Katy Moffatt
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Katy Moffatt

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In all her albums and her appearances, Katy Moffatt is indeed a storyteller. Her voice has many shades of meaning as well as memory. She illuminates - in natural light - the characters and the places in her songs... her passion is the abiding force in her music.

~Nat Hentoff, Wall Street Journal

“Anyone unaffected should check their pulse”

~Fred Dellar, Mojo

“Well-crafted songs frame her rich, thick soprano . . . exquisite.”

~ Dave Zimmerman, USA Today

“With a musical palette that spills over into folk, rock, blues, and country idioms, Moffatt is convincing on many levels. Vulnerable or sassy, her voice can gently soothe or ache one moment and rock - even bite - the next.

~John Roos, Los Angeles Times

“One of the most highly respected originators of country rock . . . any discussion of Moffatt’s work begins with talk of her tender but powerful voice and ends with glowing praise for her considerable gifts as a lyricist.”

~ Oklahoma Gazette

“[She] conjures a world of heartaches and sweet melancholy with a heart-stopping depth of feeling.

~Nick Cristiano, Philadelphia Inquirer


“Moffatt has managed to find a soft spot between hypertraditionalism and the edgier aspect of alternative country . . . [she] shows the kind of verve and style that should, by all rights, be the future of country.”

~Brian Baker, Country Standard Time

“A singer/songwriter/troubadour of the highest order.”

~Keith Glass, Melbourne Herald Sun

“This red-haired Texan belts, wails and caresses lyrics that are both bright and biting.”

~ Bill Bell, NY Daily News

“Katy Moffatt is all perfection and substance. Both in the studio and on stage, she reaches out to her audience and takes them by the heart. As both an interpreter and a marvelous voice for her own compositions, Moffatt sparkles.”

~All Music Guide

“She lays herself bare with uncommon grace and assurance.”

~ John T. Davis, Austin American Statesman

“A sophisticated singer-songwriter, Moffatt brings her alternately sweet and sassy soprano and skillful guitar playing to bear on a blue streak of songs about the dark side of romance.”

~Bob Townsend, No Depression

“Moffatt is a very visual songwriter. Her songs are filled with impossible dreams and drink-sodden memories brought to life by the heartfelt longing in the woman’s rich vocals.”

~ Ann Scanlon, Vox

“Moffatt’s ability to combine tenderness with intensity and fragility with self-assuredness shine brightly.”

~ Marc Greilsamer, Amazon.com



“One woman, one guitar, brilliantly written songs delivered with passion and empathy. This crowd brought her back for three encores.”

~ The Timaru Herald, New Zealand

“This is her beat; where she can see the whites of her audience’s eyes and the requests come – and she sings them – from 2 songs in.”

~The Glasgow Herald, Scotland

“Moffatt’s solo outing stole the show.”

~ Lexington Herald, Kentucky

”She quietly walks on, alone, starts picking her guitar and instantly mesmerizes the crowd. Great songs come thick and fast.”

~ Country Music International, United Kingdom

“Her act was top-notch – the commanding voice, expert acoustic guitar work, and great songs.”

~Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Her powerful, captivating voice was capable of shifting gears quickly and effortlessly. Her originals possess sophistication.”

~Edmonton Journal, Alberta, Canada

“Moffatt’s warm and supple voice curls around a lyric like smoke around a flame.”

~Austin American-Statesman

“If ever there was the perfect singer-songwriter it is Katy Moffatt. Her songs are drenched in emotion, her voice perhaps the most searingly beautiful thing you’ll ever hear.”

~London Daily Express

“I’ve never seen Katy Moffatt give less than 200% effort onstage.”

~Brum Beat, Great Britain

- USA Today, MOJO, The Sunday Times, many more


Years ago, the then unknown pianist Cecil Taylor was sitting in at a jam session with some veteran jazz players. As uncategorizable then as he is now, Taylor, in the middle of a solo, ducked as a large cymbal was hurled at him from across the room. It had been thrown by the famed ex-Basie drummer Jo Jones. He was expressing his acute disdain for this person who was so far outside the mainstream that you couldn't tell what style he'd be in from one chorus to the next.

In nearly all of music, most performers who do not stay within a recognizable style have a long and hard time gaining widespread recognition, if they ever do. The critics, the club and concert bookers, and the record companies generally do not like trying to sell players who can't be neatly packaged. An example is Peter Rowan, a fiery singer and bluegrass player (with Bill Monroe) who later moved into highly imaginative balladry. He never stayed in one groove long enough to become a star.

Katy Moffatt is a singer-composer who refuses to stay within a single genre because she is naturally protean. She has also shown a way to be on the road here and abroad ÷ often with more than 200 dates a year ÷ and develop an audience that seems to have memorized the lyrics on her recordings.

Moffatt, born in Fort Worth, Texas, and now a resident of Los Angeles, when she has the time, was one of the originators of country rock; is skilled at classic country songs of fractured love; has mastered the art of country blues; and can bring alive the twilit spirit of traditional ballads, making them sound autobiographical.

In her new album, "Midnight Radio" (Watermelon Records, Austin, Texas), her own songs, often co-written with Tom Russell, go as far back as when she was a girl "and the Texas moon was shinin' through my window / As I dreamt of all the places I would go / Listening to those voices on the midnight radio."

In one song, "There's a fat man in an overcoat / Singin' as though his heart was broke / . . . On a street where nobody hears." And in another lyric, Sojourner Truth, hearing someone claim that God is not a woman, asks, "Well tell me where'd you get your Christ? / Born of a woman, yeah, God and a woman."

In a song for Dylan Thomas, "Sparrow of Swansea," Katy Moffatt sees "Now he sails / O'er the snail-horned churches / O'er the three-legged horses / Through the grey misty mornin's / In the Southwest of Wales" until, downed, in the White Horse Tavern in New York, "He took eighteen straight shots / From a barrel of whiskey."

This unconstrained, red-headed bard first went on the road in 1976 as the opening act for Muddy Waters. "He was a very generous, encouraging man," she recalls. Since then, she has frequently played in Canada and in England, France and Scandinavia. "The culture in countries like Norway," she says, "is not as assaultive as ours. The people are more literary, more literate. They really like lyrics." With Moffatt's music, the lyrics can be heard, and are worth hearing. "The audiences in those countries," Moffatt notes, "are fresher. They're removed from the American machine."

Still, she gets a lot of gigs in the states ÷ playing colleges, folk festivals, and often doing solo dates ÷ Moffatt and her guitar. "She can handle solo engagements because she is a first-rate musician," says Tom Russell, himself a guitarist as well as a composer. "She knows chords. She can play nuanced passing chords interweaving with her melodies. And those melodies are very strong because she's such a strong singer."

So Katy Moffatt makes a living and sees the world. Or much of it. She played a week in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1991, and she's open to any place where listeners are intrigued by music that tells stories and where they're not disturbed by a musician who can't be categorized.

"In the early 1970s," Moffatt told me, "I was with Columbia Records for four years. The A & R people kept admonishing me for having 'too many styles.' But you know, I never felt that criticism from audiences on the road.

"The only thing I've wanted and worked for from the beginning was simply to make a living-playing my music for people who want to hear it. It doesn't matter how big an audience, or where it is. And being able to play all these places makes me truly appreciate my audiences. They're open to music without labels."

In all of her albums and her appearances, Katy Moffatt is indeed a storyteller. Her voice has many shades of meaning as well as memory. She illuminates ÷ in natural light the characters and the places in her songs, and even the weather.

In his liner notes to "Midnight Radio," Tom Russell brings Katy Moffatt back to the start: "A red-haired Texas girl goes to sleep at nine, wakes up at midnight in the luminous glow of a clock radio. The music plays low-those Jimmy Webb songs, three-minute short stories; lost highways from Phoenix to Wichita; the world beyond Forth Worth.

"The young dreamer grows up to write and sing short stories of her own.... Folk, Country, Blues, Rock . . . She erases the boundaries."

And her passion ÷ "sometimes considered and sometimes unbridled," she says ÷ is the abiding force in her music:
"I'd rather lie alone
And dream of the angel I once knew
Than to sleep beside
The demon you've become."
- The Wall Street Journal by Nat Hentoff


Discography


Katy On The Record(s)

TRILOGY
(Floating World/Evangeline, 2009)

FEWER THINGS
(Zeppelin, 2008)

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
(Fuel, 2005)

KATY and
KISSIN’ IN THE CALIFORNIA SUN
(Demon, 2002; originally released 1976/1978)

COWBOY GIRL
(Shanachie, 2001)

LOOSE DIAMOND
(Hightone, 1999)

ANGEL TOWN
(HMG, 1998; Panther City, 1998)

MIDNIGHT RADIO
(Watermelon, 1996; CMLO, 2000)

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
(Rounder, 1996)

DANCE ME OUTSIDE
(Philo, 1995)

TULARE DUST
(Hightone, 1994)

HEARTS GONE WILD
(Watermelon, 1994)

THE EVANGELINE HOTEL
(Philo, 1993)

THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
(Centerfire, 1993)

INDOOR FIREWORKS
(Red Moon, 1992)

CHILD BRIDE
(Philo, 1990)
I

WALKIN’ ON THE MOON
(Philo, 1989)
Content copyright 2012. Jay Pilzer. All rights reserved.

Photos

Bio

“Anyone unaffected should check their pulse”
~Fred Dellar, Mojo

“Well-crafted songs frame her rich, thick soprano . . . exquisite.”
~ Dave Zimmerman, USA Today

The most memorable American roots music -- be it western, country, folk, rock or the blues -- is always informed by a simple fact of life: you live and you learn. Just ask Katy Moffatt. Or better yet, listen to her sing, be it a song from her own prolific pen or a choice cut from a favorite songwriter. It’s clear that Katy sings and writes with the voice of hard-won authority. As BAM observes, “She doesn’t just hit the notes and get the words right; Moffatt evokes the emotions behind the tunes and meaning between the lines.”

Katy’s current project, Midnight Radio: A One-Woman Show, is the culmination of her years as a performing songwriter. Reflecting a passion for historical events, past and present, personal and farther afield, her songs shine a light on her life and the lives of generations of Americans. Never bound by the constraints of musical convention, Katy seamlessly weaves together a story that is at once singular and universal. This one-woman show is the history of a woman, all women, and a nation.

Debuting in 1976 with Katy on Columbia Records, Moffatt has continued to grow and expand her own artistry so effectively that November 2002 saw the reissue of her first two Columbia albums on compact disc. In 2008, she participated by special invitation in a star-studded tribute to Les Paul presented by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 2009 brought yet another reissue: a two-CD set called Trilogy, comprised of three significant albums first released in the 1990’s. In 2010, the esteemed Dutch label, Strictly Country, announced the release of Playing Fool, a 15-song CD of performances, mostly duets, recorded live in Europe. Hers is a career marked by consistent critical acclaim, industry appreciation (a 1985 Academy of Country Music nomination as Best New Female Vocalist), movie appearances (Billy Jack, Hard Country and The Thing Called Love), songs covered (by talents such as Hoyt Axton and Janie Fricke), and an album that outsold Garth Brooks on the U.K. country charts (The Greatest Show on Earth a.k.a. The Evangeline Hotel, which stayed on those charts for six months).
But then again, Katy Moffatt has been learning her lessons well ever since she first became enthralled with music as a child growing up in Fort Worth. Captivated by Broadway show tunes, the Beatles and Motown, she was an avid listener to Top 40 radio and says, “I used to come home from school, have dinner, go to bed, and set the alarm for midnight. Then I’d get up and do my homework and listen to the radio. It was my favorite time -- I could be alone with the music.” This she recalls in Midnight Radio, the title song of her lauded second Watermelon Records release, which was preceded by the Gavin Americana Chart success Hearts Gone Wild.

By high school, she was absorbing Tom Rush, Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen (whose ‘Dress Rehearsal Rag,’ Katy says, “made me want to perform”.) Later, Tracy Nelson and Ella Fitzgerald, (whose version of the Cole Porter gem, ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ would later inspire Katy’s brilliant acoustic adaptation of the song on 1998’s Angel Town) became vocal touchstones for Moffatt, who recalls that “as soon as I started performing, I knew this was what I wanted to do. But there weren’t many places for a young girl to perform.” Early gigs included a small Ft. Worth coffeehouse, an old folks home (where her audience included Willie Nelson’s grandmother), and a Neiman-Marcus fashion show with a then-trendy folk music theme. During her college years in Santa Fe, she fronted blues and jugband groups, starred in her “one and only musical” (The Fantastiks), and was cast as a folksinger in Billy Jack. After college, she spent time in Austin opening shows for the likes of Jerry Jeff Walker and Willis Alan Ramsey before landing in Denver, where she was discovered by Columbia Records.
Her two Columbia albums Katy (produced by Billy Sherrill) and Kissin’ in the California Sun won rave notices from Rolling Stone and Newsweek, but the ever eclectic Moffatt found herself caught in the crossfire between country and pop divisions of a large corporate record company. “I started six albums, finished three, and two were released,” she recalls. “I often had marvelous opportunities and no way to maximize them.” Eventually, Katy found a greater satisfaction was to be had by simplifying: first, making records under her own terms, then making licensing agreements for them. “This made much more sense to me,” she adds. “It removed a tremendous disconnect.”

A move to California in 1979 landed her within a burgeoning community of like-minded country rockers, and after recording an album for Permian/MCA (yielding three single releases which earned her the ACM nomination), Moffatt appeared on the groundbreaking A Town South of Bakersfield compilation amid kindred spirit