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Catie Curtis


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

Contemporary folk

Status:

Most recent release, While We're Here (2017)

See also:

Catie Curtis's site

Wikipedia's entry on Catie Curtis

Comparisons:

Patty Larkin, Dar Williams

Covers/own material:

Own and co-written, occasional covers

General comments:

I would love someone to come up to me and ask for proof or verification of why I'm totally impressed by an artist. I could rattle off song after song of Catie's and just sit back and gloat as they listened to each offering. Their face would say it all, and in anticipation of their obvious question, "why have I not heard of her before?" I would say finding good new music takes effort, finding it on MTV and commercial radio is rare. (jsutton@rahul.net)

a Boston-based neo-folkie who writes some killer songs (e.g. "The Wolf", "Radical"), and a ton of not-so-killer ones. Her voice isn't all that strong, though it is interesting enough in its way, kind of like Patty Larkin with a slight case of laryngitis. (Hmmm. I'm comparing people to other people with various illnesses. It must be late.) I saw her at Falcon Ridge this past summer, and I'm glad I saw her once, though I'm not going to run out of my way to see her again. However, I read somewhere that she's originally from Maine, so I automatically think she's cool no matter what. :) (meth@smoe.org)

actually Catie Curtis is a folk singer that has been around for a couple of years. She gets marketed to the primarily lesbian/feminist/women's music market (ladyslipper/goldenrod clients) and from what i have heard, i was not thoroughly engaged with her music when I got a promo of it at the bookstore i used to work at. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Catie is a wonderful storyteller. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Comments about live performance:

It was a joy to hear Catie Curtis with a band. (silme@ix.netcom.com)

I've always liked Catie, but she was even better in person! Lots of energy! (Riphug@aol.com)

I'd seen her do a set at Falcon Ridge a couple summers ago, but that was that. She was a good opener. I don't really want to see her do a full set, but I enjoyed what she did. She was accompanied on mandolin by Jimmy Ryan, who I later learned used to be part of Blood Oranges. (9/00, meth@smoe.org)

catie curtis, a pseudofolkie from boston, followed. meredith was interested in seeing her set, so i watched. she wasn't too bad, and had some nice songs, but i wasn't that impressed. (9/00, woj@smoe.org)

I saw her perform live at the Iron Horse once...it was an ok concert...nothing spectacular, but enjoyable. (paul2k@aol.com)

Recommended first album:

Truth From Lies or Catie Curtis

Recordings:


From Years to Hours

Release info:

1991 (re-released in 2003 with bonus material)

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

I sometimes think, OK what's her next album going to be like? Does she have the artistic ability and talent to continue to create fresh new material, or was all her best on one pop? Well, this is the reason I'm bringing her up now. I found a used 1991 CD called From Years To Hours by Catie, apparently re-issued on Hear Music. I was not aware she had recorded anything prior to Truth from Lies. This answers the question of Catie's staying power, I guess when you have it, it shows up. A very excellent work, showcasing her truly wonderful talent. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Truth From Lies

Release info:

1996—Guardian Records—7243 8 35435-2 6

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Paulinho DaCosta—percussion
Steve Ferris—baritone & electric guitars
Mike Finnegan—organ
Denny Fongheiser—drums
Tal Hertberg—bass guitar, bass
Jay Dee Mennis—steel guitar
Mark Romano—12 string electric guitar, background vocal, accordion, electric guitar
Richard Gates—bass guitar
John Gorka—harmony vocals (2, 4)
Duke Levine—second acoustic guitar (2), electric guitar
Rick Dorr—organ, keyboards
Jerome Deupree—drums
Tom Hambridge—drums
Rick Harris—second acoustic & electric guitar (5)
Alan Williams—piano, harmony vocal (5), synthesizer
Billy Conway—drums
Seth Connolly—bass guitar, harmony vocal (11)
Patty Larkin—second acoustic guitar (12)

Produced by:

Darleen Wilson, David Kershenbaum

Comments:

I first heard Catie Curtis when a friend gave me a tape with From Years to Hours on one side and Truth From Lies on the other. The Truth From Lies side got the most play, and I still think it's one of Catie's best albums. It's classic contemporary folk, with story songs and social commentary about subjects like homophobia and domestic abuse. There's something sweet and simple about the sound of this album that makes it one of my favorite folk albums to listen to, comforting like a cup of warm tea. (JoAnn Whetsell)

A great discovery. (abehrend@direct.ca)

I remember reviewing the Truth From Lies cd when I was at Amherst and the curator of Folk music for the college radio station, and I think my comments ran along the lines of "she sounds kinda like Aimee Mann if she were influenced by Joan Baez instead of the Beatles." (paul2k@aol.com)

This is really a fine CD, she's got a very unique low haunting voice and is an excellent songwriter. Some people might classify her girl with guitar, (although there are electric instruments on the album), but, she's got that special uniqueness or edge to make you notice. (jsutton@rahul.net)


Catie Curtis

Release info:

1997—Guardian Records—7243 8 57209 2 5

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—vocals, acoustic guitar, guitar, percussion on guitar back and pizza box, sugar shaker

Guest artists:

Jimmy Ryan—acoustic mandolin, electric mandolin
Roy Bittan—electric piano, piano, accordion, synthesizer, organ, background vocals (4, 6)
Doug Pettibone—electric guitar, nylon string guitar
Gia Ciambotti—background vocals (1, 4, 6, 8), harmony vocals (5, 8)
Leland Sklar—bass
Kenny Aronoff—drums, percussion
George Black—drum programming
Tim Pierce—electric guitar, nylon string guitar, baritone guitar
Michael Thompson—electric guitar
Tony Levin—bass guitar, upright bass
Darrell Leonard—trumpet, flugel horn
David Campbell—string arrangement (4)
Larry Corbett—cello (4)
Suzie Katayama—cello (4, 9)
Charles Everette, Berj Garabedian, Eve Sprecher—violin (4)
Joel Derouin, Armen Garabedian, Peter Kent—violin (4, 9)
Bob Becker—viola
Jennifer Kimball—harmony vocals (4)
Sharon Celani—background vocals (4, 6, 8)
Julie Wolf—piano
Lili Haydn—fiddle
Joe Sublett—tenor saxophone, alto saxophone

Produced by:

Roy Bittan

Comments:

I always find it hard to remember that Catie's self-titled album followed Truth From Lies by only a year. The songs are clearly based in the folk tradition, but the sound has definitely moved into the folk-pop category. Most of the songs are driven by characters or social consciousness, but Catie's politics, while upfront, are never brow-beating. It's very well done and my favorite of Catie's albums. (JoAnn Whetsell)

A Crash Course in Roses

Release info:

1999—Rykodisc—RCD 10478

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis-vocals, acoustic guitar, Wurlitzer, piano

Guest artists:

Paul Bryan—bass, djembe, bass pedals, shakers, percussion, organ
Billy Conway—drums, percussion, cocktail drum, snare
Duke Levine—electric guitars, mandola, nylon string guitar, E-bow, acoustic guitar, omnichord
Catherine Russell—vocal harmonies (1, 10)
Kenny White—organ, piano, harmony vocals (13)
Jimmy Ryan—mandolin, electric mandolin, harmony vocals (2, 8)
Akira Satake—banjo
Ben Wisch—synthesizer
Manola Badrena—percussion, congas
Michael Maxwell—harmony vocals (5, 7)
Melissa Ferrick—harmony vocals (6)
Jennifer Kimball—harmony vocals (6)
Liz Marshall—harmony vocals (6)
Sammy Merendino—drum program and tambourine
Mark Spencer—electric, acoustic, slide, and National steel guitar
T-Bone Wolk—bass, accordion
Christa Champion, Kevin Pickering—finger snaps (6) Dawn Buckholz—cello, string arrangement
Mary Chapin Carpenter—harmony vocals (9)
Hugh McCracken—harmonica
Todd Reynolds—violin

Produced by:

Ben Wisch, Catie Curtis

Comments:

I just wanted to quickly plug Catie Curtis' new album A Crash Course in Roses, which is excellent. If you like Shawn Colvin's album A Few Small Repairs, this should be right up your alley... (Sherlyn.Koo)

My Shirt Looks Good On You

Release info:

2001—Rykodisc—RCD-10613

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—vocals, guitars, keyboards, acoustic guitar, piano

Guest artists:

Billy Conway—drums, vocals, percussion
Billy Beard—cocktail drum
Andrew Mazzone—bass
Jimmy Ryan—mandolin, electric mandolin, mandocello, vocals
Julie Wolf—wurlitzer, vocals, piano, organ, clavinet
Kris Delmhorst—harmony vocals (3)
Dana Colley—baritone saxophone, tenor saxophone, vocals
Caoimhe O'Hara—penny whistle
Gail Ann Dorsey—bass, vocals, drums
Duke Levine—electric guitars
Michael Eisenstein—electric guitars

Produced by:

Trina Shoemaker and Catie Curtis

Comments:

Catie Curtis never disappoints, she is one of the finest singer songwriter around. My Shirt Looks Good On You is just another creative addition to her legacy. (jsutton@hrmusic.com)

Dreaming in Romance Languages

Release info:

2004—Vanguard Records—79757-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—vocals and acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Julie Wolf—B-3, Fender Rhodes, other keyboards and accordion
Kevin Barry—acoustic and electric guitars
Andrew Mazzone—bass
Jeff Berlin—drums and percussion
Jimmy Ryan—mandolin
Stephanie Winters—cello
Deb Talan—harmony vocals (2, 3, 5)
Mark Erelli—harmony vocals (3)
Jennifer Kimball—harmony vocals (4)
Trina Shoemaker—harmony vocals (9)
Kris Delmhorst—harmony vocals (7)
Billy Conway—drums (7)
Russell Chudnofsky—electric guitar (7)

Produced by:

Trina Shoemaker, Tom Dube and Catie Curtis

Comments:

Based on some sound samples and lukewarm reviews I wasn't planning to buy this album until I found a copy for $4 and picked it up. I'm really glad I did. I haven't enjoyed a Catie Curtis album this much since her 1997 self-titled album. The overall mood is darker, but the bright "Red Light" is one of the best songs here and in her overall catalog. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Long Night Moon

Release info:

2006—Compass Records—7 4436 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—acoustic guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Kevin Barry—electric & acoustic guitars, nylon string guitar, lap steel, acoustic slide guitar, electric bass
Lorne Entress—Wurlitzer piano, mandolin, dulcimer, orchestra bells, Hammond organ, zither, percussion, drums, drum programming, accordion
Mark Erelli—electric & acoustic guitars, high strung guitar, acoustic baritone guitar, harmony vocals
Mike Rivard—electric & acoustic bass
John Sands—drums
John Jennings—electric guitars
Stephanie McKenna—violins
Elizabeth Steen—piano
Kris Delmhorst—harmony vocals (1), cellos (7)
Mary Chapin Carpenter—harmony vocal (2)
Erin McKeown—harmony vocals (9)
Chris Trapper—harmony vocal (10)

Produced by:

Lorne Entress

Comments:

Dreaming in Romance Languages, Catie's last album, was not as good as her best work but was promising, especially after the disappointing A Crash Course in Roses and My Shirt Looks Good On You. Long Night Moon delivers on the promise of Dreaming...and is up there with her best work. There's more energy and less production. She sings about home, the Katrina disaster, motherhood, waiting, and hope for the future and her children. Beautifully done. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Sweet Life

Release info:

2008—Compass Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—lead vocal and acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

George Marinelli—guitar
Alison Prestwood—bass guitar
Shannon Forest—drums
Phil Madeira—keyboards
Mark T. Jordan—keyboards
Erick Jaskowiak—percussion
Andrea Zonn, Ingrid Graudins, Scat Springs and Jon Randall Stewart—background vocals

Produced by:

Garry West

Comments:

Catie masters the always difficult happy-not-sappy album. This surpasses even Long Night Moon, which itself was her best effort in years. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Hello Stranger

Release info:

2009—Compass Records—7 4517 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Catie Curtis—lead vocal, backing vocals, acoustic guitar

Guest artists:

Alison Brown—banjo and guitar
Stuart Duncan—fiddle, claw-hammer banjo, mandolin
George Marinelli—acoustic guitars, mandolin, resophonic guitar
Mary Gauthier—vocal duet on "Hello Stranger"
Kenny Malone—drums, percussion
Todd Phillips—acoustic bass
Darrell Scott—backing vocals, guitar

Produced by:

Garry West

Comments:

Catie covers eight songwriters, including herself, on this folksy album with a light and open, acoustic sound. It's the kind of recording you can imagine was made by a group of people sitting on a porch at dusk.
     I don't care for her version of "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" (though I give her credit for not trying to give it soul she doesn't have), but I think "Tuesday's Dead" and "Don't Want to Know (No Evil)" (which is the same song as Beth Orton's "Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil") are great. Her spare remake of "Saint Lucy" is also quite striking, especially compared to the 2004 original. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

There is a 2004 documentary about Catie, Tangled Stories. She performs with Chris Chandler on "No One I Could Talk About This With" on his album Collaborations.

Her songs have appeared on the following:

Compilations: Beginner's Guide to American Roots (2004), Queer Stock Queer Soup (2002), Being Out Rocks (2002), Our Lips Are Sealed soundtrack (2001), The Silverwolf Story (1999).

Putumayo collections: Women's Work (1996), The Best of Folk Music: Contemporary Folk (1995), Shelter: The Best of Contemporary Singer-Songwriters (1994).

Kerrville Folk Festival collections: The Women of Kerrville (2005), Kerrville Women, Kerrville Folk Festival Highlights, and Best of the Kerrville Folk Festival Vol. 1 and 2 (all 2003) and 1995 Kerrville Highlights (1997).

Benefit collections: In My Room (2010), Remembering Rachel: Songs of Rachel Bissex (2005), ParkinSong, Volume One: 38 Songs of Hope (2004), Respond: A Compilation By Boston Women To Benefit Respond, Inc. (1999), and One More Song: An Album for Club Passim (1996).


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2017-04-29 17:39:05.
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