Thursday, January 26, 2012

In The Spotlight--Kate Haralson & The Martins

Kate Haralson & The Martins play the Galaxy Monday Jan 30th
Imagine selling virtually everything you own, packing up your instrument of choice, your pet, and your husband, and coming half way across the country to play music in Cincinnati.  And top it off with never actually having played your own music live.  It seems almost impossibly risky, yet it's exactly what Kate Haralson did in 2006.  "I had been going to grad school in Boise, and eventually decided I hated it. So I quit, and my brother convinced to move back home so we could produce music together. I immediately listed all our belongings on craigslist, and my husband and I drove out here with our dog and my piano."

As if the initial move wasn't daunting enough, the plan soon went further awry.   "Playing music with my brother didn't work out (don't worry...we're still pals), so I started playing solo at open mics here. I grew up playing piano recitals, but playing your own stuff live is a new vulnerability. Frankly, I still don't know why my husband agreed to any of this, having never heard me live, but I hope he thinks it was worth it," says Kate.  Having seen her live, we'd tell him it was most definitely worth it, at least for the music fans of Greater Cincinnati.

Playing the regular open mic nights in the area ultimately resulted in the duo Kate Haralson and The Martins, though it took time, and some other catalysts.  "Liz (Martin) and I met through a friend, Brian, several years ago. Brian had heard me play at a couple open mics, and he was probably my first real fan, meaning he wasn't related to me and still liked listening to me whine at the mic. Brian would awkwardly drag Liz over to talk to me and tell me that she played drums, and honestly I brushed her off for about a year. I had been in another duo for a while, and the other half had just quit to go to law school, so I was skeptical of being dependent on other musicians after losing him and my brother. After a show one night, she and Brian got me drunk on absinthe, and I agreed to start practicing with her. I was pretty excited to have a female drummer," she says. 

The pair have ambitious goals for 2012.  "We're headed back to the studio in January to start recording our first full-length album. I think we would like to tour more often, but I think our biggest goal this year is to get into Midpoint Music Festival. We've submitted the past two years, but haven't been considered yet. Now that I said it out loud, I probably jinxed it."  As a former judge for MidPoint entries it's frankly hard for me to imagine why they haven't been tapped to play the Cincinnati fall festival already.  The group's most recent EP "Front Porch Dreams" hasn't left my cd changer since their last performance at the Galaxy in November.  You should plan on picking up your own copy on Monday.
 Give Kate Haralson & The Martins a spin, 
or in this case, stream.

Kate's music will remind listeners of Rachel Yamagata or Regina Spektor, while the song "White Flag" will certainly evoke comparisons to Fiona Apple.  Strong piano based songs highlighted by Haralson's amazing voice are a joy to listen to, and the live performance is every bit as good as what you hear on the cd.  Kate tells us that she's also been compared favorably to local legends Over The Rhine, high praise indeed.  "I grew up listening to them, and I think they have a fiercely devoted fan base and a timeless sound. I suppose I would play a show with them," she jokes. "I would just love to sing back up for Karin Bergquist." 

Like us, Kate would love to see more teamwork in the local music community, in a variety of areas. "I would network music bloggers with newer musicians a little better. It's been difficult for us to build up our press kit and get bloggers and journalists to listen to our stuff, but mostly because we can't figure out who to send it to. Everybody deserves an honest, unbiased opinion of their work, even if it hurts a little," she says. 

When asked what she would change if handed a magic wand, she had some fascinating things in mind. "I would organize health benefits for musicians. I had vocal cord surgery in July of 2009, and I can't imagine how I would have recovered had I not had health insurance. I've watched a lot of musicians work sick and injured, and I think it's a tragedy that this profession has little access to benefits like that."  Hopefully she'll find some gems to pull out of this story for her press kit, and then join us next fall when we participate again in the Night Of Sweet Relief fundraiser for musicians in need. 

You can see Kate Haralson and the Martins along with Chris Frasco, WolfCryer, and Somebody's Something in a night of terrific singer songwriters Monday night January 30th at 7pm.  The show is open to all ages, and is just $5.00.  Thanks to Kate for taking the time to answer our questions, and we'll see you at the show!

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