An eclectic mixture of roots music has been incorporated into the music of Oakland, CA-based vocalist/acoustic guitarist Kathy Kallick. As a founding member (and still active after two decades) of gender-bending string band the Good Ol' Persons, a duet partner of Laurie Lewis, and the leader of her own group, the Little Big Band, Kallick has performed everything from traditional folk music and gospel to bluegrass and country music. Kallick's second solo album, Call Me a Taxi, marked her first attempt at producing an all-bluegrass recording and was a reaction to her debut album, Matters of the Heart, which included drums, piano, and steel drums. Kallick revealed a different side of her persona with two children's music albums: What Do You Dream About, released in 1990 and reissued in 1997, and Use Your Napkin (Not Your Mom) in 1995.
A native of Chicago, Kallick grew up in the suburbs of Evanston, IL. Her love of music was inherited from her parents. Her father plays classical guitar and recorder, while her mother is a classical pianist who played folk guitar and dulcimer and was involved with the folk music scene in Chicago in the late '50s and early '60s. Although she spent her high school years rebelling against her parents' preferred music and became a self-professed Beatlemaniac, she found her way back to her musical roots at the age of 18 when she acquired a Martin D-28 acoustic guitar and began playing traditional music. Attending Kansas City Art Institute for a year, Kallick met a guitar-playing friend in 1970 who convinced her to switch to a steel-string guitar.
Kallick sharpened her skills by performing original songs in folk music coffeehouses in Chicago. She occasionally performed with her mother, singing harmony on traditional songs. After leaving Chicago, Kallick spent a year in Iowa, accompanying bluegrass fiddlers at local fiddle contests. Kallick moved to northern California's Bay Area in 1973. Although the folk music circuit was mostly inactive, the area had a burgeoning bluegrass scene.
The five women in the original Good Ol' Persons initially came together at parties and music events. Kallick's involvement was sparked when she and Barbara Mendelsohn, who was in the original group, went to a folk festival together and rode home in the back seat of a car, singing songs. Meeting regularly once a week, the Good Ol' Persons started to take their music more seriously. Performing their first shows in February 1975, they started attracting attention to their unique form of roots music. Although they've gone through several personnel changes, the group celebrated their 20th anniversary with a concert in November 1995 that was released as the live album, Good N' Live.
Throughout the 1970s, Kallick remained active as a bluegrass musician in northern California. In addition to working with the Good Ol' Persons, she performed and recorded with mandolinist Frank Wakefield and produced albums for High Lonesome. Kallick reunited with original Good Ol' Persons member Laurie Lewis for a duo album, Together, in 1991.
In addition to remaining active with the latest lineup of the Good Ol' Persons, Kallick has been touring with her own group, the Little Big Band, featuring John Reischman (mandolin), Todd Phillips (bass), and Keith Little (second lead vocals, banjo, guitar, fiddle). ~ Craig Harris