Thursday, April 3, 2008

Kate Wolf

For the past twelve years, the Black Oak Ranch in Laytonville, California has hosted the Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festival in honor of . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . Kate Wolf. Wolf was a folk singer-songwriter from Northern California who released six truly amazing albums before passing away in 1986 after a long battle with leukemia at age 44. While Wolf was never as famous as some of her songs (which found more acclaim when recorded by others, such as Nanci Griffith and Emmylou Harris), she was a rare talent. Her melodies and maudlin-yet-somehow-sober lyrics ("I been walkin' in my sleep / countin' troubles, 'stead of countin' sheep") were always perfectly complemented by her clear, ringing voice. Her 1980 album, Close to You, is a definite 100 percenter, where each track from start to finish is good. It's probably in my personal top thirty or so favorite albums.
Because Kate died prior to the internet and without wide-reaching fame, there are few online videos of her. Here are two, however, from her 1985 appearance on Austin City Limits:

Streaming recordings of some other songs here and here.

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