ACL Music Fest Interviews

ACL Music Fest Interviews

Cat Power & the Memphis Rhythm Band

Friday, 5:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

"Hola Papi!"

That's not exactly the expected greeting from Chan Marshall upon introducing oneself, but then the playful, almost-purring Cat Power on the phone wasn't always thus. Eight months sober, the 34-year-old Miami-based pianist renown for her stark confessionalism breathes easier now.

"Getting older, you realize you don't have to beat yourself up so much," she admits. "What's all the anxiety for?"

That explains spring's The Greatest (Matador), Cat Power's seventh and most relaxed recording, cut in Memphis with "Love and Happiness" era Al Green sidemen Leroy and Mabon "Teenie" Hodges.

"I was at lunch with Matador in London," starts Marshall, dropping into a foggy English accent as the label rep. "'So ... have you thought about who you're to have play on your record?' And I'm like, 'Fuck. Well ...' And he says, 'Just give me a dream situation.'

"I thought to myself, 'Oh, Otis Redding's band,' you know, sarcastically. My friend from Blues Explosion, Judah Bauer, had told me that Al Green's band was still around. So I just said, 'Oh, Al Green's band – the Hodges brothers.'

"He pulls out his laptop. 'How would I get in touch with the Hodges brothers?'"

By the time the check came, it was a done deal.

"Isn't that insane?" she laughs. "Teenie was at the sessions from the morning I met him 'til the day we left – the seventh day. We had another bass player come in on other songs, because [Leroy] has a regular job, so he had to get off work to do the studio sessions. The other Hodges brother [Charles] refused to play because he didn't want to play devil's music, which made me sad, because I certainly don't play that."

Marshall must have been after Teenie's war stories.

"Oh, no, you don't have to chase T," she chuckles. "He's a living history book. He's loved life so much."

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