Kate Mann’s songs take you on a southwestern journey of the nighttime world with snapshots of love lost and dangerous encounters. A deeply resonant, unique vocal quality, atypical chord progressions, and compelling and intelligent lyrics combine to conjure comparisons as varied as Michelle Shocked, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, and Townes Van Zandt.
Kate grew up at the foot of the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico, and the texture of the desert subtly sculpts her music. She has been influenced by singing cowboys, heartache, eighties hair bands, old rock and roll, troubadors, bourbon, travelers, and gentle souls.
Kate moved to Portland Oregon in the mid-ninties, where she cut her musical teeth as a member of several bands before branching out on her own. A former high school teacher, she had an awakening of sorts in 2005 and dedicated herself to music full time. She traded in her car for a van, fixed up her mother’s old 1963 Gibson acoustic, and started touring the Western United States, playing venues from farmers’ markets to cafes to dive bars. Kate has shared bills with such notable acts as Todd Snider, Jackie Green, Brett Dennen, and Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. She was a finalist in the 2009 New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival, received an honorable mention in the 2009 International Songwriting Competition, and has twice been a finalist in the Americana category of the Independent Music Awards.
Kate has recorded four solo CD’s (“Rattlesnake on the Road,” 2012, “Things Look Different When the Sun Goes Down,” 2009, “Devil’s Rope,” 2007, “November Songs,” 2005) and her work has garnered positive reviews in Nine Bullets, Venus Zine, and many other regional and national publications . She currently lives off-grid in the mountains of Northern New Mexico with her partner, four dogs, and a cat. When not making music she can be found watching birds, listening to coyotes, and playing in the mud.
Whether guiding a raft through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, or writing songs and singing about the majesty of the American West, Melissa Crabtree’s heartfelt love for the natural world transports her listeners to the wild places she knows best. Melissa, you see, lives two lives; one as a wilderness guide and the other as a working musician, and at this intersection of nature and music, she conjures songs—like a contemporary, female Woody Guthrie—that amuse, inspire and entertain.
In performance, Crabtree delivers her poignant stories in a distinctly husky alto, with a pleasingly twangy guitar. Her band is top-notch and is as comfortable playing on the back porch as they are on a festival stage. In the last several years, Melissa has played many notable festivals, including the High Sierra Music Festival, Moab Folk Festival, Oregon Country Fair and the Taos Solar Music Festival. She has also received songwriting awards at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, The Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, The Tucson Folk Festival and the Kerrville Folk Festival. In 2002 she was among the 10 finalists in the Songwriter’s Showcase at both the Rocky Mountain Folk Fest and at the Tucson Folk Festival. In 2004 she was among the top five finalists in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival's “Troubadour Contest.” In 2006 her song “Message from a Soldier" got the attention of Noel “Paul” Stookey (of Peter, Paul and Mary) who invited her to perform at the Kerrville Folk Festival where she was a finalist in its "Music to Life" Public Domain Foundation songwriting contest. Melissa also received honorable mention in the 2010 International Songwriting Competition.
Melissa released her first CD, “Off the Beaten Path,” in 2002 and then toured the country in a vegetable-oil powered van to call attention to our nation's addiction to petroleum. Her song "Biodiesel Van" was featured in the film "Fields of Fuel" which won Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. She also produced a compilation CD of songs and spoken word about alternatives to fossil fuels that includes Julia Butterfly Hill, Tony Furtado and Julie Wolf (of Ani Difranco’s band).