The next time you find yourself debating whether to drive an hour or two — maybe in snow and fog — to see some live music, and if the band you’re considering happens to be Longmont’s Giddyup Kitty, do yourself (and everyone within arm’s reach) a favor and go. While the conditions weren’t exactly white-knuckle last Sunday evening, it was sleety and cold, not to mention the last day of the Olympics. But the hour-plus drive to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons was well worth it to see these award-winning musicians perform.
With an all-female line-up, Giddyup Kitty is an anomaly in the male-dominated bluegrass world. For the bluegrass traditionalist the thought of an “all-girl” band no doubt screams “blasphemy.” To the novice, the mere mention of the genre conjures a giant question mark or maybe a vague recollection of Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones or the Hee Haw Honeys. Assumptions and stereotypes aside, Giddyup Kitty’s instrumentation and vocals are stellar and their groove is as spot-on as any, regardless of style.
Mixing it up with original songs and instrumentals, old-timey classics and country, Giddyup’s 2 ½ hour set felt more like a living room hang-out than a gig, a casual appeal achieved not as much by skillful arrangements (although they are that) as by the rapport between the players. Their first and, to date, only CD “To the Rock,” was well represented, as Kerry Claxton (mandolin) and Adrienne Yauk (guitar, dobro) crooned the harmonies of original favorites “How Many Times,” “There’s No Hiding Place” and “If You Don’t Believe” — that last one a deliciously pious, finger-wagging gospel hymn included on the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society’s 2009 compilation CD. Fiddler Nancy Steinberger’s added harmony layered on even more melody without being overpowering.
Beside their stand-out originals, the gals served up the classic Appalachian folk tune “Shady Grove,” the cowboy hony-tonk “Drinkin’ Dark Whiskey” and the hottest song of the night, Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” as on-fire as the red-headed vixen the song exposes.
Vocals not withstanding, Giddyup’s instrumentals inspired even the most groove-challenged to stomp it out. The gals cooked on fan favorite “Pickled Watermelon,” “Headwind” and the high-octane “St. Anne’s Reel.” Preferring bass guitar to the more typical upright, Marni Pickens’ “little bit rock and roll” history (having played with such luminaries as Ronnie Spector and Joey Ramone) has crossed over seamlessly as rhythm section for Giddyup Kitty.
Despite a few sound glitches at the start of the show, Giddyup adjusted quickly and confirmed that it really was a good idea to brave the February chill and forgo the closing ceremony until 2014. The crowd fell in love. They probably would have sloughed off a blizzard to catch the show.
Jackie Lomibao is a Lakewood-based writer and regular contributor to Reverb.