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Sounds Local: Rusty Belle’s Kate Lorenz debuts new band, new music Jan. 27

  • “Sing When Lonely” is a collection of feel-good rockers, with detours into Nashville country and Memphis soul. Kate Lorenz’s big blast of a voice has never sounded better and her songwriting chops shine. On this disc, she shows us a different musical side than what we heard in Rusty Belle. She gets to scream, play guitar, sing about dive bars and is obviously having a whole lot of fun. It is contagious and the listener can’t resist turning up the volume and singing along. Who knew that this preschool teacher by day was such a rocker by night? Submitted photo

  • HUNTER


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The past couple years have been quiet ones for Kate Lorenz, but that’s all about to change.

Most of you know Lorenz from her work with Rusty Belle, the roots rock/folk junk band from Amherst that she formed with her brother Matt and their friend Zak Trojano. With an ever-present smile on her face and a flower often tucked behind one ear, Lorenz played percussion/washboard and sang harmonies in the band. The group’s eclectic brand of music won them fans across the country and garnered them a strong following here in the Pioneer Valley. Then, in 2016, the band went on hiatus so Matt Lorenz could focus on his other musical project, The Suitcase Junket. Since that time, Zak Trojano has pursued his work as a singer-songwriter and Kate Lorenz has done some singing with other bands, including the honky-tonk group The Rear Defrosters. But for the most part, she has kept a low profile.

Now she is back, fronting her own band The Constellations and will release her debut album, “Sing When Lonely,” on Saturday, Jan. 27, and will celebrate with a CD release show at the Parlor Room in Northampton at 7:30 p.m. The Rear Defrosters will open.

“I’m kind of back in the game after taking this little break,” said Lorenz in a recent phone interview. “In a way, it feels like starting over. It’s been different, but it’s also really exciting and feels really empowering as a woman.”

Lorenz started work on the album back in March and recruited a group of top-notch local musicians, including bassist Max Adam, drummer Don McAulay, and guitarist Ben Falkoff, to record with her. She found them to be such great musicians and sidemen that she asked if they wanted to be her performing band. They agreed, and the Constellations were born. Her brother, Matt, also lent a hand, serving as producer and playing various instruments throughout the album.

“Sing When Lonely” is a collection of feel-good rockers, with detours into Nashville country and Memphis soul. Lorenz’s big blast of a voice has never sounded better and her songwriting chops shine. On this disc, she shows us a different musical side than what we heard in Rusty Belle. She gets to scream, play guitar, sing about dive bars and is obviously having a whole lot of fun. It is contagious and the listener can’t resist turning up the volume and singing along. Who knew that this preschool teacher by day was such a rocker by night?

“I know sometimes I feel like I have a dual life, especially now with playing more shows,” said Lorenz with a laugh. “It’s like, ‘Bye kids, time to go do my rock ’n’ roll thing.’”

Lorenz’s love of rock music goes back to her childhood, growing up in Vermont and listening to her parent’s classic rock and Motown collection. She even hosts a weekly radio show called “The Vinyl Countdown on Valley Free Radio” (103.3 FM every Wednesday at 6 p.m.), where she plays classic rock B-sides.

“I really had some rock ’n’ roll building up in me for quite some time,” she said. “This is the music I love to listen to and Rusty Belle did this one spoof rock ’n’ roll album called ‘The Vanity Pack.’ It was my favorite Rusty Belle album and the guys were like ‘yeah! but that was kind of a joke’ and I was like, ‘but I want to rock out like that all the time,’ so I’m excited I get to do it.”

In keeping with the rock spirit, there is some fiery guitar work on this disc, like Falkoff’s solo on the lighthearted track “Sidetackle Into Your Heart.” (There’s also a great video for this song that you can view at www.katelorenzmusic.com).

“He laid down some pretty hard rock ’n’ roll, almost like ’80s hair-band rock guitar,” she said.

“Ben was like, ‘is this what you want?’ and I said ‘absolutely!’ Both Ben and Matt let it rip on this album.”

But it’s not all lighthearted fare. The title track is an incredibly catchy mid-tempo rocker that is about getting through tough times.

“That song was written partly for a friend of mine who had lost her husband and partly about unsuccessful dating,” said Lorenz. “It was two combined themes, and in either case, you do feel better when you sing. I know I do.”

Lorenz and the band just finished up a string of shows with The Suitcase Junket and in the immediate future will focus on touring the Northeast, including a Feb. 7 show at Popolo’s in Bellows Falls, Vt. “The more you play, the more you want to play,” Lorenz said. “I don’t think I realized how much I missed it, so now that it’s gotten going, I want to keep the momentum going and possibly do a tour of the South.”

And what exactly does she hope that listeners will take away from “Sing When Lonely?”

“I think it’s a fun rock ’n’ roll album, and I hope people enjoy the lady-power element to it,” Lorenz said. “I like writing catchy songs that I hope people can sing along to or even cover some day. One cool thing, I had some kids in my video for ‘Sidetackle into Your Heart,’ and now I’ve had some kids come up to me and ask if they can be in my next video. It feels really good, especially when it is girls being influenced by a female rocker. I feel good that is happening.”

Tickets for the Parlor Room are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets are recommended and can be purchased at www.signaturesoundspresents.com. “Sing When Lonely” can be purchased at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and at www.katelorenzmusic.com.

Sheryl Hunter is a music writer who lives in Easthampton. Her work has appeared in various regional and national magazines. You can contact her at: soundslocal@yahoo.com