Singer-songwriter Kate Campbell took up piano at age seven before switching to the guitar as a teenager during the folk-rock heyday of the 70s. Since then, over the course of thirteen albums, she has written, recorded and performed almost exclusively on the acoustic guitar. On 1000 Pound Machine Campbell returns to the instrument of her childhood and enlists Will Kimbrough to produce the eleven-song disc. Campbell’s subtle piano and clear vocals are complimented by sparse arrangements featuring Kimbrough’s consummate guitar playing and soulful sounds from the legendary Spooner Oldham. Muscle Shoals ace David Hood (electric bass) and Americana stalwarts John Deaderick (keyboards), Dave Jacques (string bass), David Henry (strings), and Paul Griffith (percussion) add to the mix. Emmylou Harris lends haunting harmony on a true narrative about death-row prisoners who find peace through meditation (“Alabama Department of Corrections Meditation Blues”) while Sloan Wainwright adds background vocals to “Wait for Another Day.” Campbell’s southern-flavored tunes weave throughout the album and include a gem that imagines Rosa Parks and George Wallace sitting side by side on a bus ride (“Montgomery to Mobile”), a paean to the Alabama landscape (“Red Clay After Rain”), a tribute to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Spooner Oldham (“Spoonerville”), and a beloved civil rights anthem (“Walk with Me”). 1000 Pound Machine is Kate Campbell’s note of gratitude to piano teachers everywhere who believe that “a simple pair of hands” can inspire and carry the listener to “the music of the spheres.”
Since making her recording debut in 1995 with the heart-rending Songs From The Levee, singer/songwriter Kate Campbell has since put together a body of work matched only (perhaps) by Emmylou in consistency, Lucinda Williams in terms of pure, wrenching, honest self-examination and self-revelation and no one for its sheer display of broad-based, intimate artfulness. While doing so, she has managed to include the likes of Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Maura O’Connell, Buddy Miller and the heart of the Muscle Shoals classic soul and R&B hit-making machine as both admirers and collaborators in her distinctly literate musical vision.
Her endearing, clear-water vocal delivery, eloquent gift for storytelling (which has drawn repeated comparisons to such bastions of the Southern writing tradition as Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner) and easy command of a full-range of American music styles, have combined to earn Campbell recognition as a formidable talent by critics, musicians and a discerning public. Kate’s sublime Moonpie Dreams (1997) and Visions Of Plenty (1998) each garnered “Folk Album Of The Year” nominations from the Nashville Music Awards (as well as enthusiastic airplay by folk and Americana stations), while the southern-folk tinged Rosaryville (1999) and the gospel flavored Wandering Strange (2001) extended the upward-bound arc.
On Monuments (2003), Kate’s musical vision combined and extended these influences into a sound that is both rootsy and contemporary. Twang On A Wire (2003) followed close behind and paid homage to the 1970′s Nashville female country singer-songwriters who inspired Kate as a teenager when she began writing songs and playing the guitar. The Portable Kate Campbell (2004) and Sing Me Out (2004) offered new renditions of Kate’s earlier songs albeit with fresh and innovative arrangements. Blues And Lamentations (2005) encapsulates the musical under-story heard in all of Kate’s music – a form of blues that mines the veins of country, folk, gospel and pop. Campbell returned to Muscle shoals to record the social-gospel tinged For the Living of These Days (2006) with Spooner Oldham and followed up with Save the Day (2008), a folk-rock styled album produced by Walt Aldridge that was inspired by a Frederick Buechner quote. Kate’s long-awaited live album Two Nights in Texas (2011) is a collection of crowd favorites that was recorded at Blue Rock Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas and features Sally Van Meter on dobro, Scott Ainslie on guitar, and Don Porterfield on Bass. Each of Kate’s albums is a singular, distinctive and incomparable slice of music from one of the most unique artists recording today.
Campbell has played the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival (England), Merlefest, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and Port Fairy Folk Festival (Australia), been featured on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Live From Mountain Stage, The Bob Edwards Show, and had her story (and haunting song “When Panthers Roamed In Arkansas”) included in the debut issue of The Oxford American’s ultra-hip Southern Music series. An interview with Kate (along with Mary Chapin-Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Nanci Griffith and others) also appeared in the fascinating book Solo: Women Singer- Songwriters In Their Own Words.
As the daughter of a Baptist preacher from Sledge, Mississippi, Kate’s formative years were spent in the very core of the civil rights movement of the 1960′s, and the indelible experiences of those years have shaped her heart, character and convictions ever since. As a child of the South, her musical tastes were forged in the dampered, smoky fires of soul, R&B, Southern rock, country, and folk music. Kate Campbell’s music continues to inspire and enthuse a growing audience. Ballet Memphis featured songs from each of Campbell’s six CDs as well as a live performance by Kate and band at a ballet entitled South Of Everywhere. Campbell continues to impress audiences across the US and overseas and tours extensively in support of her CDs including tours to the United Kingdom and Ireland.