We had the good fortune of connecting with Kathleen Parks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kathleen, why did you pursue a creative career?
From as early as I can remember, music has been a part of my life. Tunes greeting me in the morning while making my way to the kitchen while my mother made breakfast. A number of cds could be playing, Vivaldi, The Beatles, Louis Prima, The Carpenters. These are the sounds of my childhood and as soon as I would hear them, a cheerfulness would come over me. Since the start I have had a strong interest in making music, singing, dancing, and playing. In one area or another I have had a bond with music that I can’t seem to let go. It brightens me, lifts me up, helps me leave the doldrums behind. My father was a professional musician all of his life, my mother a dancer. I grew up with these influencers guiding me and helping me gain confidence in myself as an artist from an early age.
When it came time to choose a “career path” my dad told me that in order to have a life in music I had to really love it, because it would be a hard life.
Life has had many ups and downs since then but all in all every time I step on the stage, I’m free of anything and anyone that has ever tried to hold me back. I feel alive when I play with others, and I’d take that over anything else in this world.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Twisted Pine is a funky, jazzy, Americana, Bluegrass / Not bluegrass band from Boston, MA performing originals that are filled with lighthearted humor, star bright solos, and electrifying grooves. The band contains Dan Bui on the mandolin, Anh Phung on flute, Chris Sartori on the upright bass, and yours truly (Kathleen Parks) on lead vocals and five string fiddle.
We perform nationally and have traveled many many miles to get where we are today. Our most recent album release titled Right Now came out during the depths pandemic in August of 2020 and even though we were unable to play out, it got a significant amount of praise across the country. We were so surprised and grateful. The pandemic really could have shook us of our faith in music, but we looked to each other when we were in a bad place. Coming out of it with the vaccine available to us made us not take each other and the ability to play together for granted.
One of the things I am most proud of this band for is how we kept our heads high and came scorching into the 2021 festival season with even more excitement and pizzazz than before. As soon as we were able to come together and make music again, we really went all in.
This summer, 2022, will be our first year playing the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado. That has been one of our dream plays, and it’s finally coming true. We can’t wait to get out there!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If you come to Boston there are plenty of places you gotta check out.
1) The Cantab Lounge: you make sure you get yourself out here on a Tuesday night. The Bluegrass night is the night that is not to be missed, and it’s where we got our start. This place built Boston’s Bluegrass scene and is responsible for the beginnings of legends such as Crooked Still, Joy Kills Sorrow, The Deadly Gentleman, The Infamous Stringdusters, Della Mae, The Gibson Brothers, Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, The Steep Canyon Rangers, Town Mountain, Tim O’Brien’s band, Mile Twelve, The Lonely Heartstrings Band, and many more.
2) Felipe’s Taqueria: Go get the super burrito in Harvard Square.
3) Modern Pastry: Best Cannoli.
4) Pavement Coffee House: Favorite bagel sandwich – get the lox. Not your New England Dunkin.
5) Club Passim: Showcasing Boston’s up and coming folk artists since 1958. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell played there back when it was Club 47.
6) Institute of Contemporary Art: Hands down my favorite art museum.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Some really important people that have gotten Twisted Pine where it is today would have to be:
First, our manager, Lynne Bertrand. Lynne has stood by us since we were an angsty little baby band in 2014 and has since continued to help us navigate this crazy music business scene while maintaining such a dear friendship with us. She is a major figure in our lives and has hauled so much to get us in front of the right people at the right time. There’s no one out there with as much heart and soul as her.
She has recently joined Loudmouth Pro which has taken us under their management wing and is taking good care of us and the many other great artists on their roster.
A huge amount of thanks goes to our label, Jim Olsen and the entire Signature Sounds Recordings Company. Jim has believed in the music we’ve been making since the start. We had to rebrand ourselves a couple of times and every time Jim has come back with a big “OK – let’s do this!” mindset. We really appreciate the faith in the music, and the reason we’ve been able to keep putting new records out.
Our booking agency, The Kurland Agency has gotten us into some really beautiful Performing Arts Halls, and some of our dream festivals. They keep us on the road and we love being out there.
Dan Cardinal of Dimension Sound Studios has been a co-producer and engineer with us for two of our original works. He has helped bring the music to life and captured our sound in the studio to make two records we’re really proud of. Couldn’t have done it without him.
We all wouldn’t be where we are without the support of our loving families, partners, and friends: The Buis, The Parks’, The Phung’s, and The Sartoris are our biggest supporters!
Our schooling played a major roll in how we formed and found each other. Shoutout to all of our former teachers from Berklee College of Music including our number 1 fan Roger Brown, UMass Amherst, and McGuill University.
Big shoutout to our home base of Boston, MA that brought us all together. Shoutout to the The Cantab Lounge in Central Square, Cambridge and bluegrass Tuesdays. That’s where we all learned how to pick and play together.
And how can we forget the venues and the fans?! Without places to play, music would have died a long time ago. So a big thank you to all of the venues that have had us and to the supporters of live music that keep filling the rooms. We love you!
Photo credits: Jo Chattman Meghan Dewer Ariel Friedman Kimber Ludiker Rachel Lopez Blake Hannahson Ethan Robbins Chris Sartori