Turns out I have, indeed, seen Kelly Hogan before.
Years ago when I was young, pre-zombie, and drawing an actual paycheck, I traveled to Atlanta to review the state of the art in CAD systems for the firm I worked for. After a couple of days of typical convention fol-de-rol, the other dude (whose name I forget, and since he never shows up in the narrative again, we might as well call him Slinky Tom) and I went out on the town, grabbing a bite (and not a few drinks) at a bar that eventually had a band. I am almost sure that band was The Jody Grind.
After a tragedy, the Jody Grind spun a singer off into the cesspit of Chicago music, where she started hanging out with bad influences like Jon Langford, Robbie Fulks, and the Handsome Family. And she eventually fell in with the worst; the Mekons. Where she met Neko Case, while working on Journey To The End Of The Night.*
So when you hear those albums by all those people, when you hear SCALDING vocals in the background? That’s Hogan.
She has released a few albums in the interim, one with the Pine Valley Cosmonauts (a Jon Langford side project) and a new one, with a song selection that kills: Stephen Merritt, Handsome Family, Langford, Robyn Hitchcock, Vic Chesnutt, M. Ward…. It’s like a songwriter playlist from my iPod.
So Rory and I caught her for a free show at the Pabst tonight, and it was splawesome. She wore painful hooker pumps, just for us, and sang like an angel on furlough with an open bar tab. The way she would start a song simply, singing straightforward and then winding it up into serious punk/soul wails was spine-tingling.
Come on. Y’all know I am not easy with my music accolades, even if my taste is too wide ranging. But Hogan is the Real Deal. And she has the BEST taste in material.
Lordy fuck, but do I love to see musicians play live?
I know a lot of you are not fortunate to be in the performance range, but dudes; check it out at Bloodshot Records, or at eMusic or iTunes. The albums are superb and subtle; they reward.
After the show, Rory and I chatted with her band for a bit, and the bass player from Die Kreuzen made an appearance, but Ror and I chatted with Hogan, bought the merch, took the photos, and hit the bricks.
And My! Didn’t we have a wonderful time?
*note that none of this is verified, but I am telling a story here, and in the end, I am still lying WAY less than Paul Ryan did.