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Oncologist/Rocker Karen Haglof

Former guitarist with Rhys Chatham and Band of Susans (among others) and now a hematologist/oncologist  affiliated with New York University Hospital, Karen Haglof  released her long-overdue debut solo album Western Holiday last Spring working with long time associates Steve Almaas and  C.P. Roth and guests including Mitch Easter.

     The impetus for returning to music came from two directions. The first was the un­timely passing in 2009 of Karen's friend and mentor Jeff Hill, an old friend in Minneapolis who Karen calls "my first real guitar instructor and inspiration."

     Western Holiday was released to some wonderful critical reaction including a segment on NPR's "Weekend All Things Considered" which aired earlier this Spring.

Now, she's started on the follow-up. Here're some of her thoughts on some of the songs she's written for it:
"Chew Toy"-heard a story about a girl who was asked out on a playground date by a boy, who then ignored her the whole time and hung out with his preteen guy friends. By my recollection of the story, she got fed up, gave him a shove and said, "listen, you're not some BIG DOG and I'm not your CHEW TOY to drag around....before stomping off-song grew up out of that. Charly mimicked a casio beat for it and I am capoed up high. Liza Colby lent background vocals.

"Sunday Walk"-saw a guy walking his dog one Sunday morning, that dog just looked up so adoringly to his master and couldn't have been happier walking along together. Standard tuning!

"Hair Bite"-I've always had hair problems-too curly, too unmanageable, have pretty much had every hairstyle including dreads and a Mohawk (not a good look on me) and this summarizes a defiant hair attitude. Standard tuning!

"Monday Under My Belt"-sometimes just have that feeling of relief getting that first work day done. I wanted a loose funky feel  and some noise activity.

"Perserverance and Grace"-Charly did a great drum loop on this that gives it a real hypnotic feel to me. Just thinking about a family that has got your back when times are rough, a little revival meeting type of song.

"Tornado (in a bottleneck)"-just recorded drums and vox with a scratch guitar track on 4/11/15. This was right after the terrible East Village explosion.  Tornado is about trying to distill chaos and channel it through a narrow focus, tornado through the bottleneck. Part of the lyrics are due to feeling unsafe in my own neighborhood after that terrible tragedy, just feeling the randomness we all live with. Some are due to my partner and me discussing medical and pathologic processes and coming up with an "evolutionary niche in a cytokine storm" which fits nicely with the idea of a haven amid chaos. I had this idea of a clangy percussion loop with hits taking some of the rhythm line and complemented by the guitar line-hope it turns out, Steve is not so hot on a percussion loop but would rather have live playing, which is what Charly did.  Doing guitar work on it 4/25---

"Double Cut"-my favorite guitar in the world is a cherry red les paul double cut, not the SG body but the slab body. I covet this guitar when I see it hanging on guitar shop walls. I liked a guy who had one when I was in high school, but he fell for an older more worldly woman-this is my tongue in cheek dramatization-at the time, age 16-17, it seemed like the end of the world.  I did take some poetic license in this one.....story-wise.

- Read the full story at UnRatedMagazine.com

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