Jennys have strong connection to Victoria

Sunday concert will be the sweet-singing folk-roots group's last for a while

The Wailin Jennys; Ruth Moody

Concertgoers attending the Wailin Jennys performance Sunday (Sept. 18) in Victoria may find themselves with a stiff neck afterward.

A veritable who’s who of local folk music stars could well be taking in the concert, a product of the Jennys’ relationship with the Vancouver Island folk scene.

“We’ve been coming to Victoria since the band started out 10 years ago,” said original member Nicky Mehta, who provides the mezzo-soprano voice for the trio’s sweet harmonies. “We call it our spiritual home in Canada.”

Co-founders Ruth Moody and Mehta, and upright bassist Heather Masse, who joined nearly five years ago, have forged connections with such musicians as The Bills, fiddle player Adrian Dolan, bassist Oliver Swain and others over the years.

“We’ve got so many good memories of playing in Victoria,” Winnipeg native Mehta said from California, where she lives part of the year with her husband and twin toddler boys. “The restaurants there are so great – we’ve gone to some amazing brunches – and we’ve got some amazing friends there.”

The concert at Alix Goolden Hall, along with one tonight (Sept. 16) in Vancouver, are the Juno Award-winning group’s last shows before going on a hiatus from performing together. Taking time away from touring might seem odd, given the Jennys have a relatively new album out – Bright Morning Stars was released in February.

Mehta, the young mom, said family commitments mainly prompted the break. That could see Moody out this way more, since her parents, like many Winnipeggers, have fled the harsh winters and now have a place in Victoria. In fact, she played at the inaugural FolkWest festival staged last month by Swain and friends.

For the Victoria show the trio – Mehta plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, drums and ukulele; Moody plays guitar, accordion, banjo and bodhrán, while New York-based Masse lays down the bottom line – will be joined by violin and mandolin player Trent Freeman of Vancouver.

They’ll play a number of pieces from their latest CD, which was recorded in a cottage nestled in the lake country of Southern Ontario. The feel of the album is slightly different, given the jazz-trained Masse’s influences, Mehta said, but contains the familiar smooth vocal lines fans of the band have come to know since they debuted in 2004 with 40 Days.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at Alix Goolden Hall, 905 Pandora Ave. Tickets are $25 plus service charges, available at Ditch Records, Lyle’s Place and at the door. Listeners can get a taste of the new album at www.thewailinjennys.com.

editor@oakbaynews.com

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