Queer as Folk Uke

Posted on 19 Jul 2007 at 6:43pm
By Gilbert Garcia Pop Music Critic

Willie Nelson’s daughter says daddy stole her ode to gay cowboys



FOLK LORE: Amy Nelson, left, Cathy Guthrie go gangsta on their ukuleles.

As the daughters of music legends Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson, the two members of Folk Uke could have grown into jaded music insiders. Instead, Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson chose a different path. The self-described best friends take a light approach toward their musical output.

Earlier this week, the bubbly pair discussed their irreverent brand of folk as they prepared to hit Dallas on their latest mini tour.

“People can take themselves so seriously,” says Nelson. “It’s really all about fun for us. We don’t have that desperate desire for the world’s attention.”

They’re modest, too. While Guthrie praises Nelson as “a talented songwriter,” she says of her band, “We don’t consider ourselves very good.”

Though the duo’s self-titled debut album includes a number of folk and country standards, it’s acerbic ditties like the backhanded love song “Shit Makes the Flowers Grow” and the hilarious gangsta parody “Motherfucker Got Fucked Up” that have earned Folk Uke the most attention.

In spite of their clever commentary, the pair don’t consider themselves messengers, and certainly don’t think they’re penning feminist anthems.

“I think it comes off as feminist because we’re women,” says Guthrie. “It’s more like a song we write to make ourselves feel better. Sometimes, it’s easier to laugh at some of these things, to mask your feelings.”

Not surprisingly, daddy Nelson’s recording of the queer country ode “Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other” was a big moment for gay Texans during the “Brokeback” craze. Has Folk Uke matched pop’s hit with any queer anthems?

“Actually, we had wanted to record that song,” says Amy. “My dad recommended it to us, and then he stole it.”

The duo’s upcoming gig at Buddies II marks a chance for the pair to impress a fiercely loyal group of ladies. Characteristically, the duo has very little planned in advance.

“I haven’t really been treating our audiences differently,” says Guthrie of the upcoming show.

Is there any chance for a special tribute to the queer women of Dallas?

“Maybe we’ll put together a Melissa Etheridge medley,” says Guthrie. “I bet it would be a good chance to dress skimpy.”

With Guthrie currently living in Austin and Nelson now based outside of Nashville, Folk Uke seem perfectly happy to continue with their laid back approach to recording and performing.

“God definitely has a plan for us, but we don’t know what it is,” says Nelson, adding that father Nelson’s Pedernales label will likely produce and distribute any future Folk Uke work.

“We’ve probably got enough material for another album,” she says.

“Still, it took us two years to record the first record,” chimes Guthrie. “So you never know.”

BIG D DEBUT

Folk Uke perform
at Buddies II,
4025 Maple Ave.
July 21 at 10 p.m. $4.
214-526-0877.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 13, 2007

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