This week we are featuring an old friend of mine, Beth Kille, who fronts the Beth Kille Band in Madison, Wisconsin. I lived in Madison in the late 90s until the mid 2000’s, and that’s where I learned the craft of songwriting as a member of the Madison Songwriters Group. It was a group that met monthly at a local brewery, and we sat at a table in the private back room and critiqued each others’ new songs.
We all became a tight-knit bunch, discovering who we were as writers and performers, and supporting one another through our nascent musical journeys. They include Beth Kille, who had been the drum major in the University of Wisconsin marching band. She was trying to reimagine her performing life now that she was out in the big bad world. She had begun playing out a few years earlier, and when we met she was just launching her first band, the rock group Clear Blue Betty. I wore her group’s T-shirt around town back then, proud to say I knew the group’s front woman, and even prouder to have heard many of their songs as works in progress.
Beth has long had a way with songcraft, building songs designed to be played loud. They were tight three-minute pieces full of expression and heart.
I’m so glad to see Beth continuing her mission to master her craft, and to use music as a means to build community and lift people up. These days she plays as a soloist; and as a member of two duos; and in the full band that bears her name, which includes her husband Tony on drums. She’s also a founding member of the acoustic-pop/Americana trio, Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets. So Beth, as you can tell, keeps quite busy.
She recently released a book on songwriting, “Embrace Your Authentic Songwriter.” It’s as much about why to write songs, and exploring your purpose, as much as it is a how-to manual.
Beth’s songwriting skills are on stunning display on the Beth Kille Band’s new album, “This Open Road.” It was hard to choose a track to feature, but I was really taken with the opening song, “All Is One.” It’s an anthem filled with optimism and strength. The structure of this song is unorthodox, hovering around a few sparse words and a guitar riff in the verses. But it works brilliantly, building powerfully around sweet harmonies, and leading to a triumphant finish that I can imagine crowds bopping to in crowded music halls. Here’s “All Is One” by the Beth Kille Band.