The Norman Transcript

Sound Advice by Doug Hill

September 16, 2013

Katie Khaos Hawkins going solo at Blue Bonnet

“It’s going to be like a female singer/songwriter festival,” Katie Khaos Hawkins said. “I’ll be there along with Samantha Crain, Ali Harter and Kierston White.”

Hawkins regularly performs as part of Norman outfits The Needles and John Wayne’s Bitches. Solo singer/songwriter style performances have been rare for her. She’ll be part of a bill that selected from among Oklahoma’s best current talent.

“I’ll be singing my original material,” Hawkins said. “The Blue Bonnet actually doesn’t allow covers, which I think makes for better shows.”

It’s one of the joint’s remarkable characteristics that sets it apart from other live music venues.

“Kierston White actually has a song about the Blue Bonnet that she’ll be playing at the Blue Bonnet,” Hawkins said. “I love her music.”

Hawkins’ new compositions have taken a less cacophonous turn from what she does for her harder core projects.

“I have a lot of new ones,” she said. “There’s one called ‘Requiem’ that’s more melodic than anything I’ve ever written before. I’ve been listening to a lot of melodic girl music and not so much punk rock.”

Although many may not consider Hawkins a red dirt musician the local influence is inseparable from her sound. She grew up here and has been part of the Norman scene for a decade.

“I’m just an Okie girl,” she said. “You can call it whatever you want. The music tradition here is collaborative. It doesn’t even have to be at a show or venue, we get together in someone’s backyard, play guitar and work out songs.”

House shows have always been part of punk rock.

“Those are my favorite, people having their friends over to play in the living room of some house,” she said. “Few venues would host punk shows so it’d either be play at someone’s house or the VFW Hall.”

Hawkins has an adventurous streak that’s led her to explore other sounds including electro and hip hop. She’s worked with Oklahoma City’s Jabee Williams and kicks herself for letting past hip hop opportunities slip away. Her powerful vocals stand up strong to the genre’s soulful demands.

“I love Motown,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know if I’m musically talented enough to pull it all together but if I could get a band with brass and back-up singers I would do it in a heartbeat.”

She’s been listening to Detroit beats since childhood. Her mom was a fan of Elvis, The Beatles, Beach Boys and the music coming from Motor City.

“My mom’s friend came to stay with us one time when I was in third or fourth grade,” she said. “I had a little keyboard I was playing in my room. She walked into the living room and said to my mom, ‘Do you know your daughter’s in there playing the blues?’”

She’s always played by ear and was just kicking back the jams she’d heard on the radio. Hawkins’ earliest musical memory is of her mom singing “Mr. Sandman.”

“It was our bedtime song,” she said.

Hawkins has soaked up volumes of knowledge about performing since her primary school days of tapping out tunes on a portable Casio player. She’s a listener, thinker and learner who turns a thoughtful eye and ear to the world around her. Hawkins is not shy and she’s artistically fearless.

“Performing live is definitely something you have to do more of to get good at,” she said. “Even for people who have been playing for a long time, if it’s been awhile since you’ve had a show it can be pretty difficult.”

Learning to keep the audience engaged and how to be witty between numbers are not to be overlooked. Gauging if fast songs are going over better than slow ones may be part of the calculation.

“Musicians get to be really good at reading people’s small signs,” she said. “You can see in when they’re looking at their phones or talking to their friends.”

Performing solo as a singer/songwriter as opposed to being part of a band magnifies this.

“It takes a certain level of skill and I may be nervous before the show but once I get up there it’s not so bad,” Hawkins said. “When you’re playing a song and people stop what they’re doing to listen is when you know you’ve got them.”          

If You Go

What: Katie Hawkins with Samantha Crain, Ali Harter and Kiertson White.

Where: The Blue Bonnet Bar, 321 E. Main St.

When: 9 p.m. Sept. 28

Cost: $5            

Katie Khaos Hawkins will light your fire (photo provided).

 

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Sound Advice by Doug Hill