The Hazard County Girls' dangerous riffs

Hazard County Girls

by Seth Rogovoy

(GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass., June 4, 2003) -- The buzz-saw crunch and muscular riffage of proto- and no-wave punk-rock are typically the domain of testosterone-laden groups from Black Sabbath to the Ramones to Green Day. But as heard in its last outing at Club Helsinki and on its terrific new CD, “Never No More” (Wooden Wheel), the all-female power trio Hazard County Girls lacks for nothing if not bone-crunching riffs.

Reached by cell phone last week as she was traveling in the group’s van from Pensacola to Atlanta, lead singer-guitarist-songwriter Christy Kane said the trio is drawn to the raw quality of first-generation punk. “I really identify with no-frills, straight-up, honest music,” said Kane, who formed the band in New Orleans with drummer Sharon Heather a few years ago. Bassist Jennifer K has been with the group for a little over a year.

“The three of us really have varied musical taste, too,” said Kane. “I think that comes across in our music. We all obviously love some of the same stuff, older punk rock and classic rock like the Who and Sabbath. But then we all have varied tastes -- I’m really into Birthday Party, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Sixteen Horsepower, the Cranes, but then I love the Andrews Sisters and Cab Calloway, too.”

Kane said being an all-girl band in a male-dominated genre hasn’t posed any challenges so far. “We really haven’t experienced anything negative about it,” she said. “If anything it works to our advantage -- people help us move our equipment more frequently.” Would-be roadies can line up for the job on Friday night at 10:30 when the Hazard County Girls return to Club Helsinki (413-528-3394) in Great Barrington.

Seth Bodie: Deconstructing cabaret

Once a week, Seth Bodie dons a tuxedo to perform a straight-ahead cabaret gig in New York. As an antidote to the starchy requirements of legitimate cabaret, Bodie has put together a one-man show called “Seth Is a Four Letter Word,” an “adventure in cabaret”
coming to the Dream Away Lodge (413-623-8725) in Becket on Sunday at 8:30.

Bodie created his show in order to “deconstruct the idea of who the lounge singer is,” he said in a recent phone interview from upstate New York. “I was interested in exploring how that image could be twisted and fragmented to create something else.” The show consists of 12 songs interlaced with original dialogue. “It’s semi-autobiographical,” said Bodie, “with some lying going on because the audience needs lies for it to be interesting.”

Bodie has played Gabriel in “Jesus Has Two Mommies” and designed costumes for various shows, including “The Little Foxes,” “War of the Worlds” and “What Happened in Boston, Willie?” A one-time member of the Burlesque Revival Association, the Emerson College graduate will be accompanied by pianist Dave Hill, bassist Martin Keith, and drummer David Bodie on a selection of “not-so standard standards” by
Cole Porter, Burt Bacharach, Billy Strayhorn and rock group Styx, as well as some songs from obscure, forgotten Broadway musicals.

Backstage bits

Sonya Kitchell, the Pioneer Valley’s answer to Norah Jones and Jane Monheit rolled up into one, continues to rack up honors and accomplishments, the latest being two DownBeat Magazine student music awards – for best junior high jazz vocalist and for best song, for her composition, “Romance.” Kitchell has been performing with the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra in New York every weekend at the famed Jazz Standard and recently sat in with the Gerard Carelli Orchestra at the New York Swing Society. The 14-year-old’s summer plans include gigs at the Hartford Jazz Festival (July 18) and at Jimmy Mac’s in Portland, Ore., with the Mel Brown Quartet (August 27). She also performs with 17-year-old pianist and bandmate Miro Sprague – who won DownBeat awards for best trio and best soloist – tonight at Szechuan Tokyo in West Hartford, Conn.

The late, much-beloved Ed Kohn – one of the Berkshires’ best songwriters of all time -- left a legacy of terrific songs and wonderful memories among those who knew him. Kohn’s musicality also lives on in his son, Ben Kohn, a Windsor native who inherited much of his father’s musical talent, which will be on display on Saturday night at 8 at the Railway Café (413-664-6393), at St. John's Parish Hall, 59 Summer St., in North Adams, when Kohn accompanies opening act John Nalepa, before headliner Mark Erelli takes the stage.

Local singer-songwriter Sky Smeed leads his new band at Club Helsinki on Sunday night, followed on Monday night by Los Mofos -- a new, local jazz-groove ensemble led by guitarist/percussionist Jason Ennis featuring Jon Suters on nylon string guitar and VG-8 guitar synthesizer and Conor Meehan on drums. The group’s repertoire is a blend of original instrumental funk, Brazilian rhythms, ambient drum ‘n’ bass grooves, reggae, Afro-Cuban and more. Look out, John Scofield!

Radio Rogovoy

Another in our series of periodic tallies of the most-played recordings -- most new, some old – on our imaginary radio station:

1. Lucinda Williams, World Without Tears (Lost Highway)
2. Sarah Harmer, You Were Here (Zoe)
3. Pretenders, Loose Screw (Artemis)
4. Yo La Tengo, Summer Sun (Matador)
5. Deb Pasternak, Home
6. Rosanne Cash, Rules of Travel (Capitol)
7. Raveonettes, Whip It On (Columbia)
8. Paul Shapiro, Midnight Minyan (Tzadik)
9. Ben Perowsky, Camp Songs (Tzadik)
10. Rob Burger, Lost Photograph (Tzadik)

[This column originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on June 12, 2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]

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