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Moffatt still works outside the mainstream

By Dan MacIntosh, December 1999

Page 2...

"Rather than a narrative that is told through poetry or in any oblique way - which is kind of how I tend to approach writing - this album contains very direct statements."

Speaking of directness, Moffatt was happy to cover a song by her older brother, Hugh. His song "Whiskey, Money and Time" gets right to the guts of a heartbreak.

These siblings' lives have taken very different paths, yet country music is onething they've had in common for years.

"He made is living primarily as a songwriter in Nashville," she quips "and I've pursued my course primarily as a performer - anywhere but Nashville.

Hugh Moffatt grew up in Fort Worth, Texas as a self-described jazz snob and played trumpet in jazz groups at first, while Katy was in love with Top 40 and The Beatles. In those early days, about the only music they shared in common was an appreciation for the great musicals that came through town.

It looked like they both would continue to move in opposite directions, until they each discovered The Flying Burrito Brothers.

"He probably picked up 'The Gilded Palace of Sin' about the same time I did. Suddenly, it seemed, we both began walking along kind of the same path."

Strangely enough, these two respected familial songwriters have never written together successfully.

"We tried once, and I don't think we came up with much of a song. At some point, maybe we'll try again. But it didn't seem like a very natural experience."

This failed teaming differs greatly from Moffatt's immediate success in writing with Tom Russell. Moffatt met him at the Kerrville Folk Festival, when they were both judges of a songwriting contest. In her words, they were "thrown together. Yet as unnatural as that kind of pairing sounds on the surface, they've gone on to write many fine songs together.

"Right off the bat," remembers Moffatt, "there was a true patience on both of our parts and a willingness to just do what it took to go there and get the song written."

With Russell, Moffatt has been able to compose some amazingly literate songs. Her albums are also given a further eclectic flavor by the presence of show tunes, or even old rock and roll songs like "Fools Fall in Love" by Leiber and Stollar, which appears on her most recent release.

"As weird as my whole career has been, and sometimes it looks kind of backwards to me, I'm kind of amazed that I kind of find myself in place where I really could make the kind of music that I wanted to make and do what I've always wanted to do. What I've wanted to do hasn't changed since I started doing this. It's always been the same thing. It sounds simple: I just want to play for people who come because they want to hear me play."

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