I first saw Catherine Russell in a small West Village club singing Meters songs in 1989. I was gaga over The Meters and instantly in love with her voice and commanding stage presence. I managed to talk her into joining a motley crew I had assembled at The Radon Room Studio on Mott Street for some sessions. We wrote some tunes and it sounded great, at least to my ears.
For Catherine, it was a bit of a trial dealing with the motley-ness of the crew and though she like everyone a lot she moved on with her career, and I went on to form other still-motley crews. But Catherine and I remained good friends afterward, and she was gracious enough to score me tickets to Grateful Dead shows which I did not have the money for. We had lots of fun.
Eventually, Native (still a motley bunch) was formed and Catherine started appearing with us every now and then. The recording you are about to hear is from a cassette recorded early in the evening of March 6, 1993. Later that evening, Native played Nightingale Bar and Catherine joined us to play it for the peoples.
Looking back, if I’d known that Catherine was singing with the likes of Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Al Green, etc., if I’d known her father was Louis Armstrong’s arranger—well, I probably would have been too scared to ever invite her down to a sub-level studio beneath Little Italy to play with such a motley crew.
Cat is on tour now, check out her webpage www.catherinerussell.net and give her a shout. She’s one of the greats, and we were damned lucky, and honored to have her join us on so many wonderful occasions.