|Kathy & the Kilowatts have been described as “Doug Sahm meets the Fabulous Thunderbirds” and Murray herself was likened by one critic to “the lovechild of Jimmy Reed and Wanda Jackson!” The band, with lead singer and songwriter Kathy Murray at the helm, has been making real-deal Texas roots & blues for nearly four decades. Their new recording, “Let’s Do This Thing!”, is comprised of 15 Kathy Murray originals, and reflects Murray’s lifelong fermentation in the classic regional styles of Texas music. Sparked by the guitar gusto of Bill “Monster “Jones (Kathy’s husband), the Kilowatts’ sound is both firmly rooted in the blues and delivered with a modern-day urgency.
Though the album boasts all original material, the grooves on “Let’s Do This Thing!” are deep, diverse and wide. ‘Read ‘Em & Weep’ and ‘One Lie Leads to Another’ reflect Murray’s deep love of Texas blues in the styles of Freddie King and Lightnin’ Hopkins. ‘Beautiful Moments’ and ‘These Lonely Hours’ conjure the flavor of the Texas border sounds that drift over from Louisiana and Mexico. The butt-rocking 90’s era of the Fabulous Thunderbirds receives a salute with ‘Let’s Do This Thing!’, ‘Talking Out My Head’ and ‘Love Came Knocking’ and the introspective ‘I Want To’ was inspired by the heartland blues of Lucinda Williams. One can hear Stevie Ray Vaughan’s and the late Doyle Bramhall Sr.’s influence on ‘Call Me Mrs. Blues,’ which won Murray an Australian Chain Award for Song of the Year.
“Let’s Do This Thing!” finds Kathy Murray at the pinnacle of her talents as a singer and songwriter. If one loves classic guitar driven Texas blues, then this album will delight!
With the new year’s release of “Let’s Do This Thing!”, Kathy Murray and her band, the electrifying Kilowatts, reassert their place in the blues pantheon that helps Austin, TX keep its reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World.
This is far from Murray’s first time at the rodeo. For decades she has helped keep a spotlight on the Texas capital’s blues scene. She cut her teeth during the golden era of Austin’s blues and R&B scene in the 1980s and early 90s, sharing the stage with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and blues godfather W.C. Clark. In addition, she also took her rightful place among a veritable Murderer’s Row of formidable Austin blues women, including Marcia Ball, Lou Ann Barton and Angela Strehli. Along with the Kilowatts, she has shared the stage with headliners of the caliber of Albert Collins, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert King, Koko Taylor and others.
“The first night I saw a live band in Austin, I was 16,” she told the Austin Chronicle. “David (her brother, guitarist David Murray) was 14 and we’d sneak into the Armadillo World Headquarters where they’d sell us a pitcher of beer. There was a triple bill of Storm, with Jimmie Vaughan, the Nightcrawlers with Stevie Ray, and Paul Ray & the Cobras. My little teen self was totally blown away!”
Throughout her professional evolution, the blues has been the foundation of Murray’s music and songwriting, but she’s never been just a one-trick pony. “My sound encompasses the influences of all of Texas’ rootsy regional music styles that I’ve been exposed to throughout my life: blues, swamp pop, rock, zydeco, soul, rockabilly and conjunto,” she says. Born to a service family, Murray moved all over the country before her father settled the family in Austin upon his retirement in 1968. At the time, the city was experiencing the first stirrings of what would become a vibrant live music scene. Murray cut her musical teeth on her older sister’s Elvis 45s, later graduating to the blues-tinged country of George Jones and Hank Williams.
But it was experiencing the blues in person, at legendary clubs like Antone’s and the Armadillo that was a life-changing experience for Murray. Local talents like Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Blues Boy Hubbard and national acts like Freddie King and Muddy Waters found a rabid fan in Murray. At the same time, she took a deep dive into the classic recorded blues canon, devouring records by Magic Sam, Bobby “Blue” Bland, B.B. King and myriad others. “I began to search high and low for every blues record I could find,” she says. “I sometimes think my husband fell in love with my record collection!”
Murray describes herself as “both a big-voiced blues singer and a prolific songwriter with a strong modern perspective. I feel I’m taking the blues further today by writing new songs in the styles that influenced me.” Alluding to contemporaries like Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi, Murray says, “We all have a foundation in common in our passion for blues music, but have stepped out of the box and incorporated aspects of rock, soul and other styles into our music.
“Let’s Do This Thing!” joins a Kathy & the Kilowatts catalog that also includes “Relatively Blue” and 2015’s “Groovin’ With Big D” (dedicated to the late drummer, SRV songwriter and musical mentor, Doyle Bramhall, Sr.). The latter project has a long pedigree, dating back to sessions that Murray and Jones cut with Bramhall in the 90s. 2017 also sees forthcoming tours of the US, Scandinavia and other far-flung destinations. Kathy Murray believes, not without justification, that even after a lifetime onstage and on record, the best days for Kathy & the Kilowatts are still to come.
CD RELEASE SHOWS
Friday, Feb 3, 9:00pm-12:00am, Cavalry Court (College Station)
Sunday, Feb 5, 3-4pm, Antone’s Record Shop (Austin)
Friday, Feb.11, 8:00pm-10:00am, C-Boy’s Heart & Soul (Austin)—Official CD Release Show
Friday, Feb 17, 8:30pm-12:30am, Giddy Ups (Austin)
Saturday, Feb. 25, 10:00pm-1:30am, Blue Moon (Austin)