You see me talk about shattering genre. You see me write about the fusion happening in music. You see me talking about making compilation records that defy the concepts of theme and stereotype. With all of these as givens… With so many bands just here in Arizona that refuse to be easily categorized….. What then is Country? What is Americana? What is Folk? Are Birds + Arrows Country? Are Paper Foxes Gothic Rock? What the hell is a Banana Gun?
For me… it all comes back to literature. Always.
And I have known the eyes already, known them all—T.S. Eliot
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?
I have been formulated. Have you? I have been typecast. Have you? Like a butterfly in a child’s collection, I have been pinned to the board under the correct phylum and category, species and family… and once that pinning has taken place, once I am there, wriggling and pierced, on your cork board…. how should I presume to be anything different? Stereotypes are dangerous. They are dangerous with people. They are dangeous with groups. They are dangerous with music. THINK OF ALL THE AMAZINGNESS – YOU MISS, while you are busy pushing your pins through the artists in your wake.
Katie Mae & the Lubrication
Hazy | Yellow Medicine
10 Songs You Need to Hear
This song haunts me. The first time I heard it, it was stuck in my head for days. I kept hearing myself singing it in my motorcycle helmet. It was one of those pleasant song-stickings, not one of the annoying ones. It was one of the ones that act as a sign of the song’s greatness, that maybe you at first did not even recognize.
I imagine a little girl singing for her Mother. Oh honey that voice is not made for the radio. Oh honey maybe you should do something different. What lets that little artist know that the voice they hear grating like a wicked memory from their guts is one that they can trust? What lets that artist know that the magic exists in the places where they do not sound like everybody else? When are you gonna find yourself a backbone…. trust yourself…. and refuse to be pinned on that wall. Listen to that voice! Is it that different than Solo’s magic with The Woodworks? What about the quality of Black Carl? I imagine that little girl singing with a voice that is something radical and different, and I imagine the Mother that breathes faith and belief into her. I imagine the shivers we get when we trust ourselves, and defy expectations. Those are good shivers.
Life So Small
We pick and strum these guitars around our campfires in the woods. We play the chords that make the feelings bleed through the boundries of words. But what makes them different? What makes them special? What makes that created music rise above the smoke, through the night, to swirl around the stars of our famous dreams? What does it take to see the carvings of the expectations we impose on them? When I hear the subtle tempo shifts of this music, these simple chords ramping up to follow the magically compelling voice, when I hear the beauty of the finger picked chords sliding along the strings during the bridge…. I am left with something that is true. You do not need to breaking the mold, defing every convention, or reinventing the wheel with every song. A song does not need to be on that edge to be authentic. To make you feel. To make you sway…. whether you are wearing Doc Martin’s or Aerates. Stop judging me!
When I hear Katie Mae sing… she takes me to this place. Her voice is legendary. The music is allowed to be understated beneath an instrument like that. When you have an instrument like that, that you have learned to trust, and love, and relish…. like the voice of a Bob Dylan…. a gravel poet….. you embrace it. And that voice….. shatters boundaries…. like a sweet talkin husky late night breath that sends shivers….. whether it is Loretta Lynn or Sade.
High & Dry
Listen to these ten songs…. Katie Mae will not leave you high and dry…. she will take you by surprise. She did me, and I do not think I can ever stop listening.
Where have we been these last two years my friends? We played music alone. We played music to cameras that do not clap. We tried to bring you a voice of some human connection over the webs of ether that divide and connect us. We sat on the balconies overlooking the Italian streets and we sang to connect to the masked faces that took over the world. We placed poetry to chords… that tried to make sense of it. These videos share that history. They lock it in, and write it down. They chronicle a time when the musicians played their songs alone…. to make us feel so much less so.
I found myself feeling similarly writing my review of Daughter of Country by Megan & Shane. I found myself writing about the lyrics, the poetry, not the production, not the music, not the magic of Bob Hoag. Why? Is that because it is country music, deceivingly simply, seemingly so conventional? Or is because the poetry of the Americana artist is the authentic voice that connects us to what it is to be human. We are all hazy angels, wishing to not waste our gifts, or time, our lives. It is the poetry that is necessary. It is the words that connect, unite, and tie… rather than rip and divide usunder. This hazy angel can sing the soundtrack to my quite contemplative whisky days…. any time.
Yellow Medicine Hills
It aint worth the pain to make a name for yourself, but who am I to say it. I am just the same. Word. Hell Yeah. Authentic! Word.
Listen to that voice! Listen to it rolling over that road with the bumps and the twists and the history and the blood on the tires? That voice is gutzy soul. That voice is Joe Pena. That voice is John Prine. That voice is Johnny Cash. That voice is Tori Amos. That voice…. is the magic…. that keeps us from landing in a cell when Time has been so Damn Unkind. Word.
I don’t know about you folks…. but I will not be missing this bands EP Release on OCTOBER 2 !!!! WOW, this is a powerful record, that I CANNOT wait to see performed live! Get to the THE DIRTY DRUMMER!!!
I have made the mistake too often in my life of passing quick judgement. Oh, it’s another country band. Oh, it’s another songbird with a guitar. That…. is small minded. I know better. The more we think we know…. the less we learn. And…. yes…. YES, THAT IS A STAND UP BASS !!!!! LOVE IT!!!!
What ever made people think that hard livin, or the songs that chronicle it, only happen to Country Artists?
Does Bisbee, Arizona scream Country Music to you? DEFY EXPECTATION. DEFY THE PINS. DEFY THE PRESUMPTIONS. DEFY…. and play. This ain’t your Mama’s Country. Formulations of the human heart should not be so easily defined.
Tell It Like It Is
Katie Mae & the Lubrication have won me over. They have brought the medicine from the Snake Oil Salesmen, but this time he wasn’t lying, his tincture was pure, and that curious concoction will map out the twists and canyons of those hills you simply know there is no other choice but to try to find your way through. That is just the way that it is, and the life that you know you will chase. Regardless. There is a name for yourself out there… echoing. It haunts you… like shivers begging you to grow a backbone and chase it. Grab it. Dare to try to live it, and define it. Perhaps that is what country music is. Perhaps that is what all music is.
And if you are gonna do a cover….. do John Prine.
Katie Mae & the Lubrication have a release show at The Dirty Drummer. You can get Yellow Medicine Hills there, and listen to the band play it. You outta go, listen, and take the album home. To listen to when you are trying to find your way to where your dreams are hiding.