What Are They Doing In Heaven Today
Kathy Kallick’s newest release is all about connections: between Kathy and her mom; between Kathy and her daughters; between older and younger musical generations; and between folk, old-time, and bluegrass musical styles. It is a double-CD set with the first disc featuring Kathy and friends on new studio recordings and the second featuring her mom Dodi Kallick on vintage tracks from the WFMT Chicago archives and the Old Town School of Folk Music archives.
For her tracks, Kathy chose songs that her mom used to sing; her conversational song notes lovingly detail the backstories. These renditions run the stylistic gamut from bluesy to bluegrass, Carter Family to plaintive fiddle with vocal. I especially appreciated the old country feel of “Wild Side Of Life”/“It Wasn’t Got Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Kathy and her daughters Juniper Waller and Riley Thompson trade verses, letting the feminine point of view powerfully counter the masculine as they burst into three-part harmony for the final chorus.
On disc two Dodi accompanies herself on dulcimer or guitar and sings in a beautiful, clear, folky voice. She performed in Chicago during the folk boom, but never released any recordings. These live shows were discovered fifteen years ago and now a broader audience can finally hear her music.
Some of Kathy’s numbers feature her regular band (Annie Staninec, Tom Bekeny, Greg Booth, Cary Black) while others have the relaxed atmosphere of old friends playing together (Cliff Perry and Laurel Bliss, Laurie Lewis and Suzy Thompson). Still others are collaborations with today’s rising stars (Molly Tuttle, Tristan Scroggins). It warms my heart to see Kathy, a young innovator of the 1970s, blossoming into a matriarch of the present, and reaching out to the young trailblazers of the 2020s, forging meaningful musical bridges.
This project warms my heart from start to finish. It showcases the intergenerational nature of our music, which is one of its greatest strengths.