Jack and Kitty are high school sweethearts that play Organic Vaudeville and Jug Band Folk for All Ages. They are an Emmy Award winning musical duo that also makes critically acclaimed films and television. Based in Minnesota, they love to perform concerts nationwide and play a variety of folk instruments including: banjo, guitar, ukulele, washboard, jug, kazoo, harmonica, whizbang, rumba box and much more. The Minneapolis Star Tribune hailed them as “one of the most entertaining groups in the midwest!”
Kitty’s uncle is Bunny Wailer – you know, of Bob Marley and the Wailers fame? So music is literally in her blood. She grew up in Jamaica listening to a healthy blend of reggae, rap and R&B. At a young age, Jack discovered his vaudevillian great grandfather’s phonograph record collection and spent his childhood listening to cats like Bing Crosby, Al Jolson and Rudy Vallee. As fate would have it, oddball ukulele legend Tiny Tim (“Tip Toe Thru The Tulips”) moved next door to the Norton household and somehow became Jack’s babysitter. Seriously.
That rich musical stew forms the blend of Jack and Kitty’s artistic approach. It’s organic and acoustic with nothing but positive vibes: laid-back music steeped in 1920s traditions (American jug band and Jamaican mento) with one foot firmly in the future. One reviewer described the duo as “Leon Redbone meets Alicia Keys or Tom Waits meets Beyoncé.”
The husband and wife songsters perform over 300 shows a year. Recent appearances include: Minnesota State Fair, Mall of America and The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC. They toured for the US Pentagon performing shows for military families stationed in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. From 2012 to 2015, Jack and Kitty hosted a successful children’s television series which aired on over 150 PBS Kids member stations nationwide and in 175 countries on the AFN Family network. A brand new educational TV series for preschoolers will be offered to PBS Kids member stations nationwide in early 2018…appropriately named Jack And Kitty: FamJam!
In addition to their musical pursuits, Jack and Kitty are critically acclaimed filmmakers. Their most recent feature length documentary film includes appearances by: Garrison Keillor, Charlie Parr, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Dom Flemons. Their corporate clients have included video projects for: MTV, Disney Channel, Interscope, Island-Def Jam, KidzBop, Sony, Whole Foods and Justin Bieber. Although Jack prefers life behind the camera, his acting work includes credited roles opposite Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern in Wilson (2016) and an unfortunate stint as a prisoner in the Tom Six cult horror film The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence (2015). In 2017, four original songs written and performed by Jack and Kitty were featured in the upcoming Willem Dafoe film The Florida Project by director Sean Baker (Tangerine) which debuted at the 49th edition of Cannes Directors’ Fortnight as part of the Cannes Film Festival.
The couple live near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.
SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM
Is Kitty your real name? Yes, my real name is Kitty. Surprisingly, country music is very popular in Jamaica – especially classic country like Charlie Pride, Hank Williams and singers from that era. My guess is that I’m named after country singer Kitty Wells. Oh – and my uncle’s name is Bunny!
Do you like cats? Of course! I love all animals, and we have two cats – Fritz and Franziska.
What nationality are you? I am an American Mutt. Mostly Jamaican. But I’m also: Chinese, Indian, Austrian, British and Mexican.
What instruments do you play? At live shows, I sing and play jug, washboard, kazoo-a-phone, trumpet, bongos, spoons, bones, shakers, castanets, tambo, ukulele and rumba box. At home, I program electronic music and play piano, bass and drums.
Are you married? Yes, Jack is my high school sweetheart and we are married.
What are your favorite hobbies? I love yoga, meditation, reading, traveling and writing poetry.
What is your favorite food? We are vegan and recently switched to a fully raw diet (only uncooked, unprocessed fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds).
Who are your favorite musicians or bands? Our list of influences and favorites is here.
JACK: FAQ *
Is Kitty her real name? Yes. Please see above.
* No one ever asks me questions. I think it’s because Kitty is so fuzzy and cool.