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A feat not possible in the 1800s: Klondike Kates on CD

The rowdy and borderline-bawdy women who make up the Klondike Kate posse have added a new dimension to their 19th century barroom antics: a CD of their rollicking hits.

Each year, a new Klondike Kate is selected in a competition that’s an annual part of the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Dressed gaudily and colorfully, Kate is a depiction of a Gold Rush-era bar maid, singing lustily for the miners.

A CD release party for the Kates will be at 7 p.m.  Thursday (Dec. 18) at Mancini’s Char House, 531 W. Seventh St. in St. Paul. Admission is free. CDs are $15.

For many years, when I wrote a column for the Star Tribune, I was one of the judges who selected the new Kate, and I was always amazed at the costumes and boisterous voices and general over-the-top demeanor they brought to the stage.

The judges look for stage presence, delivery and choice of song in selecting the winner. And as part of the competition, the previous winners would take to the stage to sing and dance before a sell-out crowd of cheering enthusiasts. It’s those previous Kates, who make numerous appearances together each year, who sing on the CD.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the group performing at last year’s competition.

Numbers on the CD include “Squaws Up in the Yukon,” “I’m a Woman,” “Gifted in the Ways of Love,” and “Lightnin’ in These Thunder Thighs.” Often, the group’s songs have a naughty touch and some double entendres.

The 2009 Klondike Kate will be chosen at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at Prom Center in Oakdale. I wasn’t asked to judge this year.

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