Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie of Folk Uke will perform at the Saxon Pub in Austin next month, on December 7th.
by: Terry Roland
Folk Uke in L.A.: Will it Comfort the Disturbed or Disturb the Comfortable?
By Terry Roland
If you’re a fan of folk, country or Americana, you probably know their famous dads, legendary country singer, Willie Nelson and humorist storytelling folk singer, Arlo Guthrie. But, Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie found in the midst of their friendship they could write some funny attention-grabbing songs while playing ukulele and singing some sweet country harmonies together. Over the last few years they’ve written and recorded such classics as Shit Makes The Flowers Grow, and Knock Me Up.
With tongue planted firmly in cheek and fingers strumming along on their ukes, they have just released their latest toe-tapping opus, Reincarnation, which, while it doesn’t have nearly enough swearing for their loyal fans, it is a consistent batch of songs that will entertain and could even send you to thinking, if you don’t think too hard. Most notably the song, I Miss My Boyfriend, tackles the issue of domestic violence in their own unique satirical way with dramatic help from Shooter Jennings on narration. While their past inspirations managed to get our attention with the use of clever lyrical vulgarities of the garden variety (literally), this one digs a little deeper and the results are funny and disturbing.
These two girls, with their ukulele chops and sweet vocal harmonies, are in this just for fun, but songs like I Miss My Boyfriend, may end up accidently putting them on the topical folk music map-in their own Randy Newman way. They’ll be appearing at LAs Cinema Bar on Friday 12/9 and Saturday 12/10. They’ve requested a loud Los Angeles audience for their debut gig and would prefer heckling to silence. In the interview that follows, it may be advisable not to take some of their comments too seriously. I’ll let you figure out which ones.
TR: Well, your dad’s have been life-long inspirations for me….
AN: Yeah, Cathy’s dad used to steal all my Dad’s girl friends.
CG: No. We gotta stop telling total lies during interviews. Well, except for the one where my dad made me try cocaine when I was a kid (laughs).
AN: Glad you’re not hooking anymore, Cathy.
CG: Yeah, instead we took up the ukulele. Amy was trying to steal my corner!
AN: Well, we did meet on a magic corner. I was working in San Diego. We met when we were having dinner right before i was going to work there. My Mom and Cathy’s Mom were friends. She used to say, “you’ve gotta meet Cathy, you’re going to love her!” I’d say, “yeah, yeah”…My Mom exaggerates! What it really meant is “Amy needs a friend! I wonder Cathy, how is it to be my only friend!”
CG: (laughs) We also realized our parents had been friends. After we became friends we found we had been to opposite Farm Aids for years. We know that if we’d met too early, we’d been too good. We realize a lot of our charm is that we mess up on stage. But, you know that can be inspiring. If you’re too good, you intimidate people, but us, well, we leave people thinking, “if they can do it, I can.” We’ve been together way longer than we’re comfortable saying. We still play like we do when we first got together.
AN: We thought once we put a tour together with all these dates we’d be so much better, but that didn’t prove to be true. But, at least we don’t make the same mistakes twice. Then, if it gets too rough, we just stop the show and start telling a story.
TR: Isn’t that the Arlo Guthrie technique for covering mistakes?
CG: But Dad doesn’t do it cause of mistakes. It’s more because he has thoughts that invade his head and he’s got to stop and share these passing thoughts, then he forgets where he was in the song.
TR: What about your Dad, Amy? You know there’s all the stories of smoking grass and all.