It was an important skill when Madcat & Kane began performing, since their intent at first was to come as close as they could to producing the sound of a full band. Kane was mostly playing electric guitar; Madcat used pickups and played through amplifiers. Now they play primarily acoustically. The change came about in a classic necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention manner: on one of their European tours they ran into difficulties with the amps they were provided and were forced to rely on just microphones. They loved the sound and the freedom.
The shift to a more acoustic sound has not, however, mellowed their approach to the music. Madcat's solos today are as soulful and searing as when I first heard him thirty-five years ago. Kane's playing grows ever more intricate without sacrificing drive.
Longevity like Madcat & Kane's is rare in the music world. That durability is a testament not only to their brilliance but also to the deep friendship they share, and to their ability to bring audiences into the ease they feel with each other. It makes their shows seem as much like family reunions as concerts.
Madcat & Kane are at the Ark on Saturday, July 26.