Kathleen Edwards and Tig Notaro at Wits, 4/19/13

Categories: Last Night

Showing off more of her tongue-in-cheek humor, Kathleen took to her electric guitar and performed a stripped down version of "Empty Threat," a song that had the audience laughing with her lyrics of threatening to move to America. During the bridge, she shared that she almost moved to St. Paul once, but things didn't work out, but this was long before she wrote "Empty Threat."
Wits Kathleen Edwards3.jpg
Photo by Youa Vang

Every Wits has a "Game Show" section where comedy and music are forced to compete against each other. Asking Kathleen if she had once opened for Bob Dylan, she hesitatingly answered, "Yeah?" John Moe told her that made her the perfect candidate for that evening's "Game Show" round. This week was dedicated to the depths of lesser Dylan -- deep cuts that never made the albums. Tig's answer to the inspiration for his song "I Think I Just Ate a Bug" was hilariously and painstakingly stretched out, but Kathleen's was even more so. After strumming off a few notes, she said, "From my experience, this is just like seeing Dylan live actually." When Edwards was unable to come up a song for one of the questions, Tig offered to play acoustic guitar, but warned everyone that she was only able to play chords -- and would not be singing. The deciding question confused both Kathleen and Tig, and led to Kathleen winning when Tig mocked Edwards, then stalled for too long, giving the win to Kathleen. Notaro promptly said, "But I had cancer. Don't you think I've been through enough?"

Toby Keith is not an artist who is often on NPR, but Kathleen was invited to share in a karaoke version of Keith's "I Wanna Talk About Me." Band leader John Munson asked Tig to help out, but Kathleen quipped, "We're actually okay, Tig. Thanks. I got this covered," then went on to ask the audience to join in on the chorus, saying, "That's the only reason we're doing this stupid song. You're gonna love it!"

Wits Karoake.jpg
Photo by Youa Vang

For her encore, Edwards once again spoke about how she spent a lot of time a few years ago in the Twin Cities and how she almost moved here. She never did make this her home, but said she feels this is her American home. Backed by Joe Savage on steel pedal, Kathleen launched into a poignant, haunting version of "Away," another song about love and loss -- something Edwards excels at putting into song.

Critic's bias: Kathleen Edwards is one of this generation's best songwriters, but I am always impressed with how intelligent and well-versed she is. Many artists hide their head in the sand about the world around them, but she never closes herself off to these things.

The crowd:
An older crowd wanting to enjoy themselves after a long week of snowstorms.

Overheard in the crowd: "I wonder if Bon Iver is here."

Random notebook dump: Being so close to the Boston Marathon bombing, John Moe put into perspective the thought of going to a show to laugh and enjoy music when there are so many horrible things going on in the world. "There's only one way to manage cognitive dissonance of it all, and that's to remember the continental rule of improv acting. That is to say, 'Yes, and...' Yes, we accept what is put before us, but we allow ourselves to add to it. Terrible things happen in the world. Any jokes we make and songs we sing are not antidotes to the cruelty of the world or to the discouraging notion, but that cruelty seems inevitable. But we say 'yes,' and we continue with our show. We get together and share stories and jokes, and we listen to music. It didn't cure anything, but we said 'yes' to accepting that horrible stuff and added music and jokes and friendship and conversation and humanity."


Change the Sheets
Asking for Flowers
Drown - Chris Koza
Empty Threat
I Wanna Talk About Me


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