When restless Virginia native Kat Maslich started playing open mic nights with Peter Adams in 2000, she never dreamed they’d record an album as eastmountainsouth for DreamWorks and tour with Lucinda Williams, Nelly Furtado and Tracy Chapman. Nor did she realize that the pinnacle of their career — opening for Shelby Lynne and Lyle Lovett at the Hollywood Bowl in 2004, when she was heavily, radiantly pregnant with daughter Lula Blue — would also be their swan song.
The concert, memorable in its own right, came amidst a “devastating” period in which joys and losses, elation and depression piled atop one another with dizzying speed. Newly married, she’d added Bode (pronounced “BOH-dee”) to her name and publicly reveled in her pregnancy. Privately, she anguished over the unexpected implosion of eastmountainsouth and the loss of their label deal.
Adams recorded a solo album, released last year to little fanfare (perhaps because it sounded too much like eastmountainsouth — minus the balm-like soul Bode’s tender vocals had provided). Bode, a self-confessed “nomad,” stayed home and played Mom. And gradually started “digging down deep” and writing songs.
Her own music is more spare, less atmospheric than eastmountainsouth’s ambient Americana. It will be pal Claire Holley singing harmonies when Bode emerges Sunday to play the Echo on a bill that also includes country-rocking friends Stonehoney and erstwhile Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford.
Like Holley — and other local singer-songwriters such as Renee Stahl, Sally Dworsky, Debra Davis and Sarah Coleman — Bode is juggling the competing demands of motherhood and her own creativity. “There’s a song I’m writing called ‘Two Years,’” she says, “about having writer’s block for two years, saying I haven’t done anything — but actually I have. It’s all about making a baby, making and nurturing life.”
A recent trip to Nashville to record with Mary Chapin Carpenter convinced her to make another life change: She and husband Darryl plan to move there soon. She looks forward to raising Lula in a more family-friendly environment than LA.
“[Motherhood] humbles you so greatly. I never knew how selfish I was until I had Lula. … I was used to being a little pampered; we had a machine behind us and a little buzz, and it kind of defined me. But this is so much more important in the grand scheme of things. Being a musician and a songwriter is great, and all my life I will continue to do that. But that doesn’t define me.
“I am many things, and I’m just now starting to realize that. I really felt empowered after having Lula; she makes me feel whole. I still have to have [music] in my life, for my self and my soul, but it’s about the balance: You have to find a happy medium.”