Artist Spotlight: Long Mama, Michael Sodnik

Long Mama as a duo.

It was an intimate, stripped-down show night at Bremen Cafe in Riverwest on Thursday as country-folk band Long Mama played as a duo along with performances from singer-songwriter Michael Sodnik and Portland, ME-based Jeff Beam.

Long Mama normally consists of vocalist/guitarist Kat Wodtke, guitarist Andrew Koenig, bassist Sam Odin, drummer Nick Lang, and backing vocalist Eva Nimmer. The band’s lyricism tackles issues such as anti-establishment, racism, and the patriarchy. Only Wodtke and Odin played for this show – their first time playing as a duo. Koenig and Lang are currently on tour with Buffalo Gospel.

“Our sound was completely transformed,” Wodtke said. “It was like folk-y jazz whereas typically we sound a little more in the classic country vein. I loved hearing the songs reinvented and being reminded of the arc in the story of the songs. It’ll be good to take this night and what I learned back to the full band to find the peaks and valleys of each song again. With only two people you can reach the quietest, gentlest part of your range as a band and that was fun.”

This had only been Odin’s third show with the band as a full-time member, replacing bassist Gavin Hardy.

“(Odin) is a busy man running a farm and is an integral member of Horseshoes & Hand Grenades….he recently joined us but we could not be more excited to have him playing. One of our new songs we played is like a little tribute to Gavin – we miss him a lot. He’s a good friend and amazing musician as well. Sam gave me a call and asked to audition and I said okay (laughs). He’s such a humble guy for how good he is.”

Wodtke explains where the band is at with recording.

“I have a lot of songs from the years I’d been playing from a lot of different combinations of Minneapolis and Milwaukee friends. I haven’t quite gotten it together yet, partly because we had Gavin and then Gavin relocated, so we’re back in that phase of hitting our stride with this combination of people and finding time to do it and do it right. Someday soon we will have a recording. In addition to music I work for the Milwaukee Public Library and I work in theater so that’s another interesting challenge as a musician – taking time off from this to go do my theater habits as well. It’s really no one’s fault but my own with carving out time for all the things that I do.”

Long Mama plays October 6th at Circle A (as a trio with Koening) and October 16th (as a full band) at Cactus Club.

Michael Sodnik’s impeccably smooth voice and ethereal guitar balladry is perfect to accompany a romantic candlelit dinner, and his lyrics often entail stories of love and nighttime thoughts. Saxophonist Luis Trinidad joined him for a few songs. His latest album “Every Single Setting Sun” came out about a year ago and his two new singles out are “$pend All My Money” and “Disconnected </3.”

Sodnik describes his last album’s recording process.

“A lot of the work was done in a studio at home in the basement. It was a nice change of pace to get the bare-bones drum and guitar out of the way. Some of the songs I wrote like the day of…just chord progressions I came up with and the vocals after that. It’s usually how it goes.”

Sodnik is working on a new self-titled project which will be out in the next few months. In addition to solo shows, he plays with a full band.

“We have a five-piece band normally but the rest is in New York right now – they’re out with Abby Jeanne.”

Michael Sodnik hopes to get more music videos out and is currently re-recording his debut 2015 album “Love in the Moonlight.” He plays Anodyne on October 24th.

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