Songwriter and guitarist Katie Jo (formerly Katie Jo & The Mijos) plays classic country music fit for the modern era—and often fit for folks who say they don’t like country music at all. A native of Kansas, and currently based in California, Katie Jo brings a Midwestern sensibility to songs that dance in defeat of life’s plainest realities: circumstances might be bad, and probably getting worse, so better to take it in stride and get on with it, then. This isn’t soft-spoken folk melodies nor hard-scrabble outlaw snarls: it’s lyric vulnerability mixed with vivacious live energy. It’s having a chip on your shoulder while still looking for one to cry on. It’s being your own worst enemy and your own savior.
With a broad sound backed by a six-piece backing band, her high-energy live show is not often expected of the diminutive band leader. Katie Jo’s out to prove that modern country music should be played with just enough bite to last—and you don’t have to wear big hat or beard to do it.
A long-time banjo picker, Katie Jo cut her teeth playing her own country songs in punk dive bars and honky tonk holdouts around Southern California over the last two years, carving out strong support with non-country music fans by playing shows in untraditional venues like boxing gyms and barbershops as well as regional festivals. She has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with legends such as Billy Joe Shaver and contemporary acts Jaime Wyatt, Deer Tick, Lucero, and more.
Following up on 2018’s Prairie Flower EP, Katie Jo’s debut full-length country record was recorded in 2019 at Big Ego Studios in Long Beach, CA, under the helm of producer Chris Schlarb. The album was created in tradition of country records past, with a live backing band in one room, in just three days. The 9-song collection is a master class in rejection of love in all its forms: Forlorn sentiments collide with forefront tempos, classic breakup songs with hard-lined attitudes, early rock with pedal steel rolls. Tying this tension together are good-time melodies fit for a honky tonk hoedown with standout lyrics that’ll keep breaking your heart after the lights are down and everyone’s gone home. It will be released in early 2020.