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Concert Review: Kitty, Daisy and Lewis (Dallas/Houston, 7/21-7/22)

July 24, 2009

4 KDL

Kitty (R), Daisy (L) and Lewis are a trio of siblings from England whose specialty is American rockabilly music.

Prior to buying tickets for the Dallas Coldplay gig, I’d never heard of Kitty, Daisy and Lewis.  Since then, I hadn’t had the time to purchase and listen to one of their albums, so I had no expectations when we were sitting at the front of the pit, sweating and waiting for the music to begin.  My back was turned away from the stage when I heard the first a capella notes that the sisters, Kitty and Daisy, sung.  When I stood and turned around, I was genuinely surprised at what I saw and heard – two girls that looked like they had just stepped out of a ’50s diner projecting big old-fashioned voices.  After that first attention-getting a capella number, the band only got more intense from there when brother Lewis and what turned out to be their parents on guitar and upright bass joined the girls on stage.  Despite their ages (the youngest, lead vocalist Kitty is only 16, Lewis is 19, and Daisy is 20), the group puts on a highly entertaining set of a mix of classic blues, rock, and folk covers and original songs.

All of the siblings play numerous instruments impressively, with Daisy energetically pounding out simple but key rhythms on a variety of drums (in a dress to boot), Kitty tackling electric guitar, complicated harmonica riffs, and busting out some ukelele skills on a couple of Hawaiian flavored songs, and Lewis displaying skills beyond his years on a homemade steel slide guitar, piano, and even vocal duties.  Also a credit to the band; their vocals show remarkable maturity, appropriate grit, and Kitty in particular has a sassy, hardened edge that screams authenticity, or at the very least, an extreme dedication to the rockabilly style.  And for what it’s worth, their mom Ingrid plays a mean upright bass, and their dad Graeme holds down the fort with acoustic guitar lines.

6 KDL

Not surprisingly, Kitty, Daisy and Lewis are not a highly polished act and everything about them is a bit raw.  Their playing styles are little ramshackle and their stage presence slightly unrefined as an entity, which can be attributed alternately to their ages and relative inexperience and the fact that roots rockabilly music was never supposed to be too shiny anyway.  They are so fascinating to watch – instrument changes and dynamic performances – that the rawness is charming and not detracting.  Highlights from the set were the extra upbeat Hawaiian themed songs, “Honalulu Rock-A-Roll-A” and “Swinging Hawaii”, and the cover of Canned Heat’s hit, “Going Up the Country”, which Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis gunned up with force and liveliness, effectively turning it into something all their own.  Their set was short, but it was refreshing and enjoyable.  Check them out if you ever get the chance, because they’re going to be huge in the near future.

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