Duo Releases Album ‘The Water and the Woods’
By Milford Mirror on December 27, 2017
It all began with the movie “Once,” a film about two musicians who randomly meet and go on to make beautiful music together.
The title refers to the many talented artists the filmmaker knew who put off their careers by saying they would pursue their art “once” they got this or that sorted out, but never succeeded because they put it off too long.
In April 2017, drummer Anthony Paolucci described the film to then coworker, piano/vocalist Kate Mirabella, who felt inspired to go out the following day, purchase an electric piano, and begin writing what would ultimately be their first album. By the end of June 2017, only two months after the pair first performed together at an open mic event, the album was ready for production.
According to their website, Passing Strange was born from the “shadowy folds of human emotion, a passion for music, love, freedom and truth. The musical stylings of this duo are laced in jazz, bedazzled in blues, and brewed in a vat of vintage rock. Mirabella’s lyrics are both haunting and poignant, taking listeners to a dark and sometimes frightening place. Yet her songs can also be uplifting, providing those burdened by emotional hardship with a profound message of hope, most noticeably on the song ‘We’re Here’.”
This month, Passing Strange released The Water And The Woods, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms (twloha.com).
“When Kate and I decided to record an album, we both knew right away that we wanted to donate a portion of the sales to a charity that was very meaningful to us,” said Paolucci. “We each have friends and family who suffer from issues like depression and addiction, and To Write Love On Her Arms is an organization strongly supported by many artists in the music industry — Paramore, A Day To Remember, and Panic! at the Disco, to name a few.”
To Write Love On Her Arms is a movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.
Local Band Releases Album
By Milford Mirror on August 24, 2018
Kate Mirabella, a local musician, says she is the descendant of a monster: Cotton Mather.
Born Feb. 12, 1663 into a family of renown New England Puritan ministers, Cotton Mather would go on to become one of the region’s most notorious villains. His role in the Salem Witch Trials, considered to be one of the most horrific events in the nation’s history, led to the execution of 20 people in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693, all of whom were accused of practicing witchcraft.
Although Mather was not directly involved in the proceedings of the Salem Witch Trials, many scholars believe his fiery sermons about eternal damnation, and his book, “Remarkable Providences” (1684), which describes the supposed demonic possession of the children of the Goodwin family of Boston, led to the first cry of witchcraft among the young girls in Salem Village.
Upon learning of her ancestral connection to Mather, Mirabella was filled with both shame and remorse, the guilt of Mather’s misdeeds weighing heavily on her conscience. In honor of those who perished during that terrible period, Mirabella makes a yearly journey every fall to Salem and places flowers on the graves of each of the victims whose lives Mather had a hand in ending.
Her first trip after forming her band Passing Strange inspired her to write the song “Puritan Preacher,” which tells about her blood-relation to Mather and the impact it’s had on her life.
Like many artists, Mirabella uses her musical talents to exorcise the ghosts of her past and keep residential demons at bay. Writing “Puritan Preacher,” the first single from Passing Strange’s new album, Come Whatever Storms, was both a cathartic and creative endeavor for the young pianist/singer.
“I’ve always respected art that is honest,” said Mirabella. “I think people are most inspiring when they show you their vulnerability. So, in a lot of ways, this album is like reading my diary. Writing these songs has helped me find myself and leave these experiences behind me.”
Evidence of Mirabella’s newfound freedom can be seen on the album itself. The cover art depicts drummer and Milford resident Anthony Paolucci “leading her from the darkness and into the light.” The album name, taken from the Stephen King book series The Dark Tower, is a message of survival. And the back cover, a photograph taken by Anthony’s daughter Eden, depicts a garden statue of a young girl, meant to represent the stone-hard resilience of a female weathering adversity.
“This album is deeply personal, for both of us,” said Paolucci. “Our hope is that others will relate to these songs in a way that allows them to appreciate the music in a more meaningful way.”
Cafe Nine Cuts A Rug
by Brian Slattery | Nov 20, 2018
The southern Connecticut-based Passing Strange kicked off the evening with a set of originals penned by singer and keyboardist Kate Mirabella. As the band itself tells it, the project began at an open mic in April 2017 when drummer Anthony Paolucci heard Mirabella play. He suggested they try playing together at the next open mic, and they did. Numerous concerts and two albums later, Mirabella and Paolucci had a tight set to bring to Cafe Nine’s stage. Mirabella’s piano work covered bass parts, harmonic structure and countermelodies, while Paolucci’s drums gave the songs forward momentum and added texture, something unique for every song that also gave Mirabella a chance to unleash her voice. Song by song, Passing Strange reeled in the crowd, as applause grew for each passing song. Midway through the band’s set, a couple got up to dance and didn’t stop. They had serious moves, and the floor was theirs. A smile crossed Paolucci’s face as he saw them. Mirabella beamed.
“Thanks for dancing!” she said.
Cafe Nine Passes Strange, And Catapults Into Wonder
Leah Andelsmith | November 20th, 2018
Kate Mirabella put both hands below middle C and hammered out a bluesy bass line with the kind of low notes that go straight through the chest. Drummer Anthony Paolucci spun his drumsticks, came in on a fill, and settled into a beat that created a dark and broody groove. Within seconds, they were filling the room with the kind of song you play to vanquish an awful mood.
Monday, Mirabella and Paolucci’s band Passing Strange opened for Elizabeth & the Catapult and Julia Caesar at Cafe Nine, drawing an audience that grew to four dozen over the course of the night. Part of Cafe Nine’s Manic Monday series, Passing Strange set the stage for the New York City and Burlington acts with a tight, seven-song set that highlighted the band’s punchiest numbers.
“I’ve been trying to name bands Passing Strange for twenty years,” said Paolucci, explaining that the band’s name is a reference to a quote from Shakespeare’s Othello. After forming in April 2017, the local band has used earnings from shows in greater New Haven and Southern Connecticut to record two albums.
“Anthony was always a goth and I was always an emo chick,” Mirabella said. Paolucci has a hard-rock background, while she has typically been “very quiet.” Now, she is “hammering on the piano,” while Paolucci has left rock behind.
"I don’t know who I am anymore,” she said. “But I like it.”
When the band launched into “Pacific Northwest” during their set, the sound was brighter, but was no less full or intense than their opener “We’ve All Got a Justine.” Paolucci knows how to create a rolling rhythm that your body wants to rock to, while Mirabella, channeling her experience as a drummer, likes a piano part that turns over and over itself like waves. On Monday's stage, her voice was reminiscent of singer/songwriter Missy Higgins in the broad vowels, touches of breathiness, and the way she crisped her consonants.
“And if it’s so easy for you to walk out maybe that’s what you should do…But when the sky goes dark and the nightmares start, will you think of me?” she sang, her calm, unassuming presence belying the darkness of the song.
As Passing Strange started “Puritan Preacher,” a slightly dissonant chord pierced the air, and then that beat rolled in. Mirabella’s voice rang out, a bright, clear mid-range tone.
“This happens all the time,” she sang, an expression of regret crossing her face as she lifted her eyes to the audience to deliver the song of heartache.
Passing Strange closed their set with “The Violets Are Dead,” layering the song’s ending with tributes to a couple of their strongest influences: Tori Amos and the Doors. Mirabella started by playing a piano riff slow and high, a sad, looping melody in a minor key. Then she dropped it down three octaves and added a bass line that gave the music a mean streak.
“When the wolf came down, I swore I saw him smile,” she sang. The verse was sparse, but the chorus came crashing in with lots of open high hat from Paolucci.
“I have you hanging by a thread,” Mirabella sang on the bridge, lifting one shoulder. Her voice was dangerously soft, almost broken. Then she leaned into a piano instrumental with a driving, vampy piano lick in true Tori Amos style, letting it loop over and over before dropping back to that bare piano melody from the song’s intro. The drums teased their way back in until the band was playing full-out again, in their rocking, driving way.
Local Band Signs Record Deal
By Milford Mirror on July 29, 2019
Growing up, many kids dream about becoming rock stars. Local resident, Anthony Paolucci, is no exception. On July 17, that dream came one step closer to reality when his band, Passing Strange, signed a record deal with NeuroTronix Records, an independent label in Seymour.
After three years of playing shows around the state, recording music, and raising funds for organizations like Bridges Healthcare, Milford Prevention Council, and To Write Love on Her Arms, Passing Strange is moving up in their musical career.
“It’s the kind of thing every musician dreams of, one day signing with a record label,” said Paolucci, who plays drums in the band. “This is how all my heroes started out, and I’m hoping it’s the first big step on the road to great things.”
Pianist and vocalist Kate Mirabella said, “We’re hoping that by signing with NeuroTronix, this will open a lot of doors that might not otherwise be available to us. We’re excited to be working with Rick Demko; he believes in our music as much as we do. With his experience and expertise, we’ll be able to reach even more people.”
Passing Strange’s pre-label album, Come Whatever Storms, is on Spotify.