Cat Popper is sharing “Maybe It’s All Right,” the first song she’s written during her 25 years as a secret weapon, quietly ubiquitous bass player. At 19, Cat moved from Charlotte, NC to New York City to play music. “I once asked Bruce Springsteen where he was from,” she adds. “I knocked Dmitri Rostropovich and his cello over with a door. I got kicked out of Doc Watson’s dressing room after eating fried chicken with him in silence. I’m almost positive I played bass on a Fallout Boy track.”
You might have also seen her on stage with Jack White, Brian Fallon, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Norah Jones and Puss N Boots, Willie Nelson, Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, Grace Potter, Jesse Malin, Tommy Stinson and Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble Band.
With zero expectations, Cat wrote the song “Maybe It’s All Right” in mid-2020 about having two completely different feelings at once. “It’s okay to have a good day in a pandemic. There’s heartache, joy and stasis in every day. On my worst day, I laugh about something.”
She recorded it at home with her ’66 Fender P-Bass, a guitar with rotting strings, a microphone that’s not meant for singing, and a Garageband drum track named “Kyle.” Jesse Malin loved the song, and encouraged her to release it on Velvet Elk, the label he co-founded with Don DiLego.
“I was an upright player since very young and didn’t start playing electric til i was 30. I told Jimmy Coppolo who owned the New York Guitar Bass Boutique ‘tell me when you get a bass in that’s not too heavy and sounds good when you play it acoustically” and he called me about this P bass. Everyone thought I was crazy because I paid $2500 for it.’
‘But fingerboard evenness and how the body vibrates acoustically are the most important things for me. If it needs assistance in the sound department, I have to start carrying a bunch of pedals and shit around. Ashdowns are my favorite, but I’m confident I can plug into almost any amp and the bass sounds great. Tone schmone, it’s a 60s P! You’d have to work hard to mess it up.’
For the video, Cat and director Vivian Wang ran around Harlem, Astoria, Flushing and the West Village, where they matched archival photos from all eras to their current locations, met every dog in New York City, and were invited into strangers’ homes. “There’s magic everywhere,” she adds. “There are still 300 year-old buildings in this city; some beautiful old houses are gone. Some lingering details remain. It’s a great reminder that we never know what’s going to happen.”
For more: @cat_popper