BENTLEY’S BANDSTAND: March 2017
Music industry vet Bill Bentley reviews ten excellent new releases, including music by Seela, Gary Clark Jr., Cindy Lee Berryhill, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and more!
Kathy & the Kilowatts, Let’s Do This Thing! Kathy Murray has a way of finding the most low-down grooves around, and then gluing them together in the kind of barroom blues which is fast disappearing in America. There was a time when every city had a dozen bands who could hit the monkey nerve without hardly trying. That’s tightening up now, so groups like Kathy & the Kilowatts are all the more valuable. Murray’s voice is full of hard-won edges, and while it will never be mistaken for Adele’s, that’s not a problem when she has a band like the Kilowatts to make sure the music stays at the dark end of the street. Guitarslinger Bill Jones is another rough rider who never pulls a punch when he’s zeroing in lead lines to make the listener sweat. He knows how to put things in the alley and then keep them there. Fortunately there are no efforts to prettify what is being recorded here. Instead, Kathy Murray loves the blues in the eyes and then gives it a quick kick that ensures nothing will be spared in getting the party started. The woman one critic described as “the lovechild of Jimmy Reed and Wanda Jackson” has the perfecto band to bring this mess all the way home. It’s most assuredly time to do this thing now.
Blues Bytes What’s New
Kathy & the Kilowatts are another reason why Austin, Texas is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. The charismatic Kathy Murray fronts the band and has been on the Austin music scene since the ’80s, playing with SRV, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, W.C. Clark, Doyle Bramhall, Sr., and others, taking her place among the amazing list of Austin blues women in the process.
Murray’s vocal style (described by one critic as “the love child of Jimmy Reed and Wanda Jackson”) combined with the instrumental might of guitarist/husband Bill “Monster” Jones and the Kilowatts, makes for a powerful mix, as heard on the band’s latest release, Let’s Do This Thing (Lectro Fine Records).
Loaded with 15 pulse-pounding tracks, Murray and the band run through the gamut of Texas blues and roots music. If you like any of the bands mentioned above, you will love this CD. Murray’s distinctive vocal style blends country and blues in a unique manner, and she’s comfortable in whatever style the band plays. The title track, “Talking Out My Head,” “Love Came Knocking,” and “Spell It Out” will sit well with T-Bird fans, thanks to some tasty fretwork from Jones, and “Read ‘Em & Weep,” “Call Me Mrs. Blues,” and “One Lie Leads To Another” lean more toward the classic Texas blues sound.
Tracks like “Your Barn Door’s Open,” “Loveaholic,” and “Exception To The Rule” effortlessly mix country with old school rock n’ roll, and “10 Most Wanted,” “Beautiful Moments,” and “Each Kiss” lean toward the Gulf Coast R&B side of the aisle. The quiet acoustic ballad, “I Want To,” is a change of pace on the album, and really allows Murray to show her vocal talents.
A powerful set of blues, Let’s Do This Thing should find a spot in any blues fan’s collection, especially those who dig blues from the Lone Star State.
— Graham Clarke
IN DEPTH Interview by Michael Limnios
WITH KATHY MURRAY & BILL JONES
Kathy and the Kilowatts believe their neon wave sounding epithet to push pelvis-grinding blues into our spleens. They push it with style -notably the style of Kathy Murray, who is fast closing in on Austin’s premier blues singers. She’s a very pretty, very ballsy vocalist who strains and gyrates like it’s orgasm time at Melody Ranch. Ms. Kilowatt crosses cultural, ethnic and gender lines with ease.
The inspiration behind every eighth note and flattened third of rhythm and blues depends on the delivery of an emotional experience. If the musician/performer is experiencing and transmitting, the audience is touched. If not, the audience finds itself in the show lounge at the Motel 6 in Kankakee, Illinois. Ms. Kilowatt feels it; she experiences it. She is a good blues singer and she is getting better every week.
This group loves the blues. It shows in their performance. Kathy is not just another pretty face. She and the Kilowatts perpetuate the truth about Austin music – it lives! -Michael Lovas
American Blues News
Abby Owen Review
Family Style: Kathy Murray’s Blues
From the dance floor to the stage
By Margaret Moser, 4:20PM, Mon. Dec. 3
In the mid Seventies, about the time Austin’s blues scene began to whip up, I hit the clubs however possible. That’s however, not whenever, because I had no car, only a bicycle, and lived in dread North Austin. Getting to places like Soap Creek out in the hills could be tricky. Among the people I saw in the audience wherever I went was Kathy Murray.
Murray was about my age. We both liked the music and we both liked to dance. Without willing partners, we’d often dance with each other.It was the days of the Ritz, the Armadillo, the Buffalo Gap, the Sit n Bull, La Cucaracha, the South Door, the Back Room. Any venue that booked the blues, we’d be there, waiting to dance. I never minded dancing with other girls because I wanted to dance. Kathy Murray, on the other hand, would even dance by herself.In front of lanky Paul Ray as he crooned on Tuesday nights with the Cobras snaking out behind him, Murray sometimes owned the dance floor. Wearing blue jeans and tossing around her long dark hair, she’d grin to the band and they’d all grin back. Then she’d close her eyes and let the music move her feet.Playing my copy of Kathy Murray’s brand new CD, Relatively Blue, thus approximates tumbling down the rabbit hole and coming out in a mirror world. This time it’s her in the spotlight. And it’s not her first time center stage, either. Murray’s sultry voice electrified local blues as Kathy & the Kilowatts for a number of years in the Eighties.Relatively Blue arrives as something of a family affair. Murray wrote eight of the 10 tracks and co-wrote the other two with husband and guitarist Bill Jones and brother David Murray, who also cut his guitar teeth on the scene with his sister before playing for Marcia Ball and acting today as the Sound Engineering Consultant for City of Austin. David’s son Andy drums with his familial elders on the album, which was recorded at Murray Music, David’s studio.“The project started with ‘Bird the in the Hand,’ which I’d pitched to Toni Price and was thrilled when she cut it,” explains Kathy. “Spencer Thomas cut it too. I really liked the feel of being in the studio with Bill and David, so I decided to flesh out the other songs. I’d taken years off to focus on songwriting and wanted to learn to play instruments onstage. Now I play guitar. And ukulele.
“I wanna be good cake,” she chuckles at her efforts. “Bill’s a monster on the guitar. He’s the icing.”
As the title suggests, the disc’s largely blues, a spectrum as broad as the sky above and rooted deep in Murray’s heart. On Wednesday at Antone’s, Relatively Blue receives its official release. On the bill is another Kathy who grew up under the sway of Austin music, Kathy Valentine, who’s performing with the ever-fabulous Bluebonnets. And like Valentine, Murray values growing up in Austin.
“The first night I saw a live band in Austin, I was 16,” she recalls. “David was 14 and we’d sneak into the Armadillo where they’d sell us a pitcher of beer. There was a triple bill of Storm with Jimmie Vaughan, the Nightcrawlers with Stevie [Ray Vaughan] and Keith Ferguson, and Paul Ray & the Cobras with Denny Freeman. My little teen self was totally blown away!
“Blues comes and it goes. Maybe it’s time for another wave.”
Interview with Kathy Murray-Austin, Texas
for American Blues News Magazine
by Kim Session