The Kate Brown Band At Pour Vous, Tuesday April 5th 2016
Kate Brown is quite a character, she certainly could be a standup comedian as she was very funny between the songs. I saw her and her band, the Kate Brown band, at this relatively up-scale place, a Parisian-themed bar named Pour Vous on Melrose avenue, and regardless anyone’s musical taste, it was nearly impossible to not have a great time.
Surrounded by four musicians on guitar, banjo, drums, and, a favorite of mine, an old fashioned upright bass, she had charisma and was commanding the stage with an impressive vocal range during her set of folk songs, or should I say lesbian folk songs as she said a few times? Her music, often upbeat, was executed with a real joy and a bouncing energy, going to unexpected ranges and showing emotion. When I listened to one of her numbers at home before going to the show, I got an immediate Ani DiFranco vibe, which disappeared when I saw her live: This woman had way too much personality to be compared to anyone, she was Kate Brown and that was it! As she was revealing herself as much through her country rock folk songs as through her very personal monologues, she charmed people with a set filled with surprises.
A song like ‘Cartwheel’ sounded like a serious folk tune about ‘leaving the past behind’ showcasing Kate’s great vocal ability with unexpected highs and lows, while ‘Mile after Mile’ was another one about ‘following your dream’, but who could have seen an Eminem cover coming in the middle of these rather peaceful compositions? This is nevertheless what she did, giving a surprising rendition of ‘Love the way You Lie’, followed by a ‘rap song she wrote’… call her style the was you want, rap-folk, folk-rap, frap? It worked and this didn’t sound crazy at all, even if this Eminem’s song came just after a song called ‘Jesus’! Kate, who grew up with supportive parents whom she called ‘Old hippies in an upstanding Midwest Catholic way — really accepting and free’, doesn’t hide her religious upbringing, and this some way transpires at time in her music, as some of her tunes had this church-hymn-quality, almost celebratory and jubilating … ‘I am a big fan of hope and celebration,’ she said at one point ‘and church does that very well’.
Kate is certainly a great entertainer with a great voice, a funny outlook on everything and just enough craziness to light up your evening, and I am still bewildered by the rap songs…. But when I think about it, there was this same accelerated delivery – when words gets crowded in the same line – and this whipped energy all set-long! Her music was a sort of hybrid between a respect for tradition and a taste for novelty, with a lively and often explosive delivery and a lot of boldness… The Kate Brown Band is a fresh approach brought by folklore and musicianship and Kate is certainly a voice to be heard.