The Cat Mary
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The Cat Mary

Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz, CA
Band Americana Avant-garde

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"WNTI, New Jersey"


"I've just spent considerable time with The Cat Mary album. I haven't heard such Authentic American Acoustic (there's a new AAA for ya) music since Old and In the Way. Nice modern touch to it. Great Stuff!!
Make the non-believers listen to track 6 "Happy Middle" at least 3 times then dare them to say "no".....I'm making room!

PS, Go ahead and quote me!" - Spider Glenn


"Kyndmusic.com review"

The Cat Mary
… no unwanted (or unfamiliar) passages!
Wayward Music
By Al Haroldson

There’s something about Cat Mary? No, that’s a stupid way to start.

Let’s see…oh here it is: What do you get when you combine Bill Monroe, Coltrane, and Jimmie Rodgers? No that’s too obscure. Some folks might not get it.

Maybe I could try ‘Cat Mary – quirky indie Americana’? Hmm, that’s kind of vague.

Alt-Country? Nope, they’re too happy to fall into that category. Besides, it doesn’t explain the jazz grooves.

Andrew Markham, Stephen Snyder, Ken Dow, and Melissa Harley? Nah, to literal.

Aslant, awry, bent, buckled, catawampus, cockeyed, crookedly, curved, knotted, lopsided, oblique, off-center, slanted, slanting, topsy-turvy, and unique American music? It’s accurate, if not a bit wordy. But I’m still not happy with it.

An intriguing listen? Well, yeah, but kind of short.

A fun listen? Again, yes, but a bit too sparing.

Wait, I’ve got it now: Cat Mary’s latest CD, their first in 10 years, is a topsy-turvy slice of a unique and independent jazzy Americana!

Oh, and buy it. It’s cool. - Kyndmusic


"Rolling Stone review"

Cat Mary
Her High, Lonesome Days
The debut album of Cat Mary radiates a certain strangeness. There are frontman
Andrew Markham's lyrics, little short stories coated in music where each tone is exactly
at its place and instruments are deployed sparingly. The trio lineup (guitar, bass, drums)
of the band suits this purpose best; additional instruments like keyboards or banjo are
only used to add some extra colors to the musical picture. The music is a carpet
consisting of Markham's floating guitar work and the sometimes nicely grooving
rhythm section of bassist Christian Stratton and drummer George Sluppick, allowing the
lyrics to unfold nicely: the opener "Maggie and Milly and Molly and May," a poem by
American poet E.E. Cummings (1894-1962), the title track, a narrated cranky story of
a girl becoming obsessed with her house sliding slowly down a slope, or "Ms. Madame
Johnson," a sly look at an occult seance. The straightforward production of Julie Last,
who has also worked for Joni Mitchell, Ricky Lee Jones, and Shawn Colwin contributes
to the transparent sound. As the label Orchard Music Group is now defunct, one will
probably only come across this album in well-stocked secondhand CD stores, but people
liking intelligent lyrics over good music may want to check it out. ~ Frank Eisenhuth,
All Music Guide
- Rolling Stone


"Dirty Linen review"

It's difficult to describe The Cat Mary and their music, especially when the b and plays games with verbal descriptions like Southern Art Rock, Acid Western Swing, Alternative Country, and others. Let's just settle on country blues, as many of the songs like "Sweet Knees and Backbones" and "maggie and milly and molly and may" (based on an e.e. cummings' poem) are firmly based on country stylings with wonderfully bluesy guitar work by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Andrew Markham. He also plays a mean electric dobro and vocally sounds like Lyle Lovett, especially on the former song. A solid, yet inventively playful backing is provided by George Sluppick (drums) and Christian Stratton (bass).

The most striking aspect of this debut album produced by Julie Last (Brian Eno, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Shawn Colvin) are the literate, complex lyrics that tackle a variety of subjects, from the nature of skepticism in "Ms. Madame Johnson" to sexual ambiguity in "Virginia's Hill". The title song is a spoken word tale with gothic undertones that tells of the erosion of land, home, and life with some great characterizations of Little, a woman whose house is sliding down the side of a mountain, and Leonard, a handyman with a menagerie of bizarre animals. Other cuts are the smoky love song "Stuff It In A Bottle", the blues tune "Henry' Rain", and well-done cover of "Ode To Billy Joe". - Dirty Linen


"San Diego Troubadour"

The Cat Mary :Postbellum Neighborhood

by Sven-Erik Seaholm

This latest release from the Cat Mary begins
with the sound of a toy or music box being
wound up and let go. It is in many ways an
appropriate metaphor, with regard to the
unleashing of virtuosity that ensues.
Singer/songwriter/guitarist Andrew Markham
and company take us on a rollicking, careening
excursion through a multitude of lyrical images
and musical influences, ultimately arriving at a
singularly original, if faintly familiar, destination.
Markham (on record at least) seems not unlike
the character Jim Williams from John Berendt's
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Ð earthy, educated, cultured, funny, and smarter
than you. This is perhaps best evidenced by the ingredients of his latest offering, in which
we find various elements of mountain music (fiddle, slide dobro, upright bass) wrapped in
light gossamer jazz shadings, courtesy of the Stephen 'Hoops' Snyder's alternately nimble
and dynamic piano and organ playing, as well as percussionist Kevin Dow's intricately
creative, at times Keltner-esqe approach. Bassist Ken Dow displays an especially light touch
for such a big sounding instrument, like a dainty sumo wrestler or a ballet dancing
elephant. Violinist Melissa Hartley once again exhibits huge strides in her playing, taking on
an even larger, more central role in the band's arrangements, sometimes resulting in too
much of a good thing. How can we miss the fiddle if it won't go away?
This is largely a nitpicking observation from a listener spoiled by the rich and fertile loam of
Markham's songwriting. Titles like 'A River, A Dead Mule, A TrainÉ,' 'Old Slewfoot,' 'The
Fleshpots of the Orient,' and 'Anniperversary' invoke an anticipation of excellence that is
ultimately delivered in spades far more often than not.
What is most evident beyond the wonderful musicality of the playing and the arrangements
is just how wonderful a singer Markham really is, especially on the sweet and deliberate 'The
Big, Dumb Way,' where his voice and the song's melody become one lonely, longing sound,
like the distant whistle of a midnight train bound for nowhere in particular.
Engineer Peter Sprague shows that he's more than just a guitar genius by capturing the
beautiful essence of every instrument and its accompanying ambience with a open, crisp,
and focused sound that allows the listener to hear every meticulously rendered layer, while
retaining a unified band sound throughout. Kudos to him for making a purely amazing
sounding record.
With a Tony-award winning rhythm section, a heartfelt collection of songs, and an all-
around A-team of supporting players, perhaps winding it all up and letting it run wild was
the exact right thing for Markham and the Cat Mary to do.
- Sven-Erik Seaholm


"Tuesday Morning 3 a.m."

I had almost completely forgotten about this band called The Cat Mary, until Chris L’Etoile reminded me. I borrowed their debut album, Her High, Lonesome Days, from Chris when we were both in school, and I never returned it – it’s a long story that involves an impromptu cleaning and a basement wall, and it’s not all that interesting. But the crux is, I liked the record, and I remembered the band’s name, even though I haven’t heard them in years.

Cut to 2006, and Chris emails me to tell me that the band has a new album. And I’m thinking about it, and wondering just how I would have known about this kind of thing before the internet. How would a band like The Cat Mary, who sounds out of time to begin with and has only made three albums in a decade, get the word out otherwise? I don’t know – I suppose if we didn’t have the internet, we’d have to invent it.

Anyway, the band. The Cat Mary describes their sound as “kitchen-sink Americana,” and that works as well as anything. They play a kind of country-jazz-folk-prog that’s equal parts traditional and inventive, and their songs are little stories, brief radio plays. Their new album is called Postbellum Neighborhood, and I had to look “postbellum” up – it refers to the period just after the Civil War.

I haven’t heard Her High, Lonesome Days in many years, but I don’t remember it being this lively, this jazz-inflected. The album opens with a six-minute epic called “A River, a Dead Mule, A Train…” that leapfrogs styles elegantly. You can’t mistake the thump of an upright bass for anything else, and Ken Dow provides an impeccable, earthy foundation. His brother Kevin on drums adds a surprisingly technical touch to some of these tunes, particularly the opener.

But it’s the voice of leader Andrew Markham that will keep you coming back. It’s the element of the sound I remember most from my first brush with it in the mid-‘90s – he has an even, powerful tone that reminds me of Vince Gill a bit, but it stands on its own. Markham’s lyrics are sometimes surreal, but always enjoyable – “Now, before you invoke your meemaw, I will tell you that I once had me a meemaw too…”

Postbellum is surprisingly diverse as well – the originals include two string-laden instrumentals along with a beautiful ballad (“The Big, Dumb Way”), and the band also includes takes on songs by Tom Waits, Jimmie Rodgers and Jesse Winchester. My only complaint with the album, in fact, is that four of the 11 songs are covers, and another is a poetic interlude. That leaves a scant four new songs and two instrumentals from the mind of Markham, and it’s a mind I’d like to hear more from.

Nevertheless, it’s a great little album, organic and sweet, full of fiddles and steel guitars and real, honest musicianship. This was another out-of-nowhere surprise, and despite the backlog of music I have to listen to, when the quirky strains of “Anniperversary” fade out, I don’t want to do anything but press play again. Postbellum Neighborhood is a welcome return from a band I’d all but forgotten, and I hope they keep going so I can keep my promise to watch them more closely. Thanks to Chris L’Etoile for letting me know about this.

Now, can anyone help me find their second album…? - Andre Salles


"KUT radio Austin, TX"

"Eclectic funkiness ala Little Feat and Subdudes, but Andrew Markham and company distinguish themselves by virtue of their songwriting, and the brilliant nimbleness by which they mix elements like violins, dobro and second line drumming." - Kory Cook


Discography

"Her High, Lonesome Days"--OMG
"No Unwanted or Unfamiliar Passages"--Wayward Music
"Postbellum Neighborhood"--Swampland Media
"Pissants, Pilgrims, Vagrants, Victims"--Bullyrag Recordings (JULY 2008)

Photos

Bio

The best (or least bad) description of The Cat Mary, as offered by a Nashville Friend: "if Tom Waits heard a payphone ringing and stopped to pick it up and it was Lyle Lovett on the other end, asking him if he wanted to help him kidnap the Kronos Quartet, and subsequently force them to reanimate The Hot Club of France..."

The Cat Mary acknowledges they may not be as good as those guys collectively, but we're at least as good as 1/4 of any one of them on their own. We put the "me" in Americana. Or wait, was that "can"?--we put the "can" in Americana. No, that don't sound right--

The Cat Mary: We Put The "Eric" in Americana.

Band Members