reviews of interest

Carla Kihlstedt with Fei Wu + Good for Cows
Band Members Good for Cows  
Carla Kihlstedt: violin
Fei Wu: koto
Devin Hoff: upright bass
Ches Smith: drum kit


I was sitting in the back, and I kept thinking of Grizzly Adams. 

You remember the wilderness show from the 70’s, with the hairy man and the bear...well, when listening to Carla Kihlstead and Fei Wu collaborate, a nature scene kept running through my mind.  With the delicate touches of Carla’s violin and Fei’s koto, first I heard the haunting screech of a lone hawk coasting ever-so-lightly over a mountain peak. 

That sound would slowly build to the soundtrack of a big brown bear lumbering through the plain. 

Then, without notice, the energy of  “Watch out!  There’s a snake!”  

The snake and the bear fight as Fei and Carla literally pound their hands across the strings, and then, in a flash, the snake dies.

And we’re back…to the delicate touches of a clear icy sparkling stream.


Then…the Cows come to the stage.

To keep with the nature theme, a serious tornado just slammed into this Dan Haggerty masterpiece. 

Is everyone still standing?!?!?   Is everyone o.k….?

Good for Cows is a Devin Hoss upright bass and a Ches Smith small trap kit.  That’s it.  And that’s plenty.

Just when you get into the beat of a hip-hopish groove, you’re completely side-swiped by an exploding jazz vibe that somehow fits just perfectly.   Then, you will go quickly into a bass solo….followed by distorted sounds from drum kit trickery….followed by a slow mellow funk groove.

I’ve seen a lot of music descriptions that explain the sound as all-things to all-people such as “neo-soul funk country jazz folk rock international hip-hop classical feel…” which usually is a bunch of gibberish just trying to satisfy all musical tastes, and sell a few more c.d.’s...but this is one band who absolutely makes that happen. 

Guitar virtuoso John Schott was in the audience.  After seeing the duo on several occasions, when the Cows finally came off the stage to roaring applause, Schott simply shook his head and said, “I’ve almost got your guys figured out…”.

The Cows’ sound is so full it makes you wonder where the other musicians are hiding?   

The sound has more layers than a Moon Pie Deluxe. 

In fact, where are the two players who are here?  They’re not here…not with us anyway…

They’ve moved on.

They’re in the next musical county.

At this point we can only ride along and try to hold on.

They’re so much further down the highway on their own road trip.  They’re cruising in a souped-up El Camino car-truck with the back full of Kool-Aid and ham sandwiches. 
We’re following way behind…trying to keep up in a busted Ford Escort with a Styrofoam cooler full of Safeway Select.