Beth McKee
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Beth McKee

Orlando, Florida, United States | INDIE

Orlando, Florida, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Blues


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"“I’m That Way” -John Conquest"

Bobby Charles, as you may have gathered, is one of my all-time favorite singers, songwriters and musical stylists, so you’d think I’d recoil in horror from the very idea of an album consisting entirely of covers of his songs, but McKee pulls it off magnificently, so much so, indeed, that her album’s been endorsed and raved about by none other than Charles himself. Originally from Jackson, MS, McKee was once part of the all-female New Orleans group Evangeline, which may, anyway should, still be remembered for the marvelous French Quarter Moon (Margaritaville, 1993), so she’s certainly no stranger to Charles’ swamp groove. When I first listened to this, I assumed it surely must have been recorded at The Dockside Studio in Maurice, using at least some of the musicians who’ve played on Charles’ albums, but was stunned to learn that it was actually cut in Orlando, FL, where McKee’s now based, with local musicians, including her husband Juan Perez drums and percussion, doing a quite amazing job of capturing the sinuous southern Louisiana vibe. Playing acoustic piano, keyboards and accordion, McKee’s ten cuts span Charles’ career, from the 50s/early 60s hits, See You Later Alligator, Walking To New Orleans and (I Don’t Know Why I Love You) But I Do, Tennessee Blues, Small Town Talk and I’m That Way from Bobby Charles (Bearsville, 1972), I Don’t See Me from Wish You Were Here Right Now (Stony Plain, 1995), I Don’t Want To Know from Secrets Of The Heart (Stony Plain, 1998) and I Spent All My Money Loving You and Last Train To Memphis from Last Train To Memphis (Bogalusa, 2004). Charles told McKee he wishes she’d included The Jealous Kind, and I’ll second that—it’s about the first song I’d record if I was magically given the ability to hold a tune—but she deferred to Etta James and Delbert McClinton’s versions. I have to say that her Small Town Talk doesn’t quite work for me, but otherwise McKee’s vibrant vocals do Charles proud, with Tennessee Blues as the spine-tingling standout. Usually this kind of album is a Various Artists deal, and usually a couple three contributors don’t quite get it, but McKee surely gets Bobby Charles. - 3rd Coast Magazine

"Express-News - Beth McKee I'm That Way (Independent)"

Singer, accordionist and piano player Beth McKee was born in Mississippi, worked in Austin, was part of the New Orleans-based band Evangeline and calls Florida home.

With a soulful, lived-in voice, deft musical chops and a cadre of grooving musicians that include her husband, drummer Juan Perez, McKee is uniquely qualified to do a CD of songs by storied songwriter Bobby Charles. The enigmatic Charles, a Cajun from south Louisiana, is known for penning classic swamp pop and bayou ballads that mix defiance and heartache.

On the 10-track disc, McKee offers hip takes on Charles' hits ("See You Later Alligator," "Walking to New Orleans," "Tennessee Blues") as well as funky, emotional renditions of lesser known numbers such as "I'm That Way" and "I Don't Want to Know."

To have McKee and Charles both back in the spotlight with one CD makes "I'm That Way" an even more compelling collection.

— Jim Beal Jr.
- San Antonio Express

"Beth McKee"

The liner notes to Beth McKee's devotional to Bobby Charles call the music "swampy and soulful," and that is a perect summation of the collection. Charles was an omnipresent contributor to the Bayou's musical evolution, and is forever connected with ther unusual genre of swamp music. Part Cajun, part soul part Blues- and more. It's a style that has been associatied with the diverse likes of Fats Domino and Tom Jones. Ain, in doing so, they have usually been singing Bobby Charles tunes. Hardly lyrically profound, and that is not the point, the message is one of love, attraction and subsequent disappointment. The stages between romance and rebellion are covered in all of McKee's chosen numbers, some of which will be more familiar than others. Subtle and unsubtle vocals compete with flamboyant sax, intruding guitar, and around again. "But I Do" crosses the generations and will nag like a frustrating pub pop quiz question. 'Tennessee Blues' is a cosy croon that is indicative of the Charles flavour. It's recommended for fans who have recently tuned into the likes of Beth Rowley, and for those hungry for more from the Fats Domino menu. Of course stalwarts of Bobby Charles and fans of Beth McKee, it is her album after all, will find the album a real treat. Louisiana laughter amongst New Orleans nobility. - Blues Matters

"Beth McKee brings New Orleans charm to Orlando"

Orlando is a long way from New Orleans, but it didn’t seem that far away on Saturday at McWell’s. Orlando Singer-pianist Beth McKee, celebrating the release of her I’m That Way CD, injected plenty of rich Big Easy charm into every moment of a generous, rollicking night of tunes. It was in her voice, equipped with both power and an engaging twang, and in her piano playing. The latter is defined by a percolating left hand that effortlessly pushed along the funky New Orleans beat.

I’m That Way makes the most of her attributes in a collection of songs by the iconic songwriter Bobby Charles. He’s best known for helping Fats Domino write the classic "Walking to New Orleans" and for his own "See You Later Alligator." Both were included in the mix on Saturday. Like much of the material, the tunes were a showcase for the rhythm section anchored by McKee’s husband, drummer Juan Perez.

Perez played with understated precision as part of a big band that featured bassist Gery Wilhelm, guitarists Timmy Kelliher and Tommy Calton and saxophonists Charlie DeChant and Jerry Embree. The combination of tenor and baritone saxes put the muscle behind R&B tunes such as "I Don’t Want to Know" and "I Spent All My Money Lovin’ You."
The two guitar players also added distinctive touches. Calton specialized in the jazzier solos, while Kelliher’s Telecaster was used to crank out rougher edged rock and blues.

The big band sound was a contrast to the tuneful acoustic set by opening act Rick Birkbeck and Friends. The guitar strumming was enlivened by the presence of mandolinist Bill Jickell. The group’s vision was most fully realized on the frisky, almost gypsy jazz romp through the Beatles "Eleanor Rigby."

Although McKee and her band didn’t turn down the heat too often, the group showed its range on the delicate "I Don’t See Me." McKee’s accordion gave the ballad the right measure of wistfulness. Mostly, however, the band kept the energy high, tearing through old Wanda Jackson tunes, an occasional country classic ("Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down") or vintage rock n roll tune in addition to the album material.

Whatever direction McKee and the band decided to go, however, the groove somehow always ended up in New Orleans.

- Orlando Sentinel- Jim Abbott

"I'm That Way"

Singer Beth McKee has come up with a knock-out collection fo Bobby Charles songs. Charles as written some of Pop's most iconic'songs hitting it big time with "See You LAter Alligator' while still a teenager, other early hits include 'But I Do' and of course 'Walkin' to New Orleans' a mojor chart success for Fats Domino, All are included on "I'm That Way". McKee has a great voice and has already had a brush with fame as part of the all female group Evangeline that Jimmy Buffett signed over a decade ago. When the group split she pursued a solo career in Austin before settling in Orlando. As a southerner, she shares an affinity with Bobby Charles and her soulful vocals just makes you stop and listen, turn up the volume and soak the magic up. McKee has wisely stuck to the originals, but at the same time has put her stamp on them with a fuller sound and beefier arrangements will all credit to the excellent backing band which includes her husband Juan Perez on drums and percussion, horns plus McKee also contributes piano, keyboards and accordion. Of the lesser known songs, "Small Town Talk" and "I Don't Want to Know" stand out to remind you what great songwriting is all about full of sadness about life's lost loves and struggles. This is one terrific album that I can't stop playing, it's that good and Bobby Charles is literally singing it's praises and doing his best to secure a national release. - Blue Suede News- Rick Meek

"CD review: I’m That Way"

Orlando’s Beth McKee was once a member of the roots
New Orleans outfit Evangeline, and that Big Easy spirit is evident in this solo CD.
I’m That Way (available on has the additional benefit of being a collection of songs by the iconic Bobby Charles. If you don’t know, he wrote “See You Later, Alligator” and “Walking to New Orleans.”
Both are included along with lesser-known gems that illustrate the power of Charles’ economical wordplay and melodies. McKee- backed by a studio band that includes her husband, drummer Juan Perez- brings her own attributes. Her twangy voice falls between Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams. On piano, her driving left hand recalls Professor Longhair.
Things shift from rockabilly to horn fueled R&B to understated ballads such as the wonderful “I Don’t Want to Know.” McKee makes it well worth getting to know these old songs again.

- Jim Abbott- Orlando Sentinel

"ry McKee, Malone to do "Pan-Fried" favorites"

Ever have one of those moments when the power of an old, almost forgotten song resurfaces to remind you of its enduring magic?

It happened to me a couple of weeks ago, sitting in a rehearsal room listening to Orlando singer-pianist Beth McKee, Subdude frontman Tommy Malone and friends launch into "When the Battle Is Over."

It's an old Delaney & Bonnie tune that connects the dots between gospel and Southern rock, a territory that will be ground-zero for the duo's "Pan-Fried" show on Saturday at the Plaza Theatre.

Although McKee, a former member of the New Orleans outfit Evangeline, had crossed musical paths with the Subdudes a few times in the 1990s, this is the first time that she and Malone have officially collaborated.

"We don't know if it's a band name or an event name," McKee says of the "Pan-Fried" concept, an idea of Malone's. "It has almost turned into an adjective and a verb and a noun in our vocabulary."

She hopes to expand the idea at some point, maybe incorporating a chef into the picture to whip up some Southern delicacies.

Musically, the menu will include an assortment of Southern-flavored chestnuts (such as the aforementioned Delaney & Bonnie tune), a few Subdudes' songs and solo material by McKee and Malone. The headliners will be accompanied by a lean ensemble: drummer Juan Perez (McKee's husband) and Orlando bassist Gery Wilhelm.

There also will be a few new songs that were composed during the relatively brief rehearsals. With Malone in Nashville, Tenn., and McKee in Orlando, the "Pan-Fried" relationship has been a long-distance one.

"That's where the digital technology has been incredible," McKee says. "Tommy was here for four days and by then we had gone over everything already and chosen the songs we were going to do.

"We all had mp3s of the original versions and we shared files, lyric sheets and stuff. He'd take it and work on it and shoot it back."

Part of the set list will be devoted to songs off McKee's new album, I'm That Way. It's a collection of old-school R&B covers by iconic new Orleans songwriter Bobby Charles, known for classics such as "See You Later Alligator" and "Walking to New Orleans."

The disc has garnered glowing reviews, especially in niche publications related to the Americana and Triple A (Adult Album Alternative) formats. The labels occasionally confound McKee, who always considered herself R&B. Of course, that term is more Beyonce than Etta James now.

"I don't know what I am," McKee says with a laugh.

Although the "Pan-Fried" idea is an inspired one, logistics may conspire against additional Malone-McKee shows The Subdudes have just released a new album, Flower Petals, and Malone will be busy on the road with that band.

McKee, meanwhile, is lining up some fall dates of her own, including an Oct. 24 show with Orlando blues band Galloway-Kelliher at McWell's in Orlando.

Hopefully, she says, the "Pan-Fried" notion will live on:

"I'd love to see it develop into something. Have some other folks on it and kick up a storm."
- Orlando Sentinel- Jim Abbott

"New Orleans Offbeat"

The ladies love Bobby Charles. McKee, ex-Evangeline and ex-Mid City, devotes this album entirely to his songs, and Shannon McNally has her own similar project on the way. Maybe Bobby’s become the Louisiana Leonard Cohen, but where with Cohen the women who have taken on his catalog tend to dig for the poetic feminine aspect encased in the author’s robust (if Zen) manliness, McKee goes at the Charles canon with all the daintiness of a starving person let loose on a plate of barbecue. Man or woman. And it’s the absolute right approach for material from the Bard of the Bayous, Guru of the Gulf, Sage of the Swamps. She doesn’t waste any effort searching for subtext in, for example, the opening “I Spent All My Money Lovin’ You” or “See You Later Alligator” (the writer’s teenaged publishing debut from more than five decades ago). The occasional double entendre aside, Charles doesn’t really do subtext, and that’s part of the beauty of his catalog. The only sub that matters here is the underlying growl that marks these performances—blasting saxes, slashing and sliding guitars, burbling organ and piano (McKee leading the way on the latter) and earthy beats (from hubby/co-producer Juan Perez) all keyed to McKee’s naturally lusty vocals.

There are no attempts to evoke the original or familiar versions, be they from Fats (“Walking To New Orleans”), Frogman (“But I Do”) or the expressive author himself (pretty much all of them, at one time or another), though her heartfelt rendition of the title confessional does recall the 1972 Tracy Nelson version—inevitable given their comparable vocal gifts. That’s all trickier than it might seem. Charles’ songs are certainly adaptable, but not always forgiving. Going for novelty on the lighter ones trivializes them. Going for pure sentiment on the ballads turns them to mush. McKee gets that every step of the way. And it’s the latter that provides this album’s closing triumph when McKee switches to accordion for “I Don’t See Me.” Even in that downcast observation, McKee embodies Charles’ plain-spoken wisdom—no self-pity, no subtext. That’s Louisiana Zen.
- Steve Hochman

"I'm That Way by Bill Bentley"

Sometimes a collection of songs is so flat-out right all you can do is shake your head and smile. Which is exactly what I’m That Way makes you do. Beth McKee is a deeply moving Southern singer who loves the music of songwriter Bobby Charles so much she has recorded a whole album of his knocked-out originals, which just happen to be some of the best songs ever written. McKee’s voice is an amazing thing. She sounds like the woman of your dreams, a lady who has lived life from a lot of angles and kept a purity of feeling that comes across in everything she does. At the same time she obviously knows the score, sort of like Philip Marlowe’s sweetheart, with a heart of honey and a soul of gold. That’s how wonderful the album sounds. Of course, Charles’ bulls-eye writing perfectly sets the stage, ranging from first hit “See You Later Alligator” to classics like “But I Do” and “Walkin’ to New Orleans,” right through “Tennessee Blues” and “Last Train to Memphis.” The center of this music comes from southern Louisiana, where frivolity and pain have made a pact to live side-by-side without complaining, each nourishing the opposing elements of the other. The great vocalists, which McKee clearly is, know this and find a way to blend the two into a seamless whole to help us understand the duality of the human condition, and how so much beauty could also be surrounded by such sadness. No one here gets out alive, they say, but as long as there are artists like Bobby Charles and Beth McKee to remind us of the joy of the moment and the eternity of love, the complaint line remains closed. Yeah you right.

Album available at CD Baby.

"I'm That Way- Jim Markel"

Is it something in the water? Something in the land? People can analyze all they want, but Southerners have a different relationship to music than others. Beth McKee is prime example number one.

This Jackson, MS girl has toughed it out as a musician with a career that has been going strong for a good, long while. Her one brush with fame so far has been with the band Evangeline that Jimmy Buffett signed to his now-defunct Margaritaville Records. This wonderful all-female ensemble formed in New Orleans nearly made it big. Their second record actually featured "She's A Wild One" that later became Faith Hill's first huge hit.

That's the biz. What launches one career can often be the end of another. Still, McKee pressed on spending time in Austin before relocating to Orlando, where she now lives with her husband and collaborator, Juan Perez.

For artists like McKee, music is not a piece of fashion or stage in life. It is life. It is a vocation, a calling. She gives meaning to the term "working musician" as someone who lives by and on the power of the music she creates. With her musical journey through wonderful towns like Austin and New Orleans staying close in her rear view mirror, McKee chose a perfect way to truly launch herself as a solo artist.

I'm That Way is an album totally made up of Bobby Charles songs. This is an apt match because Charles's long and deep influence on music has been relegated to unfair obscurity in the same way talented artists like McKee have too often found themselves.

I say "unfair obscurity" because Charles has written a canon of classic songs, two of which ("See You Later Alligator" and "Walking To New Orleans") McKee covers on I'm That Way. If an artist had written only one of those hits let alone two, he should be known throughout the world. "Alligator" was one of the first rock and roll records and "Walking" is easily one of the most important New Orleans songs in a town that also birthed most of our modern music traditions.

An ethnic cajun born in Abbeville, LA, Bobby Charles defines Swampland artistry at its finest. He grew up listening to his native cajun music mixed with Hank Williams on the radio. After hearing Fats Domino as a teenager, Charles and his musical journey reached a new threshold.

From there, he became a songwriter and recording artist. When he began to have some local hits with his wonderful amalgam of country, blues, soul, and R&B, during a time when most of these genres didn't even officially exist, Charles was signed as an artist to Chess Records, the Chicago-based label that was home to transplanted Southern legends like Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf. Imagine their surprise, when Charles arrived in Chicago as a white cajun, not the black man the Chess Brothers expected to see.

Any early hope Bobby Charles had in establishing a career as a recording artist was over before it started.

Charles later turned up in Woodstock in 1972 on the lam from a drug possession charge in Nashville. He quickly fell in with the Band, made his first official solo album, and appeared in the Last Waltz. From there, he went dormant again only to reemerge with a handful of great solo albums appearing in each of the last three decades.

McKee couldn't have chosen a better man for a musical tribute, and she's also the perfect person to do it. I'm That Way draws upon Charles's entire career showing that his gift for songwriting never seems to fail him even though the "hits" dried up many years ago.

For those that have heard Charles's records (and everyone should), he reveals himself as an extremely moving singer and performer. His recordings feel like conversations with a wonderful character that you might meet on a bar stool well off the main streets in New Orleans.

As opposed to so many tributes that have multiple artists, McKee acting as the single voice for Charles's musical legacy works far better. She understands this music. She also can perform with the same languid vocals, the same Louisiana piano flavor, and the same heart and emotion as a musician who knows what it's like when music remains your life's primary calling.

A special note should also go to all the people involved in this wonderful project. McKee's husband, Juan Perez, co-produced and plays drums. Perez is part of the same loose Orlando collective that is also responsible for the Galloway Kelliher album that ended up as one of 2008's best releases according to GRITZ.

If there is any justice, I'm That Way should open the world's eyes to the talents of both McKee and Charles. Even if it does not, we all know that both of these true artists will continue to make their music keeping our Footprint's strong musical legacy alive for generations to come.



I'm That Way- Beth McKee
Louisiana Roots- Beth McKee & Catahoula Blue
French Quarter Moon- Evangeline (MCA)
Evangeline- Evangeline (MCA)
"Last Train to Memphis" is getting daily airplay on XM Radio's Bluesville Channel.




Available worldwide on Solo2 Records via Burnside Distribution

Imagine the female love child of Dusty Springfield and Doug Sahm with Dr. John acting as the midwife…

…and you’ll have an idea of the southern roots music with elements of rock, blues, soul, gospel and country that defines artist Beth McKee.

McKee is a Southern singer/songwriter/pianist/accordion player backed by seasoned musicians from outfits like Hall & Oates, Bellamy Brothers, George Porter, Lester Chambers, etc. A former member of the popular New Orleans country-cajun group Evangeline (MCA Records) McKee toured extensively behind two critically acclaimed albums. L.A. Weekly raved Beth’s piano is “worthy of some Jerry Lee Lewis arson.”

Long before her career took off nationally, the Mississippi native played piano in church. She solidified her southern at Ole Miss. She played blues on the chitlin’ circuit from steamy juke joints to muddy hog farms, and emerged as a respected player on the New Orleans, Austin and Nashville music scenes.

In 2010, the self-released I’m That Way displays all those southern roots fusing to formulate her swampy and soulful musical identity.

Being swampy and soulful, it’s no surprise her first solo release is devoted to the songs of the late Louisiana legend Bobby Charles. As a member of the historic Chess Records roster in the 1950s, Charles wrote and recorded hits like “See You Later Alligator,” “But I Do” and “Walking to New Orleans.” McKee interprets these and Charles’ lesser known gems on I’m That Way.

In the last year of his life Bobby Charles said Beth McKee is “one talented lady with a great band” and characterized her voice as “easy on my mind.” McKee’s foray into the inimitable material of this bayou balladeer turns from an intimidating exercise to a license to be righteous as she gigs in support of the record.

In a letter from Mr. Charles shortly before his passing he thanks McKee for “making me feel so proud… doing my songs on your new CD.” He liked Beth’s musicianship and vocals so much he included her on his final album Timeless which was released in February, 2010.

“Louisiana IS Americana,” McKee says, “and when Bobby bared his soul in his work, it was as if he were baring the soul of Louisiana. Straightforward; passionate, fun-loving. When I sing his songs, I just have to lay it all out there, because Bobby was sincere to the core.”

Louisiana’s arts weekly Offbeat Magazine agreed by writing; “And it’s the absolute right approach for material from the Bard of the Bayous, Guru of the Gulf, Sage of the Swamps.”

Currently a central Florida resident, McKee is still a mainstay on the New Orleans, Austin and Jackson, MS music scenes including a side project with Tommy Malone of the subdudes. She has performed with such legends as Buckwheat Zydeco, the subdudes, Marcia Ball, Jimmy Buffett, the Zion Harmonizers and many more. She’s performed from coast to coast, including concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, Antone’s, Tipitina’s and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

McKee is backed by her husband and co-producer Juan Perez, an acclaimed drummer and percussionist in his own right (he was drummer on The Bellamy Brothers’ many #1 Country hits). Beth plays accordion, and most evidently, is a remarkable piano talent. The Orlando Sentinel’s Jim Abbott, who compares Beth’s vocals to Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams, notes: “On piano, her driving left hand recalls Professor Longhair.” When reviewed in concert, the Nashville Scene raved “The show was stolen however by…Mississippi native Beth McKee” The review “put her in a class with a young Bonnie Raitt.”

Once a budding southern belle. Then a top country-cajun MCA recording artist. Recently an interpreter of Louisiana classics. In 2011 Beth McKee will release a CD with original songs of journeys, love, loss, hope and being on the verge…all wrapped in McKee’s sassy southern styles.

In the meantime she continues to collaborate with her husband Juan and producer Tony Battaglia. McKee is completing a collaborative song and short story collection about lost souls in southern Alabama, and of course she keeps her toes wet in the Nashville/New Orleans/Austin music scenes.