Interview by Scott Preston
Folk Uke is the musical collaboration of Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson. The band was born in the year 2000 when Amy took Cathy to buy her first ukulele in Leucadia, CA. Once armed with instruments, these girls became a force to be reckoned with.
Most of the time, Amy plays guitar and Cathy plays uke. If you’ve seen them live, you know that they like to joke about their musical abilities or lack thereof, but don’t let them fool you. Not only are they clever lyricists, but, they’ve been known to switch instruments from song to song. Each mistake is carefully crafted to make the audience think they aren’t very skilled, but I think we all know better… Those girls are amazing! – Chickenaliza (cub reporter for F.U.N.) (from Risingsunrecords.com)
Jamband News: What can you tell me about the new Folk Uke album? Are the songs new or older ones?
Amy Nelson: There are some old ones on there, I think the oldest one is from 1998. One of the songs is one that I have been trying to play for a long time on guitar and can never seem to get it right. So we record it every time we go into the studio and sure enough I was having trouble again. Luckily Cathy’s dad came in and played my guitar part and saved the day.
Cathy Guthrie: Now that it’s on the album you are going to have to learn it.
Amy Nelson: I know.
Jamband News: Did both of your fathers make appearances on the new record?
Amy Nelson: We were able to sign them both on again (laughing). There is another dueling dad solo on the record. I think we are starting a tradition.
Amy Nelson: I have known Shooter ever since he was a baby, I am about 6 years older than him. Since our dads are friends , we played together as kids. He is a really talented musician and has always been a close friend of the Nelson family.
Cathy Guthrie: I was just so proud of him, he did a great job on the song.
Amy Nelson: When we play the song live, I do the voice that Shooter does in the studio version, or at least I try to. I just don’t sound like a man.
Cathy Guthrie: He went out on a limb to do a song like that for us.
Jamband News: What other guests did you have on the album?
Amy Nelson: My brother (Lukas), Cathy’s brother (Abe) did a wonderful piano part in one of the songs. Abe also engineered and mixed most of the songs on the album.
Cathy Guthrie: Abe is very patient and works for Girl Scout cookies.
Jamband News: How long did the record take to put together?
Amy Nelson: Every time we start a recording project, it takes a couple years to complete. Partly because we don’t get to practice together very often and because we live in different states.
Cathy Guthrie: We only set aside about 3 days for recording , so by the time we get warmed up its already over. I think the next time around we will have learned some lessons about the whole process. Its almost fully complete and is in the final mixing stages.
Jamband News: Where was the album recorded at?
Cathy Guthrie: Mostly in Massachusetts and also in Austin, in Amy’s dads studio.
Amy Nelson: I think we started recording in Austin a couple years ago and ended up scraping everything except for one track. Then we went to Massachusetts to record and then back to Austin again. Of course anytime our dads show up to record it sounds great and makes us sound like pros.
Cathy Guthrie: I think our dads are hoping for a career boost from appearing on the latest Folk Uke record (laughing). They need the extra press attention.
Amy Nelson: Yeah thats what my dad needs is more press attention.
Jamband News: How is that all working out? (concerning Willie’s recent legal issues)
Amy Nelson: I really think it will all work itself out. The coolest thing was Snoop Dogg coming out publicly on TMZ in support of my dad after he was arrested. He said “If you have a problem with Willie you have a problem with Snoop!” I just loved that and thought it was really cool of him.
Cathy Guthrie: Do you think he will defend us like that Amy?
Amy Nelson: I hope so!
Jamband News: What were some highlights for the two of you in the past year?
Cathy Guthrie: At the beginning of last year we did a tour in Australia. The acts that opened for us were so incredibly talented on that tour. We also played Hempstalk and my brothers band (Micah ) came out to play, The Reflectacles, so that was a lot of fun to have him there. We opened for his band for a couple shows in Maui as well.
Jamband News: What other bands did you get to play with this year?
Amy Nelson: On the Australian tour we had this guy, Dan Mangan opening for us on quite a few shows. We didn’t know this at the time, but he does really well in Canada. So well that he fills stadiums. You wouldn’t know that by talking to him, he was just so laid back and humble. His music and songwriting is just wonderful.
Cathy Guthrie: We should have been nicer to him (laughing).
Amy Nelson: I know! When we get back from the tour we find out he will sell out a 3,000 seat venue in just minutes.
Jamband News: What was the music scene like in Australia?
Cathy Guthrie: They really have an amazing music scene. We were blown away by the level of the talent. I think generally they are much more liberal over there because they actually played our songs on the radio.
Amy Nelson: There were quite a few older fans there, presumably fans of our dads, and we were a little nervous playing some of our more raunchy numbers. We would be a little apologetic before we would play some of our songs. We had an older lady come up to us after the show, she was probably in her 70’s, and said to us “You know motherfucker isn’t really a bad word over here, people say it all the time.” She even listed a few other things that weren’t bad words in Australia.
Cathy Guthrie: We tried, but we couldn’t offend them (laughing).
Folk Uke on the web: