Press & Tech
Reviews of Time (Live Oak Records)
Kathy Kallick, an esteemed veteran of the thriving West Coast bluegrass community, shines on her 17th album, not only as a singer and songwriter but also as a bandleader as well. Time is very much an ensemble project, with Kallick and her four bandmates all making major contributions to these 14 cuts as pickers and writers, as well as lead and harmony singers. Kallick & Co. keep one foot firmly and tastefully anchored in tradition. Included here are stirring covers of a handful of bluegrass chestnuts, but the newer material more than holds its own when juxtaposed with the classics. On their immensely soulful duet rendition of the traditional "Long Time Travelin'," Kallick and fiddler/vocalist Annie Staninec serve up shared lead and harmony vocals that are nearly magical in their beauty and intensity.
- Bob Allen, BLUEGRASS UNLIMITED (Feb., 2013)
The follow-up recording to the excellent Between the Hollow and the High-Rise, Time continues Kathy Kallick's tradition of releasing only the finest quality of music. Her voice is a beautiful thing, and that is in evidence throughout. The Kallick Band has for years been so solid as a live act, and that mastery is fully captured on this album, keeping listeners entertained for its full fifty minutes. Highly recommended.
- Donald Teplyske, FERVOR COULEE BLUEGRASS/Country Standard Time (1-5-13)
I’ve never understood why jazzers don’t dig this stuff, as the chops and improv skills by Kallick and the supporting team are most impressive. There are a few instrumentals like “Old Red Mandolin” and "Shuckin’ the Acorns” that would blow Bill Frisell and his cohorts off the stage anytime, while Kallick’s own tunes like “Time” and “Lulu and Jack” have some supercharged rhythm and interplay. Her voice is earthy and next door neighbor friendly, and the harmonies feel like a balm to your soul. Good time music and playing for all times.
- George W. Harris, JAZZ WEEKLY (12-27-12)
Kathy Kallick has a long history of releasing enormously satisfying CDs of California bluegrass, and this newest offering is no exception. Indeed, this splendid collection of songs and tunes may well be her best. Kathy has always leaned heavily into traditional Monroe-style bluegrass while, at the same time, bringing something fresh and modern sounding to the genre. This CD demonstrates perfectly that balanced sensibility. There are a couple other factors that contribute to the success of this recording. One is that voice. Part country, part bluegrass, part something entirely her own. She simply has one of the most convincing and emotionally expressive voices in bluegrass music today. The other piece is to note her ability to assemble a kick ass band! She always had capable band mates to support the music but this particular version of "the band" is the best to date. Each player is a master of his or her respective instruments. Folks, this is a top-notch band with a top-notch singer. If you love modern bluegrass steeped in tradition, you're gonna love this one. I know I do.
- Kevin Russell, FREIGHT TRAIN BOOGIE
With “Time” as both a title song and a theme for this latest album, Kathy Kallick and her band have produced an inspiring collection of precise instrumentals, thought-provoking original songs, and an affirming nod to the bluegrass roots they all share. Time passes for everyone, but time seems to have made this band better and better. Kathy Kallick and her band draw deeply from the traditional bluegrass well, but they add a richness of taste and texture that makes a compelling presentation.
- Brenda Hough, BLUEGRASS BREAKDOWN (Oct., 2012)
Article in the Bay Area News Group -- Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, etc. -- on Nov. 15, 2012:
By Elly Schmidt-Hopper
OAKLAND -- Kathy Kallick, leader of the eponymous Kathy Kallick Band, has been playing bluegrass in the Bay Area since 1975. Her band just released a new album called "Time," and many of the songs reflect on Kallick's life and experiences during decades in the music business.
Over the years, Kallick has written more than 100 original songs and released 17 albums, but her voice still bubbles with excitement when she talks about the music. It's as if the young woman from Chicago, who moved to San Francisco and was swept away by the bluegrass scene, is just right below the surface.
Kallick remembers the first time she saw a bluegrass band play live and how forceful the impact was on her.
"Bluegrass was this big visceral exciting ensemble thing, it was this powerful thing that came off the stage at you," Kallick said. "And the songs were interesting and really compelling, you know, they were story songs. And the singing I loved. The singing was just so full of feeling and really soulful."
Kallick started her first band in 1975 and began writing her own songs, a taboo in bluegrass. Many musicians at the time felt that straying from traditional lyrics and musical interpretations was an unnecessary departure from the standard set by Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. It was especially controversial for a woman.
It has been Kallick's goal to put women's voices and experiences in music traditionally sung and written by men.
This female perspective can even be subversive, she says. One of her songs, "Walkin' in My Shoes," was inspired by a friend's struggles with domestic violence. The song spent a year at the top of the national bluegrass charts, and even old-school DJs related to the feminist message without quite realizing it.
A lot has changed in the industry in the past three decades, and "Time" attempts to chart that progression. Kallick wrote the song "Fare Thee Well" as a sweet way to end a set, but says that the result for many listeners is unintentionally sad. She sings in a keening voice; "Think on the best of all our times/The gladdest moments we shared/ Hold dear the favorite funny lines/The boldest truths we may have bared."
The title track, also called "Time," has a gritty fiddle intro that Kallick wrote for her 26-year-old fiddle player, Annie Staninec. Kallick says the song is about the interesting feeling of aging, and how every stage of her life is still relevant today. The song ends: "When all is said and done there's just no way to run from time, time, time."
The Kathy Kallick Band, in its current form, has Tom Bekeny on the mandolin, Greg Booth on the dobro, Sharon Gilchrist on the bass (Dan Booth is on the album) and Staninec on the fiddle. Kallick and Bekeny have been playing together since 1996, but she says that even someone new to the band can play based on shared knowledge.
"The great thing about bluegrass is that you come together, people that have never met, and there's this common vocabulary of songs, so you can play instantly," Kallick said. "And that's what's happened. You can say 'Well what do you know, what do you know?' and you can play."
Reviews of Between the Hollow & the High-Rise (Live Oak Records)
Kathy Kallick is one of the best songwriters in bluegrass and acoustic music, always coming up with interesting, sometimes playful, always sure-handed songs [featuring] conversational yet evocative lyrics and solid bluegrass sensibilities. But this is primarily a band album, and the Kathy Kallick Band is a wonderful combination of youth and experience. It feels like they¹re very comfortable playing together and with playing to the song. All are strong musicians and they create a distinctive band sound. - Chris Stuart, Sing Out!
“Between the Hollow & the High-Rise” must rank among the finest of [Kallick's albums]. Focused more than most bluegrass recordings on strong melodies, it attests eloquently to Kallick's strengths as a vocalist, songwriter, and picker of others' material. The covers are generally recognizable to those who've put in a lot of bluegrass listening -- for example, Josh Graves' wistfully romantic "Come Walk with Me," the Louvin Brothers' energetic gospel "There's a Higher Power," the playful folk song "Cindy" (curiously, rarer in the bluegrass repertoire than one might suppose) -- but they're none of them exhausted and unwelcome. Besides, the band's impeccably restrained picking and heart-catching harmonies are not there to be resisted. Kallick's compositional skills are on glad display in six outstanding cuts, my personal favorite being "My House," a sort of secular treatment of the metaphor Stuart Hamblen employed in the gospel standard "This Old House." The overall effect is a sweet, California-flavored music that is neither too sweet nor too California. - Jerome Clark, Rambles.NET (Nov. 6/10)
Former Chicagoan Kathy Kallick has been a leading light in California bluegrass since the mid-'70s, mixing Bill Monroe's traditional sounds with nicely administered dollops of folk, blues, and even jazz, as required. She yearns for her country place on "Where Is Little Cabin Home" while she and her band play around with the Louvin's "There's A Higher Power." Her killer dobro player, Greg Booth, does quite a job adapting the old Bob Wills instrumental "Panhandle Rag," but Kallick's own "Whistle Stop Town" is the keeper. - John P. McLaughlin, Vancouver (BC) Province - 10/10/10
A selection of material that should leave most any fan of traditional bluegrass yearning for more. The album features a great mix of well-written, heartfelt originals, arranged with some subtle twists and turns that are sure to please a mindful ear. The Kathy Kallick Band plays hard-drivin’ traditional bluegrass that harkens back to the dirt-floor rural up bringing of those who laid the music’s foundation long ago. And make no mistake they do a great job of it on Between The Hollow And The High-Rise. - Travis Tackett, Bluegrass Journal (June/2010)
Great stuff! A nice mix of Kathy Kallick songs, lesser-known bluegrass gems, and instrumentals/songs from her bandmates. Kallick is in fine voice throughout, more than ably assisted by her first-rate band. Special kudos to Greg Booth, whose reso playing is stellar, and Annie Staninec, who is brilliant on fiddle throughout. Six of the fourteen tracks are Kallick originals, and all are strong. Between the Hollow and the High Rise is a fabulous recording, one that will bring pleasure to anyone who enjoys good songs, and quality picking and singing.
- John Lawless, The Bluegrass Blog (August/2010)
One heck of an entertaining and original album! Has that down home sound and feel. It's comfortable and friendly. The musicians are tight and energetic which keeps the album hopping from beginning to end. Now matter how you cut it, this is a great album! I would have to say this is their finest work to date. - Bob Cherry, Cybergrass (May/2010)
Kathy’s current band continues the west coast tradition of meaningful songs with downhome musicality. Kathy has written several of the songs, and her perceptions and musings are filled with a delightful wistfulness and humor. Whether you live in a holler or a high-rise, you will not find a more balanced and exciting band than this one! - Brenda Hough, Bluegrass Breakdown (June/2010)
Every song has unique characteristics and could exist as a single. This album is one of the best bluegrass in active business and the Kathy Kallick Band is better than ever before. West Coast Bluegrass, with all kinds of diversity, yet very consistent with the still-beautiful voice of Kathy Kallick. - Frederick Hog, www.country.de (June/2010)
Kathy Kallick never disappoints. Her voice conveys such warmth that it fair melts even the most stridently traditional bluegrass purist. For more years than many of us have been listening to the music, Kallick has not only been blazing a trail for females wanting to sing harmony-rich bluegrass but has been leading some of the strongest outfits the west coast has experienced. Kathy Kallick and her current band play bluegrass with a distinctive and fresh flavour. There is a bit of blues in a couple places, a touch of swing in others, and a smidgeon of folk mixed throughout. Put some drive behind all that, and you've got a winning bluegrass album. - Donald Teplyske, That High Lonesome Sound (Autumn/2010)
Oh, what a musical web they weave ... Kathy Kallick has been a top-echelon bluegrass artist since the mid-1970s. Her talented band fashions hot instrumentation and tight harmonies. Between the Hollow and the High-Rise has terrific originals and stellar covers, and is highly entertaining. - Paul Freeman, San Jose Mercury News (April/2010)
Between the Hollow and the High-Rise (the title reflects a recurring theme in Kallick's originals) opens with "Where Is My Little Cabin Home," the introspective and compelling lament of an uneasy urban dweller without an old homeplace to seek refuge and renewal. Kallick's delightful hunor shines through on "My House" (... shame it ain't perfect/but it's home) and her politically-barbed update of "White House Blues." Thrown in for good measure are spirited reprisals of Carter Stanley's "Lonesome Night," Josh Graves' "Come Walk With Me," and the gospel ode, "There's A Higher Power." Also featured are several fine instrumentals on which Kallick, Tom Bekeny, Dan Booth, Greg Booth, and Annie Staninec showcase their formidable instrumental prowess.
- Bob Allen, Bluegrass Unlimited (Oct./2010)
This CD has all the good things in life. Original songs with a ‘50s feel, new life given to traditional songs, and a fervor & enthusiasm that comes through all songs. This project is thoroughly enjoyable. It is a shame that it is only 47 minutes; when it was completed, I had to hit the play button again. On a scale of 1 to 10, this project was a definite 12!!
- Al Shusterman, “Backroads Bluegrass, ” KCBL, Sacramento, CA
Reviews of THE KATHY KALLICK BAND in concert
Kathy Kallick and her band put on a terrific show at the May 1, 2010, RBA concert to a very large and appreciative audience. Kathy has had many great bands over the years, and this one surely is one of her best line-ups.
Kathy performed many of her excellent original songs, including "My House," cleverly arranged with a growling, whimsical dobro lead and a very nice bass solo, and "Where is My Little Cabin Home," which was sprightly and humorous featuring Dan and Tom's great harmonizing with Kathy. "The Messenger" was very moving, sung by Kathy and Dan.
Kathy and Dan also sang a haunting duet version of "Close By" with a wonderful bluesy groove on the dobro. Tom did a fine job singing lead on the Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper classic, "Come Walk with Me," ably assisted by Kathy and Dan and a nifty banjo solo by Greg. Dan, with Kathy and Greg, sang a chilling version of "Lonesome Night," with some lonesome fiddling by Annie, and Dan also did a fine job of singing lead on Hoyt Axton's "Evangelina," again with Kathy and Greg singing harmony. Instrumentally the band was very hot: "Panhandle Rag" featured hot dobro leads, swingy mandolin solos, jazzy fiddle, and a bass solo. "Cindy" featured driving hoedown fiddle with some wild Scotty Stoneman licks thrown in to spice it up, and some fine banjo and mandolin.
Kathy lays down a strong rhythmic foundation with her guitar, and Dan's bass-playing is as solid as bedrock under a freight train. Tom's mandolin playing is crisp, innovative and always tasteful. Greg plays traditional, yet creative banjo with a bit of melodic style sprinkled in at the right time, and Annie's fiddle playing has matured immensely—she can still play wild hot solos, but has now learned to play beautiful fills and haunting solos as well. Kathy does a great job as MC, and the band seems to have a lot of fun playing together.
The audience was very enthusiastic, and many extremely positive comments were overheard during the intermission and at the end of what was a great show by Kathy and her band.
- Dave Magram, Redwood Bluegrass Associates (June, 2010)
Kathy's infectious smile and music, whether original or song choices, anchor the band. All of them contribute both lead and harmony vocals in different configurations, and each of the band members led at least one song. This is special, for someone so well known as Kathy in the bluegrass world, to share the stage with her bandmates so easily for a seamless and exciting show. The resulting variety with so many instruments and singers to feature kept the show lively.
- Lynette Hensley, Victory Review (Nov. 4/10)