You can slot Kate Redgate alongside the many fine country singers of the late seventies and early eighties—Kathy Mattea, Holly Dunn, early Patty Loveless and very early Trisha Yearwood—not because she sounds like any of them but because she has pre-Modern Country roots in her music. As varied as Country is these days, Nashville today pushes the Rock and the Pop more than real Country fans might wish and slowly but surely those fans will return (and have returned) to the roots. They already have to a degree, giving Bluegrass and the relatively new Americana genres new life and life, respectively. Nashville doesn't care. You have to produce huge numbers to make them care. The music? Pardon me while I chuckle because truth be told, the prevailing mantra has little to do with music. Substitute "marketable commodity."
So pardon me when a single mother from the East Coast tied to music by an umbilical chord (God, I love wordplay) scrapes together enough to put her music on tape because she had to. Yes, I said had to because sometimes it comes down to just that. For support, she logically went to Cressbrook Stables and Indian Meadow Farm, of course, fitting for the music she writes and performs, and to her fans. This is the new music industry paradigm, in spite of what the mainstream media would have you believe. When gathering funds, go to the fans. It works.
It worked plenty well enough to place eleven solid tunes on disc. Not just solid, but extremely well recorded. Producer Tom Eaton, who works out of his studio in Newburyport MA, grabbed the very best musicians he could find for this project and it shows. Like a well-tuned engine, the Redgaters (hey, not a bad name for a backup band, eh?) slip into gear on the first track and don't let up. An odd lineup, this, for few bands utilize organ throughout—well, country bands, anyway—but it works so well you don't blink an eye. In fact, after a handful of listens, you, like myself, should embrace the sound. I mean, the organ is a wonderful instrument and when handled as well as Tom West (and Tom Eaton on one track), it can be a force. Plug in the others (Kevin Barry on both electric and lap steel, Zach Field on drums, Michael Miksis on bass, and the occasional utility accordion, guitar and percussion of the aforementioned Mr. Eaton) and you have something.
Redgate is no slouch herself, either. With accent slightly Southern (by way of New England, maybe?), she bites down hard on some tracks, softer on others, fitting her phrasing to the track. Like on Another Story which another might soften into a soft love ballad but which she infuses with a very slight bitterness (it's the bite). And the rocking Nothing Tragic, Kentucky Headhunters'-tinged slide guitar pushing to the crescendo of the chorus (where it melds with organ and steel guitar perfectly). And the upbeat and choogling Mississippi Moon, shuffling rhythm in two-stepping fashion.
The cool thing about this is not just the music, but Kate Redgate. She is a humble single mother in love with life and music who knew that she had to do this. It takes courage to get this far, but what it really takes is unfailing belief and a mountain of hard work. If I worked for Nashville, I would have to say that this is what makes America great. I don't, so let me alter it to my own specifications. This is what makes "music" great. Welcome to the new music industry.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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