Trumbull PAtch


Bluegrass with a Little Bit of Everything
Trumbull Native Katie Wilson just hit it big with a CD and a victory at a major Bluegrass festival. And that's just the beginning.


By Aaron Leo | Email the author | October 29, 2010
 
  Katie Wilson
"Katie Wilson and the Two Time String Band" perform at the Acoustic Cafe in Bridgeport for the "Bluegrass and Beer" night Thursday.
Fairfield County may not be the most rural part of Connecticut, but it has more than its share of Bluegrass.

No one knows that better than Bluegrass singer-songwriter Katie Wilson, a Trumbull native. At 27, she is making strides, starting with making a CD and winning the prestigious Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival in the summer.

She's also starting to record a second CD with her group, "Katie Wilson and the Two Time String Band."

Wilson sprouted among Bluegrass.

"My dad was into Bluegrass when I was young," she said. Her parents saw her talent and enrolled her in New York's "Suzuki Program" for several years, which teaches violin, viola, cello and piano instruction. She said she also plays guitar and wants to play bass.

Her mother also took her to church, where she learned Gospel singing, and she picked up other styles like funk and blues along the way.

Then Wilson moved to Alabama at age 18, after graduating from Trumbull High School a semester early at age 17. She spent her final high school semester studying at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

But that was the end of her college experience. She chose the road of a traveling musician, working in different jobs, including a barbecue restaurant, while pursuing artistic experience.

"I was always afraid of commitment. I didn't want to sign leases," Wilson said. "I tried [a 9-5] job for two weeks. It was torturous."

She later moved to Bridgeport at the end of the three years to care for her grandmother and then rented a house in Trumbull with friends, before recently moving to an apartment in Easton.

Today, Wilson plays her eclectic style on the first Wednesday of the month at the Huntington Street Cafe in Shelton and at the Acoustic Cafe on Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport on the last Thursday of every month.

Her sound has evolved with her experiences, including singing backup in a reggae band. Her funk and blues background also influence her sound.

"I can't help bringing other stuff into the Bluegrass," Wilson said.

It was at the Acoustic Cafe at the "Bluegrass and Beer" night that Wilson met Dick Neal, 56, a local musician and producer who now manages her and plays in the band.

"She came to a show that I was performing a couple of years ago," he said. After becoming friends and hearing each other's music, "she approached me to produce a record, which I was grateful to do."

The CD, he said, "was really more of a showcase of what she could do as a singer," he said. Each of the songs has a different tone, from an English Ballad style to a country love song.

"She exceptionally talented as a backup singer," he added.

Winning the competition has propelled her to a new level in the music industry, according to Neal.

"Overnight she went from being a talented singer to someone with a distinctive industry presence," he said.

Winning wasn't the only accomplishment. The band became the first act from Connecticut to take first place.

"Her act was seen and heard by a lot of influential people in the Bluegrass music industry," Neal added.

Now they are working on another CD. While Wilson admits she's still working odd jobs to support herself and playing and singing for benefit shows, she's confident she'll able to make a living doing what she loves some day.

Maybe it's because Bluegrass, while about suffering and hardship, is also uplifting for Wilson.

"The most important thing is giving people a sense of hope.  I think my personality is especially hopeful," she said.

Wilson's Web site is http://www.katiewilsonmusic.com, and she has a Facebook page