Material: Singer/songwriter Kate Brown naturally weighed the set heavily towards material from her new Water From Ashes EP, and that’s just dandy because the new songs are warm and emotive in all of the right ways. Brown has a rich and textured voice with the slightest husk, allowing songs like “Cartwheel” and “Troubled Man” to take the audience on a journey that’s both musical and lyrical. With subject matter that takes in her Catholic upbringing, her life as a gay woman (including, touchingly, her deep love for her wife), and cowboys, Brown puts her own twist on the trad country/folk songbook. A cover of Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” was a bit of a curveball, mind you.
Musicianship: While Brown is clearly a gifted guitarist in her own right, she’s been smart enough to assemble a band of musicians that take much of the pressure off of her, allowing her to strum and sing. Michael Patzia on upright bass is one of the stars; the instrument sounds glorious alongside Brown’s voice anyway, and Patzia has the chops to add some bass-y frills when necessary. Jeffery Riggs, meanwhile, adds some nice touches on both mandolin and banjo.
Performance: While Brown isn’t one to cover every inch of the stage with elaborate moves or rock star poses, her between-song banter is enough to engage an enthusiastic crowd while her band tunes up. She’s an eminently watchable personality—funny and very likable. Her stories, whether they be about debating with her nurse- wife regarding who has the most important job, or of basically having a hidden desire to be a cowboy, are almost as entertaining as the songs and that makes for a fully enjoyable show.
Summary: With a classic and traditional country voice in the Patsy Cline mold, plus an arsenal of poignant and funny folk-y, bluegrass-y, country tunes to pull from, Kate Brown has a hell of a lot going for her. On record, she’s an enjoyable listen. But the real joy is in the live experience, where she seems absolutely comfortable. Whether you’ve met her before or not, you’ll walk away feeling like you were just part of something very personal.
The Players: Kate Brown, vocals, rhythm guitar; Tony Sancho, drums; Michael Patzia, upright bass; Elliott Klein, lead guitar; Jeffery Riggs, banjo, mandolin.
Text and photos by Brett Callwood
Kate Brown - "Cartwheel"
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