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Clubland: Singer Kate Lorenz slidetackles into the Parlor Room this Saturday

  • Kate Lorenz. David Schumacher Photography



Thursday, January 25, 2018

There’s a hip-shaking, swampy-blues vibe on Kate Lorenz’s new song “Slidetackle Into Your Heart” — until the music stops for a second and she launches her voice into a wild squeal: “Check me OUT, baby!” She doesn’t just sing about slidetackling; she shows you what it feels like.

The song is from Lorenz’s debut record, “Sing When Lonely”. She’ll celebrate the release of the new 10-track album with a live performance, backed by her band The Constellations, at the Parlor Room in Northampton on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Starting off the night are The Rear Defrosters, a Brattleboro honky-tonk and rockabilly outfit (featuring Lorenz as a member).

“Sing When Lonely” was produced by Lorenz’s brother, Matt, her onetime bandmate in Rusty Belle before he went onto solo acclaim with The Suitcase Junket. On the record she’s joined by an all-star group (Max Adam on bass; Don McAulay on drums and percussion; brother Matt on guitar, violin and keyboards; Nick Borges on trumpet; and Kathryn Rapacki on trombone), but her voice gets the spotlight, whether it’s on a rockin’ thing (the stomping “Fire It Up”), a soulful cover (the Aretha Franklin hit “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”) or a quiet tune, like the beautiful closing track, “Yard Sale.” 

“I want your name with mine on a busted yard sale sign / I want your name on my boat right above where the waves can’t reach,” Lorenz sings over a simple and spare backing of gentle guitars, upright bass and patted snare. She ends the song by repeating, “I want a love / that kind of love,” her voice intimate and strong, the emotion coming through.

Clubland: What’s your earliest memory of using your voice to sing?

Kate Lorenz: I was an early talker and, thus, an early singer. My parents like to tell a story of me at a year-and-a-half belting out “Tomorrow” [from “Annie”] while sitting in a high chair at an Italian restaurant where I grew up in Vermont, drawing a crowd. I made my “stage debut” when I was in third grade in a school production of songs from the ’50s and ’60s. I sang “Baby I’m Yours” and “Stop in the Name of Love” and I was hooked.

Clubland: What’s the story behind “Slidetackle Into your Heart”? The lyrics mention some really specific things that make me think of childhood — a four-foot deep pool, dropping like a ninja from red monkey bars, cartwheels on grandma's front lawn.

Lorenz: This song is specifically about when kids try to get your attention to show off what they consider to be very tricky moves. I’m also a preschool teacher, so I get to see said moves on a regular basis, which is very entertaining. I also consider this one a love song for people who are bursting with straightforward earnestness. I feel like I can relate to that.

Clubland: The song “Dive Bars” — you give a shout-out to some specific ones near the end, but was there one in particular that inspired this tribute?

Lorenz: Yeah! I have had some great times with two particular friends at Ye Ol’ Watering Hole (in Northampton) and Seven O’s/Snowzee’s (in Sunderland), and the verses of “Dive Bars” are about specific characters we met in those places. I consider it a good night when there are interesting strangers to talk to. It makes me sad when places with gritty character become polished and subsequently get rid of things I like (Big Buck Hunter arcade games and real jukeboxes).

Clubland: What do you like about working with your brother, Matt?

Lorenz: Matt and I get along super well. He’s really open and enthusiastic and comes up with cool ideas that I may not have otherwise thought of. Probably because he’s from another planet. He really helped light a fire and make this album possible. He was home from tour for just one month last March and was like, “You’re making this.” I had about half the album’s songs already written and then hustled to write the other half. I work best under pressure!

Clubland: It’s an album of originals, so why include a cover of Aretha Franklin’s hit “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man”? It must have a special place in your heart.

Lorenz: I’ve always considered “Do Right Woman” my room-stopper. I first started singing it back in 2004, living above the Haymarket with a friend who made delicious food and then would promptly fall asleep in the middle of a party, demanding to be serenaded. The first time I played it out was at The Basement open mic when Matt Hebert was hosting, and I haven’t stopped playing it since. It really is one of my favorite songs to sing, and I’ve played it so much that I feel like it’s my own in a way and that I couldn’t leave it off the album.

Clubland: In the thank-you notes, you call your mom and dad “the original rockers and dreamers” — can you explain? Are they musicians, too?

Lorenz: My folks aren’t musicians unless you count my dad being forced to play a giant red accordion at family parties when he was a kid. But they both can carry a tune and are major music lovers. There was constantly sound in the house when I was growing up, and there are still radios on in at least two rooms of their house at all times, either NPR or music or both. I was very interested in my parents’ record collection when I was a kid. Being old enough and trusted enough to choose the music and put it on myself was thrilling. A thrill which I have never gotten over, apparently, because now I have a vinyl radio show on Valley Free Radio [The Vinyl Countdown, every Wednesday night at 6 p.m.] and collect records like crazy. 

Clubland: You once played with a pub band in Ireland. How did that happen? And what did that experience teach you, if anything, about performing or collaborating?

Lorenz: The Space Gypsies were the house band at The Long Valley, a pub I hung out in while studying in Cork. I ended up singing with them anytime I was there, which was a lot. They did a mix of Irish and American tunes. I feel like that was the first time I really sang the blues and realized the power that my voice could tap into, and how I could pull the audience in and bring them along for the ride. (Oh, and the flute player of the band was an extra in “Xena: Warrior Princess,” so that’s a neat little side fact.)