In her new album Katie revisits themes she explored on her first CD, including parenthood and daily life. She captures snapshots in time: Walking up the stairs, clearing the table, watching the moon in your window or your child’s baseball game. Her deceptively simple lyrics are layered with deep human emotion.
The title of the album is lifted from the song, Down, which is about watching her father bury his father. “At the burial site you throw the flowers down, and that’s a symbol of growing up, of continuing on to a new path for your life. You’re saying goodbye to that person. It’s heartbreaking losing someone, but we all go through it. It’s full circle.”
In the song Baseball, a little league game evokes emotions all parents feel: “Watching through the chain-link fence, seeing everything that you miss.” It cuts to the fragile, uncertain feelings a parent has of watching their kids grow up – wanting to help your child but not interfere, seeing all the hurt out there and wanting to protect them.
Last year High Street Beat interviewed Katie about the process of recording her first CD, You’ll Find Your Way. We visited again with Katie, and here’s what she had to say about recording, her band and Mineral Point.
On recording: “Going in the second time was cool because I knew what to expect, so I wasn’t nervous at all. The first time it’s like you’re performing for your producer. It’s almost like you’re on stage while you’re recording. This time it felt like he (producer Ben Brodin) was my friend, so you can make mistakes without feeling like he thinks you stink and he’ll never work with you again.”
On the band: Katie likens playing with her band to “playing like you’re a kid again. … I think we’re all becoming pretty good friends.” Her minivan, “which is usually full of kids, is now full of my drummer and my guitarist and everyone else. It’s fun.”
- Cellist Eric Miller: Eric recorded with Katie on both albums, and has been a major contributor to Katie’s unique sound. “He has stuck with me. He understands the emotion behind the song, but is also a musical genius so he can create pretty much anything. I wrote the song Outside while I was pregnant. I thought I would just bring it along. None of the band members had heard it, and Eric nailed the song on the first take. Afterwards he asked what the song was about, and I told him that I based it on these Waldorf children’s books I was reading to my kids when I was pregnant. Apparently Eric’s wife had just given him these books to prepare for their baby, which explains why he really got the song.” (Eric’s wife Sue Ellen Dubbert will sit in on piano at Saturday’s show.)
- Drummer Scott Moore: Katie considers this album more uplifting because of the addition of the drums. “The drums keep it moving. It’s definitely more of a forward-moving album than my first one, which I like a lot. I’ve played music since I was 16, but I’d never played with a drummer and it’s the best thing ever. It’s like having someone who always has your back. The drummer keeps you where you need to be all the time. I have this theory that if you can play drums you can play or do anything. One day I said, ‘I wonder what it would sound like if we had a bassist?’ So Scott just grabbed a bass and he was playing drums with his feet while playing the bass and singing backup. It was amazing.” As a testament to his ability to do anything, Scott is also a talented architect and just finished building a straw bale house, which is now for sale.
- Guitarist John Birner: You might notice Katie’s pink electric guitar. It was made by John, a local guitar maker who also builds electric guitar effects devices out of recycled materials. Using the guitar in writing the songs Baseball and Bus Song allowed Katie to emphasize a fingerpicking style that was new to her. According to John’s website, Soaring Tortoise Electronics, he can build specialized items upon request, “provided I have the parts and you don’t mind how they look when I am finished.” John didn’t record with Katie, but with his musical talent and gear, he can replicate the sound of her cd outside the studio. “The recording studio has vintage recording machines,” Katie says. “John can match the sound with his Fender guitar and 1960 reverb echo machines.”
On Mineral Point: “I love that I work with all these great musicians in Mineral Point. This town is so supportive, along with the galleries and shops that carry my CD. … I just feel really lucky. The support from the town when they buy my CD allows me to make enough money to make another one.”
Katie’s music is available on iTunes, but if you are all about supporting local (and if you are a reader of High Street Beat, you most certainly are) buy the album directly from Katie or from a shop in town. That way more money stays local and Katie can put out another album, which at her current pace is one per year. In fact, she already has five songs written for her next CD.
“Songs are just coming a lot easier because I feel like I better understand the process,” Katie says. “I wrote all the songs for this album in the past year, except for Outside. My first album had songs written from the previous four years. That’s why I want to keep making albums. There is a continuity for what the thoughts are for that year.”
The CD release party for “Throw the Flowers Down” is Saturday, May 10, at Brewery Pottery from 7 to 9 p.m. Katie and her band will play two sets from the album at 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Fayette Creamery will provide complimentary artisanal cheeses and wine.
– Contributed by Susan Webb