West Coast bluegrass hero Kathy Kallick has a new single today, the first from her album, What Are They Doing in Heaven Today, a follow-up of sorts to her critically-acclaimed 2001 project, My Mother’s Voice, which featured songs Kathy had learned from her mother, Dodi.
Dodi, who was a staple on the folk music circuit in Chicago during the 1950s and ’60s, passed away in 2007, and Kathy has kept her memory alive in her live appearances, speaking about her mother’s influence on her life as well as her music. This new album was sparked by a discovery of audio tapes of Dodi singing on the radio, which account for several of the 18 tracks on the upcoming album, the balance being songs from Kathy’s memories of her mom played with both her own Kathy Kallick Band, and other friends in the California bluegrass and acoustic music scene.
This first single is a song well familiar to bluegrass fans, Put My Little Shoes Away, a classic of early country music which has been recorded by a number of pioneering artists, including Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, The Everly Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Hank Snow and many others. The song was originally published in 1873, written by lyricist Samuel N. Mitchell, with music by Charles E. Pratt, telling the somber story of a dying child begging his mother to save his shoes for a baby just born into the family.
Kathy recorded it as a tribute to her mom, with guitar and harmony vocal from Molly Tuttle mimicking the dulcimer Dodi was known to play. She says it had a title she grew up hearing.
“Whenever the, ‘What is the saddest song?’ question is posed, my dad always answers with this one. I can’t argue with him on that! This was the first track recorded for the album, and it certainly was a joy to sing and play it with Molly and her clawhammer-style guitar!”
Kathy Kallick’s duet version of Put My Little Shoes Away is available now from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.