Skip to main content

Season 4

Episode 14: “You need empty spaces.”: a conversation with Karaugh Brown

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

we are currently working to improve the audio player. Please check back.
Jim Karaugh and Lionel Cassin Season 4 Episode 14

Karaugh Brown joins us to talk about her return to the creative life after years of pursuing a career in Museum patron management at The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Guggenheim, The Frick Collection, and currently, her role as Vice President of Development and Partnerships at World Monuments Fund. We talk about balance between our professional and creative lives. We listen to her past recordings, including One Round Orange, and Favorite Daughter, and talk about her two upcoming projects, a new recording of her recent compositions, and an album of cover songs written by Bill Morrissey.

We begin by talking about the balance between the creative life and career, and how that balance is never equal. Jim reads the lyrics from Ottawa before playing a clip, saying he wishes he had the lyrics printed out because they are so good. He mentions having seen a video on TikTok about how lots of women pitch their voices higher to gain acceptance. Karaugh says that the pitch of her voice matches her writing voice. We talk about the production of One Round Orange and Favorite Daughter and the process of working with Billy Conway from Morphineand Bill Morrissey in the studio.

We talk about the next track San Antonio, and Karaugh shares a story about busking in Padua Italy. The song is about the basilica there. Lionel gets excited about the university which he calls the first university in Europe, however, it was the second. We talk about the joys and dangers of revisiting a magical place from the past. We discuss the ritual hazing of the graduates there and compare to other ritual events in our visits to Italy.

Karaugh talks about how great it has been to get amazing and famous musicians to play at little bars around Boston. Jim mentions Dave Mattacks as an example before playing a clip from the song Blackout City. This song features Rose Polenzani on background vocals. Karaugh says it was written about New York City during a blackout during the early 2000s.

Jim plays a clip from a song called Stealing Women. Karaugh relates the story behind the song, which took place in Boston at the time she was working at a women’s shelter. There had been a series of kidnappings in the area at that time. Jim mistook the place for something more rural. Karaugh and Jim compare writing styles.

Before playing a clip from the song Gone, and then a clip added in post-production of the original song All Good Men, recorded live at Club Passim, the Campfire. Jim talks about how James O'Brien, Karaugh Brown, Jim and his wife Catherine used to live in a carriage house in Davis Square, Somerville. We talk about the changes between the James & Karaugh version of the song and the original.

Jim plays another clip from The Campfire: Keep Giving. We talk about Karaugh’s plans for her next recording of her originals, and she talks about a plan to release an album of Bill Morrissey’s songs including Last Day of the Last Furlough and She Moved Through the Fair. Jim suggests that the Bill Morrissey album should be all synthesizers and recorded in Iceland. Karaugh thinks that would be something Bill would like. We discuss Bill’s music and why he was such an icon in New England folk music. Jim mentions the last time he saw Bill alive.

At this point, we lost Lionel to a computer problem. We close out with a clip from Favorite Daughter: the song I Can Save You featuring Kris Delmhorst on strings and Bridget Matros on backing vocals written during Karaugh’s time at the shelter.

After the outro, Lionel returns to talk more about the songs and the Gardner museum.