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  • Ed Schmieder

Kate Van Dorn's Boots Are Made for Rockin'

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Kate Van Dorn’s music trajectory is a tale of two boots: cowboy and black platform. She began covering songs by the old guards of country and Americana music, then graduated to her own compositions in their styles and grew increasingly sophisticated. “Looking for a shotgun move and a soft place to land” is a great lyric by any measure, and Kate appeared firmly rooted in her western boots.

However, the Kate Van Dorn you will meet on Long Island Stage has traveled far from those beginnings to her current sinewy, sultry, and sometimes psychedelic electric sound. How did this transformation happen?

“I discovered older country music when I was in middle school, the old singer-songwriters like Hank Sr, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, John Prine. I was always drawn to darker lyricists and sad music, but I really resonated with the depth of these writers and highly romanticized the outlaw country and Beat poetry movement.

“…I grew up around and listened to rock- so I always had that foundation. when I started playing with a full band in college that was my opportunity to move away from sitting on a stool with my guitar and play heavier music, which is always what I wanted to do. Trying to do music confidently … was difficult for me when I was younger- all I ever heard [from listeners] was ‘this is too sad, too slow. The lyrics are too mature.’

“On my latest release I worked with producer Jimmy Bralower, and he gave me a telecaster to play when tracking. It felt so much better with all that rub and power behind me. So really the transformation came from me just growing up and feeling confident …. I stopped playing. what people wanted to hear and began to play what was true and fun for me. I’m actually going to see Steve Earle. I still love all those guys, but I’ve always been a closet goth.”

Nancy Sinatra’s boots were made for walking; Kate Van Dorn’s boots seem made for rockin'.

Kate and her band have opened for Dwight Yoakam, America, Sugar Ray, Crystal Gale, and pre-pandemic cancellations, they were re-invited to play at the South-by-Southwest Music Festival (SXSW) last year. This is her first live performance since February 2020.

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