Kasey Chambers in the U.S.

by Eszter Hargittai on November 16, 2004

I should’ve posted about this earlier, but it’s not too late for those in New York, Milwaukee, Chicago and St.Paul/Minneapolis. The Australian singer Kasey Chambers is touring the U.S. I’ve seen her in concert twice already and it’s an experience not to be missed.

There is nothing obvious about my interest in her music. Less than two years ago a friend of mine asked whether I’d go with her to a concert. I asked her what type of music and when she mentioned “country” in her response (that included references to some other genres as well) I just said “no thanks”. My friend persisted and lent me the CD Captain. I liked it enough to ask for more and then listened to Barricades and Brickwalls. I was sold.

We saw Kasey in Philly in 2003, but she was coming down with the flu so she couldn’t sing all the songs she’d planned. Right after she stopped her tour. As unfortunate as this may seem, we were lucky because this meant that she resumed her tour a few months later in New York. So I got to see her again. And had my dissertation defense not conflicted with another one of her concerts, I would’ve gone to see her one more time.

Luckily, she’s visiting Chicagoland this time around. I’ve even managed to convince five friends to come with me (it actually didn’t take that much convincing). I just bought her Wayward Angels CD so I’m ready for all the new songs as well. Apparently she’s quite a big hit in Australia (others here are better positioned to address that), but her popularity in the U.S. still seems limited. Oh well, that just means better seats for those of us who’re in the know.:)



Clancy 11.16.04 at 6:16 pm

Yeah, she rocks. I saw her live when she was touring with Lucinda Williams back in (I think) 2001. She’s coming here to the Twin Cities on the 20th. I was going to skip it, but now you’ve persuaded me to go, Eszter!


one laura 11.16.04 at 7:04 pm

This tour is fabulous — if you’re into rock songs, request “Guilty as Sin” when she asks what songs you want to hear from Wayward Angel. The live version goes well beyond what’s on the CD. But everything she plays is so good it kind of doesn’t make a difference what songs.


eszter 11.16.04 at 7:19 pm

Thanks, “one Laura” for introducing me to Kasey and for this recommendation. We’ll definitely try to get her to sing this song. And I can’t wait for Going Fishing.:) (For those not in the know, that song is not on any one of the three CDs mentioned above, unfortunately.)

Clancy, happy to find another fan and happy to contribute to getting you to her concert.:)


Jeremy Osner 11.16.04 at 7:39 pm

Hmm, Irving Plaza tonight…


John Quiggin 11.16.04 at 8:50 pm

Kasey is definitely big in Australia, as you would expect.


TomF 11.17.04 at 1:44 am

There is an episode (from last season) of Soundstage in rotation with Kasey and Lucinda Williams (unfortunately only 4 Kasey songs); keep an eye out for it.
Also there is a full length concert from Oct 2001 here.


Ben 11.17.04 at 9:26 am

If you like Kasey Chambers, you might want to have a listen to Kathryn williams and Thea Gilmore


vern 11.17.04 at 4:04 pm

So, what’s wrong with Country music?

Personally, I think Kasey is solidly in the “OK” category. But, the song Barricades and Brickwalls is pretty good…


eszter 11.17.04 at 4:37 pm

So, what’s wrong with Country music?

According to many many music listeners in the U.S., absolutely nothing. I just don’t like it myself (euphemism there) for the most part, but there are exceptions it seems.


Simon 11.17.04 at 9:44 pm

Isn’t Kasey Chambers the one who sings that fiendishly passive-aggressive song about being “not pretty enough?” That song makes my ears bleed. If it”s not representative, I might be willing to give KC another try though. Any recommendations for a second go at it?


Francis Xavier Holden 11.18.04 at 12:13 am

Its hard to know what people would make of Kasey straight out of the box. You need to know that here in Oz she has a pedigree. The Dead Ringers Band was her, brother and father and mother.

The Ringers had a solid but undergroundish following. They were the real thing, country family doing country and rock music. Very steeped in early USA country as well as Gram Parsons and “outlaw” and Austin school. Kasey then broke solo. [ Parents split up and band split up but I’m not sure of causality and chronology] Her band still often consists of brother and father. Mother still does merchandise. Nash the brother does the album producing and dad, Bill, is an understated tasteful guitarist. His solo stuff is good value, to me he sounds and writes like John Prine.

Kasey isn’t the messiah, or the messiah’s mother or sister, she is limited as a vocalist, but is emerging as a strong songwriter, and don’t forget with us Australians there is the history plus shes made it essentially on her own terms, like going to USA with face piercings and performing while pregnant. Buddy Miller has played on earlier records of hers and shes done a few live spots with Lucinda, Buddy and Julie and Steve Earle out here. What better recomendation do you want.


one laura 11.18.04 at 4:44 am

Simon, yes, she sings “Not Pretty Enough,” which I have to admit I’d never thought of as passive-aggressive. But she does a lot of different styles on that record alone, so let’s think what couldn’t be characterized as passive-aggressive. The title song on that record, “Barricades & Brickwalls,” is more flat-out aggressive (“I’ll be damned if you’re not my man before the sun goes down”), while “Nullarbor Song” isn’t about a person at all.

Francis Xavier Holden, I have to take issue with your characterization of KC as a limited vocalist. While I recognize that it’s very much a matter of taste, I would have said that her voice is one of her great strengths and, I’d note, plenty of reviewers have agreed with me. If I were listing my favorite voices, songwriting aside, she’d be in the top 5 no contest, and quite likely would be tied for first (admittedly the person it would be tied with would be a man with a voice the NY Times has described as “craggy,” which might not appeal to you).


Another Damned Medievalist 11.18.04 at 7:22 pm

We just went and saw The Waifs — they are also not to be missed.


Francis Xavier Holden 11.19.04 at 2:48 am

yes yes The Waifs are a live experience. Even the Bobhead loved them enough on his Oz tour to take them back to USA as openers for a few shows.

Laura – I would still argue that KC voice is limited even within its limits. Confused? I am. Willie Nelson is limited but does great things. Same as Johnny Cash. She just hasn’t learnt how to maximise her limitations yet. My best voices: Van Morrison, Sinatra, Marvin Gaye, George Jones, Ray Charles, Brian Kennedy – too many to list.


nick 11.21.04 at 1:55 am

I just caught KC on ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, which, if you missed it, will probably get archived for later viewing at the programme’s website…


Laura Winkler 11.21.04 at 7:03 pm

I’d say her act is a shameless and uncredited impression of Iris Dement, but that would be putting it way too gently.
It borders the edge of flat-out mimicry.

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