Kate Campbell - The K.O.A. Tapes

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  2. America -:-- / -:--
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  4. Lay Back The Darkness -:-- / -:--
  5. I Am A Pilgrim -:-- / -:--
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  9. Intro Bobby McGee -:-- / -:--
  10. Me And Bobby McGee -:-- / -:--
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  13. Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me -:-- / -:--
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  16. Strangeness Of The Day -:-- / -:--
  17. Intro Seven Miles -:-- / -:--
  18. Seven Miles Home -:-- / -:--
  19. Intro Freebird -:-- / -:--
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The K.O.A. Tapes (Vol. 1)

Kate Campbell

Organic, sparse, and profoundly simple, The K.O.A. Tapes (Vol. 1) was recorded on Kate’s iPhone 5 and/ or using two microphones in her living room and at various impromptu locations across America. A select cast of stellar musicians including the legendary Spooner Oldham (B-3 Organ), Missy Raines (Upright Bass), Sally Van Meter (Dobro), Joey Miskulin (Accordion), Laura Boosinger (Banjo), Steve Smith (Mandolin), and John Kirk (Fiddle) add a flourish of subtle embellishments to make The K.O.A Tapes a hum-along listening pleasure. Track one (“Some Song”) pays homage to a quote by 13th century Persian poet, Rumi: “Please, universal soul, practice some song, or something, through me.”

“It’s only January and we have a serious contender for the top of the top ten year end lists already. Killer stuff throughout.”

-Chris Spector / Midwest Record

1. Some Song

(Kate Campbell, Mark Narmore)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Accordion – Joey Miskulin
Banjo – Laura Boosinger
Bass – Missy Raines
Mandolin – Steve Smith
Background Vocals – Kate Campbell, Missy Raines

Accordion player Joey Miskulin played on my very first album Songs From The Levee. I first met banjo player Laura Boosinger at Summer Acoustic Music Week (sponsored by WUMB radio). I’ve always thought a little banjo goes a long way but in this case, the banjo really makes the song. I had to have the right player, and Laura was my first choice. I wrote “Some Song” with Mark Narmore about three years ago. When I finished the song I knew it would be the leadoff track on the next record. Missy and I recorded it in my living room, then we sent it to Steve for the Mandolin part.

2. America

(Paul Simon)

Wurlitzer – Kate Campbell

I bought my Wurlitzer from Nashville session player/keyboardist John Deaderick a few years ago. I first heard this tune when I was about 12 years old, and it has been my favorite Paul Simon song ever since. At first I tried “America” on the guitar until I saw the Wurli across the room and the song chose its instrument. If you listen carefully you can hear the bracelets on my left arm clinking on the instrument throughout, as well as the pedal sounds.

3. Greensboro

(Kate Campbell)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Bass – Missy Raines
Accordion – Joey Miskulin
Background vocals – Kate Campbell, Missy Raines

This song came to me one night when I realized I was dreaming over and over again “four young men could stand no more so they sat down at the Woolworth store.” I woke myself up and wrote down the lyrics. My little guitar was lying beside me, so I picked it up and began writing the song. It took all day because there was some research required about Greensboro. At days end I was still in my pajamas, but I had the song.

4. Lay Back the Darkness

(Kate Campbell)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Hammond B-3 – Spooner Oldham

This song was originally on Blues and Lamentations. I love poetry, and “Lay Back the Darkness” is the title of a poem by Edward Hirsch. The poem is actually about Alzheimer’s and Hirsch’s father. “Lay Back the Darkness” is one of my favorite songs, which is why I wanted it on this record. Unfortunately I don’t have a B-3, so when Spooner came to Nashville we went to a studio in town. They had a whole warehouse full of instruments, including keyboards and B-3s. Spooner got to choose which one he would play. He also found a glockenspiel in his search, but more on that later.

5. I Am A Pilgrim


Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Mandolin – Steve Smith
Bass – Missy Raines
Harmony Vocals – Steve Smith

This track is Missy, Steve, and me sitting around playing at Kaufman Kamp. I met Missy and Steve for the first time at this music camp. I had already done some recording for The K.O.A. Tapes at home. One night around midnight we were snacking and talking and I got the idea to try recording this tune on my iPhone. We placed the iPhone on top of a chair on top of a table in the middle of a concrete-walled dorm room. Missy played the Bass from the far corner of the room while Steve and I played and sang into the iPhone. I think we did about six takes and eventually got the one we wanted. We finished about Midnight-30.

6. Intro Galway

(Kate Campbell)

I did this song not only because it is one of my favorites but also because it references Elvis. Elvis has appeared on all of my records in some form or fashion. I remembered this song the day before leaving for Ireland in 2014. I listened to Richard Thompson’s version and figured out how to play it. I set up my iPhone in the living room on my music stand and made about three passes before choosing the best one. My friend Joe Penland had given me a 50-year-old Kay “hummingbird” guitar and it seemed perfect for “Galway to Graceland.”

7. From Galway to Graceland

(Richard Thompson)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell

8. Porcelain Blue

(Kate Campbell, Ira Campbell)

Wurlitzer – Kate Campbell
Glockenspiel – Spooner Oldham
Hammond B-3 – Spooner Oldham

We were in this great studio in Nashville called Welcome to 1979 and I had three songs I wanted Spooner to hear. We started with “Porcelain Blue” and then I heard this tinkling sound. I turned around and Spooner was playing the glockenspiel! When you put musicians in a studio they find things to play that produce what they are hearing inside their heads. This was like the time Will Kimbrough was in the studio and came up with the idea of striking the strings of an old upright piano for the opening notes of “Ave Maria Grotto” (Sing Me Out recording). “Porcelain Blue” is my tribute to New Orleans. Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” inspired the third verse. I was born in New Orleans and share a birthday with John Keats.

9. Intro Bobby McGee

Kris Kristofferson is one of my favorite songwriters. I have recorded his songs “They Killed Him” (For the Living of These Days) and “Help Me Make It Through The Night” (Twang on a Wire). What I have yet to record is “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” which is probably my favorite Kris Kristofferson song. “Me and Bobby McGhee” is one of the first tunes I recorded in my living room through my iPhone 5.

10. Me and Bobby McGee

(Kris Kristofferson)

Acoustic Guitar – Kate Campbell

11. Hope’s Too Hard

(Kate Campbell)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Wurlitzer – Kate Campbell
Accordion – Joey Miskulin

I originally wrote this song to accompany a book about birds of the Bible. It is one of my favorite songs that I’ve written. It is a very intimate song about life’s journey. At times the road is hard and it’s difficult to see the beauty all around us. Birds inspire me with their songs. When I wake up every morning I hear them “chattering” outside my window.

12. Intro Pilot Me

The word “Savior” in the 1940 edition of the Broadman Hymnal is spelled “Saviour.” These are the kinds of details I notice and ponder.

13. Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

(Edward Hopper)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Background Vocals – Kate Campbell

14. Passing Through

(Richard Blakeslee)

Wurlitzer – Kate Campbell
Bass – Missy Raines
Tambourine – Ben Surratt

I always think of Pete Seeger singing this song but many people have recorded it. There are lots of verses but these are the ones (and their particular order) that I prefer. I also like the historical references and the subtle wordplays throughout the song.

15. The Locust Years

(Kate Campbell, Ira Campbell, Johnny Pierce)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell

This song is from my debut album Songs from the Levee. I played this song the first time I auditioned at the Bluebird Cafe. Afterwards the guy running the sound said, “I’ve never heard a song called ‘The Locust Years’ before.” I was invited to come back and sing three songs on Sunday Evening Songwriter’s Night. The title came from a verse in the Bible that says, “I will return to you the years the locusts have taken away.” I sang in a lot of coffeeshops when I first started performing. Every time I sang this quiet number someone ordered an espresso and the sound of the machine loudly accompanied the song.

16. Strangeness of the Day

(Kate Campbell, Walt Aldridge)

Acoustic guitar & Background vocals – Kate Campbell
Dobro – Sally Van Meter
Bass – Missy Raines
Accordion – Joey Miskulin
Hammond B-3 – Spooner Oldham

I was flying home to Nashville on September 10, 2001 after singing in New York. Although I prefer an aisle seat, on this day I had a seat by the window. It was a bright, sunny, beautiful day and I could see the Statue of Liberty, the Twin Towers, the Empire State Building, and the Chrysler Building. The next morning I was driving down to Florence, Alabama to write for the Monuments CD with my friend and producer Walt Aldridge. I was listening to NPR’s Morning Edition when they reported that a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers. I immediately felt a sense of danger. When I arrived in Florence Walt had the TV on in the studio. One tower had collapsed and the other one soon followed. I don’t even remember what song we worked on that day. I left the studio and drove to Fretted Instruments in Birmingham to pick up my first Collings guitar. I was on my way to Mars Hill College in North Carolina for a concert. On September 12th I arrived at Mars Hill and was again listening to the radio. It seemed odd and quiet because there were no planes flying overhead. One of the NPR reporters close to ground zero said, “I can’t get over the strangeness of the day.” I don’t know if he was quoting someone else but his sentence stayed with me. Walt and I got together a couple of weeks later to work on the Monuments recording and of course we talked about September 11th. I told him about hearing the “strangeness of the day” comment on the radio, which led us to write the song. On the Monuments album we used space sounds to go with the lyrics. I hardly ever sang it at concerts even though people kept requesting it. Gradually I began singing it with my guitar and decided to include it on The K.O.A. Tapes.

17. Intro Seven Miles

18. Seven Miles Home

(Kate Campbell)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell
Fiddle – John Kirk

I sang this song at WUMB Summer Acoustic Music Week and my friends Erica Weiss and Lorraine Bennett accompanied me on fiddle and dulcimer. I had hoped that the recording we made that night was something I could use on The K.O.A. Tapes but unfortunately the sound levels weren’t right. I still like the notion of this song with the mountain dulcimer, so maybe I’ll record it again someday. When Ben and I were listening in the studio we decided to add a fiddle. John Kirk (another one of my music camp friends) was available. I think his part is very haunting and absolutely perfect for the tune.

19. Intro Freebird

20. Freebird

(Allen Collins, Ronnie Van Zant)

Acoustic guitar – Kate Campbell

I sang at a birthday party for a college friend where the audience requested songs of mine they wanted me to play. One of the organizers of the party asked me to do “Freebird” at the end as a surprise. I had never played it on guitar before but agreed to do it if my friend would sing with me. Everybody loved it and sang along. I recorded it on my iPhone later just for the heck of it and then decided to include it on the album. “Freebird” was actually the first song I sang through my iPhone. I experimented over the next year and a half with recording other songs this way. This song describes how I feel about my life. And then of course, I use the phrase Freebird humming in “Some Song.” Final Thoughts for Now I made this record the way I did because it reminded me of being 12 years old, sitting in my room, singing and playing the guitar. Hope to see you on the road somewhere across America!

1. Some Song

Here I am at the Stop N Go
Hole in the wall by the side of the road
Not sure how long I’ve spent
Waitin’ on moving on

Filling up time with refills
Talking to the bird on the window sill
Scattered thoughts are scribbled

Some song or something
True love or nothing
Giving up or hoping
Good things will come
Some song or something
Freebird humming
One heart wide open
Can’t help but sing

There’s a theory about everything
All tied up in one big string
Me and you and a dog named boo
In a parallel galaxy

Well I’m not sure what state I’m in
In between or back again
I think I’ll just close my eyes
See what I might hear

Words and music by Kate Campbell & Mark Narmore
© 2015 Large River Music (BMI)/Oven Music Inc. (BMI)

2. America

Words and music by Paul Simon
© Paul Simon Music (BMI)

3. Greensboro

All the towns, they come and go
All the miles on this road
All the times I’ve passed this sign
Oh, Greensboro

From Maryland the Quakers came
And built a house where they could pray
In the foothills of great mountains there
Oh, Greensboro

Then the rails opened up the gate
For the mills to ship their freight
It was here those rebels ran
Oh, Greensboro

You know old ghosts, they hang around
And now and then they will come out
Just to defend the way it’s always been
Oh, Greensboro

Four young men could stand no more
So they sat down at the Woolworth Store
Waiting there to be waited on
Oh, Greensboro

All the years they come and go
Much has changed along this road
Still some things move awful slow
Oh, Greensboro

Words and music by Kate Campbell
© 2015 Large River Music (BMI)

4. Lay Back The Darkness

How many times
Have I stood by the river
And could not see
To the other side
Hoping like Moses
The clouds would be lifted
Stretch out my hand
The waters divide
Lay back the darkness
Let in the light
Take all the wrongs
Make them all right
And if I could
Lay down these blues
For good

For so long I’m standing
Alone at the crossroad
Praying for someone
To give me a ride
Watching as slowly
Shadows come crawling
But nobody knows me
They all pass me by

We’re all born to trouble
In troubling times
This world has a way
Of wearing us down
But the earth keeps on spinning
Night turns to day
And every new morning
Mercies come round

Words and music by Kate Campbell
© 2005 Large River Music (BMI)

5. I Am A Pilgrim


6. Intro Galway

7. From Galway To Grassland

Words and music by Richard Thompson
© Mechanical Copyright Protection Society LTD

8. Porcelain Blue

She is standing in the garden silently astute
Waiting for the sun to come and kiss away the dew
How can she be so translucent from my window view
I can see her heart clear through in porcelain blue

You can find me in the city where the music grooves
Surrounded by a misty brew of magic and voodoo
Lying in my bed in the sultry afternoon
I can hear those saints go marching through in porcelain blue

I will follow in that number
And I hope to meet you there
Blessed Mary please don’t slumber
Pray for us who need your care

Staring at this vase searching for my muse
If lovers die together are they forever fused
I’ve heard love’s eternal and I wonder if it’s true
Underneath this crescent city moon in porcelain blue

Words and music by Kate Campbell & Ira Campbell
© 1998 Large River Music (BMI)

9. Intro Bobby McGhee

10. Me And Bobby McGhee

Words and music by Kris Kristofferson
© Combine Music Group

11. Hope’s Too Hard

I’ve been chattering all night lone
Like a crane or a swallow on and on
I’ve lost my voice with all this crying
And my will to sing

Hope’s too hard and I’m too weak
I don’t know if I can keep
Holding on beyond my reach
Love, could you please sing for me

If I could I’d fly away 
Off into the light of day
But I can’t seem to find the strength
To even lift my wings

Hope’s too hard and I’m too weak
I don’t know if I can keep
Holding on beyond my reach
Love, could you please carry me

I wish that I could see beyond
Far beyond the far horizon
My eyes are tired from looking up
And mourning like a dove

Hope’s too hard and I’m too weak
I don’t know if I can keep
Holding on beyond my reach
Love, please don’t let go of me

Words and music by Kate Campbell
© 2015 Large River Music (BMI)

12. Intro Pilot Me

13. Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me

By Edward Hopper, Public Domain

14. Passing Through

Words and music by Richard Blakeslee
© H/B Webman & CO as agent for Princess Music Publishing

15. The Locust Years

He built his life with his hands
Put all he had into the land
They came from nowhere on a cold dark wind
The harvest disappeared
But he survived the locust years

It hurt to hear her baby cry
Worked two jobs to get by
Convinced herself she never needed a man
Holding back the tears
She survived the locust years

When I lay next to you in your arms
I know the world can do us no harm
And like the thorns protect the rose
I am safe with you

I know a place inside a dream
Where rivers run through fields of green
A quiet valley that never lives in fear
I will meet you there
If we survive the locust years

Words and music by Kate Campbell / Ira Campbell / Johnny Pierce
© 1994 Large River Music (BMI) / Fame Music (BMI)
Cedarsong Publishing (BMI)

16. Strangeness Of The Day

They say we’re made of atoms
That are much too small to see
And our world is just a part of
At least a million galaxies
Well I couldn’t say for certain
But I take it all on faith
Still I can’t help but wonder
At the strangeness of the day

If we’re spinning through the heavens
On a giant little ball
Don’t you think that it’s incredible
How we manage not to fall
You can say the laws of physics
Just make it work that way
But I can’t help but wonder
At the strangeness of the day

Most of our moments we live unaware
While miracles happen around everywhere
No matter what theories you choose to believe
Still it’s amazing you have to agree

I was talking to a good friend
Just the other night
She came across the ocean
Bouncing off a satellite
While I watched a purple sunset
She watched the dawn begin to break
And I had to stop and wonder
At the strangeness of the day

When I’m singing in this microphone
My voice comes out over there
Somehow my words are carried
By electrons through the air
Marconi did the math work
And we’ve got it all on tape
But I’ll never cease to wonder
At the strangeness of the day

I wake up and wonder
At the strangeness of the day

Words and music by Kate Campbell and Walt Aldridge
© 2001 Large River Music (BMI) / April Music/Waltz Time Music (ASCAP)

17. Intro Seven Miles

18. Seven Miles Home

The highest house
The deepest well
The tuning of the strings
The ringing of the bell
Up the river road
Seven miles over
Nine mile mountain
Seven miles home

Close to the sun
Songs that go round
Run towards the storm
Sleep in the clouds
Up the river road
Seven miles over
Nine mile mountain
Seven miles home

True lovers know
One of a kind
White strawberrys grow
Only they can find
Up the river road
Seven miles over
Nine mile mountain
Seven miles home

If I could only go
Just one more time
Up the river road
Seven miles over
Nine mile mountain
Seven miles home

Words and music by Kate Campbell
© 2015 Large River Music (BMI)

19. Intro Freebird

20. Freebird

Words and music by Allen Collins & Ronnie Van Zant
© Songs of Universal, INC

“This is a long and winding journey of celebration and reflection through the American south, but Kate Campbell is never less than a wonderful travelling companion, so I’ve already pre- booked my ticket for ‘Vol 2’…..”

– Mike Davies / Fatea Magazine

“Here is yet another epic recording from Southern girl and singer-songwriter Kate Campbell, her depth of emotion, lyrical content and general poetic warmth help elevate her to a place reserved for very special performers.”

– Maurice Hope / Flyin’ Shoes

“Mixing her own songs with some of her own favourites, Kate Campbell sounds like she’s having the time of her life, unrestrained by the shackles of a recording studio.”

– Alan Harrison / The Rocking Magpie

“Singer-songwriter Kate Campbell takes songs from the treasury of American music as the basis for a very nice and understated folk album.”

– Lambert Smits / Keys & Chords

“The impressive ‘The K.O.A. Tapes, Vol. 1’ shows Kate Campbell in a vulnerable and fragile mood when she performs her own songs and a few well selected cover versions of music history classics like Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’, Nashville’s musician Kate Campbell is a top class lady and an even better singer-songwriter, so please quickly deliver ‘The K.O.A. Tapes, Vol. 2!”

-Valére Sampermans / Rootstime

“Kate Campbell travels the road of life – a road paved with loss, despair and vulnerability, as well as with hope, opportunity and resilience.”

-Sue Barrett Rhythms / Australia Roots Magazine

“Campbell provides a deeply personal delivery and one that resonates with equally deeply-felt feelings and conviction. Let’s hope a Vol. 2 follows in short order.”

-Lee Zimmerman / Blurt Magazine

“Showing how tech can be used to really make lo fi shine, the always engaging folkie tops herself with this modern recording even while kicking it one more time for Kristofferson, Thompson, Simon and civil rights.  It’s only January and we have a serious contender for the top of the top ten year end lists already.  Killer stuff throughout.”

-Chris Spector / Midwest Record