Kim Taylor is a writer.
She’s also a singer, musician and coffeeshop owner, but in her mind, she’s a writer.
Writing has given way to performing recently, though, as Taylor prepares to play the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, on March 19; she will play a string of dates with four singers called All the Lads and a Lady, that includes an April 1 stop at the Northside Tavern; and her song "Days Like This" was featured on the CBS-TV show "Flashpoint" March 13.
Is she really ready to give up the stage for the solitary life of a writer?
"It’s not stage fright," she says, weighing the question for a bit. "Part of me really loves the stage, but I really loathe the self-promotion factor. I would love not having a face attached to (the songs).
"That’s my goal, to be a good writer, not even a good singer because my voice is going to let me down," she continues, unnecessarily worried about the aging process. "Songwriting will fold into other writing. I write poetry, stories. Writing is what keeps me excited."
It’s a bit ironic that Taylor is looking to the day when she is strictly a writer because that is what brought her here from her native Florida in 1996 when she enrolled at University of Cincinnati to study English literature.
"I was clueless in Florida," she recalls. "I floundered, I was trying to write and I played music, but nothing came of it. So I applied to two grad schools, UC and one in Boston. I had one friend in Cincinnati, and it was cheaper than the school in Boston, so I came here."
It was the right choice. She found kindred souls in Cincinnati when she met Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine. They asked her to sing with them on tour, which rekindled her desire to play music.
Grad school was eventually put on hold, and Taylor became a working musician, writing songs that range from the ethereal (hints of Bergquist are evident) to rockin’ tunes that sound almost familiar (that’s a compliment), but strikingly original.
But a musician’s life rarely takes a linear path: Point A (the beginning) to Point S (success) is filled with bumps, sidetracks, non-musical endeavors and false starts.
Eventually, that path led to Taylor’s first album, "So Black, So Bright," which she released in 2002. Concentrating on music at that point, she recorded an EP, cleverly titled "Extended Play" in 2003 that she submitted to SXSW. She says she was surprised when organizers invited her to play in 2005, but she has since become a regular, performing at four of the last five events. Unlike previous visits, however, she’s flying in, playing, and flying out the next day.
"It’s a valuable showcase, but it’s completely crazy there," she says. "I like Austin. I have a group of friends there who always come to see me, which I appreciate. But then I’m coming home."
Family and friends trump career for Taylor. She lives in Wyoming with her husband Daniel Carlson and 10-year-old son Griffin, and in 2002, she and Carlson bought the Pleasant Perk coffee shop in Pleasant Ridge, which is a parallel world to the music business.
"The shop serves a lot of purposes for me," she says. "It quickly relieves the tension when I come back from playing music. It’s a small community, and we’re in each other’s business all the time.
"I’m just fascinated by other people’s lives."
DON'T MISS: Kim Taylor, 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 1 at Northside Tavern. 4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside. Free. www.northside-tavern.com or 513-542-3603.