California Kind at Old Princeton Landing, by Kate Haley
California Kind (photo: Kate Haley)

Words by Kate Haley

California just got a hell of a lot kinder. If you have been in the jam band scene, you’ll know the California Kind artists, as they hail from other truly amazing bands. They’ve got John Molo (Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Phil Lesh and Friends, John Fogerty), Barry Sless (Phil Lesh and Friends, David Nelson Band, Moonalice), Rob Barraco (Dark Star Orchestra, Phil Lesh and Friends), and Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, Rod Stewart), and singer/songwriter Katie Skene working on this incredible collaboration.

Of course with combo of talent, spirit, and the artist’s decades of experience you know it’s going to be one more Saturday — in this case, Friday — night, another chance for a long crazy night of community and unbridled grooves. I haven’t heard Katie Skene yet though and was intrigued about what she would bring to the mix. As it turns out, a lot.

The gig got off to a slow start, as there was some important baseball playoff screening, so I had a little time to talk with Katie. As a young voice bringing women to the forefront of the jam band movement, it was a real highlight to see her tune up. I grew up on the good ol’ Grateful Dead, but I was curious as to how Katie got this impassioned without having been born in time to hop on the initial bus.

Katie said, “I still can’t believe I can play with these legends. I mean, this is big. I grew up on more on the blues and always listened to the Allman Brothers. We’re trying to do a lot of our own work now with California Kind but it’s been really rewarding to be able to cover the greats.” I was curious as to how she picks what songs she wants to cover and lend her unique voice to. Katie sighed, saying, “It’s that song that you really feel when you are drinking wine at 11pm while playing your guitar. That’s the one to explore.”

The gig was a slow start as the ballgame was in overtime, but when they did take the stage,they started with a fun baseball organ riff.

Old Princeton Landing can get a little tight indoors, but it didn’t feel that way as everything just…flowed. Performances were pitch perfect, playful, and packed with so much feeling.

I hope somebody got a bootleg recording and some other young woman, sitting up late and listening from home, pours that glass of wine and plans. We need more diverse voices, of all ages, to keep pushing this movement further. If you have a chance to catch California Kind, hopefully I’ll be there too in the sea of happy faces. I can’t wait to see how their tour shapes up.