Punk folk singer Waxahatchee – aka Katie Crutchfield – plays the Rickshaw Stop on Monday.

Southern literature inspires Waxahatchee

There are rock musicians who love literature. Then there’s Katie Crutchfield, a bibliophile who dubbed one of her early combos P.S. Eliot and formed another on a more specific literary premise: every one of its songs was based on poems by the late Anne Sexton.

Her scrappy sophomore recording as the punk-folkie Waxahatchee is “Cerulean Salt,” which she’ll play in The City on Monday in a show featuring twin sister Allison’s band Swearin’ as the opener.

With apparent ease, she has penned one of the most literate efforts of the year with “Cerulean Salt.” She spins lyrics such as “I said to you on the night that we met / I am not well” on the waltzing “Brother Bryan,” and, on the galloping “Swan Dive,” she says, “I cling to indifference, you to your worst memory / Dark winter morning you honk your car horn at me.”

But she already is working on its follow-up at her parents’ house in Birmingham, Ala. (after stints in Philadelphia and New York), with piles of books scattered around her bedroom for inspiration.

At 24, she says, “I think I’m a millennial, technically. But I certainly don’t live my life like one.”

Growing up in Birmingham’s DIY punk scene, the twins were motivated to form bands together — such as The Ackleys and Bad Banana — before Allison struck out on her own in Swearin’ with her guitarist beau Kyle Gilbride. Also in the group: bassist Keith Spencer, who is Katie’s boyfriend and her bandmate in their side project Great Thunder.

“I think she needed to establish her own identity,” says Crutchfield, who issued her lo-fi debut, “American Weekend,” last year.

That disc revolved around a breakup. “Cerulean” is more adult-themed.

“These songs are much more personal, and from my own experiences,” says the vocalist-guitarist. “But at the time I wrote them, I was reading Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor, like ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find.’ And because the songs are based on my life as a young woman in the South, that literature totally resonated with me.”

Her mission?

“In a very dry, deliberate delivery, I’m trying to give you my stories with no whining, no emotion,” she says.

What’s coloring Waxahatchee’s latest work? She rattles off titles — two Georgia O’Keeffe biographies, James Jones’ “From Here to Eternity” and Morrissey’s dirt-dishing new autobiography.

“I’m also reading a lot of poetry, because I really want to expand my understanding of language,” she says. “I’m just trying to keep my brain sharp!”

IF YOU GO

Waxahatchee

With Swearin’

Where: Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $10 to $12

Contact: (415) 861-2011, www.ticketfly.comartsPop Music & Jazz

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City officials closed San Francisco County Jail No. 4 on the top floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. in September, reducing the number of beds in the jail system by about 400. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates

Reduced space increases risk of COVID-19 spreading among those in custody

Cyclists have flocked to Market Street since private vehicles were largely banned from a long stretch of it in January. (Amanda Peterson/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Plans for sidewalk-level bikeway on Market Street dropped due to costs, increased cyclist volume

Advocates say revisions to Better Market Street fail to meet safety goals of project

Prop. 21 would allow San Francisco city officials to expand rent control to cover thousands more units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tenant advocates take another try at expanding rent control with Prop. 21

Measure would allow city to impose new protections on properties 15 years or older

Tenderloin residents are finding benefits to having roads closed in the neighborhood. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Should there be fewer cars in the Tenderloin’s future?

The pandemic has opened San Franciscans’ eyes to new uses of urban streets

Singer-songwriter Cam is finding musicmaking to be healing during 2020’s world health crisis. 
Courtesy 
Dennis Leupold
Cam challenges country music tropes

Bay Area-bred songwriter releases ‘The Otherside’

Most Read