The summer is only just beginning to heat up at the air-conditioned Kate as we celebrate American music in all of its colors and flavors, from folk-rock to bluegrass, from New Orleans zydeco to crazy jazz, the next three months at the Kate will have programming that appeals to all musical tastes, including those who enjoy Broadway standards delivered by one of the Great White Way’s legendary stars.
This Friday, June 15th, you can kick-start the season with a concert by the New York based folk-rock-roots band, Ollabelle, who are stopping by the Kate on their way to perform on Sunday at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival. It’s a great treat to see them perform locally. The group started out playing gospel tunes in a Lower East Side bar in the days after 9/11, but together they have grown in style and interests so that their sound now incorporates roots, rock, gospel, jazz, bluegrass and the blues. I can guarantee that you’ll find it hard to just sit without becoming an involved audience member.
In their 10 years together, they’ve attracted the admiration of such esteemed artists as Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, T. Bone Burnett and Allison Krauss. Named after the late Appalachian songwriter Ola Belle Reed, Ollabelle has appeared at the Newport Folk Festival and Austin’s South by Southwest. Together and separately, they have performed with some of the top names in American music today. Band members Singer Amy Helm and bass player Byron Isaacs, for example, have performed with Amy’s dad, Levon Helm, at his Midnight Rambles at Levon’s barn and on the road. Keyboardist Glenn Patscha has worked with Willie Nelson, David Bromberg, Sheryl Crow, Roger Waters, Lizz Wright, Ryan Adams, Laurie Anderson and Loudon Wainwright III, who–be sure to make a note of this–is scheduled to perform at the Kate on Sunday, August 5th.
Of special interest to those who enjoy following the careers of local artists, Ollabelle’s drummer, the very talented Tony Leone, is originally from New Britain and studied at the High School of the Performing Arts in Hartford where he discovered his love for jazz and improvisation. He subsequently studied orchestral percussion at the University of Hartford under the late, great jazz legend Jackie McLean, later working with such artists as West Hartford’s Brad Mehldau, Harold Mabern, Bill McGarvey and the Lowdowners. He’s also married to fellow bandmate, Fiona McBain, who are the proud parents of Georgia Rose McBain Leone.
Ollabelle has toured with such artists as Allison Kraus and Union Station, Diana Krall, and alt. country genius Ryan Adams, as well as making appearances on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” CBS Sunday Morning and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
They’ve recently issued their third CD, “Neon Blue Bird,” which was partially recorded in Levon Helm’s studio. It’s probably their strongest recording to date, as it showcases the vocal talents of each of the five members taking their turns as lead vocalists. It’s a mash-up of new songs, innovative covers and some remarkable takes on more traditional material including a terrific version of Stephen Collins Foster’s “Swanee River.”
Everyone at the Kate is looking forward to spending an evening with this remarkable group. Believe me when I say that their range and scope offers something for almost every musical taste.
See you at The Kate!