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It’s always at the last minute…..but, hey, nowadays what isn’t? (An interview with Kate Gaffney)

Oct. 22, 2008

Around here, it’s always the last minute. You know the minute I’m talking about, right? You had plans, but they changed, at the last minute. Last week you were going to go out, but at the last minute, something came up. And then there was that week when you were going to stay home, but at the last minute, you went out. It’s just like the stock market nowadays, one minute it’s up…… and then at the last minute, well, you get the idea.

And that brings us to Kate Gaffney. You see, she’s on tour, and yes, at the last minute, she scheduled a solo acoustic show in Hood River. She’s promoting a brand new record, “The Coachman.” I checked out some of her tunes on the web, and I was impressed. She’s now a California based singer-songwriter, and she usually plays with a full band. I think if you like Sheryl Crow, Nora Jones or Gillian Welch, you’ll like Kate. The style is Americana, and the album, “The Coachman,” sounds great, there’s a full back-up band of guitar, mando, pedal steel, drums and B3 organ. Track 2 completely rocks; I keep hitting the repeat button. That’s always a good sign.

I interviewed Kate about band, her connection to Hood River and got some details on her producer, Barrie Maguire, who has worked with The Wallflowers, Natalie Merchant, and Amos Lee.

I finally asked Kate about the title track for “The Coachman” (an 18 minute song, by the way). I’m glad I did, because you just never know what you’re going to find out about this stuff. It turns out Kate’s album is named after an old hotel in Cape May, New Jersey. I’m sure as a kid, I must have been down there once or twice during the summer, since we always used to hit the Jersey shore around there, and for many years, my parents vacationed in nearby Wildwood Crest.

Come to think of it, I threw that question in at the last minute.

Kate Gaffney plays Friday, Oct. 24, at the River City Saloon. $7 cover.

Read Jim’s interview with Kate Gaffney here

Interview with Kate Gaffney:

1. What venues did you play in the Philadelphia area, and what's the biggest difference between doing shows on the east coast vs. the west coast?

Tin Angel and World Cafe Live were the regular venues I played in Philadelphia. I'll be heading back to do a Thanksgiving weekend show at the Tin Angel. The West coast seems to be a bit more open to new music. Seems like east coasters are a little more set in their ways. It's a little tougher to branch out beyond your home market on the east coast. I find west coasters embrace new music more readily and really spread the word when they find something they like. I've even had people on the west coast tell their friends in Colorado about me.

2. How did you find out about Hood River? Are you making stops in Portland or Seattle?

Some of my favorite friends live in Hood River. I moved back to the west coast a year ago - at the same time, 3 of my friends moved to Hood River from the east coast. They all went to West Virginia University - lots of WVU graduates in Hood River. I went up to visit them in the winter and did some of the best skiing in my life at Mt. Hood. It was heavenly and powder-filled. I knew then that I'd be back for more good times in Hood River. It's a great town, awesome people, and beautiful scenery. Great beer too. I figured it was time to make another visit and so I contacted Shawn at River City Saloon about playing this gig. I knew River City Saloon was known for its great music on weekends. I'm thrilled that the night was available and I can now spread the music to the gorge! I will be stopping in Portland to play, as well. I'll be doing an in-store performance at Music Millennium in Portland at 6pm the same night as the Hood River show. And on Saturday Oct 25th, I'll be doing a house concert in Portland with Matt Butler, Asher Fulero, and Chris Haugen. No stops in Seattle this trip, though I'd like to branch out and play more PNW shows next time.

3. There's a long list of musicians on the liner note credits. Who is in this current touring band and what should folks expect - will you try to re-create what is on the new album or is this a solo show?

The Hood River show is a solo performance. I made the album before I permanently moved back to the West Coast. I left Philadelphia to work on the record and put together my dream album. I knew that I wanted to have my musical friends and heroes on the record. It was an amazing experience working with some of the musicians I have always admired (Steve Kimock, Greg Leisz) and the friends who have inspired me along the way (Andrew Lipke, Jackie Greene, John Kimock). I finished the record and moved back to Northern California where I put together my band - none of my current live band played on the record, as I took a break from touring/gigging and made a studio recording, knowing I would build a band around the new album. The current NorCal band consists of Sacramento musicians - Tom Monson, Michael Palmer, Steve Randall, and Melissa Olsen - with the occasional appearance of native-Oregonian and SF resident, Chris Haugen (from Jambay). When I go back east, I'll have Andrew Lipke playing bass and John Kimock playing drums - so I have a few good musicians across the map who can accompany depending on the show/location. I plan to have the CA band touring as much as possible as we go forward. My band will not be joining me at the Oregon shows this trip...Hood River will be a solo acoustic show - so it will not be a recreation of the album. We just did the CD Release Party in Sacramento last week and played the album in its entirety, which was very exciting. The Hood River show will be more intimate and stripped down. But the songs will certainly be represented. The Portland house concert on Saturday will include Chris Haugen accompanying me on lap steel, guitar, and mandolin.

4. You've got some of my favorite instruments on this album (mandolin and pedal steel). What was it like working with Barrie Maguire on this project?

I love lap and pedal steel along with mandolin...all of the textures and sounds I've ever wanted in my songs are on this record. It really was like a dream come true. Barrie Maguire was the absolute perfect producer to work with. We acquainted back in Philadelphia at a local musician's hang - I was playing solo acoustic at an impromptu jam session and he expressed interested in my artistry. We talked a lot about our influences and tastes in music. There was no doubt in my mind that he could actualize my musical vision. We are both hard-working, intense, perfectionists who want music to feel good and groove (and we both love the Grateful Dead)...so it was a match made in studio-heaven. Neither of us settled for "fine" and the finished product is everything I've ever wanted.

5. Who are you listening to these days?

I always have my musical friends on rotation on my stereo - not enough people know about them and I can't get enough: Andrew Lipke, Chris Kasper, Chris Haugen's new record, Jackie Greene, and the Waybacks are some of my favorite artists. Grateful Dead, The Band and Zeppelin are my old standbys - they will always pull me through. I always enjoy Iron & Wine for the chill songwriter scenario and Ivan Neville's Dumpstafunk got me moving this year. Ben Harper, Wilco, Bill Frisell's Nashville, and this east coast reggae band I just got turned onto called 10 Foot Ganga Plant are all enjoyable for me right now. Oh, yes, and Morphine. I love Morphine.

6. What is the song "The Coachman" about?

"The Coachman", as an album and song title, was inspired by a seaside hotel I grew up going to as a child - for 25 years. My family frequented the place called "The Coachman's" in Cape May, NJ. A couple of years ago, we were told that they were tearing the hotel down - it was a pretty sad thing to hear. So we enjoyed our last vacation there that year. I think of "the Coachman" as this proverbial character who saw me grow from a little girl into a woman. Every year we went there, "the coachman" witnessed me and my sister grow up with all the other kids who vacationed there - we made solid summer friendships and met many a love..."the coachman" saw my many loves and friends and family - "the coachman" witnessed it all. And it all happened by the seaside - where i feel most vibrant. The title track was inspired by these interactions I had in Cape May, NJ and it was a homage to the place and people who helped me learn about life and love. I've met many wonderful people in my life and they all did their best...even when life throws curve balls. When the light isn't shining so brightly, when the circumstances aren't in our favor, we all do the best we can...that's how I feel about the friends and lovers I've had in my life. "The Coachman" is about pushing through amidst all of life's troubles, and riding off into the sunset....and there's certainly a bit of romantic hope in there too: "The Coachman is waiting to ride them away, across the ocean on their perfect wave." Even though the hotel "The Coachman" was shut down after all those years of memories..."he did his best"...and will live on forever through this piece. We jammed that song out in the studio for 25 minutes - we ended up shortening it to 18 minutes!! Barrie and I both agreed to keep its length...it's a meditative, reflective piece that tucks you in for the night and reminds me of all the memories and hopes for the future.

Comments? Send them to: jdrake@hoodrivernews.com

Reader mail:

Kevin [kjkingrey@gmail.com] writes:

Subject: Hey bud, nice blog!

Jim,

The name of that band Tobias Ammon played in with Kevin Kingrey was and is, Gipsy Ale. Yeah, that name escapes me too, never have been that crazy about it. We are up and playing again, but now with my 21 year old son Tyson on guitar and his longtime classmate and bandmate Ryan McAlexander on bass. It's pretty cool. We are at Harvest fest tomorrow 3 to 5. Hope to see you there.

Hey i love your blog! It must be pretty fun to put that together. Keep on with it, good on ya!

Best regards,

Kevin

--

Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day.

-Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

-Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.

-Give a fish a man, and he'll eat for weeks!

Comments? Send them to: jdrake@hoodrivernews.com

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