The B-52’s Reimagined in Cindy Wilson’s Change

Cindy Wilson from

On Valentine’s Day, 1976, Cindy Wilson met her future husband Keith Bennett, and performed in her first B-52’s show. Her band mates were fellow Athens, GA, denizens Kate Pierson (vocals, keys), Keith Strickland (percussionist), Fred Schneider (vocals, more cowbell), and her older brother Ricky Wilson, whose unusual guitar tunings engendered the band’s unmistakable retro/modern sound.

Cindy took breaks when Ricky died young, from HIV complications in 1985, and a few other times to raise her family. But she still gets the band back together on occasion and is currently touring to support her first ever solo album Change, which dropped December 1, 2017, via Kill Rock Stars.

The Beat Kitchen hosted Cindy’s March 28th Chicago show, which was opened by Atlanta’s Radiohead-y, wall-of-sound five-piece Easter Island.

Cindy is at the vanguard of the 1980s music renaissance and collaborating with Ryan Monahan, Lemuel Hayes, whom she met when their Beatles tribute band played her son’s birthday party back in Athens, and Suny Lyons. The young musicians are on drums, guitars and a synth while she commands center stage with a theremin and tambourine.

Sporting a platinum bob and wearing sparkly, spangled silver glasses and jacket with a boa on top, Cindy maintains her ethereal, echoing chops; a new, new wave with bouncy, beachy beats woven into trippy psychedelia.

A screen behind the drum kit synchs the songs’ videos with the onstage mélange of pop, disco and electronica, featuring the albums’ originals plus two covers: “Things I’d Like to Say” (by New Colony Six), and “Brother” (by Athens band Oh-OK). (The video was directed by Lance Bangs.)

For this album, her materials state that Cindy’s eschewing “rock voice shouting,” opting for more controlled vocals and phrasing. She does, and her new tunes are accessible, engaging and fun. She also shared her energetic gratitude with the enthusiastic crowd.

Cindy Wilson returns to Chicagoland with the B-52’s at Ravinia on August 31 featuring Culture Club, and on September 1 with the Thompson Twins.

Karin McKie
Karin McKie

Karin McKie is a Chicago freelance writer, cultural factotum and activism concierge. She jams econo.