Acoustic Cafe hosts Jack and Kitty

Musical duo spent time touring around the states and will go to Europe


Photo by Clara Neupert

Kitty Norton of “Jack and Kitty” sings and plays the whizzbang, a washboard-like instrument. The duo covered originals and covers, ranging from “Three Little Birds” to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”

 A cherry red suitcase, whizzbang and kazoo are among the various treasures that have traveled from Seattle to Savannah, Georgia and now to Eau Claire on tours with Jack and Kitty Norton, a musical duo called “Jack and Kitty” hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

At 7 p.m. Saturday at the Acoustic Cafe, the high school sweethearts performed “organic vaudeville and jug-band folk for all ages,” which included songs ranging from “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics.

Jack wore a black bowler cap, cracked jokes and strummed an acoustic guitar. Kitty’s cat ears glimmered in the soft lighting of the cafe as she swayed to the motion of the music. Kitty contributed the rest of the instrumentation, playing anything from the snare drum to a jug.

“(Music) is just an extension of life for me,” Jack said. “It’s the reason I get out of bed every day and … exist.”

No instrument of Jack and Kitty’s costs over 100 dollars. Jack recalled that their whizzbang, a washboard-like instrument, was a $5 thrift store find.

Before moving to Minneapolis, Kitty grew up in Scott’s Pass, Jamaica. There, her voice was her first instrument.

“(Music) is my lifeblood. It’s my life force,” Kitty said. She said she loves singing because “you can creatively express yourself wherever you are.”

Jack and Kitty have performed at the Minnesota State Fair, the Mall of America and The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

On Saturday, however, the two were in Eau Claire playing for tips.

Jayce Fisher and Blake Rudd, students at Eau Claire North High School said they came to Acoustic Cafe for food but lingered in the atmosphere Jack and Kitty created.

“They have so many music styles; it makes them very down to Earth,” Fisher said.

Rudd said he appreciates Eau Claire’s music scene, which is always exposing him to new music.

“I’d never listen to (Jack and Kitty) on my own, but I enjoy listening to them here,” Rudd said.

Jack and Kitty said they too enjoy Eau Claire’s music scene, in addition to its thrift shops and record store. Jack said Eau Claire reminds him of “Fezz Fritsche’s Goosetown Band.”

“When you’re used to doing so many long drives, Eau Claire seems local,” Kitty said. “It’s like a suburb of Minneapolis. We love it. It feels (like) part of our hometown.”

In addition to producing toe-tapping rhythms, the pair is also passionate about children’s television and documentaries. They wrote a children’s show for Nashville Public Television (NPT), the PBS station in Nashville, that earned them a regional Emmy nomination.

In 2018, the pair will release an educational TV series called “Jack and Kitty: FamJam!” geared toward preschoolers for PBS Kids member stations all around the U.S.

However, amid their success in the television industry, the couple still finds their base in music.

“I hope that what we do is powerful enough that (listeners) can kind of lose themselves in it and go to another place,” Kitty said.

The duo will end 2017 performing around the Midwest. In 2018, they head across the ocean for their European Tour.