Kate Gaffney
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Kate Gaffney


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""The New Then" Review - Citypaper"

"Gaffney has the kind of voice that makes you believe in reincarnation. Beyond the deliciously low range, the absolute self-assurance of her delivery is rare in youth. "Tired Wired" shares its title with her production company and will resonate with everyone who has more creative ambition, more desire to live and enjoy than can fit into the hours in the day...Mandolin is a fine surprise in these otherwise rock arrangements. Area booker Jesse Lundy's rock guitar is polished and discreet, the right tool for the job at all times." - Mary Armstrong, Philadelphia Citypaper, September 29, 2005
- Philadelphia Citypaper

""The New Then" Review - Sing Out! Magazine"

“Kate Gaffney’s exuberance buoys her debut full-length album. From the opening ‘She Knows’ to the mournful closer ‘Unleashed,’ she commands the spotlight at stage center with a tough, tight band featuring Jesse Lundy’s guitar leads. Kate’s songs show a woman discovering herself more caught up in the journey than the goal. Kate’s contralto voice is captivating. Strong presence marks this impressive effort.” – Michael Tearson, SingOut! Magazine, Spring 2006 - Sing Out! Magazine

""The New Then" Review - Maximum Ink"

“Skinny as a sapling with the biggest voice that you’ve ever heard, Philadelphia girl Kate Gaffney kicks out her latest CD, The New Then, with such power and daring-do that it raises the standard for other Americana musicians to such new heights that few will be able to achieve. Gaffney sings about sex, life and partying in a natural and liberating approach that offers no excuses and no shame. Hailed as the next Joan Baez, I agree—Except Gaffney has more balls in her little finger than Baez ever had.” David Kulczyk, Maximum Ink, Sacramento, CA, November 2005 - Maximum Ink - Sacramento, CA

""Highways" Review - Citypaper"

"Philly's Kate Gaffney is not one of those wispy singer-songwriters who laments deep, deep troubles with a butterfly voice and wallflower melodies. The first plucked, brooding notes on her Highways EP let you know she's down there in the dust with the beaten down people she's singing about. Which makes sense; it's her personal pains and ponderings that propel most of the lyrics. Gaffney's voice walks a mysterious middle range, somewhere between the bluesy depths of Tracy Chapman and the white-wine clarity of Natalie Merchant. So, where other acoustic artistes try to take you on cross-country drives and into smoky bars with their helpless words alone, Gaffney can build to a roaring, soaring chorus and put you anywhere she wants." - Patrick Rapa, Philadelphia Citypaper, January 27, 2005 - Philadelphia Citypaper

""Highways" Review - Philadelphia Inquirer"

"On her fine new EP, Highways, Kate Gaffney combines smokey, blues-tinged vocals into good country-rock arrangements." – Michael Harrington, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 28, 2005 - Philadelphia Inquirer

""Highways" Review - Philadelphia Daily News"

"An expressive vocalist and substantial song-scriber, Kate Gaffney celebrates the release of her nicely finessed EP." – Jon Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News, January 27, 2005 - Philadelphia Daily News

""The New Then" Review - Inspired by Songs of the 70s, Kate Gaffney adds a modern edge"

"...Her latest CD is The New Then (TiredWired), a collection of 11 songs that sometimes sound like Bonni Raitt's blues-rock, at other times Beatle-esque in harmonies and instrumentation. Some of the songs eve have a Grateful Dead/jam-band sensibility...

Ms. Gaffney has a low voice, a delicious contrast to many of the more ethereal sounding sopranos in the singer-songwriter world. Although she admires Ms. Raitt and Janis Joplin, and some in the business have said she sounds like a young Joan Baez, Ms. Gaffney says men in music have been a much bigger influence. If she doesn't ape the leather lungs of Robert Plant, she's absorbed his "body of work" with Led Zeppelin. Along with the Beatles, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jim Croce, it's what got her through high school..."
--Susan Van Dogen, Princeton Packet, March 17, 2006
- Princeton Packet

"Vagabond Spirit"

By Naila Francis


The road to Kate Gaffney's fledgling music career has been an unlikely one.

The Chalfont resident never had aspirations of becoming a singer-songwriter.

Instead, music seemed to follow her - a subtle undercurrent weaving its way through the plots and stages of her life, always offering more before being swept away by life's many experiences.

It was a muse that led her away from Bucks County, where she was born and raised, to Sacramento, Calif., and the streets of San Francisco. It carried her to Austin, Texas, where she had the chance to stay and perhaps nurture it into something big, and eventually brought her back home - where she is now certain she was meant to be.

"I've been a drifter. I love to travel," says Gaffney, admitting that this time of year is usually when the wanderlust in her beckons. "But I needed to get back here to return to my roots. I wanted to stay somewhere where I could make something for myself."

Gaffney, who performs at The Point in Bryn Mawr tonight, believes she has found her place - and her voice - amid the Philadelphia area's burgeoning singer-songwriter scene. With radio stations such as WXPN (88.5 FM) and listening rooms like The Point, the newly opened World Caf‚ Live in Philadelphia and the Grape Street Pub in Manayunk, which has relocated to Main Street and added an acoustic lounge in addition to its main stage, she is confident the city is on its way to joining the ranks of noted music towns such as Austin.

"I see that potential in Philly," she says. "The music seems to be flourishing here, and it's only going to get better. If I can be a part of that and bring people together - I want to be successful personally, but I also want success for the greater good, to see the music scene grow."

It appears she's off to a good start. Back home for a little less than a year, she's got herself a regular gig at Dawson Street Pub in Manayunk - in addition to making the usual round of bars and open mike nights - and beginning in November, she will host a showcase of local talent at the World Caf‚ Live, where she recently performed during a private grand-opening ceremony.

"The leaves are going to fall," says Gaffney, excited about experiencing her first autumn in three years, "and I feel that musically, things are starting to fall into place for me."

Arriving at this point took some courage - to let go of the things that no longer served her, and to listen to her intuition.

Gaffney, 25, speaks with a wisdom that belies her years, a quality that also infuses her music. Tall and slight, with a deceiving fragility to her features, she often surprises people when she sings with a voice that, against the backdrop of her acoustic guitar, is deep, warm and full, tutored by life experiences. There is a power in it that catches one off guard, whether she's being mournful, leaving a lover to embark on her own journey of self-discovery, or playfully ruminating on life on the road.

"It's rock 'n' roll, but not just rock music," she says. "It's got some folk to it. It's got soul. It's got blues."

It has been so tough for her to categorize her sound, which she says is so unique to her, she previously went as "Just Kate." Even one of her first EPs was released with that moniker. Coming back home, though, meant affirming a more solid identity, and while the name may not exactly convey what she's all about, her music certainly speaks to her beliefs.

Rooted firmly in the great folk tradition of Bob Dylan, Jim Croce and Janis Joplin, with an edge borrowed from artists such as Van Morrison and Led Zeppelin, there is an honesty to it, the feel of another era.

"I always said the music of the '60s and '70s got down to the nitty-gritty," says Gaffney. "It wasn't pretentious. It just sort of hit you, no strings attached. To me, that's good music, something that moves me, something I can listen to that strikes a chord."

Although she loved music as a child and sang in choir in grade school, piano classes were cut short in a fit of rebellion.

"My sister took piano lessons," she says. "She was the drama/artsy one. She did ballet. I really liked piano, but it conflicted with sports, and I think I wanted to do sports because it was the opposite of what my sister did."

After graduating from Lansdale Catholic High School, Gaffney attended Penn State University in Centre County, picking up the guitar there as a source of solace.

"I was 18 and I had left the love of my life in Bucks County and I had to go away to college," she explains.

But singing and performing always seemed to take a back seat to her relationships, despite her penchant for falling for other musicians. When Gaffney moved to Sacramento after graduating with a degree in applied developmental psychology, it was to be with a boyfriend from college. But she always harbored a nagging concern.

"I wasn't really being creative, I wasn't being artistic in that relationship," she says. "Instead of both of us being creative and nurturing our creative sides, we kind of let it go to crap. That was something I really needed to look at."

Catching a performance by emerging singer-songwriter Jackie Greene, whom she later became friends with, eventually turned the tide for her.

"He was brilliant to me," says Gaffney. "He had such stage presence. You just knew he had to be doing what he was doing."

She quit her job in social work to pursue music full time and left her relationship.

"I always had a boyfriend, from high school on," she says. "I knew I needed to be by myself, to live on my own. I lost myself in my relationships, in my work - I just had to figure out who I am."

She spent the next two years doing just that, as well as developing her talent, performing on the streets of San Francisco and in the cafes and clubs of Sacramento while learning from the various musicians she roomed with before deciding to head back East. She took her time getting there with a two-month road trip.

Austin proved one of her more memorable stops. Performing near a hotdog stand one day, she caught the attention of Clifford Antone, one of the city's legendary club owners. He asked her to play at one of his clubs and was instrumental in generating a buzz about her music in Austin. If she had decided to stay, Antone was ready to put the time and resources into developing her career.

"I just knew I had to move on," says Gaffney. "I know I came home for a reason."

After a summer spent working the shore scene, she has a new EP on the way and a schedule she's working hard and enthusiastically to fill.

"Those gigs were like boot camp, playing for four hours, doing covers and original stuff," she says of her shore dates. "But every gig is worth something. I'm just glad my job happens to be my passion."

Naila Francis can be reached at (215) 345-3149 or nfrancis@phillyBurbs.com.
- The Intelligencer, 10/14/04


Coming soon...

"The Coachman" (2008)
"The New Then" (2005)
"Highways" EP (2005)



Kate Gaffney returns to Northern California after spending the majority of 2007 in a Los Angeles studio recording her upcoming album "The Coachman" with producer Barrie Maguire (The Wallflowers, Natalie Merchant, Amos Lee). Musicians including Jackie Greene, Steve and John Kimock, and The Innocent Criminals all contributed to the record. Leaving her career as a social worker in 2002, Gaffney began to perform and write alongside local artists, while soaking in the Americana music scene that was flourishing in Sacramento at the time. It was in Northern California where Kate first found her musical calling and began to hone her skills as a songwriter. She hit the road and returned to her native East Coast, where she independently released "Highways" and "The New Then" in Philadelphia. Her regular touring led Kate to Austin, TX where she met even more of "the good people" in music. Most notably, Gaffney was befriended by the late Clifford Antone, Austin's music mogul, who gave her the validation to keep on with her musical calling. Gaffney spent recent years immersed in the Philadelphia music scene, quickly becoming a standout favorite in the city’s top venues. A permanent return to California was only a matter of time for Gaffney. It is there where she regains her musical roots and brings her throwback and contemporary sound back to the West Coast.