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After waiting an hour because Andrea Dawn didn’t show, anachronistic blues-revival duo Wildsang was hard to resist. Two women, one black and one white, sat on stools in grey vests and bowler hats and made the evening.

The only reminders of what year it was were the occasional liberal rants, but that didn’t translate into the music. In fact, the lyrics, which depicted dark tales of lynching and rape, were surprisingly ripe with imagery in depicting a grim scene. They reminded me of Toni Morrison’s writing, which is about the greatest praise I can give lyrics.

Musically, I was expecting what I ignorantly call blues in this day and age; that is, rich, slow distorted tones and howling solos galore, but they reached back to a more ancient and pure version of the genre, using mostly harmonica, resonator steel guitar, and furious, deep vocals.

The harmonica player did so nonstop, treating it like a third lung and speaking little between numbers. The vocalist-guitarist played her guitar technically, incorporating a multitude of slides as she howled and moaned into the microphone. Wildsang delivered like a great pair of walkin’ shoes.
- posted by Colin at 12:37 PM Monday January 23, 2006


Review by Genevieve Williams

The blues has always been about the real world. Whether carrying personal stories of its originators, serving as a vehicle for messages of social change, or telling of a moment in history, the music's power lies in the fact that it never strays far from the concrete.

Hillary Kay (vocals, guitar) and Kate Freeman (harmonica), the duo who make up WILDSANG, understand this. SKY DIRT SPEAK OUT TRUTH grabs hold from the first guitar strum and harmonica wail, with a busy, energetic sound as full as an entire band. Kay doesn't quite have the whiskey-soaked growl of an old-time blues shouter, but she's working on it, and her voice is a flexible instrument that's rich and expressive. She speaks just as much with her guitar, with strongly accented picking and an aggressive, full-bodied slide. Freeman has been playing harmonica since the 1960s and though she plays a supporting role here, she does it with distinction.

WILDSANG'S material is worthy of all this talent, consisting mostly of multi-layered originals alongside which the cover songs, "Smokestack Lightning" and "Spoonful", feel right at home. Especially powerful is "Aint No Strange Fruit". Which not only references the Billie Holiday song but feels like a response sung back across the decades: Message received Billie and thank you.

WILDSANG hails from New Mexico, but its sound is rooted in those of the Delta and the Piedmont, the latter providing a bit of sunshine on what is, by and large, a pretty dark piece of work.

SKY DIRT SPEAK OUT TRUTH is the duo's second album, but Kay and Freeman have the skill and emotional power of seasoned veterans. May they be with us for a long time to come. -GENEVIEVE WILLIAMS

- Sky Dirt Speak Out Truth - CD

"3RD COAST MUSIC Summer 2004"

Reviewed by John Conquest

(Wildsang 4.5 flowers, out of a possible five)

When I commented a while back on the scarcity of young black roots musicians, I fully expected, indeed hoped, to get jumped on by people saying "Shows how little you know if you've never heard of . . ." Didn't happen, and it's taken that long for me to flush out another, but on the other hand, she was worth the wait. Hillary Kay, whose grand uncle was King Oliver, father a classical composer and mother a one-time Freedom Rider, with her partner, harmonica player Kate Freeman brings such a raw intensity to Delta and Piedmont blues that, willy nilly, she reignites the endless debate over blues authenticity.

The fuel here is Ain't No Strange Fruit, Kay's radical reworking of the Billie Holiday classic, which could not possibly be performed by a white woman, and while rape and revenge (Josie), a young mother cast out by her family (Biscuits) or a woman abandoned by the father of her three children (My Baby) may sound race-neutral, Kay is quite clearly speaking from the black experience. A formidable guitarist, she and Freeman, who are in the process of moving to the Bay Area (I'm guessing there's not a lot of call for a female blues duo in Coyote, New Mexico), stake out their territory with two covers, Howlin' Wolf's Smokestack Lightnin' and Willie Dixon's Spoonful, but it's Kay's originals, her passionate vocals and Freeman's spot on dirty harp playing that make this a real find for anyone who's given up on bar blues. JC

John Conquest,
3rd Coast Music
San Antonio, TX
- WILDSANG'S Sky Dirt Speak Out Truth - CD


The Wild Song of WILDSANG
by Steve Terrell

The Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo, September 19, 2003

A surprise highlight of the recent Thirsty Ear Festival -- in fact, Ive found, the first band I find myself mentioning when people ask about the festival -- was a two-woman blues group based in Coyote, N.M. There inside the hotel saloon at the Eaves Ranch the duo started off with an oft-covered blues chestnut, -Smokestack Lightning-. But just a few bars into the tune it was obvious this wasnt a typical blues cover band. It was hands down the most passionate and gripping version of that I've heard since Howlin' Wolf died. WILDSANG almost seemed to be channeling the lonesome spirit of the Wolf.

But even better were the original tunes that followed -- songs about rapes, lynching, and other happy topics.

WILDSANG -- the name is a reference to wild ginseng -- has one of the most intense singers I've heard in awhile. Hillary Kay, according to her press material, is descended from jazz diety Joe King Oliver (hes an uncle according to her bio). She also plays guitar, including a mean slide.

Although the spotlight is on Kay and her songs, harmonica player Kate Freeman, the second half of WILDSANG, is an essential part of the groups sound. Her piercing tones complete the raw soundscape.

The songs they did at their Thirsty Ear set appear on WILDSANGs latest album, SKY DIRT SPEAK OUT TRUTH. While the CD doesnt quite match the electricity of their live performance, its a good representation of the groups basic vocals/guitar/harmonica/ sound, resisting the common temptation of bringing in a bunch of musical pals to clutter things up in the studio.

WILDSANG plows some of the same disturbing ground as Colorado bluesman Otis Taylor, who I believe is the most important artist of the generation that rose in the 90s. Like Taylor songs, Kays lyrics look unflinchingly at historical horrors and atrocities African Americans have face in this country. (Is there a Rocky Mountain blues movement based in social realism developing here?)

A unifying attribute of Kays characters is that they fight back in the face of oppression.

-Aint No Strange Fruit- takes its title from the classic Billie Holiday tune.
But here Kay doesnt just describe a lynching. The victims wife (and the narrators grandmother) takes it upon herself to kill a Klansman in revenge.

Violent vengeance is also the theme of -Josie-, a story about rape.
-I did not have my daddys shotgun/ Did not have my .22... /
Just the machete for the sugarcane/
Josie said that would do./

One of the most moving story songs here is -Biscuits-, the tale of a pregnant girl forced to leave her home by a religious father.
-That girl of yours is gonna bring the devil down on us all!-
By the end of the tune, 10 years have past and the mother and son are preparing for a trip back to see the family she left behind.
-Honey, theyre still your family, no matter how long its been-
- the mother tells her boy.

Its not all blood and tragedy on the album though. Theres plenty of love -- and lust -- songs like -Jump Down Mama-. And subtly satisfying is the closing song, -Big Top Circus- which is about the simple joys of a day at the circus. Its as sweet as some of their songs are violent.

Somehow I believe Howlin Wolf himself would appreciate WILDSANG.
- WILDSANG Sept 2003


Reviewed by Mick Rainsford
Rating 9

WILDSANG are a duo consisting of Kate Freeman (harmonica) and Hillary Kay (resonator guitar and vocals whose music is described as Delta and Piedmont roots blues, and although it is true that these influences are strongly represented in this set, WILDSANGs music is definitely there own, reminding me of a (female) downhome /gutbucket version of Satan and Adam.

Hillary Kays family roots reflect her love of music and the powerful nature of her lyrics; Her father Ulysses Kay, is a classical composer, her great uncle is Joe King Oliver and her mother Barbara, was a civil rights activist who marched alongside Martin Luther King. Bearing this in mind, it is not surprising that her music tackles issues like rape and revenge -Josie-, the intensity of her feelings echoed in her churning slide and robust vocals, poignancy being lent by Freeman wailing harp; abandonment of a wife and Children -My Baby- where Freemans harp moans as Kays voice and guitar tell their tale in almost mystical unison; or the tale of a pregnant girl forced to leave home by her religious father -Biscuits-, reflected by the dynamics of Kays vocals, which veer from an indignant growl to tender, almost country intonations, allied to downhome harp and Piedmont style picking.

Kate Freeman has been playing the harmonica for 35 years, having jammed with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Moby Grape and Corey Harris, her harp playing reflecting the intensity of Joplin, Harris and Hopkins with a strong Delta feel allied to the
percussive influences of Harmonica Slim and Papa Lightfoot. Freeman can be heard ather best on numbers like -Jump Down Mama- which has obvious influences, where her
moaning harp is the perfect accompaniment to Kays stomping guitar and powerhouse vocals, and the churning -Aint No Strange Fruit- where her wailing high register harp
stands in stark contrast to the inherent menace in Kays vocals.

There are two covers on this set, both from the Wolf, -Smokestack Lightning- and -Spoonful-, both ideal vehicles for Kays feral vocals; the former attaining an almost North Mississippi hill country feel, with its churning harp and guitar, whilst the latter is both tough and compelling with Freemans ferocious harp well to the fore.

The minstrel-like -Well Without Water- and the Dylanesque -Big Top Circus- round out An impressive set that has become compulsive listening for me, and will delight all fans of downhome blues. (www.wildsang.com)

Rating 9
Mick Rainsford

- WILDSANG - Sky Dirt Speak Out Truth(WS2307)

"BLUES & RHYTHM Gospel Truth March 2005"

WILDSANG:Sky Dirt Speak Out Truth

It is roughly eighty years since King Oliver was wowing the denizens of the Jazz Age; around sixty years back a small coterie of white intellectuals and activists were astounded by Billie Holiday (and Josh White) performing Strange Fruit, a song about lynching. A decade or so later, the Supreme Court in America was debating desegregation, whilst towards the end of the following decade Jo-Anne Kelly was proving that a woman could also perform the hard-hitting delta sounds of a Fred McDowell, whilst the cognoscenti debated whether or not white people
could sing and/or play the blues. Then the last twenty years or so have seen the development of a small, but significant number of acoustic-based African-American performers attempting to reclaim the heritage of the blues, with varying degrees of success.And all of the above history lesson is directly relevant to this release.

Wildsang is a female duo originally out of Coyote, New Mexico, but now based in San Francisco. Singer/guitarist and songwriter Hillary Kay is a grand-niece of Joe King Oliver and she has a wealth of experience, both inside and outside the blues field, and her writing here has the kind of Afro-centric focus that only Otis Taylor seems to possess within the blues field these days. I cant see (I hope) any white artists
attempting to sing, -That aint no strange fruit, thats my daddy- and doesnt that personalization make the song, and subject much more immediate?

The duos sound is described in their publicity as Delta and Piedmont blues, which is fine, as long as the listener realizes this does not mean that they provide straight copies of Robert Johnson or Blind Boy Fuller, but rather they work their own material into those idioms, though the only two covers here -Smokestack Lightnin- and -Spoonful- (of course) prove that Hillary has the voice and guitar chops to do them justice and that much is already pretty apparent right from the ferocious slide guitar driven
opening number. Aside from those already mentioned, the songs themselves deal with rape, murder, revenge, being disowned, love and the circus the latter being a lovely
wistful number, reminiscent of Sparky Ruckers own material.

Kate Freeman is the other half of the duo, a harmonica player of north European ancestry who fell in love with the blues in 1964. Here she is very much in a purely supporting role, but one which she fills easily, her wailing harp a fine foil for Hillarys voice, or adding to the propulsive drive of many of the songs.

I have to say that I was quite prepared to be rather skeptical about this duo after all, the title and cover do appear New Age. But the raw, direct and accomplished musicianship and delivery, the bluntness of the songs and the undoubted commitment to the music make this a CD worth hearing and a duo worth watching for the future.
(www.wildsang.com) Norman Darwen

- Reviewed by Norman Darwen


BLUES 2001
All original songs - WILDSANG Music BMI

The CD'S - SKY DIRT SPEAK OUT TRUTH (2003) and BLUES (2001) - by WILDSANG, are currently being played on many National and International Radio Stations (see below).
A few favorite tracks receiving airplay are: Knockin, Josie, Aint No Strange Fruit, Baby Tight, Smokestack Lightning and Spoonful.


*The Santa Fe Opry

*Hillbilly Rockhouse - "ROOTS"
FM 95.6 / 95.2 / 99.3


*THEX.CA - 92.5 FM The X,
Kamloops Campus Community Radio

*Alt.Country Cooking Radio
Winschoten, ETHER 106.2 FM
KABEL 105.0 FM

*WRNR 103.1 FM

*WMPG 90.9 FM � 104.1FM

LIVE on the Internet


Glosem Bluesa
The Voice of the Blues


*Brawo 92.8 FM
Z Bluesem na Ty ("Blues 4 U�)

*RADIO COTEAUX 104.5- 97.7 FM

*106.4 FM BOOM BOOM on Equinoxe
The radio ROCK

*Classic 21
NAMUR 90.8

*Radio Active 105.9

*Fm F�nix 93.1 mhz

*Radio 99.1 �

*RADIO ARIA � 99.6

*Radio Canal Bleu 94.3 fm

*Radio MILO 103.1 fm

*Eqoinoxe la Radio Rock 106.4 fm

*Rulof, Bluesiana Radio, 99.5 fm

*"Dark Side of the Highway"
WFCS 107.7 FM

*Highway 61"
radio show of Radio Voce Spazio

*Keep It Country! NSEO 95.2 FM


*KZYX and Z Community Radio
91.5, 90.7 / www.KZYX.org




BOOKINGS: wildsang@wildsang.com
*Pasatiempo's Best -"Sky Dirt Speak Out Truth" -2003 Best New Mexico Album
*Independent Music Awards-"Josie" - 2005 Best Blues Song
*Rhiannon:"WILDSANG sings with strong voices giving good messages".

Currently based in California, award winning blues duo WILDSANG makes a ton of sound for two people.They are a trip back in time from the twenty first century, singing the early years of the blues, folk and murder ballads. Soaring harp. Crying slide guitar. Scorching vocals. Real emotion. This is the Real Deal. It is also an answer to the old time male blues singers. It is feminist blues. Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton would be proud.

A Berklee College of Music alumni, Hillary Kay's roots are buried deep in the black musical tradition and she grew up steeped in music of all kinds. In the Kay home Brahms, or Bach could easily be followed by James Brown, or Mississippi prison field hollers. Joe "King" Oliver (and his Creole Jazz Band), who was one of the originators of jazz music & was Louis Armstrong's mentor, is Hillary's great uncle and classical composer Ulysses Kay is her father. From her Freedom Rider mother Barbara Kay, Hillary learned the Freedom Song Tradition of the Civil Rights Movement. Inspired by her love of the blues and the music of Howlin' Wolf, Charlie Patton & Big Momma Thornton, Hillary acquired a 1933 National Resonator and embarked on what has become a life journey into the early blues.

Kate Freeman fell in love with the blues the moment she heard Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Momma Thornton in 1964. Next, she picked up a $2.00 Hohner Harmonica and never put it down. Shortly thereafter, the richness and spirit of the music from the Mississippi Delta and North Carolina's Piedmont Plateau got under Kate's skin and there began a lifetime love affair with the blues. A San Francisco native, Kate was surrounded by the musical greats of the Sixties. At any given time you could be jammin' or hangin' with The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin & Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, or Moby Grape. You never knew who would be around the corner and music and magic were definitely alive and well. Kate dedicated her life to the blues over thirty-five years ago and this dedication has never wavered.

WILDSANG has shared the stage with and/or opened for - Taj Mahal, Ani DiFranco, Corey Harris, Gov't Mule, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Iris Dement, Eliza Gylkison, Sophie B. Hawkins, Chris Williamson, Hot Buttered Rum String Band, Buffy Saint Marie, Arlo Guthrie, Rick Danko of The Band, Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin, Tony Furtado & The American Gypsies, Bill Dicey, Henry Butler, John McEuen of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Judy Mowatt of the I-Threes (Bob Marley's back up singers), Toshi Reagan, Janis Ian and Pete Seeger, to name a few.