Rolling Stone Country

10 New Country and Americana Christmas Songs to Hear Right Now

Ten of the year's most satisfying new entries in the Christmas canon, with nary a reindeer-flattened senior in the bunch.

December 22, 2017

by  STEPHEN L. BETTS

Loose Cattle cut their joyfully tongue-in-cheek holiday LP, Seasonal Affective Disorder, in both Brooklyn, where Tony-winning actor Michael Cerveris and Kimberly Kaye formed the group in 2011, and in New Orleans, hence the delightful nod to the Cajun musical tradition and the lyrics that speak of making a concerted effort to avoid as much familial conflict during the holidays as possible. With lyrics in French and English, and Cajun musicians the Lost Bayou Ramblers joining them, the homey scenes depicted in the accompanying video present a Christmas that's free of drama (and politics), one your mama would probably treasure more than that new ironing-board cover you bought her.  


My Spilt Milk

Loose Cattle Have a Wonderful Life

On "Seasonal Affective Disorder," Michael Cerveris and Kimberley Kaye try to deal with the dark and light sides of the holiday season.

December 18, 2017

by Alex Rawls

The number of suicides don’t go up during the Christmas season. A CDC study shows that suicide attempts are actually at a yearly low in December, but the urban legend makes sense. Shorter, darker days added to Christmas’ ability to push people’s buttons can weigh heavily, particularly when balanced by gaiety of Christmas trappings. Christmas lore is built on a foundation of absence and loss, and its first and biggest hit, “White Christmas,” became a hit in 1942 during World War II, when many GIs and their families could only dream of a white Christmas together. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (“if only in my dreams”) was a conscious attempt to strike while the iron was sad a year later, and the lyrics to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were rewritten because the ones Judy Garland sang in 1944’s Meet Me in St. Louis were too bleakIt’s a Wonderful Life is only wonderful after George Bailey’s life bottoms out. 

Americana band Loose Cattle titled their Christmas album Seasonal Affective Disorder in that spirit, and their holiday covers don’t twinkle with hope and good cheer. Instead, there’s a woozy, tentative warmth in Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” and Merle Haggard’s “If We Make it Through December,” and a hard-scrabble, make-do attitude in BR5-49’s “Truckstop Christmas.” When Michael Cerveris and Kimberley Kaye harmonize on the songs, their connection fills the emotional blanks left in the lyrics.

“A Very Loose Cattle Christmas” brings their music to the Chickie Wah Wah stage Tuesday night with a long list of musical guests that includes Tom McDermott, John Boutté, The Iguanas’ Rod Hodges, Bonerama’s Craig Klein, Lost Bayou Ramblers’ Andre and Louis Michot, and many more. Although Cerveris and Kaye come from New York’s theater community—she was a writer, he is a Tony Award-winning actor who this year appeared on television in Gotham and The Tick—they’ve both made homes in New Orleans and the show celebrates that. 

“Kim described [the album] really accurately as the musical equivalent of getting your friends and family together for the holidays in all the complexity and joy and difficulties that entails,” Cerveris says.

Cerveris and Kaye’s relationship began as a professional one that turned romantic, then musical, then friendly after they split. The kind of unflinching honesty that makes those relationship changes possible is a part of their music. Americana was a musical neutral ground for them, not exactly in either’s wheelhouse, but it’s a space that embraces their musical values. “When we looked for a way to make music together, this seemed like a place where you get great songwriting, great storytelling and great characters—the combination often of clear-eyed, borderline cynical eye on the world or the time of year combined with heart-on-your-sleeve,” Cerveris says. 

Their shared affection for the musical and emotional rough and tumble of Johnny Cash’s duets with June Carter Cash gave Loose Cattle its aesthetic, but Kaye’s health specifically shaped Seasonal Affective Disorder. She spent much of 2016 in a hospital in Cleveland dealing with a rare disease that left her battling a host of illnesses including Crohn’s Disease, shingles and a kidney infection. “When you’re surrounded by the frozen Rust Belt of Cleveland, Ohio and it’s cold and you’re sick, that definitely influences what kind of stories you’re in a place to tell,” Kaye says. 

When Cerveris asked her to consider the Tom Waits song, he asked if she thought it was really a Christmas song. It opens, “Hey Charlie I'm pregnant and living on 9th Street / Right above a dirty bookstore off Euclid Avenue,” and from her hospital room window, Kaye looked down on a Euclid Avenue. She didn’t see any dirty bookstores, but she knew what snow and slush looked like in a Rust Belt city under the gun metal gray December sky. After that, she says, “I don’t know if it’s anybody else’s Christmas song, but it’s my Christmas song.”

Because Kaye was ill and had less affection for Christmas music than he did, Cerveris did much of the legwork to find songs for the album. Along the way, he found Christmas Gumbo, the 2004 compilation of Christmas music by New Orleanians and other musicians from the region. They move the Sonny Landreth and The Dixie Cups’ “Got to Get You Under My Tree” away from Landreth’s signature guitar sound by adding R&B horns that punctuate lines, and they deemphasize the piano and add some push to Allen Toussaint and Irene Sage’s “The Day it Snowed on Christmas.” 

“There’s no point in covering a song if you’re just going to try to insufficiently imitate the people who did it in the first place,” Cerveris says. “You hear songs like that all the time that basically sound like the band really wishes they were that person. We put some time and energy in thinking about, What’s our version of the song? and tried to be faithful to the spirit and intention of it, but also we add something to it.”

That’s clear on Loose Cattle’s version of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” a song Kaye wanted to sing from the start. When Mitchell recorded the song, she sang about wanting to “leave this crazy scene,” but you knew she wouldn’t. When Kaye sings it, the outcome is less certain. Bennett Sullivan’s banjo gives the song fragility to the song, and Tom McDermott’s piano circles the thoughts in a way that Mitchell’s doesn’t. Similarly, it’s not clear if Alex Chilton is standing naked or taking the piss when he sings “Jesus Christ” on the complicated Third. When Loose Cattle replace the electric guitars with acoustic instruments, return the song to Appalachia, and adopt a less mannered vocal tone, the belief expressed in the lyrics is clear.

The desire to do Christmas music their way really proved to be a challenge when Cerveris and Kaye tried to write a Christmas song. “It seemed like a great idea until we sat down and tried to do it,” he says. “It calls into question so much more than writing a song for your next record.” He thought about Christmas songs—what made them work, and what made them memorable. The most important thing, he decided, was simplicity. “The classic songs, they’re most often describing in very everyday ways things that find the universal in the specific,” Cerveris says. 

That’s what Cerveris and Kaye went for on “Shepherds in the Parking Lot” as Cerveris fired off verses that Kaye sorted through for lines that could lead to a real song. The emphasis on the simple and quotidian guided the process, even as the song began to respond to the 2016 they were going through. When they sing, “The doctors gave you pills / and now you’re numb but you’re still sick,” the lines telescope out to address Kaye’s experience and those of countless others dealing with health care in America. “The song began as a much more wide-ranging, political-is rant,” he says. “It got whittled away to the human faces of all of that in our lives specifically, but also in the lives of our friends and people we know.” They hope that they captured some of what Robert Earl Keen got in “Merry Christmas from the Family,” which also appears on Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to Cerveris, “He with great sense of humor manages to say some really complex things about issues of racism, family, alcoholism and everything else in a way that you can smile at and go This is my family even if the particulars aren’t the same.”

Those basic human connections are at the heart of the Christmas celebration and Seasonal Affective Disorder, and they’re baked into the album’s origins. Kaye started to go into organ failure during the Christmas season last year, and she needed to flown from New Orleans to Cleveland for expensive treatment she couldn’t afford. When Cerveris started a GoFundMe page to help with her medical bills, people around the world chipped in. She had to deal with the irony that the one who was down on Christmas was now a hospital-gowned George Bailey, but that help came with an unexpected component. Many of those who donated found Kaye’s email address and Facebook and Instagram pages and wrote her. They felt connected to her through their donation and wanted to see how she was doing, but they wanted more. 

“As this Christmas miracle was happening, all these strangers started telling me in their emails and messages how much they were going through that holiday also, and why it was important for them to reach out and help this girl they didn’t know,” she says. Kaye was too sick to read, much less deal with the messages at the time, but when she read them in the spring, “it really left a mark about how difficult this time of year can be for people: I’m making a donation to a good cause. I’m wrapping a present. I’m keeping a smile on my face. It’s 2 a.m. and I’m writing a stranger who I just $50 to my life story because if I don’t tell somebody how hard this is, I’m going to explode.” 

“We wanted to make a record for those people as well as those who just love Christmas,” Cerveris says.


GAMBIT Magazine

Loose Cattle release an offbeat Christmas album

December 11, 2017

by WILL COVIELLO

 

A glance at the track list on Loose Cattle's December release Seasonal Affective Disorder offers a tipoff to the project's concept. There are covers of Tom Waits' "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis" and John Denver's "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)."

But there aren't just covers of offbeat Christmas wishes and less rosy holiday traditions. Bandleader Michael Cerveris also co-wrote a tune with the Lost Bayou Ramblers: "Don't Make Your Mama Cry on Christmas Day."

Cerveris and Loose Cattle vocalist Kimberly Kaye had just formed the country and Americana band in 2011 when they recorded their first holiday song, a cover of Big Star's "Jesus Christ."

"(The recording session) was just meant to be a hang with the band," Cerveris says.

They wanted to record a song and post it on the internet in one day.  "Jesus Christ" split the difference in their feelings about the project.

"I am not a huge Christmas fan," Kaye says. "But I am not a Grinch who wants to rain on other people's Christmases. (We) picked a less than Christmassy Christmas song." 

Loose Cattle's tone on the song gives it a workable ambiguity.

"For (Kaye), it's a rock song," Cerveris says. "But you could play it in a Baptist church. We are a pretty inclusive bunch. We like that you could have two people standing in the audience with one person thinking it's an ironic masterpiece and the other person thinking it's a Christian tune. We like the idea those people would be at a bar together at our show."

Cerveris and Kaye split time between homes in New York and New Orleans, and at their album-release party at Chickie Wah Wah Dec. 19, they'll have plenty of guests who worked on the album, including the Lost Bayou Ramblers, pianist Tom McDermott, a horn section led by Craig Klein, fiddler Rurik Nunan of The Whiskey Gentry, vocalist John Boutte and others. Loose Cattle bassist Lorenzo Wolff and percussionist Eddy Zweiback also will be in New Orleans for the show.

Cerveris is best known for his work on the Broadway stage, having won Tony Awards for best actor as John Wilkes Booth in Assassins and Bruce Bechdel in Fun Home. He also has played guitar for a long time, and in the early 1990s, he toured with Bob Mould and punk and alternative rock band Husker Du. Cerveris recently starred in recurring roles on TV's The Tick and Gotham.

Though she sings for Loose Cattle, Kaye played trumpet for 15 years and says her musical roots are in soul and blues. Loose Cattle is more of a country band with folk and Americana strains. Cerveris and Kaye co-wrote "Shepherds in a Parking Lot," and there's a honky-tonk vibe on much of the album. There also are some songs with New Orleans-style horn parts. The album includes "The Day It Snows on Christmas," recorded by Allen Toussaint.

Seasonal Affective Disorder also has songs written by Willie Nelson ("Pretty Paper") and Merle Haggard ("If We Make It Through December"). There's a nod to more contemporary country and offbeat holiday tunes in a cover of Texan Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas From the Family."

For anyone interested in another round of naughty and nice Christmas tunes, Cerveris and Kaye join comedian Harry Shearer and singer Judith Owen Dec. 22 at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre for an installment of their annual benefit show, Christmas Without Tears.


New Orleans Advocate

Loose Cattle: home in New Orleans

December 13, 2017

by KEITH SPERA

Michael Cerveris knows firsthand that a successful acting career is a mixed blessing when it comes to launching a secondary music career. A Tony Award-winning Broadway, television and film actor who lives in Treme when not working in New York City or elsewhere, Cerveris also fronts the country/Americana band Loose Cattle with vocalist Kimberly Kaye.

His extensive acting resume — ranging from the title character of the 2005 “Sweeney Todd” Broadway revival to recurring roles in the TV series “Gotham," “Fringe,” "The Good Wife" and "Treme" — gave his band a measure of immediate notoriety. One of Loose Cattle’s first gigs was at Lincoln Center for the prestigious American Songbook series.

Promotional benefits aside, his day job also “brings along as many prejudices — and sometimes well-warranted ones,” he said during a recent phone interview from New York. “Every time I hear about some actor who’s got a music project, my first thought is, ‘No.’

“And the kinds of things that people know me for in acting doesn’t necessarily make them fans of the kind of music that we do.”

Or as Kaye put it: “‘Sweeney Todd sings country!’ is a rough sell in a social media, pull-quote kind of world.”

But Cerveris has been a musician as long as he’s been an actor. He toured as a member of Husker Du frontman Bob Mould’s solo band and has led Loose Cattle for six years.

The band’s latest release is a decidedly nontraditional Christmas album, “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Cerveris, Kaye, their bandmates and special guests trot out songs, mostly from the country canon, that explore the flip side of the merry holiday season, including Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas From the Family,” Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December,” Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” and Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis.”

Loose Cattle will celebrate “Seasonal Affective Disorder” on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at Chickie Wah Wah, starting at 8 p.m. The band’s New York-based core will be augmented by local pianist Tom McDermott, Paul Sanchez, John Boutte, trombonist Craig Klein, and members of contemporary Cajun band the Lost Bayou Ramblers.

“It’ll be a pretty big posse in Chickie Wah Wah’s living room,” Kaye said. “Even though we’ve failed to be a living room band, we’ve definitely kept the living room band feel.”

Cerveris grew up in West Virginia and majored in theater studies at Yale. He earned his first Tony nomination in 1993 as the title character in the Broadway production of “The Who’s Tommy.” He won his first Tony as John Wilkes Booth in the 2004 revival of Stephen Sondheim's “Assassins.” He scored his second, for best leading actor in a musical, in 2015 for “Fun Home”; he punctuated his acceptance speech with "Who Dat!"

Kaye first met Cerveris as a reporter covering the New York theater scene; they ended up dating. He encouraged her to start singing, a pastime that came in handy as their romantic relationship deteriorated.

“We were at a place where we were looking for things to do that weren’t arguing with each other,” he said. “Singing kept our voices busy in a more positive way.”

His appreciation for rootsy music rubbed off on Kaye.

“I thought I hated Americana and country music,” she said. “I was a Jersey punk girl from Freehold, where you come up with metal and arena rock and punk and ska. My relationship to folkier music came with other people’s prejudices on it.”

They formed Loose Cattle intending to play informal shows in living rooms. It quickly evolved into something more.

So did Cerveris’ flirtation with New Orleans. He didn’t really discover the city until the 2007 shoot for the movie “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant.” To the soundtrack of community radio station WWOZ-FM, he “fell deeply in love” with New Orleans. “I felt very connected, and devoured it the way only the converted can.”

He brought Kaye down for her first visit in 2009. She was initially reluctant to embrace “this place where my boyfriend kept disappearing to. I felt like New Orleans was the other woman. I didn’t know if I was ready to meet her.”

She wound up returning 10 times over the next 13 months and now calls New Orleans home. She and her husband, Ray, got married at Kajun's Pub on St. Claude Avenue. “I get it now,” she said. “I totally drank the Kool-Aid.”

New Orleans proved to be fertile creative ground. Cerveris and Kaye worked with Paul Sanchez to develop his songs into “Nine Lives,” a musical based on the post-Katrina struggles and triumphs of a cross-section of local characters. Sanchez in turn introduced them to the local music community.

“We owe our individual and collective connections to the music of New Orleans to Paul,” Cerveris said.

“Seasonal Affective Disorder” initially took shape when Kaye wasn’t in any condition to contribute. She spent much of 2016 in hospitals battling a litany of chronic, debilitating ailments, including Crohn’s disease, interstitial cystitis, shingles, a drug-resistant kidney infection and ruptured ovarian cysts. Thus, she mostly left the song selection to Cerveris, thinking the record would never get made: “I thought, ‘This is his way of helping me focus on something that’s not the hospital.'"

His selections “kindly and generously took into account” her state of mind and body. Thus, holiday songs about “joy and kids and all the food you eat — I don’t eat solid food any more — had been carefully and lovingly weaned out.”

Instead, the songs had “a slightly more bent, or humanist, approach to the holidays,” Kaye said. “I needed that.”

By contrast, Cerveris is a huge fan of Christmas tradition. He hoped to “marry that with a not entirely bleak, but clear-eyed, look at the way the holidays are for all of us. Even if we’re having a good time, they’re still hard. If there was a sense of humor in the telling, even better.”

He asked the Lost Bayou Ramblers to help find a suitable holiday song from the Cajun canon. Instead, the Ramblers wrote the fiddle- and accordion-laced “Don’t Make Your Mama Cry on Christmas Day” with him.

Kaye did suggest one song, Joni Mitchell’s “River.” The album concludes with Alex Chilton’s “Jesus Christ,” a subtle nod to New Orleans, where Chilton lived the last years of his life.

Cerveris hopes new fans continue to discover Loose Cattle regardless of his acting resume.

“When people take a chance and come, they realize there’s a reason why we like this kind of music. There’s storytelling and characters and real narrative stuff going on. When I can get people in the room, they’re really glad to be there.”


OFFBEAT MAGAZINE

Seasonal Affective Disorder: A Louisiana Christmas With Loose Cattle

November 21, 2017

by: JOHN SWENSON

Rod Hodges walked into the Music Shed in mid-August to cut tracks for Loose Cattle’s Christmas album, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and a muggy New Orleans summer day suddenly transformed into something completely different.

“It was kinda weird,” said the Iguanas guitarist. “I had just gotten back from California and it was all dark in the studio. I plug in and suddenly I’m playing on ‘The Day It Snows On Christmas.’ It was… psychedelic.”

Hodges was one of several New Orleans musicians that Michael Cerveris and Kimberly Kaye, co-leaders of Loose Cattle, recruited to put the finishing touches on what is certainly one of the most idiosyncratic holiday records in recent memory.

At first glance Cerveris and Kaye, along with bassist Lorenzo Wolff and drummer Eddy Zweiback, appear to have concocted a slightly left-of-center country Christmas record, but a closer listen reveals more eccentric moves. Like covering Tom Waits and Robert Earl Keen along with BR549, Willie Nelson and George Strait, then adding Joni Mitchell and Big Star to the mix. Then putting together a medley of the pop music staple “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Charles Brown’s R&B classic “Please Come Home For Christmas.” Adding some Louisiana flavor with an original Cajun Christmas song, “Don’t Make Your Mama Cry On Christmas Day,” written by Andre and Louis Michot of the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Cerveris. Then with a tough minded Cerveris/Kaye political carol, “Shepherds In a Parking Lot.”

Cerveris is known to New Orleanians for his work with Paul Sanchez in Nine Lives and to a larger audience for, among other things, a scintillating Broadway career that started out with the lead role in Tommy, evolved through two Tony awards, most recently Fun Home, and now has him playing Professor Pyg in the Gotham TV series. Kaye sings with Sanchez and in the hard rock band The Night Confession. She wrote and performed in the macabre and hilarious A Christmassacre Story in 2014. The two have been fronting Loose Cattle as an alternative “Johnny and June” act since 2011, but on this record they’re forging a new identity.

“My voice has more characters in these songs,” said Cerveris. “There are some songs like ‘Truck Stop Christmas’ where I leaned on the accents that I grew up with in West Virginia, but on ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ I’m just trying to use my vocal instrument to put the song across. We’ve taken to calling it Americana because nobody knows what that is so you can put it under that banner.”

Cerveris and Kaye’s thoughts about Christmas are starkly different, which adds some frisson to the mix. “Shepherds in the Parking Lot” captures this perfectly.

There’s no wise men on the TV

No light in the east

No shepherds in this parking lot

Only fallen angels tryin’ to live in peace

Sometimes

It’s hard to sing

A Christmas song

“Michael loves ritual and he loves traditions,” said Kaye. “Michael and I have a very different relationship with the holidays. I hate Christmas. I’ve had a lot of death in the family, heartache; it’s a tough time of year for me. Michael loves it. He loves putting on Christmas specials, going to events, decorating the tree. I’m in shutdown mode. For us to be able to meld his enthusiasm for the holidays with the acknowledgement that it’s a tough time for some people was great and I love writing songs with him.”

Maybe you can be the wise one

Bringing love where there’s a need

For shepherds in a parking lot

Maybe fallen angels don’t have to quite believe

And sometimes

We can sing

This Christmas song

“Writing a Christmas song is a unique thing,” said Cerveris. “I wanted to include modern elements. There were a lot of drafts, but the early drafts were too political. It made the song smaller. So we did a lot of back and forth. It’s kind of like writing a Christmas card to the world.”

The album features two collaborations between Kaye and pianist Tom McDermott. “Tom’s work with Kim has been really important to the band,” said Cerveris. McDermott does a superb job accompanying Kaye on Waits’ “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis.” But the real payday comes on the unlikely inclusion of Joni Mitchell’s nearly untouchable “River.”

“There’s no outsinging Joni Mitchell on that song,” said Kaye. “It means so much to so many people. I was terrified to sing it. The thing I love about that song is how clear her storytelling is. It’s a beautiful piece of narrative that just happens to be a song. Working with Tom on playing that song, he has some Cuban-influenced stuff that he does with his left hand on the piano, then we added that kind of wistful banjo. We tried to present it where we’re telling this story. Tom is a huge part of that storytelling, with little echoes and phrasing. He makes snow happen with his right hand at the end of the song. It’s just perfect.”

“The songs we chose say a lot about us,” said Cerveris. “Really great songwriting says something really specific and leaves plenty of space for you to fill in the rest. As a band we tend to like to have something to say.”

A Very Loose Cattle Christmas will take place December 19 at Chickie Wah Wah, with Rod Hodges, Tom McDermott, Craig Klein and other guests. Cerveris and Kaye will also be part of Judith Owens and Harry Shearer’s Christmas Without Tears December 22 and December 23 at Le Petit Theatre.


No Depression MAGAZINE     

Shepherds in the Parking Lot and a Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis

BY HENRY CARRIGAN
NOVEMBER 13, 2017

Song Premiere

Ah, it’s the time of year when images of smiling, jolly elves, compliant reindeer, sparkling lights and glittering bells, and flames leaping from crackling logs in the fireplace decorate our neighbors’ homes and store shelves. As one oft-sung Christmas song tells us “it’s the hap, hap, happiest time of the year.” In our heart of hearts, though, we know Lucy had it exactly right in her words from A Charlie Brown Christmas: “we all know Christmas is run by a big syndicate out East.” For those caught up in the wiles of the commercial glitter of the holidays, spending and getting apparently brings joy and wards off the darkness of the season. But if we look carefully look just past the branches of those trees crowding each other in the Christmas tree lots, we’re bound to see those for whom the holidays aren’t so joyous and filled with light: here’s the prostitute spending the holidays in jail; the truck driver whose holiday family are others in the truck stop; the child who pleads for its daddy not to get drunk on Christmas.

Michael Cerveris (two-time Tony Award winner and star of TV's The Tick and Gotham) and Kimberly Kaye and their band Loose Cattle remind us of this darker side of the holidays in the appropriately titled album Seasonal Affective Disorder. Their version of the Tom Waits’ holiday classic “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis” is a sparse blues number made more somber by the mournful violin weaving under and around a similarly sorrowful piano and Kaye’s languorous vocals.

According to Ceveris, “This song might not be everybody's idea of a holiday classic, but in the Loose Cattle world, it just isn't Christmas without Tom Waits. Or maybe hookers. So having both in one song made it a shoo-in for the record. Even though it only has the word Christmas in the title, the whole mix of heart-on-your-sleeve sentimentality, combined with bleak reality, fits the tone of our record perfectly. Kim and I love singing harmony together, but I asked her to sing this one herself, so it would come more directly from a woman's perspective. Also, we all love every chance we get just to play and listen to her sing. Then we asked our friend Tom McDermott who is one of New Orleans' most celebrated and beloved piano players (and that's saying a lot in that city) to accompany her. He came up with the idea of making it a swaying gospel march, and the two of them recorded it live in the studio together in just a few takes. We added Justin's fiddle to help it sit in with the other songs on the record and once we heard that back, it didn't seem to need anything else. Well, just some sleigh bells at the beginning and end. Cause, you know...Christmas”


New York Post

November 3, 2017

 photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

by Jane Ridley

Like a lot of people, Brooklyn-based actor Michael Cerveris, the two-time Tony Award winner currently starring in Amazon’s “The Tick” and Fox’s “Gotham,” does not always look forward to the holidays.

His band, Loose Cattle, has just released an album for the darker side of winter. It’s titled “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” after the depressive condition believed to afflict more than three million in the US.

“I grew up loving Christmas,” says Cerveris in a press release. “And I still love it, but I recognize that a lot of my holidays are kinda more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas than ‘The Waltons.’”

As his bandmate Kimberley Kaye elaborates: “You’re told you’re supposed to be having this fantastic time, but if you aren’t, that makes you feel even worse.

“People struggle alone, but as a band, we’ve learned that connecting with other people who feel the same way makes getting through those hard times a whole lot easier.”

The mostly country-inspired track list includes both originals and covers, such as John Denver’s “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” and the band’s own “Shepherds in a Parking Lot,” about banding together to survive the holiday season.

The record is released on Dec. 1 and the band will play the Sheen Center in Manhattan on Dec. 11.


FORBES Magazine

by Jane Levere

December 22, 2017

A totally different perspective on the holiday season can be found in Seasonal Affective Disorder, a new album from Loose Cattle, a Brooklyn-based band formed in 2011 by Tony Award-winner Michael Cerveris and Kimberly Kaye.  It shines a light on the darker side of Christmas, combining humor, honesty and tongue-in-cheek twang in 15 Americana songs.

Recorded in Brooklyn and New Orleans, the album takes most of its influence from the American South, featuring country harmony, honky-tonk fiddle and pedal steel guitar in original songs and covers. The band turns John Denver's "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" into a rootsy, roadhouse-worthy holiday tune, and also performs "Shepherds in a Parking Lot," an original tune about banding together to survive the holiday chaos.

"I grew up loving Christmas," admitted Cerveris, a West Virginia native currently appearing in Amazon’s The Tickand Fox’s Gotham--“and I still love it, but I recognize that a lot of my holidays are kinda more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas than the Waltons’.'" Added Kaye, ”You're told you're supposed to be having this fantastic time, but if you aren't, that makes you feel even worse. People struggle alone, but as a band, we've learned that connecting with other people who feel the same way makes getting through those hard times a whole lot easier."



content ©Low Heat Records 2017