During the winter of 2011, the band Caterwaulla was born… and it was good. Caterwaulla’s conception was forged upon the fires of boredom and its form smelted from the sediments of blues, the minerals of rock with the strength of roll.
Together, Caterwaulla is a wondrous amalgamation of noise that is sweet enough to make a centaur cry, but funky enough to shake your momma’s booty. If this text accomplishes nothing and leaves you still wondering who/what is Caterwaulla, then I urge you to experience them for yourself. Once at their show and upon giving yourself to the awesomeness of their sound, one will transcend time and space (well, time... maybe not space) while chanting along with the rest of the crowd… “CATERWAULLA”
Caterwaulla - self-titled (May 12th, 2012)
Caterwaulla, Skye Carrasco, Liberty Leg, White Mystery @ Gabe’s – 3/2
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"Caterwaulla, Skye, Liberty Leg and those crazy redheads that make up White Mystery rocked my socks ..."Caterwaulla, Skye, Liberty Leg and those crazy redheads that make up White Mystery rocked my socks off Friday night. I felt like it was my official kickoff to the very musical month of March. Caterwaulla is the youngest of the acts, but don’t let the newness fool you…they pack a punch. Their lead singer, Lauren Murphie, has a solid set of pipes and just enough shimmy in her step to spice up an already solid arrangement of sounds from the band. I’ve seen them perform a few times now, and I sense that they’re not going anywhere but up in the Iowa City music scene. (On a side note, no band should cover Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit unless they can totally kill it…and Caterwaulla does indeed.)"
Gabe's Halloween Show: Caterwaulla, Five in a Hand, Item 9 & the Mad Hatters – 10.29
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While this week has gotten away from me, Halloween weekend didn’t. I did double-duty on Saturday nig...While this week has gotten away from me, Halloween weekend didn’t. I did double-duty on Saturday night and this was one of the shows I was lucky enough to catch. Caterwaulla, Five in a Hand and Item 9 & the Mad Hatters put on a mind-blowing show complete with costumes, covers and laser lights.Those of you in attendance know that it was a spectacle. From Caterwaulla opening up with a well-done cover of White Rabbit to Item 9 ripping through all of Led Zepplin’s II, it was a show to be remembered. And now the photos:
Caterwaulla - Self-Titled Release (5/12/12)
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Alright, here it is! Since I was born in 1957, my life corresponds approximately to the life-span of...Alright, here it is! Since I was born in 1957, my life corresponds approximately to the life-span of rock and roll. In that 55-plus years, there have been times when rock has seemed to be tired and played out. But there’s always some snotty group of kids who come along and beat it back into shape. Caterwaulla is one of the latest groups to have a go.
Their self-titled debut isn’t a revolutionary addition to the rock canon, but there are some fresh elements to Caterwaulla’s music, beginning with the strong voice of lead singer Lauren Murphie. Murphie’s singing hints at her percursors--Patti Smith, Chrissie Hynde, Grace Slick--but the great thing about the voice as an instrument is that everyone’s is unique. Murphie’s voice has the kind of power and timbre that will cut through the roar of any band, but she uses dynamics skillfully to keep the listener from feeling like they’re being yelled at.
Terry Yin’s electric violin adds distinctive texture to the Caterwaulla; it takes the parts usually taken by lead guitar, freeing Gabe Starbeck to focus on rhythm guitar most of the time, which is the heart and soul of the rock sound. Gabe takes a few short solos along the way, but this isn’t a band that leans on jamming to make their point.
The song “Cat Lady” stands out to me as a roaring show stopper. It’s a classic F-you breakup song with showcase moments for each band member, but it’s solidly grounded in pentatonic blues riffing and rave-up cymbal crash drumming. It reminds me of the story about Chuck Berry insisting Jerry Lee Lewis open for him, and Jerry Lee gives a literally scorching performance, setting his piano on fire. Caterwaulla is a hard act to follow, even without actual pyrotechnics.
Iowa City's Caterwaulla marking release of first CD with party at Gabe's
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Caterwaulla’s first show, on Independence Day last summer in Iowa City, was unlike anything they exp...Caterwaulla’s first show, on Independence Day last summer in Iowa City, was unlike anything they expected.
Someone locked the keys inside the stage room upstairs at Gabe’s, so their show was canceled.
Instead, they joined a house party.
“There were people hula-hooping in the yard,” Mark Schultz said.
“Old hippies galore,” Anthony Fippinger added.
“It was so impromptu, just the coolest thing ever,” Lauren Murphie said. “(It was) an amazing night.”
Their second show at the 2011 Sand in the City festival — what they consider their first “real” show — was equally unprecedented.
“They gave us an hour-and-a-half slot for our first show ever, and I was like, ‘Holy crap,’” Murphie said. The band barely had enough songs to cover the time.
“We filled it exactly at an hour and a half,” Murphie said. “My nerves were shot.”
“It was baptism by fire,” Schultz said.
But Caterwaulla is resilient. Since entering — or perhaps more aptly, catapulting onto — the Iowa City music scene in early 2011, the up-and-coming sextet has gained a loyal following and booked more than two dozen shows. The group celebrates the release of its debut self-titled album this weekend at Gabe’s.
Only this time, the keys won’t be locked inside (hopefully).
Schultz, who plays bass, and Gabe Starbeck-Miller, who plays lead guitar, formed the band almost by accident.
“I live with Mark, and I’m like, ‘Just pick up a bass and come down and jam with us,’ and he had no experience on bass at all,” Starbeck-Miller said.
“Then we picked up (violinist) Terry (Yin) from work and (drummer) Josh (Wilson), we got him off Craigslist,” Schultz said.
They found Murphie, the lead vocalist, on Craigslist, too.
“She auditioned and we thought she was great, so we kept her around for a while,” Starbeck-Miller said.
Fippinger, who plays rhythm guitar, keys and vocals, joined the group through Murphie — and so Caterwaulla came to be.
Their sound, a blend of classic blues and vintage rock, is reflective of the unique collective that is Caterwaulla. By day, Fippinger works for Systems Unlimited; Starbeck-Miller is a graduate student in the immunology Ph.D. program at the University of Iowa; Schultz and Yin are working toward their Ph.Ds in molecular and cellular biology at UI; Murphie does content writing and social media for SmartLead in Cedar Rapids and runs a fashion blog; and Wilson creates bronze and metal casting sculptures for Max-Cast Sculpture and Foundry Services in Kalona — “He’s really very creative, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him,” Murphie said with a laugh. “He’s rough around the edges.”
Each band member takes turns creating the songs — “basically, whoever’s writing the lyrics has an idea that they’re pursuing overall,” Starbeck-Miller said — and the themes range anywhere from tension in a relationship to family to lunar perigee.
“We had to look that up on Wikipedia,” Fippinger said.
“It depends on the song,” Murphie said. “If somebody feels inspired to write something, or someone has a riff, (we go from there).”
What results, as their name suggests, is a caterwaul of sound.
“In the end, it’s the classical and garage rock that people are inspired by, and we bring that all together into a random amalgamation of noise,” Starbeck-Miller said.
Unlike their very first show, Caterwaulla has high expectations for audiences at this weekend’s party.
“Salvation,” Starbeck-Miller joked.
They’ll be giving out their signature glow-in-the-dark cat ears to fans, and they’ll play few of their go-to covers, including Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and “Zombie,” by The Cranberries.
But mostly, they’ll just do what they do best — go with the flow, and have a good time.
“We want it to be loud and everybody having a lot of fun,” Murphie said.
“We try to throw a party,” Schultz said.
Reach Stephanie Wise at email@example.com or 887-5403.