Veteran singer Kelly Hogan finally gets her due
July 22, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Singer Kelly Hogan has a reputation as a journeyman, someone who's worked for years to master the craft but has yet to make a mark of her own. That may change with her new album, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain. Here are some songs: 1 2 3 4 5.

Kelly Hogan started her singing career in 1990 in Atlanta, with the eclectic alt-rock band The Jody Grind, which split up after the tragic crash of their touring van took the lives of two members. After a stint playing guitar for The Rock*A*Teens and a solo album, Hogan moved to Chicago and, as she puts it, attempted to quit music.

Instead, in the past dozen years or so, she's built herself a career as a backup singer of note, lending her talents in support of Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples, M. Ward, The Drive-By Truckers, Jakob Dylan, her good friend Neko Case 1 2 3, and many others.

At the same time she released two albums 1 2 3 4 5 and developed a reputation as an ace interpreter 1 2 3 4 5 of country, soul, and classic pop with countless shows, leading her bands The Wooden Leg and then the The Flat Five 1 2 3 4 5. A lot of these shows have been at the small Hideout club in Chicago, where she also tended bar.

I Like to Keep Myself In Pain, Hogan's first album in 11 years, was recorded with Booker T. Jones, James Gadson, Gabriel Roth and her longtime collaborator Scott Ligon 1 2 3. She solicited songs from friends and fellow musicians, including Robyn Hitchcock, Vic Chesnutt, Jon Langford (The Mekons, Waco Brothers), Brett and Rennie Sparks (The Handsome Family), Robbie Fulks, and M. Ward. There's one song by Hogan, which she wrote to show her support to Neko Case, who had called her from on tour when her van broke down.

Anti- Records has been throwing a lot of support her way. Here's a promo clip they put together of her talking about how the album came to be, why she wanted to punch Vic Chesnutt in the dick, and some talking dogs. She's been doing a lot of media appearances and the album has been pulling in some glowing reviews. After over two decades in music, Kelly Hogan may be having her breakthrough.


Some odds and ends:

In 1994, she took part in the Indigo Girls' production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

A set by the Rock*A*Teens .

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers has a solo album coming out. He and Hogan co-wrote a song, and she sings backup.

Hogan Here is her tumblr. NSFW

Hogan and Case on Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
posted by hydrophonic (31 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
I just emailed this to her.
posted by timsteil at 10:59 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I reviewed the Jody Grind a couple of decades ago when I was writing for the San Diego Tribune (now the Union-Tribune) and spoke briefly with all the members of the band. It was very sad what happened to them. It's good to hear she's taking another shot.
posted by jscalzi at 11:02 AM on July 22, 2012

I dunno. Her band(s) are great, and she can certainly sing. At first I thought I didn't like the mix on the recorded stuff, but i get the same dissatisfaction from the live ones i skimmed. There's some disconnect for me between her voice and the sort of acoustic light-funk thing.
posted by cmoj at 11:17 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Good on her, going for it. I feel like she's everybody's secret weapon in that scene. Here's hoping she gets some recognition.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 11:22 AM on July 22, 2012

timsteil, please also convey my most sincere apologies for, however briefly, confusing her with Brooke Hogan.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:29 AM on July 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

the eclectic alt-rock band The Jody Grind

Man, Behind the Eight Ball could be a Heart song. That was pretty cool.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:31 AM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell her yourself. I think she still tends bar and sings at The Hideout.
posted by timsteil at 11:38 AM on July 22, 2012

What was it, thirteen years between solo records? Sheesh. I know she's busy and all... But still.

I haven't worn the new record out yet. It's great, but none of the songs have taken the top of my head off quite like "Sugarbowl" did.

But I should probably listen to it a few more times
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:54 AM on July 22, 2012

timsteil: "@Faint?

Tell her yourself. I think she still tends bar and sings at The Hideout.

Huh? But you live in Chicago and he lives out east. Be a pal.

Kelly is a rare jewel who can take any song and make it her own. We used to run in some of the same circles and she's been around forever. She's always gotten a tremendous amount of kudos and respect but never seemed to quite bust out. I wish her all the best because she deserves it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:06 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, Kelly Hogan's voice is just one of those things where my heart soars and my skin prickles when she sings.
posted by Kitteh at 12:18 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Love her. Thanks!
posted by rtha at 12:53 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Went to see, er, Poi Dog Pondering, (um ...yeah) one summer and the opening act was The Jody Grind. They were fantastic! I bought a cd, went back to college in the fall and a friend was raving about a concert she'd seen over the summer by... The Jody Grind. (... gave her the cd). Two decades later I had a fragment of a melody stuck in my head with a couple of words (wrong words, it turns out), and after months tracked down the song to "Florida, Maine." While I was hunting it down, I re-discovered Kelly Hogan and re-bought the cd and reflected on how much she seemed like a proto-Neko Case. I read a few interviews with her posted online to find out whatever happened to her, and was so delighted to discover that they had become fast friends and bandmates. (I keep hoping that someday Neko will do a cover of that song.)
posted by Auden at 12:55 PM on July 22, 2012

The sophistcation, erotic langour, lounge singing, para-textual meanings, and sheer dripping pussy wetness, but with the creepy incest vibe you see in something stupid, and with the lee hazlewood mid 60s euro-sleaze; it is biography in pop song best, and it is such a sad such a heart rending song.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2012

Ha, I had forgotten about that Jesus Christ Superstar thing. I remember when the guy who initiated it, Mike Lorant, told me about it. I have a dream, he said, to do a production of Jesus Christ Superstar with Atlanta and Athens musicians. I thought he was crazy, but he did it.

Great post, takes me back to my youth. The crash that killed half of The Jody Grind also killed Deacon Lunchbox, who was a real institution on the Atlanta scene in those days.
posted by thelonius at 1:11 PM on July 22, 2012

I was at the Hideout one night when Kelly Hogan tended bar and sang a duet with the alt county act that was playing for a crowd of like 12. Maybe she does this all the time, I don't know. The whole country-ish scene in Chicago around the Hideout, Bloodshot Records, and people like Kelly is just really really great. I would put Robbie Fulks and Jon Langford in the same category.
posted by Mid at 1:29 PM on July 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

She has also been an assistant to Lynda Barry, though she likely doesn't have much time for that now.

And the great singer Kelly Hogan and I are working together to get the writing workshops going in different areas. And I really, really want to write a musical with her because she is a genius and hilarious and also serious and deep. I don’t want to die before I do that.
posted by carrienation at 1:59 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

That Robyn Hitchcock sure is a sinister old geezer.
posted by scruss at 2:21 PM on July 22, 2012

I saw her sing with Neko Case in London a couple years ago, and yeah, she's got chops, but I spent the entire gig watching her with increasing annoyance as she did cutesy little hand motions, pranced around on stage, and filled the gaps between songs with twee verbal diarrhea. It was incredibly distracting, and kind of ruined the show.
posted by catch as catch can at 3:06 PM on July 22, 2012

Nobody deserves a little fame and fortune more than Kelly Hogan. I have her previous albums and one JG record but haven't scored the new one yet. I was privileged to hear her sing live a couple of times, with (her great friend) John Wesley Harding and Dale Watson but alas, not on her own.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2012

I really like the first bunch from the new solo album....there's a sale! I'm in.
posted by nevercalm at 3:22 PM on July 22, 2012



*eyes turn into giant cartoon hearts*
posted by clavicle at 4:09 PM on July 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

So the first song is called We Can't Have Nice Things and no one mentions it?

Or is that MeTa only?
posted by ersatz at 4:34 PM on July 22, 2012

I too have been a fan since the Jody Grind days. Florida, Maine, off their first album, was the first song I taught myself on banjo. She's definitely my biggest rock star crush.
posted by smartyboots at 5:21 PM on July 22, 2012

Is this "Florida, Maine" song available for listening to online anywhere? A quick Google only finds me a 30s clip @ Amazon and I'm curious, although not quite convinced enough to buy it. (I'm not looking to obtain it for free - I'd just like to hear it and YouTube's not popping up anything immediately useful)
posted by maryr at 6:03 PM on July 22, 2012

I love her. Her voice is amazing and her new album is timeless and it makes my heart hurt and leap every time I hear it. I saw her with Neko Case as well, and her voice was so unbelievably gorgeous that when they sang together it felt like being in the center of some sort of enormous vocal tornado.
posted by bayliss at 7:36 PM on July 22, 2012

Listen to Florida Maine here.

A small point, but I feel like I saw them as early as 1989.
posted by 99_ at 7:37 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, that was just awesome.
posted by maryr at 8:06 PM on July 22, 2012

Fuck yeah Kelly Hogan!

Just wanted to mention it, that's all.
posted by stet at 11:28 PM on July 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I spent a couple of summers lugging around a Hammond B3 for Scott Ligon. We (friends, family) always knew if Scott could get out of this area he would find success. It was his dream to play with NRBQ and now he's a full fledged member. Way to go Scott!
posted by Sailormom at 9:26 AM on July 23, 2012

I was at the Hideout one night when Kelly Hogan tended bar and sang a duet with the alt county act that was playing for a crowd of like 12. Maybe she does this all the time,

She lives in Wisconsin now, so no longer tending bar.

So Grooveshark has a more Kelly Hogan, including a couple of songs from The Jody Grind. ("Paint It Black" is by a 60s prog-psych band with the same name.) A few fans have put together playlists. They seem to like her songs for children. Although I've got to say her version of "Rubber Ducky" seems to be about something else entirely.

Grooveshark looks to be operating on dubious legal standing and might not be around for long, so I tried to avoid it in my post.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:06 PM on July 23, 2012

Good for her, I looking forward to hear her new songs. She has a great voice
posted by DonnaH at 1:17 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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