Kaia Kater: Live at the Weinberg Center for the Arts

Kaia Kater

Fresh off the release of her third and most recent album, “Grenades,” Kaia Kater has embarked on a small tour of the Eastern US to promote this new collection of songs.  Firmly rooted in her traditional Grenadian-Quebec heritage, Kaia’s new album is just as much a reflection on her own family history as it is a unique and thought-provoking collection of heartfelt songs.  Produced by the acclaimed Nova Scotia artist Erin Costelo, and with a strong supporting cast, “Grenades” is a powerful album that has pushed Kater’s artistic boundaries to an all new level.

With her debut performance at the historic Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, MD, Kaia Kater was in town to launch “Grenades.”  Not the explosive kind that would have you ducking for cover, per se, but of the musical variety.  Still explosive, but in the delightful and historic sense, as an album strongly influenced by her own father’s experiences during the US invasion of Grenada and his eventual arrival in Quebec as a political refugee.  Indeed, two tracks performed on this evening would be preceded by some audio interludes of conversations from her father, Deno Hurst, which can be heard in all of their glory on the album.

Walking onto the Weinberg stage with just her trusty banjo strapped across her torso, Kaia received a strong welcome and settled in early with a solo performance of “Southern Girl,” a track found on her debut “Sorrow Bound” album.  Joined shortly afterwards by both Andrew Ryan (bass) and Mike Robinson (guitar), the trio would entertain all evening with a selection of tracks from across all three of Kaia’s releases, performing both “Little Pink” and “Saint Elizabeth” from the “Nine Pin” album before settling into some of the brand new material.  Tracks such as “Heavenly Track,” “Meridian Ground,” and “Canyonland” would be shared, and very much appreciated by those in attendance.

Prior to the performance of “The Right One,” Kaia would advise all that the song was inspired by, of all things, a Swedish vampire movie titled Let The Right One In.  “I decided to watch a spooky movie last night, and I think it was the first time in years that I’d watched a really scary film,” Kaia explained.  “And I kept wanting to be so cavalier about it, alone in the dark, oh this doesn’t scare me.”  With an audience hanging on her every word, Kaia would continue, “The movie was called ‘Hereditary,’ it’s very, very scary … and I woke up in the middle of the night, in a house with a big dog, and I could hear the dog coming down the steps, and I was so freaked, so spooked out.”

Midway through the performance, Kaia would set her banjo aside and pull a stool up in front of her microphone.  “This is the MTV Unplugged portion of the set, this is technically my debut on the acoustic guitar,” she shared, picking up the lone guitar that had graced the stage behind her all evening.  “You saw it here first,” she joked, prior to being joined by her bandmates for the new track “Everly.”  Returning to the banjo once more, Kaia would share a cover version of one of her favorite tracks, the Frank Ocean number “Swim Good,” a tune about driving to the beach, before returning to the “Nine Pin” album for a rendition of the title track.

“A lot of these songs, it’s the first time we’ve played them live, so this is a very special show for us,” explained Kaia, following “Nine Pin.”  Talking fondly once more of her father, “He was able to come to Canada twice … on a pilot program that was established in a few Canadian high schools, including my mother’s.”  Appreciating the audience chatter, “Yeah, this story gets saucy,” she joked whilst cracking a huge smile.  “They met when they were both sixteen, and she remembers thinking he was this skinny kid joking around in the cafeteria … and they kind of met, and he emigrated to Montreal, and they met again four years later.”

Wrapping up her amazing set with some audience participation during “Paradise Fell,” a track that was inspired by the works of bluegrass artist John Hartford, the trio bid their farewells to a raucous ovation.  Hearing a few calls of ‘encore’ from around the theater, the band promptly returned for one final number, covering the Richard M. Jones penned (and Dinah Washington classic), “Trouble In Mind.”  With this popular choice to close the evening, Kaia Kater received several requests to ‘come back soon,’ and earned many new fans from Frederick, MD in the process.  I can’t think of any better way to spend a Thursday night in downtown Frederick with music from Kaia, and strongly encourage all to seek out “Grenades” and be overwhelmed by this amazing new album too.

Set List:

  1. Southern Girl
  2. Little Pink
  3. Saint Elizabeth
  4. Heavenly Track
  5. The Right One
  6. Power! Power! Power! / La Misère
  7. Meridian Ground
  8. Death Of A Dream / Grenades
  9. Canyonland
  10. Everly
  11. Swim Good (Frank Ocean cover)
  12. Nine Pin
  13. Starry Day
  14. Paradise Fell

Encore:

  1. Trouble In Mind

Visit Kaia Kater’s website.

Preview “Grenades” on Spotify.

Martin Noakes

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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