Neko Case, singer-songwriter-animal guardian

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Neko Case—the singer-songwriter who has created a large, revered body of work, much of it laced with nature and animal themes—recalls how her lifelong kinship with animals began as a kid whose parents were infrequently present, so she spent a great deal of time with the household critters. nekocaseDogsAnd while Case might seem, fundamentally, like a dog person—she is often photographed with dogs, has advocated for and lived with retired racing greyhounds, she regularly touts the virtues of adopting shelter dogs, etc.—she clarifies that her heart currently belongs to an amazing-sounding cat named Marty. Case agrees that a couple of her best known animal songs—“The Tigers Have Spoken,” “People Got A Lotta Nerve”—that deal directly with animals in captivity are fueled by anger and contempt, dismissing the charade that such captive animal settings as marine theme parks and zoos offer educational value for children or otherwise yield conservation or scientific opportunities, when the habitats Neko-Case-horse-and settings are inherently artificial. Now living on a former dairy farm in Vermont, surrounded by dogs, Marty, chickens and a horse named Norman, she explains that she does not use a special method in writing songs about animals, approaching songs about them the way she undertakes creating them about neko-case-concert-ticketshumans. Case acknowledges that she realized her relentless touring schedule, in the wake of both her latest album, “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You” and The New Pornographers’ newest record, “Brill Bruisers,” had become too relentless, and plans to pare back subsequent touring NekowBass&Gtrschedules. (Onstage, no matter how exhausted she may be, Case always seems good humored; sometimes, even a bit nutty: The last time I saw her perform, over this Labor Day weekend at Bumbershoot, she was wearing a safety vest…simply because it came with her new chain saw; my crummy phone photo, right) headerShe describes “Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule,” her eight-album, all-vinyl box set extravaganza, set to be released Nov. 13, but can be preordered now on her website, Amazon, etc—and she points out that download codes accompany the package, for those who want to go digital in lieu of, or in addition to, the vinyl. Additionally, Case addresses the many ways–in the midst of her own flourishing and immensely busy career–that recording and touring with The New Pornographers remain enormously important to her. (www.nekocase.com, www.facebook.com/nekocase)

ALSO: I spoke briefly with Ginger Boyd about her plans to open a cat café in St. Petersburg—cat cafes being eateries that first became popular in Asia, now found in metropolitan areas across the world, wherein patrons enjoy food and drink amidst a flock of felines. Boyd already has settled on the name for her café: Downtown Tabby. (www.facebook.com/downtowntabbystpete)

COMEDY CORNER: Brian Regan’s “Fishing on T.V.” (http://brianregan.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Neko Case’s “The Tigers Have Spoken,” Neko Case’s “Maybe Sparrow,” Neko Case’s “People Got A Lotta Nerve,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Loudon Wainwright III’s “Dead Skunk”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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