SUNDAY CLASSIC GTC: NEYLA PEKAREK Train
by Walter Price
When the news that Neyla Pekarek was leaving The Lumineers to go solo, trying to figure out what she’d do or what sound she’d land on was a slight mystery. If someone told me that she’d create a significantly beautiful ode to a little-known feminist trailblazer, I’d probably pause for a bit before a quizzical, “Oh, really?”
And she has done just that with her album ‘Rattlesnake’. A concept album focusing on the pioneering life and adventures of Rattlesnake Kate (Katherine McHale Slaughterback/ Kate Garner). A Colorado native who amongst her many distinctions and lore, once killed 140 snakes nearly barehanded, built and ran her own farm (and moonshine distillery, shh), and had a knack for interesting taxidermy. Certainly, lots of moxie to glean from.
And the recent single “Train” is just one of the album’s chapters that should be delved into. It’s no secret, the history of train songs has historically been dominated by men. Most likely because of society’s placement of women. As it would seem unfathomable to think of a young lady riding the rails searching for new landscapes…very unchristian, indeed. This is now and Pekarek has written an instant classic that feels comfortable next to anything Cash, Ella, and Shaver have released.
Big tank engine
Rollin along, my one-way ticket
To a better life, a better song
Bend the rails, I can’t wait too long
To board my train and move on…
The video for the track, directed by Liza Nelson, is a jaunty and whimsical theatrical romp. Full of sneaky imagery from Rattlesnake Kate’s folklore. A bit of playfulness honoring an unsung hero.
The single, video, and album are likely not like anything you’ve spent time with recently…and it is as unexpected as it is brilliant. ‘Rattlesnake’ is available via S-Curve Records. And according to Pekarek’s bio, she’s been commissioned by the Denver Center for Performing Arts to develop a musical about the life of Colorado Pioneer, Rattlesnake Kate. Win.
Produced by M. Ward
Written/performed by Neyla Pekarek
Video by Liza Nelson
“Well, I went to school in a small town called Greeley, Colo. And in that museum has been preserved this rattlesnake dress that was fashioned from the dead snakes from the snake encounter by Kate herself. And I came across the story as a college student just passing through the historical museum on a day off from my studies.” – Neyla Pekarek, NPR