Kate Lissauer, currently resident in England, is a highly regarded exponent of American old-time country music. Kate has been performing and teaching for many years, and brings her knowledge and love of mountain, bluegrass and folk music to life through her passionate instrumental and vocal style as both a soloist and a band-leader.
The musical history of Kate Lissauer includes playing with one of Maryland’s champion string bands, Rev. Chip and the Moonbrides, a busy performance, step-dance and square dance band, touring as a member of the legendary Steptones Appalacian cloggers, who helped to bring American step-dancing to the UK, and working as a member of Scotland’s Celtic-American fusion, The Caledonia Ramblers. These days her band appearances see her heading up Buffalo Gals and Buffalo Gals Stampede.
Kate began her career as a champion fiddler in her home state of Maryland, USA, and is also an expert clawhammer and old-time three-finger banjo picker, a guitarist and an excellent singer, specialising in the ‘high-lonesome’ sound of US mountain music. Her solo performances range through a great variety of music, including old ballads upon which she has placed her own stamp, blues and gospel songs, hard-driving fiddle tunes, and one of her trademarks – fiddle-backed songs.
As well as performing as a solo artist and leading her bands, Buffalo Gals and Buffalo Gals Stampede, Kate also plays and sings with Jason Titley and Leon Hunt as a trio of master Bluegrass and American old-time musicians with a thrilling new black and white Hollywood film project ‘Sonic Silents’. Following a commission from Bath Film Festival, she scored and composed original music for three Oscar-winning Frank Borzage silent movies from the 1920s and 30s. In 2020 the trio moved on to complete their feature length show, ‘Beggars Of Life’, a moving interpretation of and live accompaniment to the iconic Louise Brooks silent movie. Lockdown restrictions permitting, ‘Beggars of Life’ re-starts its UK in 2021. Tasters of both ‘Beggars of Life’ and the shorts can be view here. Kate’s other appearances include folk clubs and folk festivals, international music and dance festivals, and concerts of American Country music and Bluegrass.
Kate is also highly regarded and in demand as a teacher, having presented classes at festivals and residential workshops such as Sore Fingers Summer Schools, Friends of American Old-Time Music and Dance, Fiddles at Witney and presently both teaching at and running La Fuente de Musica residential workshop weeks in Spain, alongside a team of America’s most sought-after teachers including Alice Gerrard, Dave Bing, Tom Sawber, Ben Townsend, Beverley Smith and John Grimm.
Workshops presently available with Kate include all levels of Appalacian fiddle, clawhammer banjo, fingerpicking banjo, singing with an instrument, and square dance. School workshops are available for primary, secondary and special needs schools. They are an entertaining introduction to American traditional music and dance which include plenty of interaction and participation.
As one of the few callers resident in the UK, Kate presents square dances in the traditional, authentic style, and has been spreading her love of great old-time square dancing at festivals and parties for years. Kate works as a caller with her own band, Buffalo Gals, or with any resident band.
Her infectious patter becomes a part of the music, and ensures that no one will miss a move. Her style of teaching involves everyone, including those who have never danced.
Hear Kate talking about the origins of her music Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour below.