The Famous Daughters of Folk Uke Earn Summer’s Surprising Smash Viral Hit
WARNING: Some Language
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I’ll never forget it.
It was Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic in 2011 at Billy Bob’s Texas in Ft. Worth, and I was walking up to the front gates as one of the first acts was taking the stage. It was Willie Nelson’s daughter Amy Nelson, along with Arlo Guthrie’s daughter Cathy Guthrie, otherwise known as the lilting acoustic duo Folk Uke singing their signature song, “Motherfucker Got Fucked Up.” There were no less than three sets of parents, hands firmly clasped over their children’s ears, frantically leading their young ones towards the exits with looks of abject horror on their faces. They weren’t expecting the most explicit act to take the stage at 11:30 a.m.
“Motherfucker Got Fucked Up” first appeared on the duo’s 2005 self-titled album that was full of raunchy material that looks to draw contrast between the Cathy ‘s and Amy’s soft, dainty voices and the gentle plucks of the ukulele and acoustic guitar. The album and “Motherfucker Got Fucked Up” have since gone on to become cult underground classics, but now they’ve hit the mainstream. Or the viral mainstream at least.
The impetus for the renewed interest in the song was its inclusion in the premier episode of the new season of Nextflix’s original series Orange is the New Black. But that was nearly a month ago. That may have lit the spark, but “Motherfucker Got Fucked Up” is now traveling under its own inertia it appears.
The song is now about to log its fourth week at the top of Spotify and Billboard’s “Viral 50” chart, with no signs of slowing down. Last week it was #2 on the chart, this week it’s #1, and it is currently dancing in and out of the #1 spot on the way to another strong week.
Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie weren’t paired together because of their famous parents, it was more by accident. In the late 90’s they were both working at a restaurant in San Diego called Croce’s, named for Jim Croce and owned by his widow. Soon they were using music to help tame their stage fright and social anxieties about being two famous daughters of music legends. Though they’re best known for their off-color material, they regularly cover old country and folks songs, and their exquisite harmonies are no joke.
The duo showed a bit more of their serious side and more nuance to their humor on the 2011 record Reincarnation, but they’re not ready to retire their raunchy shtick anytime soon. Resurgence of interest in Folk Uke couldn’t come at a better time. The duo has just released a new single called “BJ to a DJ,” which is the precursor to an upcoming album called Starfucker. So yes, Wheeler Walker Jr. has some competition in the dirty country space.
The duo regularly plays in Austin at the Saxon Pub, and plays Wednesday night (7/13) at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa.
July 13, 2016 @ 6:49 pm
We saw these gals this year at Willie’s 4th of July picnic (with Dallas Wayne on bass). I remember somewhere you wrote they were a riot, so I made it a point to catch them. They were that, but it boarded a comedy act (like the Flight of the Conchords) – their banter between songs was as rich as the lyrics. I was cautious when coming home and downloading their music thinking the magic wouldn’t translate to a recorded album. Mixed bag so far: the comedy runs thin after awhile, but they do showcase so true artistry in songs like. “Try to Say Goodbye.”
I too was looking around for families just arriving when they were performing Mother Fucker and BJ to a DJ. Most did’t seem to give a flying Folk.
July 14, 2016 @ 7:23 am
Honestly, I had forgotten about these gals until I read this article.I had listened to them in the past (not extensively, just a song or two here and there), now I’m definitely going to listen to more.
Also, they have a song with Shooter Jennings called “I Miss My Boyfriend” that’s pretty great, and shows some dark, deadpan humor.
July 14, 2016 @ 8:28 am
Like this? Try Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, “Backdoor Dan.”
Jack Pott !
July 19, 2016 @ 2:58 pm
Love it…Love it…Love it…How much did Willie and Arlo help their little girls is subject to conjecture. And, I wonder what Grandpa Woody would have thought? But Number 1- couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple of gals. Can’t wait for the new (and their 3rd) CD release. If have haven’t caught them live yet, you must go- it’s manditory! Knock me up, ladies! Jack Pott !
August 21, 2016 @ 10:22 pm
You are a journalist. The English language is your basic tool. Please learn when to use “less” versus “fewer”.