A former Hideout suds slinger joins Wilco's CEO and soul-gospel great Mavis Staples on a locally brewed platter.
WHAT Mavis Staples’s Jeff Tweedy collaboration, You Are Not Alone
WHEN Sept 14
For Mavis Staples’s forthcoming studio album, You Are Not Alone, the singer tapped Jeff Tweedy and other local ringers for soul-dripping sessions at Wilco’s Northwest Side loft. One of those locals was vocalist Kelly Hogan, former bartender at the Hideout and, more recently, back-up singer for Neko Case and Jakob Dylan. On Staples’s latest, she’s joined by music partner in crime Nora O’Connor. Hogan gives us the lowdown.
On the business-caj vibe—despite a lack of overdubs…
“Mavis has an incredibly warm, uplifting presence—I always say she swallowed the sun, man. The sessions were done live with everyone playing and/or singing at the same time, which surprised Nora and myself (usually the backup vocals are the ‘frosting’ and we put down tracks over stuff that’s already finished). We didn’t even know Mavis was gonna be there or that we would sing with her…live! Lord have mercy—it was a scary honor!”
On the rigorous recording schedule, and the Wilco chief’s special chapeau…
“It’s invigorating and rewarding, but you really have to be on your game—if you make a mistake during a take, then everyone else has to do it over, too. There’s pressure, for sure, and Nora and I were the newbies. You really have to focus, but everyone was very welcoming and relaxed. Jeff Tweedy had his special ‘boss hat’ that he would put on when it was time to fully bring it. He was really excellent—great ideas, very enthusiastic, benevolent but firm direction. And he’s also hilarious. Believe it. We had a great time there.”