Tag Archive: Janis Joplin

25 May 2015
The World Needs Female Rock Critics
by Anwen Crawford

Reposted from http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-world-needs-female-rock-critics


Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t own any albums by the Rolling Stones. They’re just so archetypal, so very rock and roll—and that, I find, can be a difficult thing to admire. Rock music has rarely offered women the same tangible promise of social rebellion and sexual freedom that it has given men—though plenty of women, myself included, have tried all the same to find those liberties in it. “Boy guitarists notwithstanding,” the journalist Lillian Roxon wrote to a friend, in 1966, “I don’t think I can stand the sight of another bloody electric guitar.” I know just how she felt.

In 1969, Roxon—Italian-born, Australian-raised, an experienced journalist and a star of Warhol’s back room at Max’s Kansas City—would publish “Lillian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia,” the first of its kind, a marvel of research and critical acumen. Within six months of publication, the book had entered its third hardcover print run, and Roxon was profiled in the Times. The book has now been out of print for decades. (Roxon died in 1973, at the age of forty-one.) Ellen Willis, a contemporary of Roxon’s, was The New Yorker’s first popular-music critic, beginning in 1968, but a collection of her music writing, “Out of the Vinyl Deeps,” was not published until 2011, five years after her death. This month, the American writer Jessica Hopper, a senior editor at the music Web site Pitchfork, publishes a book called “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.” The title is more provocation than statement of fact, but it is not entirely untrue. Books by living female rock critics (or jazz, hip-hop, and dance-music critics, for that matter) are scant. In an introductory note to her book, Hopper names Roxon, Willis, the English journalist Caroline Coon, and the anthology “Rock She Wrote,” edited by Evelyn McDonnell and Ann Powers, as precedents for her own work. “The title is not meant to erase our history but rather to help mark the path,” Hopper writes.

That path is not an easy one to discern. The most famous rock-music critics—Robert Christgau, Greil Marcus, Lester Bangs, Nick Kent—are all male. Bangs, who died in 1982, at the age of thirty-three, remains the most iconic of them all. Why? Because his hard-living, drug-taking, sunglasses-after-dark-wearing gonzo schtick made him as much of a masculine anti-hero as his rock-star subjects were. The pose doesn’t work as well for female critics, from whom displays of bad attitude are seldom tolerated, let alone celebrated. Rock’s rebel women, including its writers, are rarely assumed to be geniuses; often, they are assumed to be whores. In a 2002 biography of Lillian Roxon, “Mother of Rock,” by Robert Milliken, Roxon’s young protégé, Kathy Miller, recalls being challenged by a male editor who assigned her to write about The Who and then asked for a blow job in return, saying, “What’s the big deal? You’re a groupie.” She replied, “I’m a woman who writes about rock and roll.” His answer: “Same difference.” Groupies have proved an enduring stereotype of women’s participation in rock: worshipful, gorgeous, and despised.

Earlier this year, Hopper interviewed Björk for Pitchfork. In the interview, which is not included in the book, Björk reflected at length upon the ways in which women’s labor and expertise—inside and outside of the music industry—go unnoticed. “It’s invisible, what women do,” she said. “It’s not rewarded as much.” She observed that her male collaborators are typically credited for the sound of her records; because on stage she mainly sings, there is a widespread assumption that she neither produces nor plays an instrument. “I want to support young girls who are in their twenties now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things,” she said.

When I was about fourteen, I stood outside science class holding a folder that was decorated with an array of faces which I had carefully cut out from the pages of music magazines. Pointing to a photo of Björk on my folder, a passing boy sneered at me, “I bet you don’t even know who she is.” (This would have been around 1995, when the music press was having one of its periodic crushes on Women in Rock.) I did know who Björk was, because my mother, who was young and groovy, had raised me on the Sugarcubes, the Icelandic band that Björk was a member of before she launched her solo career. I don’t remember raising this point with my accuser, but if I had I doubt he would have believed me. The record store, the guitar shop, and now social media: when it comes to popular music, these places become stages for the display of male prowess. Female expertise, when it appears, is repeatedly dismissed as fraudulent. Every woman who has ever ventured an opinion on popular music could give you some variation (or a hundred) on my school corridor run-in, and becoming a recognized “expert” (a musician, a critic) will not save you from accusations of fakery.

The problem for women is that our role in popular music was codified long ago. And it was codified, in part, by the early music press. In the effort to prove the burgeoning rock scene of the sixties a worthy subject of critical inquiry, rock needed to be established as both serious and authentic. One result of these arguments—the Rolling Stones vs. Muddy Waters, Motown vs. Stax, Bob Dylan vs. the world—was that women came out on the losing side, as frivolous and phony. Whether a teen-age fan or a member of a girl group, women lacked genuine grit—even female critics thought so. “The Supremes epitomize the machine-like precision of the Motown sound,” wrote Lillian Roxon in her rock encyclopedia. “Everything is worked out for them and they don’t buck the system.” Judgments like that are still routinely applied to female artists today. In Hopper’s book, under the chapter heading “Real/Fake,” appears a 2012 essay on Lana Del Ray, an artist whose look harks back to those big-haired, mascaraed sixties singers, and whose career has unfolded beneath a cloud of suspicion as to her credentials, musical and otherwise. “As an audience, we make a big stink about wanting the truth, but we’re only really interested in the old myths,” Hopper writes. The myth of women’s deceitfulness is one of the oldest.

For early female music critics like Roxon and Willis, the flashpoint was Janis Joplin. Joplin, like the Rolling Stones, borrowed heavily from the blues; her ragged style seemed to mark her as the real thing. But her lonely position as, in Willis’s words, “the only sixties culture hero to make visible and public women’s experience of the quest for individual liberation,” also left her open to attack. Joplin’s sexual daring, and the contempt she faced for it, revealed the limits and the hypocrisies of the counterculture. “Writers rape her with words as if there weren’t any other way to deal with her,” Roxon wrote. The frustration that many of Joplin’s female fans felt at her treatment, and their sadness at her premature death, was something these women carried over, shortly afterwards, into the first stirrings of women’s liberation. Both Roxon and Willis became involved in the feminist movement; Germaine Greer’s “The Female Eunuch,” published in 1970, was dedicated to Roxon, whom Greer described in the dedication as “Lillian the abundant, the golden, the eloquent, the well and badly loved; Lillian the beautiful who thinks she is ugly.”

Academia, a step or two removed from the machismo of the newspaper room, has proved a more accommodating realm for women writing about popular music. In that sphere, essays and books by writers such as Tricia Rose, Daphne Brooks, Aisha Durham, Alice Echols, Gayle Wald, and Angela McRobbie contribute to a rich and ongoing feminist analysis. Writing by these women appears only intermittently in the mainstream press, but forty years of critical feminist theory on popular music has slowly filtered into the outlook of younger critics; as Hopper noted in a recent interview with the Hairpin, online publishing has given rise to “this ferocious crop of really opinionated young writers writing about race, gender, queerness, the body—people coming in with a pretty immaculately formed critical framework.” Hopper, who started publishing her criticism as a teen-ager in the midst of the early-nineties punk-feminist upsurge known as riot grrrl, mentioned in the same interview that when she began writing she did not have “anything more than a high school education.” Her autodidact tendencies and her energetic, conversational writing style form part of another long music-press tradition, the looser and more playful side of that sixties push for seriousness—though Hopper’s stylistic immediacy does not preclude her from covering difficult subjects, like the endemic sexism of punk rock, or the “banal and pernicious” contrivance of Miley Cyrus.

The often neglected path blazed by female music critics intersects with other related writing traditions. Memoir has long been used by female performers to reflect upon the pressures and contradictions of their roles. Kim Gordon’s “Girl in a Band,” Tracey Thorn’s “Bedsit Disco Queen,” and Viv Albertine’s “Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.” have lately joined earlier classics like Mary Wilson’s “Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme” and Tina Turner’s “I, Tina” to provide female perspectives on popular music. There is also a small but noteworthy strand of contemporary fiction by women that takes popular music as a primary subject, from Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “A Visit from the Goon Squad” (2010), with its sleazy music-biz manager, to Eleanor Henderson’s impassioned treatment of eighties New York hardcore, “Ten Thousand Saints” (2011), and Dana Spiotta’s mysterious “Stone Arabia” (2012), in which the brother of the narrator chronicles his strictly imaginary success as a rock star.

Perhaps fiction and memoir, more than criticism, provide space for female writers to dissect all that is maddening and wonderful about popular music: the spectacle, the chicanery, the beautiful lies it tells us. But there is plenty of need for female music critics yet. “Take it easy, babe,” Mick Jagger sang in “Under My Thumb,” still as glistering a slice of unrepentant misogyny as ever it was, unredeemed by time or by the million screaming girls who wriggled beneath Jagger’s commands. In a 1971 essay, Ellen Willis argued that Jagger’s “crude exhibitions of virility” were less sexist than the “condescending” pose of a bohemian like Cat Stevens; insofar as rock, she wrote, “pitted teenage girls’ inchoate energies against all their conscious and unconscious frustrations, it spoke implicitly for female liberation.” I don’t entirely agree with Willis’s defense of the Stones, but I do recognize the difficult trade-off she describes, between the freedom that rock can feel like, for a woman, and the subjugation that it might celebrate. It’s between these boundaries that the female critic works, hoping to clear a path.

Thanks once again to our friend Tony Taylor at Dreamwest Magazine, we’ve been able to get in touch with Katie Cole! Katie is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and now based in Los Angeles. Among her influences are platinum artists such as Jackson Browne, Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. Katie appears as a guest vocalist on Glen Campbell’s final studio album, Ghost on the Canvas, and she’s enlisted Kristofferson to appear her own upcoming full length, Lay It All Down? Katie is a singer/songwriter breaking through the clouds

HVUM: Hi Katie. It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to get to know you better. You have quite an interesting story. You are from Melbourne, now living in Los Angeles. Tell us more about yourself and how you made your way from Australia to Los Angeles.

KC: I’m a songwriter chasing a dream. Corny as hell, yes, but 100% true. My record producer Howard Willing (Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow, Ok Go, Nerina Pallot) reached out to me while I was in Oz. I basically flipped out and somehow made my way over to Los Angeles. I always knew I’d end up in California…just didn’t know how I’d get there or why. I play guitar, piano and a little bass when I’m forced to and I’ve been singing since I was 2, but professionally since I was 15/16. I’m a scorpio, various favorite colors and self-confessed cat person. Also, it is unwise to leave pizza near me.

HVUM: We know from your biography that you were brought up surrounded by the rock of the 60s and 70s – Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin. How do you find the influence of these artists plays into your music?

KC: I suppose any and all music plays a role on a person that goes into a music-related profession. I think the early music and concerts I was subjected to played a huge role in the way my brain crafted an idea of what constitutes great song, song structure and live performance. I still love a soul/blues edge to notes I choose to sing and great guitar riffs are a must. As a listener, I definitely go through moods and phases, but those early influences sort of stick around whether I like it or not. 🙂

HVUM: You tell us that today you relate to artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and Sheryl Crow. Do you have a specific sense for how these musicians are part of your work?

KC: I think I just feel a kinship towards singer-songwriters and bands of that nature that maintain an uptempo feel to the bulk of their work. I’m a huge fan of the anthemic songs and these artists managed to deliver many songs that I consider to be staple material. Sheryl Crow, to me always had such diverse lyrics and clever but easy-sounding choruses. As a lyricist, I learnt a lot from her work. Petty brings to the table simple chord progressions with deep and often dark subtext coupled with easy sing-along choruses. Fleetwood Mac having so many lead singers bring the effect of 3 bands. Christine McVie songs, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks songs. All felt vastly different from one another depending on who was singing. That’s a rarity in a band….to get away with such diversity. I feel I learned how to take complex characters and bring them to life in timeless sounding songs. It’s hard to compare yourself to other artists, but I love the above mentioned for those reasons. That said, I’m always learning. Always trying to challenge what I write and the way I record it.

HVUM: So, describe Katie Cole as Katie Cole…How do we best describe your sound?

I always say uplifting, singer-songwriter with flavors of folk, country and rock. Strong lyrics and stories that feel relatable. My vocal style is closer to Sheryl Crow and music style is a hybrid between Tom Petty and new artists like KT Tunstall and One Republic. I write emotion from the heart with elaborate plot lines. A lot of relationship songs that aren’t standard “i love you” songs. I think it’s about the details. I like details.

HVUM: For you, personally, does any of your work to-date stand out as the crowning achievement?

KC: I suppose the first single taken from my first American EP of the same name “Lost Inside a Moment” would be that song. I knew it was a special song when it was a challenge to write. Sometimes a song is ready when it’s ready and it was definitely worth the time spent writing and recording. It was my first song to get radio play in the UK on BBC Radio 2. For me, that’s a big deal. It’s probably a big deal for any artist. It was play-listed, then another song was. It was a really important time for me. In 2011 I had released the EP in America and I felt, that song wasn’t really reaching ears. I suppose there was a good gut feeling and some luck involved when it jumped across the pond. A great song has legs, the mystery and sometimes frustration about that is not knowing when those legs will sprout. There is a lot of persistence and hard work involved in what I do.

HVUM: You do a lot of collaborative work with famed artists such as Glen Campbell and Kris Kristofferson. Tell us a bit about you collaborations. Is collaborative work something you really enjoy?

KC: I first met Glen Campbell in 2009 when I first popped my head over to Los Angeles to start the meetings and recording process. My amazing Producer Howard Willing is also Glen’s producer and helped introduce me to his team. I ended up opening some shows up for him in Nevada in 2009 then again in 2010. When it came time to record his 2011 “Ghost on the Canvas” album I was brought to sing all of the female parts. A huge honor. It’s very sad that Glen is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. His fans will always remember what he’s given to the music world though. I also found out that a few songs from that album are being re-released on a new album 2013/2014 for Glen. An amazing singer and unbelievable guitarist and showman. Chatting with him and our Producer I was quick to learn his background as a session guitarist and all the iconic albums he performed including Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys etc. Huge stuff. Then it came time to record my new album and my Producer Howard once again reached out to somebody amazing. I actually wrote the song on the album called “Penelope” for a male artist just like Kris Kristofferson to sing. When I decided I was going to record it myself, Willing reached out to him having previously engineered the last couple of Kristofferson records for Producer Don Was (also a legend). Timing was just amazing and it happened. Collaboration is an incredible thing. None of the collabs I’ve done have been fully planned. There is definitely some randomness to that equation. Randomness and magic.

HVUM: You’ve toured a lot – Do you have any special or favorite places to perform?

KC: I really enjoyed touring American cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Nashville and Denver. I love London too. I can’t wait to get back over there. I think I just enjoy travel and visiting new cities. It’s not always about the live shows, but the people you meet and the food. The vans – not so great.

We’ve been featuring your new video, “(We Stared A) Fire” (just out November2013). The track has been described as “American Country meets British pop”. What’s the story there? We’d like to know more about the track and the video.

KC: Thank you for supporting my music!! Well, the song was the last one I wrote for the record. I just wanted one more uptempo song. To me, this one is a tad sexy in nature although it’s at a fast pop tempo. I don’t think I do slow, sexy bow chicka wow wow songs. Haha. It was a really organic recording process as the drums and bass were laid down first with rough guitars and vocals. It was clear between my Producer and me that the drum part was going to be a feature and was going to drive the song. Everything else just sits on top of that. Guitar parts punch through and keys float in and out. It’s mostly my voice and that drum pattern that drive the song. I wanted a video to match the nature of the song. I felt like I wanted the main scene to be the band shot as I was hoping to introduce the viewing audience to my live band. The colored lighting of each scene change from a red band scene, to yellow fabric scene to a black scene with a yellow fluorescent lamp and a smoky scene where I’m wearing an amazing gown. All up it has a raw, rock feel with a sultry streak. There is a real live sense to the way it’s shot. Director Justin Coloma really captured the video exactly how I imagined it and the rest!! It’s moving, flowing and changing the whole ride. Lighting was a real key to this video along with elements of fire itself to illuminate some key shots.

HVUM: We know you have a new album coming our way “Lay It All Down” Tell us about that project and when should we be looking to buy the album?

KC: I actually launched a kickstarter campaign mid 2011 and it was successfully funded. Yes, it was that long ago. It started as me wanting to record 5 songs as a new EP. Once my Producer and I started to go through costs and songs, it was clear that I had too much solid material and it was more cost effective to spend more time and record more songs. So another 6 months went by with recording and planning. Put the first single out Oct 2012 called “I can’t wait”, signed a small record deal….some time flew by (6 months)…then extracted myself swiftly from that deal. Long story and I lost a lot of time. Time that I can’t get back unfortunately. I opted to somewhat restart. A lot of artists go through this. My producer wanted to remix the record and I launched the second single “(We started a) Fire this November. The new album is due out March 3rd 2014. I wanted to allow enough time to promote the new single. To me, you get one first impression of your art …so I’d rather wait and do something right than be impatient and release something early for the sake of it. That’s the definition of vanity and this is not a vanity project. I suppose I’m trying to compete with other major label and indie artists and that takes time and planning. So here we are!

HVUM: In the meantime, let’s take some time to check out that video “(We Started A) Fire”.

HVUM: Okay! We’ll be watching out for “Lay It All Down”. Any other projects in the works?

I spend roughly 1-2 weeks every other month writing in Nashville. I’m positive I have enough for another 2 full albums…but I’d like to narrow that down to an EP of songs. I’m thinking on that at the moment. I haven’t released “Lay it all Down” yet, but I’m definitely already planning something new.

HVUM: Do you have any particular causes or charities that you support and want to mention for our readers?

In Australia I used to do a lot of work for the Cancer council and the Variety club. Since moving to the US, I have been supporting Red Cross, MS Society (as my mum has MS) and WECAN that empowers women and supports awareness of Climate Change globally. I give charitably to a lot of random causes too and when needed I will buy a subway sandwich for a hungry face. I think kindness is a daily ritual and not something to brag about. It’s quite easy to be nice and do nice things even if no one else knows about it.

HVUM: Finally, my favorite question? Do you have any special superheros of your own? Why?

My Mum is my favorite superhero. It’s really hard being away from her. She’s a strong women who has overcome some difficult challenges in her life. She also now has MS. She’s still stubborn as ever, which is funny, and demands to do as much as possible on her own. I love that sort of independence. I hope I got that from her. I also think my cat here in Los Angeles has super powers. But those superpowers are only present when no one else is watching and only when she’s not napping or eating.

Visit Katie Cole at http://katiecoleofficial.com/

Cathy Richardson will be on tour in Europe with Jefferson Starship this fall….

9/10 – Kinross, U.K./Green Hotel; 10/10 – Edinburgh, Scotland/Queens Hall; 11/10 – Glasgow, Scotland/The Ferry; 12/10 – Blackburn, UK/King George’s Hall; 13/10 – Grimsby, UK/Yardbirds Football Club; 16/10 – Southampton, UK/The Brook; 17/10 – Wolverhampton, UK/Robin 2; 18/10 Chatham, UK/Centram Thr; 19/10 – London, UK/The Borderline; 20/10 – London, UK/The Borderline; 22/10 – Paris, France/Le Bataclan; 23/10 – Reims, France/La Cartonnerie; 25/10 – Verviers, Belgium/Spirit of 66; 26/10 – Helmond, Holland/Lakei; 27/10 – Copenhagen, Denmark/Husset; 29/10 – Germany/TBA; 30/10 – Germany/TBA; 31/10 – Germany/TBA

Cathy Richardson

Cathy Richardson

Describing Cathy Richardson’s work is reason for some dictionarial angst. We thought long and hard about the right adjectives and superlatives – distinctive, seductive, amazing, explosive, radical? Cathy’s maximum strength, character, and daring puts serious punching power into modern rock’n’roll. We actually have the privilege and pleasure to be joined by GRAMMY Nominee and four-time DIY Music Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, producer, actress and designer Cathy Richardson. Cathy Richardson hails from the Chicago area and is Chicago-based today. After years of persistence in the Chicago market, Cathy is in the International spotlight, smack in the middle of the rock n’ roll history that inspired her to rock.

She performed in the original Off Broadway cast of the show Love, Janis where she channeled the late music legend to rave reviews in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Arizona. In 2007, she toured the US with Janis’ original band members Big Brother and the Holding Co. on the Summer of Love 40th Anniversary Tour. Headlining that tour was the legendary classic rock band Jefferson Starship, led by founding member and Rock Hall Inductee Paul Kantner, who took note of Richardson’s show stealing performances with Big Brother and, consequently, asked her to join them the following year. Cathy has been recognized by Billboard Magazine, Playgirl, the Album Network, The Chicago Sun-Times and many more premier publications. Today, Cathy is focused on The Macrodots, an amped up, hard-rocking collaboration with San Francisco guitarist/songwriter/producer Zack Smith.

Hi Cathy. Thanks for joining us. Your, story is pretty unusual. You’re on the music scene for a fair amount of time enjoying local area success and then you transition to do theatre in the role of Janis Joplin, you join up with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Paul Kantner takes note and away you go with Jefferson Starship, and on top of that, you’re collaborative leader of The Macrodots.

Now, we know it’s not so straight forward, but amazing never-the-less. We’ll get to your work with Love, Janis and Jefferson Starship, but tell us, first, where did your love for music – rock in particular – begin?

CR: My mom was a singer and always encouraging me to sing. Apparently, I had a real aptitude for music, especially singing, at an early age. Later in life, when I was about 10 or 11, I was teaching myself how to play guitar and my next door neighbor told me I should listen to Heart. My sister had one of their records so I went home and listened to it and I was like, “Oh yeah. I wanna be THEM.”

Looking at your discography, you have seven solo albums, and in addition, work done in conjunction with other projects. If we mark your recording career beginning with “All Excess Live @ Park West” followed by “Moon, Not Banana” in 1993, and moving through to the Grammy nominated “The Road to Bliss” are there any works that strike you as being (to-date) crowning achievements for one reason or another – artistic and/or technical?

CR: Actually moon, not banana was first, the live record didn’t come out until 2006 after fools on a tandem. I think my crowning achievement would have to be Delusions of Grandeur. I put it out with no ideas of commercial success, I just wanted to express myself artistically and I think it’s my best writing and production. I pre-produced everything in my home studio and so when I went in the studio for real, the parts were all there and a lot of what I recorded at home actually ended up on the record. Also coming off the GRAMMY nomination for Road to Bliss, Bill and I really wanted to top the artwork. We gave it a stage theme and I wrote little “scenes” or stories for all the songs to tie them together. The stories were put in a booklet made to look like an old theatre program along with the lyrics and credits. The package got a bit fucked up in production and ended up being cut and folded differently than we intended but by the time we realized it, it had already been printed and it was too late to change it. We are working on a hard cover book for a re-release that will have even more of Bill’s paintings to go with the stories.

Bit curious about “Road to Bliss” which you did in collaboration with Chicago artists Bill Dolan. As I you’re your bio, you recreate the feel and experience of “album art” that they experienced growing up with vinyl LPs. I’d like to know what motivated that effort, and if you can verbalize that “feel and experience”. By the way… I still have vinyls of Surrealistic Pillow and Big Brother and The Holding Company (both 1967).

CR: The inspiration was Joni Mitchell’s CD jacket for Turbulent Indigo. She is a brilliant visual artist as well as songwriter and musician. She is a big influence on me, in general, but Turbulent Indigo was the first CD I encountered that reminded me of a vinyl album when I opened it up. I was really drawn in by it. She ended up winning her first GRAMMY ever for Best Recording Package. I didn’t know such an award existed until then and I was very inspired to start creating really cool CD art from that point forward. When I was a kid and would buy a vinyl album, the artwork was part of the experience. It gave you a tangible, visceral thing to hold in your hands that complimented the music. I would pour over them, reading every credit and liner note, studying the pictures as I listened intently to the music. It was very exciting to save up my money, walk to the record store and come home with an album. I felt invested in the artist. I still treasure all of my vinyl from when I was a kid.

Let’s look and listen to Cathy and the Cathy Richardson Band performing “Picture This” from “Road To Bliss”.

You’ve taken on psychedelic rock in a big way, and it’s really interesting that you are working with music that is associated with two vocal-social-psychological-sexual powerhouses of the 60’s, Janis Joplin and Grace Slick – how does that work for Cathy as Cathy?

CR: Grace and Janis are both part of me, if not for either of them paving the way I couldn’t do what I do. Still, I am very much my own artist, I pay homage to them both and I honor them but I do my own thing like nobody else.

In light of your upcoming Jefferson Starship tour and visit to Europe, is there a song that really stands apart from the others – for you?

Jefferson Starship

Jefferson Starship

We are going to be reviving one of Paul’s epic songs called Connection from Nuclear Furniture. That was a big record for me as a kid so I am very excited to play it, although we haven’t performed it yet. We play so many shows, and they are all different so my favourites kind of shift around. Of course it’s fun to play the hits because they get a big crowd reaction but more obscure Grace songs like Eskimo Blue Day, Hyperdrive and Greasy Heart are also so very fun to perform.

“Eskimo Blue Day” is one of my all time favorites…for our readers the song was recorded on Jefferson Airplane’s “Volunteers”. One of the all time great crowd pleasers has to be “White Rabbit”. Let’s check out this next vid, “White Rabbit” from the 2012 PBS Special, My Music: 60s Pop, Rock and Soul, Jefferson Starship with Cathy Richardson on lead vocals, Paul Kantner, David Freiberg, Donny Baldwin, Slick Aguilar, Chris Smith, Marty Balin.

You’ve managed to stay centered on the psychedelic/classic rock sound with Macrodots. What’s going on with the band? Projects?

CR: All this year I’ve been playing mostly Cathy Richardson Band and solo shows as my original outlet. We play a lot of Macrodots tunes live but CRB actually allows me more latitude in terms of genre hopping and jamming. The Macrodots, while the sound is very psychedelic and hard rock, is very pop structured in the songwriting and we have a very specific idea of the direction we are going. Some of my older stuff doesn’t work in the context of that band whereas, CRB can sort of get away with anything. That said, Zack and I are writing more for another Macrodots record which we hope to put out next year. I love the Other Side, I think it’s a really strong record and I hope it reaches a lot more brains and earholes.

Do have any particular causes or charities that you support and want to suggest to our readers?

CR: I focus most of my charitable contributions to world hunger, especially in Africa where they are so decimated by drought and war. It’s amazing how little of our money it takes to feed several families for a month. When it’s so easy to donate online, and when so many can be helped with so little, there is no excuse, for me not to give. I like Global Giving because you can choose a specific project and they send updates on where your contributions are going, pictures from the places and the people they are helping so you can see the results of your donations. http://www.globalgiving.org

Finally, my favorite question? Do you have any special superheros of your own? Why?

CR: My daughter Sri Rose is my current superhero. She turns one on August 26. Her special power is bringing joy to the world with her mere existence. She is really so cute and friendly, everywhere we go I see people light up at her smile. And her dance moves. She has melted my outer shell and my heart and changed me for the better more than anything else.

Cathy, thanks so very much for taking time out to speak with us. We wish you all the very best and hope you’ll stay in touch. We look forward to seeing Jefferson Starship on 22 October at the Bataclan, Paris, and we hope our readers in Europe will get out and see the show. For a full tour schedule including U.S. dates visit http://www.jeffersonstarshipsf.com/

You can (and should) visit Cathy Richardson and the Cathy Richardson Band at http://www.crband.com/ . Be sure to check out the merchandise – great music, tie-dyed tees – lots of cool stuff!

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