Episode 119: Calico the band
Air date: 9.3.2014
When people think of the home of country music, they tend to think of Nashville, or maybe Texas, or even anywhere a weepy pedal steel guitar crackles out of the radio of a pickup truck on any of America’s endless dirt and gravel back roads. But way over the horizon, past where the sun sets over red clay and sagebrush, California has long served as a key Western outpost for sturm and twang. Beatified saints of country music like Woody Guthrie and Gram Parsons earned their bona fides in California, and latter-day legends like Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam made damn sure that Southern California was more than a whistle stop on the country map. The new Los Angeles band comprised of the already-established musicians Kirsten Proffit, Manda Mosher and Aubrey Richmond gave themselves some big boots to fill when they named their new trio Calico the band - a portmanteau of ‘California’ and ‘country.’ The thing is, the women of Calico the band are far more than just pretty faces in Scully shirts. All three are accomplished writers, singers and instrumentalists - and they approach Calico the band as a true collective, with each member checking their ego and bringing exactly what is necessary to serve their songs. Eagles and CSN-style harmonies abound and lead vocal duties are shared, sometimes within the same song. Their brand new album, Rancho California, is a sort of treatise on how to do modern country right - with one foot tapping to a traditional two-step and the other pulling the genre forward into a world where a band comprised of three talented women isn’t a gimmick. In Calico the band, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and these women are exceptional parts.