Not only have recent years seen a wealth of exceptional young artists exploring traditional folk and country, but also a handful of established musicians coming to indulge in the genres. Last week Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional brought his Americana outfit, Twin Forks, to the North Star for a sold out show. And this week saw the release of No Fools, No Fun, the debut album from Puss N Boots, a twangy “supergroup” of singer/songwriters. Puss N Boots is comprised of Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson, and Catherine Popper and their debut album is comprised of five original songs, in addition to seven covers of some of their favorite country songs, from the likes of Wilco, The Band, and Neil Young. Each of the three ladies wrote at least one of the new songs and each sound as though they were raised in Nashville honky tonks in the 1960s and every bit as “authentic” as the songs they are paying homage to. Puss N Boots are currently on a short run of tour dates that will have them performing at Theatre of Living Arts this Friday, July 18th, and that will eventually wrap on July 26th, at the Newport Folk Festival.
This Wednesday Norah Jones was kind enough to take some time to chat with me from backstage at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, prior to the trio performing “Don’t Know What It Means” (a track Jones penned herself) on the late night staple. I ask her how she characterizes the band and she laughs and tells me, “We all started out as jazz musicians and we all kind of don’t play jazz anymore… but we’ve always been country fans.” And although Puss N Boots’ debut album just hit shelves this Tuesday, the band have been together for nearly a decade. Jones explains the bands roots to me.
“Well, we’ve been a band for eight years now. Sasha and I met 15 years ago when we were living in New York and sharing jazz gigs. Then we sort of lost touch and then we crossed paths again about ten years ago and she mentioned to me that she wanted to play guitar and I wanted to get better at guitar, so soon enough we started playing pool hall gigs, and then Catherine started playing with us. There was never a plan to do an album. We just played at bars for the past seven years kept getting better and that was sort of the process of how it happened.”
Jones also explains that Puss N Boots served as an outlet for the three to explore their sonic pallets: “We tried a lot of things that we probably wouldn’t have tried in other projects. And then, after that, Sasha started playing guitar in all her projects and Cat’s started doing lead vocals in some projects, which she’d never done before.” And while the band is a “collaboration” to the nth degree, when I ask about the new songs they’ve composed, Jones tells me that each of the ladies have more or less done that on their own: “We all wrote originals on our own and brought them to the table. I mean, we mostly play cover tunes, but it’s exciting to work on originals, too.” And she also tells me that, in addition to the songs that made their way onto No Fools, No Fun, we can also expect to hear a number of additional songs this Friday: “We’re going to be playing hopefully all the songs from the album and a bunch of additional songs that we do that we just couldn’t get onto the album.” However, when I ask Jones what’s next for her and Puss N Boots, beyond these July dates, she confesses that that’s pretty up in the air. “I don’t know, Man. I’m excited for this release and this mini-tour, but I don’t know what the future holds after this. I’m sure we’ll always continue playing together, but not much is planned.” And when I further prod her as to what she, personally, has in the works for the future, she coyly, with-a-chuckle tells me, “I have some time off in the works.”