying all around on the highway and I thought, ‘OK, this is it.’ I thought he was dead. I didn’t know that he was alive. To go from that Aug. 18 to being on the road three months later is just incomprehensible, really.
“We’re a very, very grateful bunch. So when you see us, if you’re in a bad mood, don’t come. Actually, you should come, because if you are, we’ll give you an attitude adjustment.”
The last time we saw Wynonna in the Corridor, she was playing sold-out concerts in 1992 in Cedar Rapids and 1993 in Iowa City.
She says she’s blossomed since those early days, stepping into the solo spotlight after her mother, Naomi Judd, was diagnosed with hepatitis C and retired in 1991. Naomi recovered, and mother and daughter — who won five Grammys as The Judds — have teamed up a couple times since then, but now the supremely talented Wynonna is confident and comfortable in her own right.
“I have nothing to lose,” she says. “I go home and my kids could give a rip about how fabulous I am, so when I go out there, I give it everything I’ve got.”
She calls it her “playtime.”
“When I’m there, I am so full of myself, and you just get to watch me absolutely wind ‘er up and let ‘er go,” she says. “Last night my road manager said, ‘You’ve been onstage for like, 90 minutes and the contract only called for 75.’ I don’t care — I’m having so much fun. You can’t get rid of me.
“I have such joy, such a story to tell when I’m onstage, I hope that people, when they leave, they feel better than when they got there. That’s my goal.”
She actually lives a double life, which gives her balance and perspective.
“I’ll go anywhere people love me,” she says. “I will do anything for attention, because at home, my teenagers have forgotten how famous I am. I will pretty much do anything — and have — for that two hours of playtime on stage.”
At home, the Kentucky native lives on a farm near Nashville, which she shares with her sister, actress Ashley Judd, and their mother.
“We call it the Kentucky compound, because it’s kinda like the Judd State Park. We have a lake and I’ve got close to 50 animals,” including six horses.
“I live two very uniquely different lives,” she says. “On the road, it’s all about sparkles and hair products and Spanx and being a diva. At home, it’s about getting as close to the earth and being a mom.”
Her son, Elijah, is setting off for college shortly before he turns 18 on Dec. 23. Daughter Grace is 16, and still likes to travel with Mom.
“I was sitting on the floor the other day with my eight kittens, in a state of bliss, because I thought, right here, right now, in this moment, I am sitting here with these animals that remind me of the miracle of life. They give me a perspective.
“When you’re out on the road, you’re in this world of fantasy, very much in a vacuum. You are on a tour bus that’s over a million dollars. It’s got a shower and a king-size bed. … I feel like a princess. I feel like I’ve won the lottery when I’m out here. Then I go home and I’m in the kitchen, making dinner to put on the table at 6 o’clock so we can all sit down. …
“I just get such a sense of how unique my life is, because I live such different lives both on the road and off.”
She says performing for her fans brings life to her art, and having “been to the wilderness,” her time at home — whether she’s drinking a beer on the back porch or crying in the gazebo where she was married this summer — reminds her “just how grand God’s creation is.”
“Then I pack my stuff, get on the bus and I’m a diva in training. I’ve been training since I was 18 to be the best that I can be and strive for excellence — not success — but to just get out there and show other people if I can do it, so can you. You’ve just got to suit up and show up and expect a miracle.”