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Kate MacLeod looking forward to playing Riffs

Salt Lake City-based singer and songwriter Kate MacLeod, who is a nationally renowned multi-instrumentalist, will host a songwriting workshop and perform a concert at Riffs Acoustic Music on Saturday. (Photo by CLC, courtesy of Kate MacLeod)
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Utah-based singer and songwriter Kate MacLeod has made a name for herself over the past 30 years.

She has played with locally based musicians such as Kat Eggleston, the Pancakes, the gypsy ensemble KlezBros, the Celtic group Shanahy and the Emmy Award-winning group Red Rock Rondo.

MacLeod has appeared on an armful of CDs, as well as her own, and is currently working with East Coast pianist Robin Spielberg’s trio American Tapestry with former Richie Havens’ cellist Stephanie Winters.

Since MacLeod’s schedule has her playing nationally more and more, Riffs Acoustic Music is lucky to be able to present MacLeod as part of the Full Moon Concert Series on Saturday, April 27.

The singer will host a songwriting session at 3 p.m. and then cap the day off with a concert that starts at 7 p.m.

"A mutual friend got (Riffs owner) Larry Hart and me together," multi-instrumentalist MacLeod said during an interview with The Park Record. "This performances is another stop along my long musical journey."

The trip began when MacLeod studied classical music on the violin throughout her childhood living in Washington, D.C.

"My earliest influence was my family," she said. "My parents were very artistic and musical, although they worked in the sciences. My father was a gifted pianist as were most of the people in his family, and mother was also very artistic."

MacLeod was fascinated by songs from as far back as she can remember.

"My desire to hear songs was very strong and mom and dad supplied my childhood song addiction by buying these 45s of all these singers, and anytime I asked for music, they would buy what I wanted," she said. "That went into all the popular music in my adolescent years, although I was kind of confused about where I sat as musician."

MacLeod moved to Salt Lake City in the late 1970s to work as a violinmaker at Peter Prier and Sons Violin School.

Then she became a mother.

"I became a stay-at-home mom for many years, and through that time, I continued a hobby I developed when I was in high school, writing music," she said. "And people started singing my songs throughout the region, before I even started singing them at all."

That was an organic way for MacLeod to start playing the music herself.

"I don’t think I would have considered playing music if people hadn’t shown some interest from the outside, although I knew I wanted to be a musician and I’ve always been a musician," she said. "And I have since focused on the songwriter and playing since my children had grown up."

The choice for MacLeod to become a professional folk singer was spurred by a number of things.

"That wasn’t cleared up until I was well into my adulthood," she said. "The catalyst was a combination of being forced in life to choose a path and make serious decisions about my time, plus, of all the places that I could express myself in a way that would mean something to other people as well, was the songwriting.

"I think songwriting is all about music and we have this shared experience, and I wanted my work in my life to be worth something," she explained. "A lot of people use artistic outlets as a way to make sense of the world around them, and that’s how I view writing. I mean, I have notebooks and notebooks filled with songs, so I’m glad to be able to something useful with them."

As prolific as she is, MacLeod doesn’t see her songs as a way to gain fame and stardom.

"I’m a Quaker, and if Quakers get famous it’s just because they are good at something," she said with a laugh. "But it’s not something I shoot for."

That’s why she appreciates Utah and the support her local audiences have given her.

They have been listening to me all these years, even during the times when I was learning how to play my songs," MacLeod said. "These days, I do go tour more nationally, and it’s because of this great community here that supports many regional artists."

When MacLeod is in Utah and not touring, she usually finds time to play with some of the groups she’s performed with over the years.

"I still play with Shanahy and Red Rock Rondo," she said. "The other project I’m excited about is the trio American Tapestry.

"Robin is a great pianist and put together this group that is sort of retrospective of music that inspires America," MacLeod said. "I was impressed because she asked me who is a folk singer to be part of the project, instead of picking someone who is a great singer who didn’t understand folk music."

MacLeod enjoys the project because she can take a break from songwriting.

"I get to express the music in a different way," she said.

When MacLeod performs a Riffs, she will play a set that is comprised mostly of original songs.

"I’ll do some covers and then space them apart with some fiddle music," she said. "I will also have some special guests from the community join me on some of the numbers."

Singer and songwriter Kate MacLeod will spend at day at Riffs Acoustic Music, 1205 Ironhorse Dr., on Saturday, April 27. She will lead a songwriting workshop beginning at 3 p.m. and then perform an acoustic concert at 7 p.m. The cost for the workshop is $40 and admission to the concert is $20. A workshop-and-concert-package ticket is $50. The concert is BYOB. For to RSVP, call (435) 647-1940. For more information, visit http://www.riffspc.com.


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