New arrangements

Joplin tribute artist Kat Bowser releasing her own CD

Kat Bowser, photography by Kyle Quandt

When Kat Bowser first moved to Fort Wayne from Nashville almost two years ago, she quickly developed a faithful following for her remarkable Janis Joplin tribute performances, most notably one which celebrated the late icon’s 70th birthday in 2013. Her powerful, bluesy voice not only allowed her to tackle the Joplin catalog but also led to Led Zeppelin tributes, which also showcase her uncanny ability to wrap herself around some of music’s most beloved songs.

She might well have been content to rest on those laurels since live performance had always been her forté, but once in the Summit City she caught the eye – and ear – of one of Fort Wayne’s own legends, WXKE’s Doc West, who encouraged her to record.

Fortunately, Bowser knew some folks who could make that happen. Enter Sweetwater Sound, which provided not only the studio space but the personnel to set a plan in motion. The Sweetwater connection also led to some pretty high-caliber session musicians to pull it off including John “J.R.” Robinson, touted as the most recorded drummer in the world. Robinson has worked with such talents as Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Rufus, Lionel Richie and Steve Winwood, as well as his work on films and as the drummer for “We Are the World.”

“There’s a high you get from performing that you don’t get in the studio,” she says. “No one is going to applaud for you after you record a song! But I love the collaborative work and getting to be surrounded by musicians that are the best at what they do.”

As she continues work on the CD, which contains both originals and cover tunes, she’s aiming for a fall release which will kick off with a release party at C2G where, along with Don Hall’s Guest House, she has found a venue for her music. She’s performed a few of the covers already, but she says she’s holding on for the release to share the rest of the new material.

Although recording provided her a chance to branch out a bit, to venture into other areas of the blues, Bowser and her aptly named Band of Blues continue to perform the tribute concerts to a grateful Fort Wayne audience. Her 2013 birthday tribute to Joplin at C2G was so popular, she was booked again this past winter to reprise the show. Although it’s taxing on her voice, Bowser says she loves performing and especially loves reviving the passion Joplin showed when she sang. She may retire that show, however, once her new CD is out.

“I hope once it’s ready we can tour with it, either do some festivals or maybe get hooked on a tour as an opening act.”

Having hopped from Missouri to Tennessee and now to Indiana, Bowser seems ready to make Fort Wayne home.

“The nice thing about this area is that you can go out and perform and not be caught up in all the drama of a bigger city. You can go out and be crazy, but then come home and relax.”

First appeared in the August 2014 issue of Fort Wayne Monthly.


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