Welcome to Boss Ladies, a blog series dedicated entirely toward featuring and promoting our talented Lady Brian Members and their creative work. Keeping with our mission of collaboration and service, each article in this series is written by a member about a member. We encourage you to discover and support not only the subject of each review, but also the writer! Today's Boss Ladies review features the latest release from CalAmity (featuring Lady Brain podcast host Cathryn Beeks), written by Tori Roze.
CalAmity is a San Diego-based all-female band made up of local folk/Americana all-stars Cathryn Beeks (ukulele, vocals), Nisha Catron (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Marcia Claire (bass, vocals), Kristen Cusato (cajon), and Jules Whelpton (violin). One of the hardest working women in the San Diego music scene for over at least the last fifteen years, Beeks tapped into her finely tuned DIY skills to film, direct, and star alongside bandmates in the newest music video for their song “After All.” With her incredibly diverse skill set in hand and a talented band to boot, this visual homage to a lesser-known historical location is a lovely display of not just Beeks's ideas, but CalAmity’s pure heart and soul.
According to Beeks, “This song is about The Teten Farm House, an exhibit at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum. The home was built in 1892 by Olivenhain colonist, Fred Teten.” The scene opens with a charming black and white photo and the ominous sound of crows cawing, hinting at a rustic time and place that was once the everyday norm. Fast forward to the present day and you’re immediately transported to a gracefully cohesive narrative tying the two time periods together: same place, different time.
The song begins with violin, guitar, bass, cajon and a ukulele. A three-part vocal harmony reminiscent of The Dixie Chicks (but with way more rock-and-roll grit under their fingernails) carries the tune through the choruses, creating a solid wall of sound to tell this unique tale. Catron oscillates between acoustic guitar, harmonica,
and vocals, creating a lullaby-like calmness to the music that sounds as if we have entered into a proper Oh Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. Now the mood is perfectly set. Welcome to the Teten Farm House at Heritage Ranch in Encinitas, CA.
The lighting is absolutely lovely: warm and cool sentiments signify when one is nostalgically recalling the past versus the present, while candlelight recalls those that are no longer here. It works seamlessly. Visually there is a ritualistic witchy-ness to it all – a discernible Stevie Nicks vibe that mysteriously and immediately draws you in.
After we have met our ranch care-takers, Mary Lou and John Binkinz (who are descendants of the original settlers), CalAmity suddenly appears – five strong women sitting ephemerally with their instruments. They are dream-like pillars of herstory representing the people who once lived in the house where they filmed. The video continually moves throughout the ranch dwelling with all five members of the band floating in and out of the scene. Quiet, secretive, and reverent – the detailed connectivity to feminine energy is honored in abundance.
Astoundingly thoughtful and intentional, Beek’s cinematography is meant to give you a warm hug, emanating the sense of being let into the band’s space of self-reflection. The “nurturers and care-takers” of the world are shown in pink lighting and white vintage lace. White gloves are strewn about the wooden dresser nestled alongside classical monochromatic family photos. There is a delicate continuity sewing together the fabric of this miniature film.
As CalAmity “comes and goes” from shot to shot, it signifies the impermanence of our own being and the prospect of someday no longer being able to tell our own stories. There is a bittersweet tug at the heart strings when one considers no longer physically, but spiritually inhabiting a space. The lyrics reinforce that disposition:
The Museum lights ain’t on tonight / It’s giving me such a fright
After all, after all, after all the folks are gone
Fred built this place in 1893 /I feel him here, same as you and me
After all, after all, after all it's still his home
Everything has memories / Each one tells a tale.
If you listen you will hear / If they want to tell
Walking ‘round this place at night / Singing ‘spirits go to the light
After all, after all, there's sanctuary in these walls
This song and video stand as CalAmity’s personal museum time capsule. And now it serves as a historical time-marker for both the band and Teten Farm House. Their vision is clear: everything has a story that should be
excavated, acknowledged, and celebrated. It inspires you to want to go and take a tour of the
Teten Farm House for yourself just to soak up its roots.
Since the video’s January release, CalAmity has been on a “studio tour," trading promo videos of San Diego studios/producers in exchange for a song – a system of creative exchange helping to truly build a solid local music community. “After All" was recorded by Marti Amadao of AmadoMusic, while other tunes were recorded with Jeff Berkley, Maria Connors, Josquin Despres, and Sven Erik Seaholm. The band plans on releasing a new song/video every six to eight weeks, so be on the lookout via YouTube and Soundcloud.
Don't miss the opportunity to see them live (in the space where the video was filmed!) on July 7 for the first annual Lady Brain Fest at Heritage Ranch - details coming soon!
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