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Treasures Left Behind: Remembering Kate Wolf
A Tribute Album
Produced by Nina Gerber Released 1998
Red House Records
Review by Tim Lynch, da Flower Punk firstname.lastname@example.org
September 10, 1998
Used by permission
IN CHINA OR A WOMAN'S HEART THERE ARE PLACES NO ONE KNOWS
"TREASURES LEFT BEHIND: REMEMBERING KATE WOLF"
(1998: Red House Records)
da Flower Punk - Sep. 10, 1998
One of the problems I have with some "jambands" is best summed up in a line from
the David Bowie song "Young Americans." Often
"there ain't one damn song that can make you break down and cry." In fact, with
some party bands, the songs themselves take a back seat to the boogie, serving only as
vehicles for jamming.
But I love a well-constructed song every bit as much as a good jam. There is something so
satisfying in letting a great song have its
way with your emotional state, with listening to a tale that is
built to be listened to. That's why I so often turn to folk music.
If you share these predilections, I have an album for you to check
"Treasures Left Behind: Remembering Kate Wolf" is a tribute to a Bay Area
*master* of the art of song. There are very few song
writers that ever achieve what Kate Wolf did in her short life.
Kate Wolf was only 44 when leukemia struck her down in 1986. And if you want to know what
other great song writers think of her
legacy of music, just take a look at who donated their time and
energy to create this project. Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin,
Emmylou Harris, Peter Rowan, Nanci Griffith, Greg Brown and Ferron are among the artists
who think enough of Kate Wolf's songs to sing them 14 years after she passed on.
This CD is filled with songs that can make you break down and cry those cleansing, healing
kinds of tears that can happen when reminiscing with old friends about life and love. And
while much of Wolf's material dealt with love, you will not find any of the simple
platitudes about romantic love's mythic promises that make up the stuff of pop music.
These are complex, moving, *real* tales of love found, love enduring, and love lost.
The disc would be worth the cost even if there was only Lucinda William's version of
"Here In California" and Rosalie Sorrels' take on "In China Or A Woman's
Heart" on it. But there is so very much more contained in these 14 tracks. Wolf knew
how to write words, as Terry Garthwaite's mournful, a cappella reading of "Thinking
About You" will prove, but she also knew music, as Nina Gerber's delicate take on the
instrumental "Back Roads" will demonstrate.
Nina Gerber was the driving force behind this disc. She served as
producer, and plays on the vast majority of the cuts. Gerber
played guitar with Kate Wolf from 1978 to 1986, and those
experiences have apparently left a life long mark on Gerber's work. Nina Gerber, for those
who do not already know this, is another Bay Area treasure in her own right. I have seen
her play everything from folk to blues to rock to jazz and even classical pieces, and each
has been better than the last.
And if you look in the notes, the talent assembled for this collection goes way deeper
than just the well known singer songwriters. Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Gillian Welch,
David Rawlings, Laurie Lewis, The Rowan Brothers, Norton Buffalo, Sally Van Meter and Joe
Craven are just some of the players who help bring these songs to full, glorious life.
In summary: There ain't one damn song here that can make you break down and cry. There are
14 of them.
On top of everything else, this recording is a benefit for the Seva Foundation. To find
out more about that organization, which Kate Wolf was an active supporter of, visit them
on the web at http://www.seva.org.
For more on Kate Wolf, go to http://www.katewolf.com.
For Red House Records, an excellent folk label, call 'em up at 1.800.695.4687.