Country Punk

WITH A SOLID PUNK pedigree, but a serious country-western jones,
singer-songwriter Neko Case is a lot of things to a lot of people.
But to a cramped, sold-out crowd at a Minneapolis bar during her
recent tour, she is simply too good for words. ?You guys are so
quiet,? she says to the starstruck audience. ?You?re making me

The Vancouver native recently released her third solo album,
Blacklisted (Bloodshot), a ballad-laced collection that
may spark a new wave of interest in the old country-western
crooners Case reveres. The album casts a melancholy cloud as Case?s
sexy voice swirls with banjos, steel guitars, and an upright

It?s been a long, but not particularly strange trip from punk to
country. Case, taught herself to play drums while attending the
Emily Carr Institute of Art + Design in Vancouver, and latched onto
various punk bands, including Cub and Maow. Since then, she?s
collaborated with artists from all over the United States and
Canada, including the power-pop band New Pornographers and the
Southern Americana duo Calexico. Eventually she started her own
band, Neko Case and Her Boyfriends, which represented a sharp
detour from rock into thick country-western balladry.

On her Web site (, she celebrates ?Neko?s
Ladies,? a genre-busting collection of artists that includes Tina
Turner, Ketty Lester, and Sheila E., as well as Bessie Griffin and
her Gospel Pearl?s album Swing Down Sweet Chariot. ?I
didn?t believe in God, and thought religion in general had no
redeeming value, but those ladies convinced me I was too mortal to
think that I could know for sure, no matter how punk rock I thought
I was,? she says. ?They were a mighty superband, and I wish someone
would re-release those old records.?

Of her own musicmaking, Case is a little less awestruck. ?It
makes me feel like a legitimate person with an actual purpose,? she

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