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Kathy McCarty (Surreptitious Rock Star) in Houston!

Kathy McCarty on being a surreptitious rock star:

“Would you like a dinner salad? Caesar or garden? We have five different dressings for the garden salad, they’re all house dressings, and they’re all really good!”

It feels weird to write that down. As many times a day as I’ve said it, I don’t think I’ve ever put it in writing. I mean, why would I? I’m not a playwright, drawing on life experience, but rather the musician trying to answer the question: “What have you been doing since your last record came out?” Waiting tables is only a fraction of the answer. It’s the answer to the part, “What have you been doing for money since your last album came out?”

I wonder if people I wait on regularly will see this fragment of a sentence, or a photo, and recognize me? That would be … cool … I guess. When I first started waiting tables, shortly after the year of touring (that bankrupted me) following the release of Dead Dog’s Eyeball, customers would sometimes say to me, “You look so familiar.” I’d say back to them, perfectly seriously, “Well, I am a Famous Rock Star!” They’d laugh and laugh, like, “Our waitress is hilarious!” (Hey, I didn’t say I was a solvent one.)

One of my alltime favorite singers Kathy McCarty is performing in Houston at the Orange Show on JULY 30TH. I’ll probably be reviewing her latest CD. She’s an Austin musical legend who retired from the music scene for 10 years before reappearing at SXSW 2005 Music Festival in Austin. (You can download a free mp3 off Amazon.com and listen to clips here.

Curiously, I lived in Austin for two years without having a chance to see her perform. Although not really a writer, she’s written some entertaining pieces for the Austin Chronicle about JFK Conspiracies and Bikers.

Here’s a review I wrote of her Dead Dog’s Eyeball for amazon.com in 2001:

Ms. McCarty’s interpretation of these Daniel Johnston songs are unconventional, intriguing and quite lovely. Desperate Man Blues probably was written in a fit of depression, and yet Ms. McCarty’s crooning and marvelous piano playing gives it a magical consoling touch. Other songs like Baby in my universe use sound effects to provide an eerie claustrophobic touch. The songs seem so incidental and improvisational (like “running water”), and yet sounds like “Golly Gee” mellow out the mood. And other songs like “Walking the Cow” and “Monkey in a Zoo” have lyrics that are so strange that it almost seems meaningless (it almost hearkens back to David Byrne’s own absurdist lyrics in “Once in a Lifetime” or “Strange Ritual.”)

The only criticism of the album is that the tone of the album is not really consistent. It is not really a unified album but a hodgepodge of songs.

A personal anecdote. I listened to this CD to death while a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania. A music critic friend had sent it to me, and it was a lifesaver for my spirits. It made me remember the funky Texas sound and how simple lyrical songs end up outlasting most of the drivel being produced these days.

Now as it happens, I am in the same city of both Kathy McCarty and Daniel Johnston (as luck would have it). And yet both people remain hidden in the Austin art scene.

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