Q&A with California-based Blues Americana siren Katie Knipp - dips into a deeper music reservoir of intensity

"Music should be a healing escape that has no boundaries.  When a crowd of 10,000 people are singing a line to a song together, that's pretty special. If you feel like shedding some tears with some pizza and wine, music will help with that. If you need a mood lift, the right song will do the trick. We are in an age where all kinds of artistic inspiration can be available to us, and it's exciting."

Katie Knipp: Crescent City Blues

A Young Elvis was asked who do you sound like? His reply, "I don't sound like nobody." The same could be said for Katie. This is a woman with the rarest of gifts- her own voice. Having hit #4 on the Blues Albums Billboard Charts with her 6th album release titled "The Well," and then #10 on the charts with her 5th album "Take it With You," Northern California Blues Americana Siren Katie Knipp is equipped with powerful vocals and plays a variety of instruments from boogie woogie piano to slide guitar, to honest harmonica laden stories in between. Her various performance formats from raw solo act to full band captures audiences hearts from her first notes. She has opened for Robert Cray, Jimmie Vaughan, Joan Osborne, The Hidalgos, The Doobie Brothers, Tim Reynolds, Jon Cleary, Ruthie Foster, Joe Louis Walker, The James Hunter Six, William Duvall of Alice in Chains, among many others. She played the 2019 Mammoth Blues Festival  as the only solo female act that included headliners Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, Charlie Musselwhite, and more. She has won  two SAMMIES-2020 and 2019 (Sacramento Music Awards) for Best Blues Artist, and was nominated Artist of The Year by The Sacramento News and Review. She has been honored Female Artist of the Year 2020 by the Country Folk Americana Blues Music Realm.              (Katie Knipp / Photo by Phil Kampel)

She has gained worldwide radio support, putting both "The Well" and "Take it With You" on the Roots Music Report in Top Contemporary Blues Albums spun for  2018-2021. On her aptly titled new EP album, The Well (2021), Katie Knipp dips into a deeper reservoir of intensity in five songs than some artists do across a catalog of releases. Rolling a myriad of New Orleans piano styles and Grade A dobro and resonator work into her own blues cocktail, her powerful voice and fine-tuned songwriting echo everything from Aretha and Mahalia to Fleetwood Mac and even Captain Beefheart.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I've always been a believer that blues music is the root of all modern music, and the blues rock movement reinforced that blues music doesn't have to sound a certain way to resonate with people. I could be feeling Robert Johnson in a song I am writing and put a horn section on it, and I don't feel the integrity of it gets lost.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I'm a storyteller heavily influenced by New Orleans piano styles, the raw slide resonator sounds of Son House, while also a closet opera singer. Creativity comes from life experiences as well as the fun of telling a fictional story that is usually on the dark side. There's always a few dead bodies in each collection of songs, ha ha.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Running into Allen Toussaint and getting to chat with him for a bit was magical. I didn't ask him for advice, just sort of soaked in the most graceful man ever to cross my path. The best advice was from a previous manager that said to simply embrace my originality. Wave my freak flag. No apologies! Also, always come from a place of gratitude. Without it, you don't have much.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Opening for Robert Cray at 3 shows was extra special. I was a solo act for them, and it tested my nerves a bit. But then I was able to stand side stage and hear him do his version of "Sittin' on Top of the World," and it was a moment I will never forget.

"I've always been a believer that blues music is the root of all modern music, and the blues rock movement reinforced that blues music doesn't have to sound a certain way to resonate with people. I could be feeling Robert Johnson in a song I am writing and put a horn section on it, and I don't feel the integrity of it gets lost." (Katie Knipp / Photo by Phil Kampel)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Actually, nothing regarding the music, because you can always find music of the past right now. Just go to Fritzel's in New Orleans, or Preservation Hall, or artists like Pokey Lafarge. It's all out still out there. The creativity from people like St. Vincent inspires me as well. I have a lot of hope about art and music always coming full circle. People need human connection, intellectual stimulation, and that will never go away. Fear is a waste of time.

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

I like to be my own boss, wear lots of hats, learn all aspects of the business, so that it's easier to build a solid team around me. I think it's better than it used to be for women, but feel ratios of men to women artists played on the radio could be more of a level playing field.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Nobody owes you a thing. Be grateful. Be original. Invest both your time and money wisely.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Music should be a healing escape that has no boundaries.  When a crowd of 10,000 people are singing a line to a song together, that's pretty special. If you feel like shedding some tears with some pizza and wine, music will help with that. If you need a mood lift, the right song will do the trick. We are in an age where all kinds of artistic inspiration can be available to us, and it's exciting.

Katie Knipp - Home

(Katie Knipp / Photo by Phil Kampel)

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