Raven Katz (Raven Katz Band)
Tonight, I had the absolute pleasure of playing a show in Manayunk, Philly at the Grape Room with my talented friend Drew Brightbill, as part of his band “Words In Flight” (I haven’t played out since 2007). Immediately following our set, was this band I was about to be completely surprised by…. Raven Katz and her band.
It is pretty much NEVER, where I find myself mesmerized by a band playing at a bar, especially on a night where I just played. Oftentimes the bands bore me to death or are just doing music that is by and large, boring.
This is not the case with Raven Katz. She and her band are all either Berklee College Of Music grads, or current students. They are all very attractive people (especially Raven and Maddie, her lead guitarist and harmony vocalist). And man… were the songs fucking GREAT…. stellar songwriting. Just PERFECT music. I was sitting to the side of the stage playing with my phone before they went on… and after the first few songs, I had to grab a chair right in front of the stage. They were THAT fucking good.
Don’t even get me started on Raven’s silky smooth, professional voice and melody/phrasing in her singing. And the aforementioned guitarist Maddie Rice (she’s behind Raven in this photo)….. Maddie is THE cutest girl EVER, and she played guitar like a fuckin’ badass… I’ve never heard a guitarist play with better phrasing and melodic/harmonic decoration than this girl. She fucking ruled. Bottom line– this is a band that is going places.
There is unfortunately little music by the Raven Katz band online….
edit: here’s a live at Berklee thing Raven just did a few days ago!
And here’s a song called Apollo, which I think they opened with (minus the violin):
I literally was so blown away and pleasantly surprised by this band…. never in a million years would I have wanted to stick around in a very warm bar, watching some band with 10 people in the crowd (half of which were the bands that played). But again, the music was that good. And her voice just melted me.
But then it got even better…. Maddie started singing some vocal harmony in the 3rd or 4th song… and I was like, not only can this awesome girl shred on guitar but she could sing, too. And when I mean shred I mean… in such a tasteful way——– she played like the way Jennifer Turner (from the short-lived band Furslide) played with Natalie Merchant on Natalie’s first solo record….. I remember seeing “Wonder” and “Carnival” on SNL in 1996, and thought Jennifer Turner was such a GREAT player, with extremely tasteful additions to Natalie’s songs. Maddie Rice played exactly like this and really took Raven’s songs to another level.
During the set, Raven had mentioned they were from Boston… and no doubt, I KNEW right away.. this is the first thing that came to my mind—- “these are without a doubt…Berklee students.” Then a few songs later they mentioned they were all Berklee grads or undergrads. I even said out loud (kind of quietly, not obnoxiously)…. “it’s obvious! You guys are amazing!” I think it made the crowd kind of go… “uhhh” and the band, too. But hey, as a music teacher who has studied the art of songwriting and high-quality songcraft all his life, I just knew. I knew. When it comes through, it really comes through. And I was thinking, “this is the shit. I’m so fucking glad I’m sitting right here in this too-warm bar.” And I never think things like that. Usually I think, “I want to go home and watch Amelie or The Perks of Being a Wallflower again.” or “I want to go home and teach myself some Sunny Day Real Estate songs by ear.”
So afterward, I just had to introduce myself to the band. First Aaron, the bass player, who was funny and had some great, simple bass playing (I liked how he didn’t overplay). And then I talked with Raven for a bit… it was just so great. She was so beautiful. I seriously wanted to tell her (AND Maddie) that they are like the women of my dreams. Extremely talented, great voices, great WRITERS, and just beautiful girls. Of course, I didn’t say that, I stuck to the music. It’s tough complimenting a girl you don’t know, because no matter what is said and how genuine or kind, it comes off creepy. Thanks, social media!
So anyway….. I talked to the drummer Tim briefly and really dug his creative performance…. mallets, brushes, rods, mismatched stick types, shirt on snare drum, sizzle ride cymbal… it kicked ass. He was really good and really cool.
So, going back to the girls (which are obviously a huge selling point of the band)…. Maddie was super sweet and I found out that she had only been playing guitar for no more than five years… and she actually took lessons at the School of Rock, a company that I have worked for since 2007. She said “basically everything I learned about guitar, I learned from School of Rock!” haha. It was great. We talked about her main guitar influences, Jeff Beck and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. I had mentioned that Gilmour is like the god of string-bending… he bends a note and you’re like “fuck.” She laughed. She got it. Maddie then gave me two of her business cards.. one was her personal/professional card where she offered her services as a live or studio musician… and the other was a card for her folk duo, Siv and Maddie. I will write about them in the next entry here at my blog. Yeah, shit is THAT good.
So yeah…. I really feel inspired right now and just smitten by this band. I hope they get huge and I hope that the whole world knows about them someday. They could easily open for or tour with artists like John Mayer, Ingrid Michaelson, Colbie Caillat, Jason Mraz, etc… WXPN in Philly and all the Boston stations should be all over this shit. Just FANTASTIC songwriting.
I’m a talented guy, but I’d give anything… ANYTHING… to play in a band with such great (and beautiful) singers/songwriters/musicians. That has been my life goal since forever. I wish I lived in Boston, or went to Berklee. But alas, I’m completely self-taught. Makes things tough when you’re trying to find talented (and NICE) people to do music with.
Somewhere in the set, I kind of got the vibe that Raven might have been a bit too smug about her songs and her band… but this thought was put to rest when I really watched her sing. She sang with her eyes closed… SO in the moment… just IN the zone. I think I was too quick to assume, about the smug thing. Talking to her afterward eliminated any of the previous thoughts I had. She was completely down-to-earth and appreciative that someone got where her music and band were coming from. And I think so few people do…. this is one of the reasons I do this blog: To let people know that great music DOES exist… it’s not all boring-ass, stupid mindless bullshit… and furthermore, simple, pretty music holds a LOT of weight (this is for the people who may think “indie” music (or folk-influenced) is lame and or talentless….. which of course, is an ignorant assumption). A lot of people out there (including myself) have great things to say, musically. And people need to always go through life with fully open ears…. you never know what gems you’ll find out there. We are all teachers of music, and we are all students. God knows I didn’t expect being this impressed, tonight…. but I’m so glad I got to hear it all, and even more glad I got to chat briefly with these awesome people.
Final note (pretty much unrelated to this, but I feel the timing is significant in some way): In 9 hours, I have to go under the knife for my second vocal cord surgery (microlaryngoscopy with incision) in five years. I have not been able to sing in my lifelong (higher) voice for over 29 months now. I was so hoarse tonight talking to Raven Katz and her band (I currently have a hemorrhage on my right vocal cord)….. it literally hurt me (physically) to talk to them but to me, it was so worth it.
I’m hoping my surgery is a success…. the first one was, but bad luck and circumstance fucked me up royally in early 2011……. so, I’m hoping I can get some more songs finished (with vocals)… again, after seeing the band tonight, I am reeling with inspiration and happiness. Sucky thing? I won’t be able to talk until July 28th. Oh well… that’s why blogging rules.
Raven, you’ve got to get your album done! I haven’t bought a CD in over a year, but I certainly will, from you guys. And Maddie– very soon (money-permitting), I’m so buying your record from cdbaby.
Thanks for the inspiration, guys…. I hope this blog post brings you thousands and thousands of new fans.