Long Mama’s music blisters with the heart and grit of someone who has lost hard, loved harder, and licked her burns until they stung then silvered. In a drafty attic just west of the Milwaukee River she grew up on, you’ll find songwriter Kat Wodtke (Wood-key) raking through notebooks in search of a salve: words, stories, and sounds to temper the dumpster fires we never mean to light. Flickering behind each song is Wodtke’s lived insight into our human faults & fissures – the moments in life when we can slip and lose our footing, or claw our way out…better people on the other side of the blaze.
Wodtke was raised in Southeastern Wisconsin by two radical, musician-turned-teacher parents. Often left to wander through the stacks of People’s Books as a kid, she discovered a love of reading – devouring everything from Carson McCullers and Ralph Ellison to Sam Shepard and Tu Fu. In the basements and living rooms of Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, a gangly teenaged Wodtke was captivated by scrappy DIY bands that defied categorization and carved their own paths. Wodtke eventually moved to Minneapolis where she waited tables and immersed herself in the mercurial Twin Cities music scene. She traveled to Alaska for seasonal jobs, living in a small, secluded cabin. All the while, Wodtke observed and wrote, studying the curious characters who always seemed to hang their hats in her unsettled heart, whether they paid rent there or not.
With years of drifting in her rearview mirror, Wodtke made her way back home to Riverwest. After the death of a close friend in 2018, she struggled to make music. It took time – and a heap of tenderness from friends and family – for her to pick up a guitar again. When she finally did, music became a raft – or maybe more like a submarine – through the strange wilderness of heartache and grief, loneliness and love, risk and abandon. With a growing collection of original songs and buoyed confidence, Wodtke coined the name Long Mama (after a prickly, shade-loving cactus) and teamed up with guitarist Andrew Koenig and drummer Nick Lang, a pair whose chemistry adds dusky afterglow to Wodtke’s musical landscapes. Upright bass ace Samual Odin came aboard soon after, along with regular collaborator Eva Nimmer, whose backing vocals blend so elegantly with Wodtke’s that one could mistake them for blood harmonies.
Poor Pretender, Long Mama’s debut album out October 28, embraces a rich spectrum of light and shadow, heat and cold. The ten-song collection’s palette of country, folk, indie rock, and punk reflects its makers' coming-of-age in the rustbelt crossroads of north, south, east, & west. Engineered by Erik Koskinen and recorded live over a long, snowy weekend in Cleveland, Minnesota, the album showcases the band’s particular ability to conjure the beautiful in the broken, the silver in the ore. Collectively, the songs lionize the fragility and mettle of the human heart.