Kathy Reichert – Live at Borders Books, Highland Park, Illinois, May 12, 2007

Those of you who frequent the Sunday Songwriters Group here at the Guitar Noise Forum pages are familiar with Kathy Reichert (“Katreich”). Many of the SSG regulars review and comment on her lyrics and she’s come with quite a repertoire of original material, both from her SSG contributions and her other writing.

Fortunately for everyone, Kathy is taking her material out to the world. She has been performing at open mic nights and this past spring saw her regularly opening for other artists at the Galley (here in Chicago)

Kathy took her Singer / Songwriter act a notch higher on Saturday night May 12, 2007, by performing solo for close to two hours at the Borders Book store Café in Highland Park, Illinois, entertaining the intimate gathering of thirty Café patrons with original compositions as well as a equal number of cover tunes.

Twelve-string guitar in hand, Kathy opened the evening with a rocking rendition of John Hiatt’s Cry Love. From the first note, the crowd knew they were in for a treat. Kathy’s down-to-earth arrangements, her playing free of glitzy posing and frills set the stage for an evening about the songs, good songs performed by a talented singer/songwriter.

While she covered a wide range of well-known tunes, from Time After Time to the Kinks’ Well Respected Man and Dire Strait’s Romeo and Juliet, her original songs held their own ground. Tunes like Blue Collar Blues, 1000 Suns, Monday Morning, and Sexy Little Man clearly show Kathy has songsmithing chops befitting a modern troubadour.

For me, the most compelling compositions and vocal performances were Piano Through the Ceiling, a poignant story of a young mother’s struggle to cope with life and the comfort she takes from the music coming from the apartment upstairs, and St. Theresa, a tale of a would-be mystic allegedly in communion with a higher plane of existence but out of touch with the real day-to-day trials and tribulations of life. It is a song of wonderful irony, its lyrics alternating between the sublime (“…chanting her mantra over and over/amid the sound of the bees in the clover…”) and the banal (“…we’re all stuck in traffic (pray for us) / on our way into work…”), showing the huge gap between enlightenment and everyday. Kathy’s sister Leslie joined in the performance of this song, helping out with harmonies.

Kathy also debuted a new composition, Everybody Lies (see the Sunday Songwriters Group forum from April 29). Its crafty guitar riffs and adversarial vocal lines make this tune a new favorite of mine.

Other SSG material found voice in Kathy’s performance as she covered, One by One, written by Nick Torres and David Hodge. I’ve heard both Nick and David do this song – separately as well as a duet and in group-jam settings – but Kathy’s arrangement may have been the best rendition I’ve heard in the last few years. Having a female voice singing Nick’s affecting lyrics strongly impacted my sensibilities. The powerful story of friendship and lives lost to the devastation of AIDs was both hauntingly and soulfully conveyed.

Other note worthy covers included Angel Of The Morning, which Kathy performed with Michael Lescher, a talented singer and the leader of his own band. Their vocal styles compliment each other and (hopefully?) this performance may have been a foretelling of future collaborations between the two singers. Kathy’s spare acoustic arrangement of the Jackson Five’s I Want You Back is always a delight, while the gender bending of the lyrics in Here Comes My Baby never fails to bring a smile.

The set finished with performing a song requested by the audience – her original composition No Reflection On You. This crowd pleaser is rapidly taking on a life of its own and perfectly capped a truly fine evening of entertainment. Kathy keeps getting better, each new performance even stronger than the last. Here’s to hoping that she continues to bring her gift of song and songwriting to an eager audience.

SET LIST (not in order…)

  • Cry Love
  • Too Close for Comfort (original )
  • Time After Time
  • One by One (Torres)
  • Only living Boy in New York
  • Piano through the Ceiling (original)
  • Better than the Rest (original)
  • I want you Back
  • Refugee
  • Blue Collar Blues (original)
  • Well Respected Man
  • Everybody Lies (original)
  • St Theresa (original)
  • Someday
  • Angel of the Morning
  • Wicked Game
  • 1000 Suns (original)
  • Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying
  • Wait
  • Monday Morning (original)
  • Here Comes My Baby
  • As time Goes By
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Flowers on the Wall
  • Sexy Little Man(original)
  • Heavenly Day
  • And, requested as an encore (thanks, Mike!), No Reflection On You.