Country music by any name – bluegrass, roots, Americana – is as southern as Martha White's self-rising flour, the Confederate Flag and hospitality, the genre derived from the Scots-Irish who settled in the Appalachian Mountains to the Africans who worked plantations in Georgia. But like so many industries, that sound has been outsourced, in this case with great success.
Kasey and Shane are an Aussie alternative country singer/songwriter duo with a new album out, their first on Sugarhill, "Rattlin' Bones," scheduled for release mid-September. The recording features a bevy of stringed instruments – guitars, dobros, banjos, lap-steels and fiddles – seamless harmonies and bluegrass-tinged songwriting. Shane, and Kasey's brother Nash produced "Rattlin' Bones" in record time: just one week. The 14 songs were singly or collaboratively by the two artists. Critics say the the husband and wife team have hit it out of the box, comparing Kasey and Shane to Gram and Emmylou, two major influences.
Kasey was born in 1976, the daughter of steel guitar player Bill Chambers. Her career was soft-launched in 1986 when she became part of the Dead Ringer Band, an outfit that was all in the family, including Kasey, her mother, father and brother. When her parents broke up in 1998, so did the band and Kasey went solo.
Her debut was big: "The Captain" won an ARIA award (the Aussie equivalent of a Grammy) and a spot on the soundtrack of the "Sopranos," and landed Kasey tours with American country legends Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. Her next release, "Barricades and Brickwalls," (2001), got the attention of country-music lovers in the States. Kasey became the one to watch.
Kasey's voice is distinctive, some think she sounds like a young Lucinda Williams. Telluride Bluegrass co-director Steve Szymanski says her twang reminds him of Nanci Griffith, adding:
"I find Kasey's songwriting intimate, her personality charming, and she can rock 'n roll with the best of them and still deliver a poignant love song, all in one fine set."
To learn more about Kasey, press the "play" button and listen to her podcast.
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