Kimmie Rhodes | Interview
Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival • Wednesday 01 – Thursday 02 March 2017
By Cara Gibney • Photography: Christopher Durst
It’s been a year since Kimmie Rhodes chatted with us at CultureHUB. Last time we were talking she was just about to head back to France to research a project she was working on with Bob Harris. She’s been doing that and more, a lot more since then, and it looks like she has some astonishing plans afoot.
First and foremost she is playing the Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival on Wednesday 01 March and Thursday 02 March, “and have booked a mini tour with Gabriel Rhodes and Giulia Millanta as the band” she went on to explain.
“We will be playing the “favourites” that are usually requested with a focus on my own songs and especially some new songs from “Cowgirl Boudoir” my latest CD release. I’m excited to have Giulia along because she is a beautiful singer and musician and I really love her songs. She’s from Florence, Italy but has lived and worked in Austin for several years and has a really interesting musicality that comes from being an Italian native who is Americana influenced. I know folks will love her and even the rehearsals were a blast so I know the shows will be a lot of fun.”
Back home though, Kimmie has been working on a whole series of fascinating musical projects for the past year or more. Projects with the heart and history of music at their core, as the following explains.
“I’ve been studying and interviewing people concerning the “family of songs” that immigrated to America in many fascinating historical ways and tracing the deepest roots of Americana Music for a future project. It’s really interesting and I’ve been reading at The Library Of Congress in Washington DC. and interviewing people all over the place from Europe to USA. More on that later…”
“At the present time the focus has been on finishing my book Radio Dreams which is due to be released Feb 14 2018. Radio Dreams is a dual memoir of my own and my late husband, Joe Gracey’s. The synopsis reads:
“The Memoir Radio Dreams invites us into a unique and private world where by way of Kimmie Rhodes’ poetic storyteller voice combined with wry and witty excerpts from Joe Gracey’s journals we share a range of poignant human experiences. From restless youth, through the making of American music history, the battlefield of cancer and painfully autonomous reinvention, triumph and tragic loss, gratitude and grief, together they speak of an extraordinary life well lived.”
At the present Bob Harris and I are working to produce a companion audio documentary and compilation of music to the book and laying plans to do some touring together where we discuss not only our musical experiences but the amazing times we’ve witnessed and how they affected Country and Americana Music. We’re both very passionate about music and hang out and tell these stories all the time anyway so we think it would be fun to do that with our friends and fans in an “evening with” show. “
“I’ve also been working on a six part documentary series “They Called Us Outlaws” produced by Eric Geodelman as an associate producer to be presented by The Country Music Hall Of Fame in Nashville spring 2018. It will be part of an exhibit that will explore the history of the music between the 60’s to late 70’s and it’s profound effect on Country and Americana Music. Bob Harris is one of the many famous and infamous characters who “weighs in” on the subject in the documentary and I’m really honored to be part of it all.”
“The timing is perfect for the release of our memoirs because our stories in Radio Dreams take place during the period. Joe Gracey was one of the pillars of the scene as a DJ on the famous KOKE FM when Austin was the mecca dubbed “Groover’s Paradise” by Sir Doug Sahm. I showed up on the scene as a singer-songwriter and started making records with Joe Gracey just after he’d lost his voice to cancer and so became sort of “his voice” too for the thirty plus years we made music together with Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Jack Clement, Waylon Jennings and many others. It’s been very healing to work on all of this since we lost Joe Gracey to a recurrence of cancer in 2011 and great to be able to share not only the stories but hours of the rare recorded archives and documents we collected through the years.“
“I have a couple of blogs on my new website under the headings of “blog” and “archive” where people can read excerpts from the book and get a sneak prevue! There is also a full synopsis of Radio Dreams on the “book” page which we are releasing in groups of ten archived recordings along with lyrics that are only available on my website under the “Music Catalogue” menu.”
I had to ask how things are back home with all the big changes in the US over the past year or so. “If you mean politics… well… I’m just doing what I can to try to put something human and good and entertaining and educational and above all fun into the world£ she told me. “We all have to do what we are good at doing and do our part and remember to care for each other and be kind. I think now more than ever we all need to call on the “better angels” of our nature and remember the message of Yellow Submarine, The Beatles movie from my youth, with a simple and inarguable message… All you need is love.”
Visit Belfast Nashville Songwriters Festival for tickets and information on both gigs by Kimmie Rhodes on 01 and 02 March.
Read last year’s interview with Kimmie Rhodes here.