“Happy Kat” McDowell: songs, smiles, cheers and laughs at Witzend release party. By Patrick O’Heffernan

Posted: November 11, 2014 in music, Music Friday Live, Patrick O'Heffernan, Singer
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“Happy Kat”  is  not Kat McDowell’s nickname, but  after seeing her live at the Witzend Saturday night, that  is what I am going to call her because  that is what she does – make people happy. And Saturday night she made a packed house, standing room only cheering crowd very, very happy.  Not bad for his first major live performance in her adopted LA home.

 

Born in Japan, raised mostly in New Zealand, with many parts of both cultures inside her, Kat McDowell makes  music in both English and Japanese that make you sit up and take notice, or just let you happily tap your feet. She combines, pop, J-Pop, calypso, rock, Hawaiian and a positive musical attitude in a mixture that is like sunshine to listen to.  She built a successful career in Japan as a gaijun – a non-Japanese, even though she  is a native –  and that’s a serious challenge . But after many albums, singles, gigs, shows,  TV commercials and studio sessions, she was  a success there so now she is taking on the largest and most competitive music city in the world.  And from what I saw Saturday night,  she is taking it by storm.

 

Starting the 11 song set list with “Hopeful” , the lead song on the album she released Saturday, “Rise Above”,  she gets us moving right away with a lively western/pop  acoustic guitar  strum beat and the lyrics that  tell us that although it is  Just us against the world…we’ll rise above again…and we are hopeful. She picks us the energy with Diana with strong guitar riffs powdered with a fast-paced kick drum  that stays steady as she pushes even higher and faster, propelling one guest to get up and dance to the side of the stage – much to Kat’s  encouraging amusement.

 

After introducing  herself  and the band Peter Chalmers on guitar, Pablo Motta on drums

Masaki Kusumori on bass and telling us about the new album, “Rise Above” she downshifts the energy and smoothed out the beat out with “Where Are you love:’ from her You and Me album, a perfect  prelude to  her kicking back and starting a personal conversation with the audience, telling us about starting the piano at 6 years old  and wanting to learn more, but  being intimidated by a 4-year old boy prodigy in her class. However, when she moved to the piano,  kicked off her shoes, and demonstrated her prowess on the keys on two  songs, including the “Still Learning How to Start” accented by an electrifying guitar riff and “Lovely Day”, written with her brother.

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Putting her shoes back on and flashing her 100-megawatt smile,  Kat returned to center stage, pulled  up a stool  and asked us if she minded her sitting down for a while.  We  didn’t and were  rewarded with the ukulele-led  “ Human” ,  3.11 from her Hope  in You album, and “Everywhere I go’  and  the island-hopping  “Goodbye” with Kat’s signature happy beats and not  so-happy lyrics blending into addictive  music.  Then she did something  I have never seen a singer do – she gave us her phone number – actually, she brought out a large banner with her number on it (310-846-8416)  and told  us  to text  it  for a free download.  Phones came out and the  sound of fingers  tapping filled the room (it worked – I got my  download).

 

Rolling down to the finish line, Kat held up a hand-designed towel  with her name on it and told us  they would available  with CD’s.  Then she balled up  the towel, threw into the audience – almost  as good as  a t-shirt  gun at the ball game. While the towel was being passed  around the back rows, she  kicked  off  “Final Win” telling us  You have never heard her roar and then really roared in “Break Free” from her You and Me album. But best of  all, she finished  with “A Little  Rain”,  charging it with the best energy of the  night, engaging the audience in call and response and even demonstrating her trilling skills.

The audience was  deliriously happy and clearly wanted now, and the Witzend widely gave her time for an encore even though the clock said it now Sunday morning. Kat McDowell had accomplished what she set out to do, release an album

m with a band and make people  happy. From now on, she is “Happy Kat” to me.

Patrick  O’Heffernan. Host Music  FridayLive!

 

Kat McDowell. Rise Above

http://kat-mcdowell.com/

https://twitter.com/katmcdowell

album available on iTunes and Amazon

See my review of the album at http://www.revolutionthreesixty.com/2014/10/kat-mcdowell.html

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