Kathy Sparling

Welcome! I am a Berkeley, California based singer-songwriter, currently working on home recordings of new songs and crafting elaborate music videos to accompany them. The latest is a kitchen sink rant full of recriminations, self- and the other kind, featuring the Ghost of Doomsdays Past among others. It's even more fun than that sounds!

In 2014 I released my second studio album of original songs, Blind Spot.

Blind Spot features thirteen original "story songs," covering a range of styles and moods, produced, aided, and abetted by the production team of Tim Rowe (drums) and Myles Boisen (guitar, bass, organ), assisted by a “How'd I get so lucky” lineup of bay area musicians. You can listen to all these tracks and more by clicking over to my "music" page.

Highlights from this new release include:

  • Fire Sale – The musical spirits of Tony Orlando and Amiee Mann meet and together find the phoenix-like fun in a fiery break-up! Featuring trumpeter Chris Grady.
  • Dancing with Eleanor – an elderly gentleman reflects on his long history with Eleanor; the shifting musical language reflects the changing “dance” of their lives. Featuring Dennis Finnegan on guitar, Chris Grady on trumpets, and Lila Sklar on violin.
  • Spin – a driving, manic, drinking song, a Pretenders-drink-too-much-coffee-and-meet-at-the-circus kind of number, featuring star turns by horn player Ralph Carney, guitarist Steve Kirk.
  • The Next Thing You Say – an intimate, contemplative meditation, caught forever in suspense, weaving between the melancholic strains of Dan Cantrell on pump organ and Cheap Suit Serenader Robert Armstrong on saw.
  • High Holy Days – yes, those high holy days: the evocative language of the days of awe and repentance finds its way into an intimate pop song featuring the vocal harmonies of The House Jacks’ Austin Willacy.

In 2010, I released my debut album As You Believed, a record about life, love, longing, and laundry. On that work, as in life, the heartbreak of the songs' themes is always tempered with humor and hopefulness: the silly and the serious are ultimately wedded in modern marriage, the loss of childhood is both poignant and full of brave promise, and sunlight illuminates even the dreariest corners of domestic life. This largely acoustic album was arranged and produced by Steven Strauss, an artist well-known to Bay Area music lovers for his multi-genre-spanning and virtuosic bass and ukulele work, and features performances by Steven along with numerous Bay Area musicians including pianist Charlie Hancock, drummers John Hanes and Federico Gil Sola, guitarists Kurt Stevenson, Steve Kirk, Dennis Finnegan and Tim Fox, violinist Julian Smedley, and percussionist Bobby Santos.

Since 2001 I have had the good fortune to play ukulele and sing songs of the 1920s and 30s with Dodge’s Sundodgers, a string band led by Al Dodge, a founding member of R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders. In this context, as in my own work, I am often accused of sounding “sweet,” but I’m working on that. In 2011 I took up with the classic American pop band, Along Came Jones, providing harmony vocals on their recordings and at their live shows around the Bay Area. Their most recent iteration, Book of Jones, creates and performs "theaterish pieces" including Adam and Eve on a Raft, which won a Best of Fringe award at the 2018 San Francisco Fringe Festival.

By day, I work as a professional librarian facilitating an uneasy peace between the technology and the books. (I do covertly sell arms to the books.)