McCabe & Mrs. Miller
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McCabe & Mrs. Miller

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Band Americana


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"NYC Taper"

When Victor Krummenacher and Alison Faith Levy perform together as “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” the chemistry between the two is obvious. At Bowery Ballroom on Friday night, the duo opened for Camper Van Beethoven and provided a compelling fifty-minute set of bluesy-americana backed by a band of superb musicians. -

" Show Preview by Tony DuShane"

You're paying rent on a bar stool and have been sippin' away your troubles on the rocks. There's a band that tugs at your heart, giving you hope because they know sorrow. Who are these revealers of the...
McCabe and Mrs. Miller - CD Release Party this Saturday
McCabe and Mrs. Miller - CD Release Party this Saturday

You're paying rent on a bar stool and have been sippin' away your troubles on the rocks. There's a band that tugs at your heart, giving you hope because they know sorrow. Who are these revealers of the heart?
McCabe and Mrs. Miller

McCabe and Mrs. Miller

They express it with fiddle and perfect, delicate harmony. Alison Faith Levy belts it out from the toes of her soul, creating melody with Victor Krummenacher.

They are McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

They're San Francisco on a foggy night. They're the hope enveloping Twin Peaks when the mist bellows down the hill and takes reflection from the full moon.

Listening to McCabe and Mrs. Miller you'll hear a bit of Camper Van Beethoven. That's no coincidence since Victor Krummenacher from Camper is part of this collaboration.

Victor is the front man in this act with Alison Faith Levy. The duet explodes with chemistry as they spill their guts out in the language of Americana/roots music.

They're performing Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to celebrate their latest release, Time for Leaving. Get to The Makeout Room early since this is a happy hour show that ends at 9:30 p.m.

Sway me smooth, sway me now.

- San Francisco Chronicle, Nov 17, 2009

"Interview with Victor Krummenacher"

San Francisco-based band McCabe & Mrs. Miller, which features Camper Van Beethoven co-founder and bassist Victor Krummenacher and the Sippy Cups' Alison Faith Levy, will perform at Hotel Utah this Saturday night as part of the Fencepost Sessions. They will be playing songs from their debut album Time for Leaving, which will be released this spring.

Can't make it to Utah? Well, Krummenacher and his band will also be performing his solo material at the Eagle Tavern on March 5.

Quinn Miller spoke to Krummenacher recently about his latest projects, Robert Altman's film of the same name, and more.

Miller: 'McCabe and Mrs. Miller' is a classic American film by Robert Altman and now, also a collaboration between yourself and Alison Faith Levy. Can you explain what brought you together?

Krummenacher : Alison was playing in, I guess basically you’d call it a children’s band, called the Sippy Cups. And Alison and I have been friends for at least ten, maybe fifteen years, and we’ve played music together at various points but we talked about collaborating. About a year ago she came to me and said “I need to write some adult songs, I’m tired of writing children’s songs right now. I just want to try and do something else.” And it’s not that she had any intention of quitting the Sippy Cups, because that’s something she loves dearly, but she just wanted to go down a different avenue, because she’d been focused in one way and not really writing for somebody of her own age group or demographic or however you want to put that. So, I said “let’s get together” and she came over and basically we sat in the living room and wrote songs. Very, very straightforward - just, “Let’s try this, let’s try that” and this is the first time I’d done anything like that and it’s been very comfortable and really successful for us I think.

M: How do you approach songwriting, Victor? Is there a particular process that you follow?

K: No, if I have a good story that’s usually the best place to go. I’m really a storyteller anymore and I think it took me a long time to realize that, but I’ve always had a penchant for stories. My family history is filled with a lot of wild anecdotes, and I’ve really found the more I talk about what I know and people I know and the more I can actually put it in story form, which is to say, give it a plot line, the more impressions I can develop, the better read I get, the easier it is for people react to it. I spent a long time kind of mining the more abstract side of songwriting and I wasn’t as successful. I made a decision, I don’t think it was even really a conscious decision, but I just became a lot more idiomatic in what I’m doing, which is to say simpler songs, maybe a little more blues-based. For a long time I listened to a lot of blues and folk music, but I wasn’t necessarily writing that way. In the last five or six years it’s really gone in that direction. Maybe all the way back to “Bittersweet” is where it started. The more I’ve gone in that direction, the more people have liked it (laughs), the better response I’ve gotten and the more satisfied I’ve actually felt, because it just feels like people can relate a little bit more. There’s no real rhyme or reason to it. If I have a good storyline in my head I can usually come up with a song to go around it.

M: You've assembled an illustrious band to present these songs, including some old friends from Camper Van Beethoven. Who will be appearing with you at the Hotel Utah?

K: The usual lineup when McCabe and Mrs. Miller plays electric is -- OK, I have Jonathan Segel on violin, guitar, mandolin, keyboards (kinda whatever’s around), and Alison plays piano and sings…she sometimes plays, sometimes doesn’t, she goes back and forth. For the last several years I’ve worked with a drummer named John Hanes out of Berkeley and John has written songs with Jim Pugh from Robert Cray’s band, he’s played drums for Sir Richard Thompson, Henry Kaiser, he’s actually pretty much my favorite drummer in the world and he’s a really excellent person, so he plays with me when I do solo shows and he plays with McCabe and Mrs. Miller when he’s available. And then Paul Olguin - I’m very finicky about the bass players I hire for obvious reasons and he is the best bass player I know and that’s a pretty long list of bass players. Paul is just a superb musician and an excellent person.

M: I’m glad you mentioned that, because I was listening to a McCabe and Mrs. Miller show from and I was pretty blown away, by the overall performance, but the rhythm section in particular was great. I figured that’s something you pay a lot of attention to.

K: Yeah, that’s absolutely crucial, I can’t function…I mean, I am the rhythm section of Camper long running and it has to have power. If there’s no power there, then it’s not gonna work. That’s always been my biggest problem with indie rock bands, frankly, is that their sense of rhythm is just crap (laughs) Groove to me is just key. It’s almost the whole thing right there. You don’t even have to have chord changes, you don’t even have to have melody, but you have to have pocket. I mean, it’s rock and roll. Even though there is a lot of jazz inflection in what I do, because I’m a huge fan of fifties and sixties jazz and I can go even further out than that. I like the inflection, I like nuance, I like to be able to play with that element, but it needs some drive and it needs some focus. With McCabe and Mrs. Miller the songs are really simple, so they need a pocket to push them.

M: You’ve always seemed to draw inspiration from a very wide pallet - punk, country, folk, “world music” before anyone was even calling it that, among other genres…is that attributable to an incredibly eclectic record collection or are there other forces at work here?

K: I think it’s attributable to just having an open mind and being continually curious. I don’t think I’ve ever run into a musical style that I thought was completely invalid even if I didn’t like it. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of New Age music, but being in this area it’s kind of hard not to know some musicians who have mined that realm. Some people who have been pigeonholed as “New Age musicians” are really bluegrass guys who just want to go back and play blues songs in their hotel rooms and drink bourbon and smoke cigars. My point of view on it is all music’s good, all music’s valid, some I like more than others, but a it’s a completely subjective art form. I mean, it’s art, there’s no right or wrong to it! For me good music has some soul to it, has some emotion to it and if it’s devoid of that, I have no interest. Top 40 music today it just sounds like a machine to me. I have no ability to relate to it, but then Richard Thompson might find a Brittany Spears song he likes and he plays it and you listen it and go, “Wow, that’s actually a good song.” And I think as I get older it’s just maintaining an open mind and a passion about things. That’s the most important thing. Now it’s really easy to have Attention Deficit Disorder, but in the late seventies and early eighties it was harder, you had to mine a little bit more, but Camper was filled with people who would go to a record store and ask the clerk for the weirdest record they could get! (laughs) That’s just kind of how we function. Jonathan and I have been on that jag for years and years, but we’re all fans more than anything else. More than anything else Camper is a bunch of fans playing music and with McCabe and Mrs. Miller it’s the same thing. I mean we all listen to a lot of music. With McCabe and Mrs. Miller, there’s a lot of really specific stuff, it’s soul, old blues, British folk-rock overtones, a little touch of Led Zeppelin and just some darkness and weirdness from some other places and you add that to the stew and you get the perspective of John and Paul who have played a lot of blues and soul and then Jonathan and Alison and I who are kind of indie rock-schooled but with a broad palates of taste and you get this fairly interesting combination.

M: You mentioned Camper in the last question and I wanted to ask you about that. Of course, you’ve been playing together for several years now and released the excellent album “New Roman Times.” Do you guys plan to record another album or are you just taking it one day at a time?

K: We’ve talked about it quite a bit. The biggest problem with Camper is time and money. We all function day-to-day by working day jobs, that’s kind of where we’re at, (which is not to say that we don’t make money with Camper and sometimes I make money even with my other bands), but it’s just a matter of does it pay the mortgage and the short answer is no. The way to make that work is you have to kind of divvy up your time. I can work very quickly, I’m very comfortable doing that. Camper as a band is a little bit more time-consuming. David (Lowery) is just a little slower and a little more methodical in the studio and Greg Lisher really likes to take his time as far as working out his guitar parts and you just have to defer to what the personality of the band is. And Camper needs to take time to write the record and our biggest problem is finding time. Between David doing Cracker and us doing other things it’s been difficult to find that time, but the intention is there. I’m pretty optimistic that some time in the next eleven months, we’ll actually do it.

M: You mentioned your day job. In addition to your musical activities, you were the art director for the SF Bay Guardian for many years. Any there any particular experiences that stick out in your mind?

K: Well, yeah, I like being creative. Being the Art Director of the Guardian was in some ways a great job. It didn’t pay great, but they gave me a lot of flexibility. I was actually able to tour a lot more then than I am now. And I love being around political people, I don’t necessarily love politics, but I like journalists a lot, I like smart people a lot, I like creative people and The Guardian was filled with a lot of interesting characters. From a creative and from a social observation perspective, it was pretty fun. I had a good time there and I still count a lot of people as my friends. It’s a pretty hard and thankless job to put out an alternative newspaper in this day and age. You had some pretty dedicated souls that were there and more power to them, considering the state of newspapers these days.

M: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? Musical discoveries, other discoveries, maybe thoughts on the state of the union?

K: What’s the Irish curse, “May you live in interesting times?” I think we do. I’m a fortunate person in that I’ve been able to balance a day life of graphic design and a night life of playing music. I’m just lucky to have held on in this area. I guess one thing I always bring to the table whenever I do a show, no matter what I do, is I will do my damnedest to bring the best group of people playing the best music I can. Around town often we’re playing in front of fifty, seventy-five people. Guaranteed the people I’m playing with are going to be as good as I can get. You know I’m not a young man, I’ve been doing this for twenty five years, I’m forty-three now…although I guess some people would say I am a young man still. For some reason there are two kinds of people, people that kind of peak young and then there are people that take a longer arc and I think I’m one who took a longer arc, because I think the best music I’ve made has been in the last three or four years and that just makes me feel like doing it more. --

The Fencepost Sessions featuring McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Virginia Dare, Tom Heyman, and Mirandaband | Saturday, February 21, 9 p.m. | Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 4th Street, SF | 21+, $8 -

"Show Review - Fencepost Session, Hotel Utah SF 2/21/09"

by Quinn Miller

Unfortunately, we arrived late for "The Fencepost Sessions" at Hotel Utah on Saturday, and didn’t get to see the first act, Mirandaband. Judging from their tracks on MySpace, we missed out.

Tom Heyman’s band wove tight, snaky rhythms around his worldly drawl as he offered tales of life lived on the ledge, punctuated by the bends and vibrato of his Telecaster. Like any good outfit, they left us wanting to hear more.

Next up, Virgina Dare battled atonal lead guitar armed only with an autoharp and her voice which seemed to oscillate with emotion. Charmed by her deeply personal slice of post-modern Appalachia, members of the audience demanded an encore.

By the time McCabe and Mrs. Miller took the stage, the audience was buzzing with drink and anticipation. Their set began and ended with Heyman sitting in on lead guitar. The rhythm section of John Haynes and Paul Olguin played taut simmering grooves that bubbled over with the intensity of the classic Stax and Atlantic soul cuts. Jonathan Segel worked his usual magic with violin, an old Gibson A-style mandolin and a hollowbody guitar, prompting the question, “Is there anything you don’t play” to which he replied "oboe" without missing a beat. Every time we see him perform, we walk away with a new appreciation of Segel’s many talents.

Dressed in a suit and tie and pausing between numbers for a sip of bourbon, Victor Krummenacher was magnetic in the lead role of singer-songwriter/guitarist. Those only familiar with his work as the supremely funky bassist of Camper Van Beethoven may be surprised to see how easily he transcends that part when he steps to the front. His vocals sounded strong throughout, but particularly when he and partner Alison Faith Levy blended in duets that recall many beloved duos of American roots music. Faith Levy was also effective when she took the lead with her sultry alto and added piano, melodica and tambourine and her energy seemed to inspire the men on the stage to kick it up another notch. Their songs, many of which were written in Krummenacher’s living room, vary from ballads of lost love to rave-ups that build to exciting crescendos and collectively conjure a painting by Thomas Hart Benton come to life.

“I took the long way around,” Victor sang near the end of their set, proving that in art, as in life, sometimes the long route is the best. Fans of artists such as Lucinda Williams, Wilco , The Jayhawks, and Gram and Emmylou are strongly encouraged to catch them in their next performance Thursday, March 5th at The Eagle. -

"Ptolomaic Terrascope Magazine"

If there was a bunch of brilliant “new” music released in 2008, I didn’t hear it – but frankly I wasn’t seeking it out. I will start out by discussing the new music I did hear that moved me.

First of all, I hate Mp3s sent to me by email. I usually delete them without listening to them. However, I have been known to make a few exceptions. A pal of mine in New York often sends me his “work in progress” that way and I listen and email back words of encouragement or discouragement depending on what I think.

But when Alison Levy asked if I’d check out a project (via emailed Mp3’s) she was doing with her friend and band mate Victor K. from Camper Van under the name McCabe and Mrs. Miller, I thought, hey, I should give this a listen. I was glad I did – this some of the best work that either of them has ever done. Imagine the perfect blend of early 70’s British Folk Rock (classic era Fairport Convention) and the Americana sound that begins with The Band circa 1969 and continues on to this day (for better or worse) via the kinds of bands that get way too much kudos in “No Depression” magazine. It’s really some of the most solid (modern) singer/songwriter folk rock that I’ve heard in quite awhile. - Pat Thomas

"Time for Leaving album review"

There was a time when I religiously followed Camper Van Beethoven. I liked their sound more when it was frantic folk based rather than punky. I also followed all the spinoff bands and solo records. That time has passed though and I no longer am up to date on all the goings on in the old Camper Van clique. Enter McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

However, when I heard about this record by Victor Krummenacher and Alison Faith Levy of The Sippy Cups I was intrigued. From Victor’s past recordings I knew he leaned more folk/country than punk. Together Victor and Alison have that kind of California americana sound. A sound that is dusty but at the same time refined. I think of Chuck Prophet and Dave Alvin being in that same mold as well. Here’s a sample from their new debut record Time For Leaving. Pick it up now at the newly redesigned CD Baby here. - songs:illinois


Time for Leaving - Full-length album on Magnetic Motorworks
Last Train to Pioneertown EP



McCabe & Mrs. Miller is a collaboration between Victor Krummenacher of Camper Van Beethoven and Alison Faith Levy of The Sippy Cups. Having worked together on and off for many years, Alison and Victor have finally realized their dream of writing and performing as a duo. Although it seems an unlikely pairing, their voices blend together in the tradition of classic duets, and their songwriting styles mesh into a fine mix of blues, folk, and country. Digging at the roots of their rootlessness, these songs sweep out the dark corners of longing, regret, and desire with the intimate wit and wisdom of old friends. Their debut album, Time for Leaving, produced by Bruce Kaphan (American Music Club) is out now on Magnetic Motorworks. Between the touring schedules of both of their high-profile bands, they have found the time to tour and perform with the likes of Built to Spill, Cracker, and The Knitters. Their live show has evolved into a formidable, dramatic force, building from a slow burn into a full-on electric blues throwdown. The band also includes Jonathan Segel (CVB) on violin and mandolin, John Hanes on drums, Doug Hilsinger on guitar and Paul Olguin on bass. The band is based in San Francisco.