Possibilities of the open road

By Ariana Kramer
Posted 11/17/10

Road trips ought to be required reading. They develop one’s natural ability to navigate through familiar, and strange, landscapes. And, inevitably, they lead to adventure. Case in point, when Kate Mann traded her car for a van and hit the road …

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Possibilities of the open road

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Road trips ought to be required reading. They develop one’s natural ability to navigate through familiar, and strange, landscapes. And, inevitably, they lead to adventure. Case in point, when Kate Mann traded her car for a van and hit the road with her mama’s fixed up 1963 Gibson acoustic guitar in 2005 she may have had an inkling that her devotion to the muse of music would take her to venues across the western U.S. from dive bars to cafes and farmer’s markets.

She might even have considered that she would circle around the familiar Sandias that inspired the singer-songwriter’s textured, atypical chord progressions and lyrics that have earned her comparisons with PJ Harvey, Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits.

It is, however, unlikely, that the former high school teacher anticipated back in 2005, that she would leave her Pacific Northwest base of 15 years to set up house in New Mexico with a mountain man, four dogs and a cat.

Portland’s loss is our gain.

Mann’s “desert-Gypsy-Americana-rock” can be heard in performance today (Nov. 18), 7-10 p.m. in the Adobe Bar at The Taos Inn, 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. There is no cover charge.

Mann has recorded three solo CDs: “Things Look Different When the Sun Goes Down” (2009), “Devil’s Rope” (2007), and “November Songs” (2005). In Portland, Ore., Mann had a loyal fan base, and she has received regional, national, and international attention for her songwriting. She was a finalist in the 2009 New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival, twice a finalist in the Americana category of the Independent Music Awards, and the recipient of an honorable mention in the 2009 International Songwriting Competition.

Mann’s music is influenced by “singing cowboys, heartache, ’80s hair bands, old rock and roll, troubadours, bourbon, travelers, gentle souls … ” or so says her MySpace page (www.myspace.com/katemann). The site also offers a listen to songs like her soulful staccato version of “La Llorona” or “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” a catchy story of love and liquor following in the footsteps of Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson.

Mann’s voice is soothingly smooth, yet it stirs with storytelling that brings the lonesome possibilities of the open road and life’s journeys home to her audiences. When she isn’t playing her Gibson or banjo, Mann is known to whistle up a crowd something fine, rousing crowds to whistle back in choruses that would stand a coyote’s hair on end and catch Bing Crosby’s attention. She has shared the stage with musicians Todd Snider, Jackie Green, and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

Since moving to Taos a few months ago, Mann has been reveling in the trials and tribulations of off-grid living, milking goats, and the pace of Taos life.

For more information, visit www.katemann.com. In the event you are on a road trip of your own, Mann will also perform Dec. 21 and Jan. 18 at The Taos Inn. Although admission is free, donations are always appreciated. Call (575) 758-2233.

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