London’s Home Country Folk Festival has a habit of bringing in some incredible talent. This year, they’re offering up some powerful roots music from Winnipeg duo The Small Glories who perform on Sunday, July 21 in downtown London’s beautiful Victoria Park.
The Small Glories are a brand new musical union between folk/roots artists Cara Luft and JD Edwards.
Luft, a Juno award winner, deserves her solid reputation as one of Canada’s finest live performers and acoustic guitar players. A co-founder of folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, Luft was the spark behind the group. JD Edwards, on the other hand, has a voice that defies categorization. With his 6-piece JD Edwards Band, listeners are enrobed in a concoction of country, blues, R & B and soul, with a healthy dose of good ‘ol rock and roll.
We had a chat with Luft, ahead of their London show.
Your website says you guys got together by accident, but that just begs for a more elaborate answer.
We both live in Winnipeg and there’s a really wonderful venue in town there called the West End Cultural Center, and they were having an anniversary show. I think it was their 25th anniversary show, actually. And the artistic director of the venue had this idea of inviting as many Manitoba artists to come back to the venue for this one night. And started putting the call out a few months ahead of time, and then he told us his other idea was to partner everybody up with somebody who they don’t normally sing with, or even perhaps have never heard before.
So it was this really interesting way of celebrating music and forcing us to move a little bit outside of our comfort zone and work up some material with somebody who we wouldn’t normally work with. And the other thing he threw into the mix was we couldn’t even do our own songs. We had to learn songs written by other Manitoba artists, so it was hilarious, it was actually a really beautiful night once everybody performed. We all had a couple of months lead time. And so JD and I arranged a few rehearsals and we knew everybody else is doing the same thing, but you didn’t know what everyone was singing. So, during the night, other collaborations would hop on stage and you’d go, “Wow, I wonder what this is going to sound like.” And then they’d announce, “And now we’re going to sing a song written by,” and they’d list some other Manitoba artists.
And you’re like, “Oh my god, what is this going to sound like?” So there was a country artist mixed with a hip hop artist. There were folk mixed with rock. It was just a really, really diverse, beautiful way to celebrate all the musicians in our community. And so when JD and I started rehearsing, it was this instinctual, I think we both knew “Oh, wow. Our vocal blend is really good.” But, it took us a while to kind of actually do something about it.
You have a new album coming out this month. What can we expect?
I think we’re going play all the new tunes, actually, at the festival. We’re really excited about it because it’s very Canadiana centric, in a sense that all the songs were pretty much written either in Canada or about locations in Canada.
We seem to gravitate towards this general theme of home, and our last album seemed to be a lot about home, meaning going home, what we consider home, and this new album is other people’s homes and going out and hearing stories of where other people are from. And also this sense that JD and I are not actually from Winnipeg. We are transplants to Winnipeg, and so what that’s like being embraced by this community and now that we’re calling it our home.
It’s a diverse album in that we also co-wrote all the songs with other artists, whether we co-wrote with each other, I think there actually is a third writer on pretty much every song, and all of the writers are Canadian except for one. There’s was one fellow from the States who’s a poet, and we wrote one song with him. But yeah. It’s really, really beautiful artists like Catherine MacLellan, Lynn Miles, James Callahan, Bruce Guthro, and Ashley Condon. It was a really interesting project for us that way. And I think it made the songs even stronger, actually, having other peoples’ input.
Why did you choose the title Assiniboine and The Red?
Well, that talks about our coming to Winnipeg from outside. I’m from Alberta originally, and JD is from Ontario, and we both found our way to Winnipeg and we thought, “Oh, this is a,” because it’s talking about home and other people’s homes is the Assiniboine and the Red represents Winnipeg obviously, and it was other people’s homes, and now it’s our home, too. So a real sense of place.