BLUEGRASS FOR THE MODERN, URBAN WOMAN
Kathy Kallick will bring what she learned from Bill Monroe to Mountain View
By Paul Freeman – San Jose Mercury News – Oct. 20, 2016
In non-traditional fashion, Kathy Kallick has been helping to keep traditional bluegrass music alive and well.
Oakland resident Kallick came from Illinois, not Kentucky. And she started out as a folkie. But over the decades, she has established herself as a bluegrass great.
The title track she wrote for her latest album, “Foxhounds,” is an homage to Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. Kallick got to know that legend, even visiting him on his farm.
“He was so curious and open to everything new. He wanted to hear new styles of music. He wanted to meet new people. And I loved that about him. It made him very accessible to me, the Jewish girl from Chicago, living in California. And somehow I could have conversations with this guy, which was really great.”
The seeds of the song were planted when Monroe invited his visitors to sit on the porch and listen to the barking of his 15 scampering foxhound puppies.
Kallick says, “He went inside, got his mandolin and started trying to play along with the sound of those hounds yipping out in the darkness — just a little way for him to illustrate for all of us how he listens to the soundscape of his life and puts that in his music. It was very inspiring.”
Her upbringing was quite different from Monroe’s. The University of Chicago Folk Festival was an annual outing for her family. They held music parties at the house, when she was growing up. Her mom was a performing folk singer and her dad played classical guitar.
Kallick launched as a folk singer when she was a teenager, inspired by such artists as John Prine and Janis Ian. She moved to California in the mid-1970s to attend San Francisco Art Institute. That’s when she got caught up in the Bay Area’s bluegrass scene.
Under 21, she would sneak into Paul’s Saloon, which presented bluegrass nightly. Kallick was entranced by the band Phantoms of the Opry and their lead vocalist, Pat Enright.
In 1975, she teamed with Laurie Lewis, Barbara Mendelsohn, Dorothy Baxter and Sue Shelasky. It began as a lark, but they were a hit at an open mic. The group evolved into Good Ol’ Persons, which thrived until 1995 and has occasionally reunited since then. With varying lineups, the group incorporated diverse styles — swing, folk, country and Cajun — into its bluegrass.
She now sings lead and plays guitar in the Kathy Kallick Band, whose lineup includes Annie Staninec on fiddle, Tom Bekeny on mandolin, Greg Booth on dobro and banjo, and Cary Black on acoustic bass. All contribute to the soaring harmonies.
Audiences are engaged not only by the group’s renditions of classics, but by Kallick’s stirring original songs.
“Bluegrass was rural, male music. All the songs were written from those people’s perspectives and from their experiences. I loved the sound of the music and the various rhythms of it, the feel and the energy and the drive. But early on, I wanted to write my own songs that would have subject matter that would be more specific to me — a modern, urban woman.”
Her first song, “Broken Tie,” described her growing up as the daughter of divorced parents. Monroe told her she should make that tune a permanent part of her repertoire, and she has.
Over the years, Kallick, who is married to bluegrass disc jockey Peter Thompson, has grown more outspoken about expressing women’s experiences in song. The title song from the album “Walkin’ In My Shoes” depicted the story of a woman in a relationship with an abusive man. Its hard-driving sound earned it heavy airplay on bluegrass radio, even in more conservative parts of the nation.
Her current sets feature numbers from the “Foxhounds” album, which reached number one on the bluegrass charts. But old favorites are included as well. Kallick, who has played numerous concerts under the auspices of Redwood Bluegrass Associates, is to give a concert on Saturday at Mountain View’s Masonic Lodge. It marks RBA’s 25th anniversary.
In her Good Ol’ Persons days, Kallick wasn’t widely considered a traditional bluegrass artist. But times have changed. The new album, in addition to originals, includes a Monroe classic, “Kentucky Mandolin.”
“Over the years, bluegrass has opened up so much, and every generation that comes in opens it up more. Everybody’s writing their own songs now. And everybody’s looking outside of bluegrass for other sources of music that they can play in their bluegrass band. It’s very common to see a contemporary bluegrass band covering a ’70s rock ’n’ roll song. So, over the years, the band that I’m in has become the standard-bearer.
“The torch is there, for us to keep playing traditional music and respect and admire that tradition and refer to it as much as possible, while also doing this thing that we’ve always been doing — trying to make our own sound, trying to write our own songs, trying to put our own stamp on it.”
Teaching at music camps, Kallick is optimistic about the genre’s future. “There are wonderful young musicians, just on fire, so full of passion for this music and just playing their faces off. If you go to a bluegrass festival, the hallways are filled with kids who are so brilliant and fearless in what they’re doing. It’s a fabulous thing to see. It’s very different from when I started.”
Email Paul Freeman at email@example.com.
The Kathy Kallick Band’s latest album, Foxhounds, was officially released on Nov. 19, 2015, an event noted in three online publications, all of which are streaming a track from the album.
BLUEGRASS TODAY: “Foxhounds”
ELMORE MAGAZINE: “Snowflakes”
THE BLUEGRASS SITUATION: “I’m Not Your Honey-Baby Now”
Big thanks to John Lawless (Bluegrass Today), Suzanne Cadgène and Arnie Goodman (Elmore Magazine), and Ed Helms, Amy Reitnouer, and Cameron Matthews (The Bluegrass Situation) for spotlighting tracks from Foxhounds.
And thanks to the nearly 200 (!) DJs listed below who have reported playing tracks from Foxhounds — and to the others who are also doing so! Your ongoing support is very much appreciated!
- Foxhounds was #1 on the Roots Music Report Bluegrass Charts for seven weeks in a row — and was their #1 album of 2016!
- And … The Kathy Kallick Band are the World Wide Bluegrass Artist Of the Month for Feb., 2016!
- And … the Kathy Kallick Band were the Top Artists of December, 2015 on the folkdj-l chart — and Foxhounds had the third most airplay of any album in that month (despite having no seasonal sounds) as well as the third most airplay in January, 2016.
- And … “Foxhounds” (the song) and Foxhounds (the album) spent a year in the National Bluegrass Survey (Bluegrass Unlimited charts)!
Wow! Thanks to all … we are thrilled and honored!
THANKS FOR THE SPINS …
** Abde Elshafei – Bluegrass Ramble, KBCS – Bellevue, WA
Amy Luncan – Down Home Bluegrass, WYSO – Yellow Springs, OH
Amy Orlomoski – Bluegrass Cafe, WHUS – Storrs, CT
Andrea Bradstreet – Rocky Mountain Breakdown, KRFC – Fort Collins, CO
Anna Creech – WRIR – Richmond, VA
Anna Gordon – Folkin’ Around, KAOS – Olympia, WA
Annette Kastner – Back Up & Push, WTJU/WHAN, Richmond/Ashland, VA
Arthur Berman – Pacific Pickin’, CiTR – Vancouver, British Columbia
Artie Martello – Mostly Folk, syndicated – Catskills, NY
Barb Heller – String Fever, North Country Public Radio – Canton, NY
Betsi Meissner – Neutral Ground, KXCI – Tuscon AZ
Bill Revill – Acoustic Blender, WESU – Middletown, CT
Bill Stuart – Folk, Bluegrass & More, WFIT – Melbourne, FL
Blue Sky Dave – Redneck Rivera, KVNF – Paonia, CO
Bob Brown – Weekly Folk Rotation, WNMC – Traverse City, MI
Bob McWilliams – Trail Mix, Kansas Public Radio – Lawrence, KS
Bob Mitchell – Best Of Bluegrass, WKWC – Owensboro, KY
* Bob Sala – Krush Uncorked, KRSH – Santa Rosa, CA
Bob Weiser – The Old Songs’ Home, WOMR & WFMR, Provincetown & Orleans, MA
Brenda Tacik – Deeper Well, CJTR – Regina, Saskatchewan
Brian Aust – WoodWarbler’s JazzGrass, WGDR/WGDH – Plainfield & Hardwick, VT
Brooks Otis – Keys To the Highway, KHSU – Arcata, CA
Bruce Bergethon – Acousticity, WGLT – Normal, IL
Bruce Mountjoy, Bluegrass Jam Session, WYEP – Pittsburgh, PA
Bruce Warren – Saturday Morning, WXPN – Philadelphia, PA
Buddy Merriam – Blue Grass Time, WUSB – Stony Brook, NY
Calvin Powers, Americana Music Show – WHUP – Hillsborough, NC
Cameron Polson – Something New, WTJU/WHAN – Richmond/Ashland, VA
Carolyn VandeWiele – Womenspace, WFHB – Bloomington, IN
Charlie Hall – Bluegrass Express, WCYO – Lexington, KY
Chris Hilbert – Homespun Trails, WQLN – Erie, PA
Chris Jong – Backroads, KZSC – Santa Cruz, CA
Chris Joseph – Simpatico, WSPN – Saratoga Springs, NY
Chris Powers – Mud Acres, WORT – Madison, WI
Cousin Kate – Sunday Morning Country, WZBC – Newton, MA
Craig Huegel – The Waking Hours, WMNF – Tampa, FL
# Dan Alloway – Folk Fury, KTEP – El Paso, TX
Dan Joseph – Blueridge Express, CKWR – Kitchener, ON, Canada
Dan Maher – Inland Folk, Northwest Public Radio – Spokane, WA
Danny Birch – Radio Vagabond – Peoria, AZ
Darwin Davidson – Bronzewound Bluegrass, WERU – East Orland, ME
Dave – Pickin’, KVNF – Paonia, CO
Dave Adkins – Foggy Hollow, Hawkesbury Radio – Windsor, Australia
Dave Kaye – Folkwaves, KAFM – Grand Junction, CO
David Blakney – Daybreak In Dixie, CJAM – Windsor, ON/Detroit, MI
David Fuente – Goin’ Across the Mountain, WKSU – Kent, OH
David John – chickenskin music, KEOS – Houston, TX
David Sears – The Folk Music Show, WBGU – Bowling Green, OH
David Thom – The Bluegrass Show, KSVY – Sonoma, CA
Deadwood Dick – Swing Boogie, KKUP – Cupertino, CA
Dennis Brunnenmeyer – Nevada City Limits, KVMR – Nevada City, CA
Dennis Howard – Morning Maine, WERU – Bangor, ME
Dick Groot – Waterland Country & Herringtown Country – Radio Purmerend, The Netherlands
Dick Hermans – New Harmony, WKZE – Red Hook, NY
DJ Stephanie – Rezbilly Breakdown Bluegrass Show, KDUR – Durango, CO
Don Jacobson – Movin’ On, KBOO – Portland, OR
Dylan Carpenter – Tuesday Mix, KRFC – Fort Collins, CO
Ed McKeon – Caterwaul, WWUH – West Hartford, CT
Edgar Duguay – The Bluegrass Hour, CHRQ – Listuguj, Quebec, Canada
Elena See – Folk Alley, syndicated
* Eric Hardee – Folksounds, KBCS – Bellevue, WA
Eric Rice – County Line Bluegrass, KVMR – Nevada City, CA
Gary Henderson – The Gary Henderson Show, WAMU – Washington, DC
Gary Mortensen – Strictly Bluegrass, KOOP – Austin, TX
Gary Irving – Monday Roots, WVUD – Newark, DE
Gentle Ben – Appalachian Mornings, WMMT – Whitesburg, KY
Gerd Stassen – Hillbilly Rockhouse, Countrymusic24 Radio – Berlin, Germany
Gerry Goodfriend – Folk Directions, CKUT – Montreal, Quebec
Gracie Muldoon-Davis – Muldoon with the Blue Moon, World Wide Bluegrass
Greg Torrington – Folk Roots, Stingray – Montreal, Quebec
Guy in the Sky – Mountain Bound, KAFM – Grand Juction, CO
Gwendolyn Reischman – In the Pines, CFRO – Vancouver, British Columbia
Hansjörg Malonek – ISW FM – Germany
Jamie Gans – Rural Routes, WFHB – Bloomington, IN
* Jean Geiger – Folksounds, KBCS – Bellevue, WA
Jim Beaver – Bluegrass Cafe, WHUS – Storrs, CT
Jim Burnett, In the Pines, CFRO – Vancouver, British Columbia
Jim Fisher – Down Home, WGCS – Goshen, IN
Jim Marino – Smokin Bluegrass, CFMU – Hamilton, Ontario
Jim Rogers – The Bluegrass Ramble, WIUP – Indiana, PA
Jim Webb aka Wiley Quixote – Ridin’ Around Listenin’ to the Radio, WMMT – Whitesburg, KY
Jimmy Humble – Humble Pie, KZYK – Philo, CA
J.J. Syrja – Retroactive, KAOS – Olympia, WA
JoAnn Mar, Folk Music & Beyond, KALW – San Francisco, CA
Joe Colvin – Down Home Bluegrass and Rise When the Rooster Crows, WYSO – Yellow Springs, OH
Joe Stutzman – Heartland Bluegrass – The Bluegrass Mix
John Brown – The John Brown Show, WJFC – Jefferson City, TN
John Gwinner – FAT Sunday, KCSS – Turlock, CA
John Patterson, The Song Parlor – TheVoiceOfPA.net, WHP – Harrisburg, PA
John Rumsey – Four Strong Winds, KVMR – Nevada City, CA
John Sillberg – Serendipity, CKOL – Campbellford, ON, Canada
John Weingart – Music You Can’t Hear On the Radio, WPRB – Princeton, NJ
Joltin’ Joe Pszonek – Radio Nowhere, WMSC – Montclair, NJ
Jon Colcord – Music For the Mountain and Out of the Woods, syndicated – Concord, NH
# Johnny Bazzano – Your Average Abalone, KRCB – Santa Rosa, CA
Johnny You-Can-Call-Me-Vern – Tuesday Morning Maine, WERU – East Orlands ME
Johnny Timewarp – Dark Side Of the Highway, WHUS – Storrs, CT
Joseph Hnilo – The Iron Skillet, KZSU – Stanford, CA
Juliet Youngren – WEFT – Champaign-Urbana, IL
Justin Helmer – Frets, KVSC – St. Cloud, MN
Kari Hedlund – On the River, KAXE – Grand Rapids, MI
Kat Griffin – American Matinee, KCSN – Northridge, CA
Kate McNally – The Folk Show, New Hampshire Public Radio
Katy Daley – The Katy Daley Show, WAMU – Washington, DC
Kay Clements – Backcountry, KHNS – Haines, AK
* Keith Dudding – Down Yonder, KDHX – St. Louis, MO
Ken Batista – An American Sampler, WYEP – Pittsburgh, PA
Ken Cartwright – Ken Till Ten, KMUZ – Salem, OR
Ken Nagelberg aka Dr. K – It’s For Folks, WHYR – Baton Rouge, LA
Kevin Brown – Front Porch Bluegrass, KPBX – Spokane, WA
Kevin Elliott – From the Joshua Tree Inn, WEFT – Champaign, IL
Kevin Vance – A Patchwork Quilt, KALW – San Francisco, CA
Kim Rogers – Good Stuff, KVMR – Nevada City, CA
Larry Roberts – Down Home, WGCS – Goshen, IN
Linda Fahey – Folk Alley, WKSU – Kent, OH
Lindsay Mar – Chicken Hot Rod, 2RRR – Sydney, Australia
Lisa Kay Howard – The Old Home Place, WAMU – Washington, DC
Lochlann Green – From Texas & Beyond, KA Radio – El Paso, Texas/Kilmarnock, Scotland
Luke Nestler – Roots, Branches & Buds, KDNK – Carbondale, CO
^ Maggie Ferguson – The Old Front Porch Radio Show, WXOU – Auburn Hills, MI
Mark Tobler – The Folk Show, WTUL – New Orleans, LA
Marshall Andrews – The Folk Roots Show, KSBR – San Juan Capistrano, CA
Martin Anderson – Music Mix, WNCW – Spindale, NC
Mary Tilson – America’s Back 40, KPFA – Berkeley, CA
Matthew Finch – KUNM – Albuquerque, NM
Matt Scutchfield – The Bluegrass Lounge, Berklee Internet Radio Network – Boston, MA
Menachem Vinegrad – WorldWaves, Radio Upper Galilee – Israel
Michael Kane – Off the Beaten Path, WBRS – Waltham, MA
Mike Alzo, The Folk Show, WSLU – Canton, NY
Mike Kear – Music From Foggy Hollow, Hawkesbury Radio – Sydney, Australia
Mike Penard – Radio ISA – Lhuis, France
Mike Russell – Monday Nite Bluegrass, KKUP – Cupertino, CA
Mike Wuerstle – The Bluegrass Horizon, WDVR and WPNJ; The Bluegrass Crossroads, WXLV – NJ & PA
Miz Pearl – Miles Of Bluegrass, KRVM – Eugene OR
Norm Mast – The Back Porch, WVPE – South Bend/Elkhart, IN
Norris Long – Bluegrass Reflections and TGIF Bluegrass, Allegheny Mountain Radio/WVMR, WCHG, WMNP, WVMR (WV) and WVLS (VA)
Orin Friesen – Bluegrass from The Rockin’ Banjo Ranch, KFDI – Wichita, KS
Paul Hartman – Detour, WTMD – Baltimore, MD
Paul Peck – American Anecdotes, KAOS – Olympia, WA
*Pete Goodell – Bluegrass Ramble, KBCS – Bellevue, WA
Pete Hart – D28+5, WOUB – Athens, OH
Peter Kernast – Legacy, WTSR – Ewing, NJ
Peter North – In The Pines, CKUA – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Peter Thompson – Bluegrass Signal, KALW – San Francisco, CA
Randy Wynne – Florida Folk, WMNF – Tampa, FL
Ray Baumler – A Variety Of Folk, WRUR – Ithaca NY
Ray Edlund – Pig In A Pen, KPFA – Berkeley, CA
Rein Wortelboer – PeelGrass, Radio Venray – The Netherlands
Rich Warren – The Midnight Special, WFMT – Chicago, IL
Richard Gordon – The Music Room, WVUD – Newark, DE
Richard Howard – Amarillo Highway, KZMU – Moab, UT
– Richard Schwartz aka Professor Purple – Amarillo Highway, KZMU – Moab, UT
** Rik James, Backroads, KGLT – Bozeman, MT
– Rowena Muldavin – All Things Country, Heartland Public Radio – Branson, MO
Roz Larman – FolkScene, KPFK – Los Angeles, CA
Ruby Roo – American Anecdotes, KAOS – Olympia, WA
Ruby Slippers – Click Your Heels Together, KVMR – Nevada City, CA
Sam Holmstock – Surrender to the Airwaves, WKKL – West Barnstable, MA
Sarah Bellum – That’s Not Bluegrass, KZSU – Stanford, CA
Stephen Harris – The Grass Roots Revival, KCMJ – Colorado Springs, CO
Stephanie – Rezbilly Breakdown Bluegrass Show, KDUR – Durango, CO
Steve Winters – Profiles in Folk, WSHU – Fairfield, CT
Sully Roddy, Monday Nite Bluegrass, KKUP – Cupertino, CA
Susan Forbes Hansen – Sunday Night Folk Festival, WHUS – Storrs, CT
Taylor Caffery – Hootenanny Power, WRKF – Baton Rouge, LA
Terry O’ – Diaspora, WORT – Madison, WI
Tim Frye – Mountain Morning Show/Mid-Day Show, WPAQ – Mount Airy, NC
Todd Tyson – Crossroads, Point FM – Montpelier, VT
Tom Banyai – Bluegrass Junction, WICN – Worcester, MA
Tom Beebee, The Folk Show, WPSU – University Park, PA
Tom Diamant – Panhandle Country, KPFA – Berkeley, CA
Tom Funk – Green Chile Revival & Medicine Show, KGLP – Gallup, NM
Trish “the Dish” Seeberg – Orange Blossom Special, KBUT – Crested Butte, CO
Trudy Heffernan – Banjo Signal, KUAC – Fairbanks, AK
Wayne Greene – radiowayne – Ft. Worth, TX
* Wayne Rice – Bluegrass Special, KSON – San Diego, CA
Will Minor – Foggy Ridge Music, KWMR – Point Reyes Station, CA
The WoodWarbler – JazzGrass, WGDR – Plainfield, VT
* Foxhounds is part of the “Best Of” 2015!
– Foxhounds is the FAR Album Of the Month for Nov., 2015!
# Foxhounds is the FAR Album Of the Month for Dec., 2015!
^ Foxhounds is the 2015 Bluegrass Album Of the Year!
** ”My Montana Home” is the #1 song on KGLT’s December Bluegrass Airplay!
And Kathy is nominated as the 2015 Songwriter Of the Year to the Freeform American Roots (FAR) Report!
According to the monthly survey of airplay on folkdj-l, the Kathy Kallick Band were the Top Artists of December, 2015 — and Foxhounds had the third most airplay of any album in that month (despite having no seasonal sounds). These results are based on nearly 15,000 airplays from 144 different DJs, as compiled by KBCS’ Richard Gillmann.
TOP ARTISTS OF DECEMBER 2015
1. Kathy Kallick Band
2. Phil Ochs
3. John McCutcheon
4. Jesse Palidofsky
5. Tim O’Brien
6. Bob Dylan
TOP ALBUMS OF DECEMBER 2015
1: “Hudson Harding Sampler, Vol. 10: Happy Holidays,” Various Artists [Hudson Harding, new] (122)
2: “Joy Of Living: A Tribute To Ewan MacColl,” Various Artists [Compass, 10/15] (68)
3: “Foxhounds,” Kathy Kallick Band [Live Oak, 11/15] (67)
“Banjo Pickin’ Girl”