SONG PREMIERE/INTERVIEW: The Small Glories Deliver Modern Harmonious Protest Anthem: “Sing”

The Small Glories make their US debut with ASSINIBOINE & THE RED, an album that celebrates the Canadian Prairies. The album will be released worldwide on June 28 on Red House Records. The album title references the junction of two rivers, the Assiniboine (pronounced ‘uh-sin-uh-boin’) and the Red, in the duo’s hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and celebrates the happenstance meeting of members Cara Luft, an original member of the Wailin’ Jennys, and multi-instrumentalist JD Edwards.

Recorded in Winnipeg, Manitoba during a bracingly cold Canadian spring, ASSINIBOINE & THE RED reunited the duo with producer Neil Osborne, frontman and songwriter for the iconic Canadian rock band 54-40. “Although he’s not a ‘folk artist,’ he has the heart of a folk singer and firmly believes in the power of song and in serving the song,” says Luft of Osborne. “He also believed in the importance of keeping us rooted in our folk/roots tradition; he didn’t want us to stray too far outside the box.”

“We’re folk singers, we try to write stuff that people can relate to,” says Edwards, whose looming stage presence and penetrating eyes find him the yin to Luft’s petite, snort-laughing yang.

“I remember being very excited about this collection of songs and getting to record them at home in Winnipeg,” Edwards says. “I was so glad to hear that Gilles Fournier (bass) and Mark Mariash (percussion/drums) agreed to come back and record another album with us. Getting the band back together along with Neil Osborne at the helm had my mind thinking of how we were going to be taking these songs to places we had never dreamed of going.”

Glide is thrilled to premiere the protest song “Sing” a profound soon to be anthem of our times that combines pick and holler melodies that combine melody and directness. Like Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch, The Small Glories bring a sweet idealism and emotive vocals that stick both to the ears and soul.

“It’s a song to roust us out of our complacency and our indifference, a song to challenge our era of divisiveness and polarization to remind us what ‘it’ is all about, and what it’s not,” says Luft about the track.

 

Glide had the chance to catch up with the duo just prior to the premiere…


What was the creative inspiration behind “Sing” and do you feel the need to protest these days as much as we Americans?

There’s a general level of anxiety and desperation in our world these days, this sense that we’re running out of time, that we need to get the fire going.  That’s where we started when tackling this song.  We wanted to find a way to roust ourselves and others out of our complacency and our indifference; to challenge our era’s divisiveness and polarization.  To remind us all what “it” is all about, and what it’s not.  And what we do best is sing.  Singing is powerful.  One voice has power, and when you throw in another voice, that power is amplified.  And when you get an entire group of people singing, one never knows what changes can be made.  Singing with others can break down walls and barriers, help change people’s minds and perspectives.  It can be the great equalizer, the great motivator.  We all need to protest these days, regardless of where we’re from.  The future of our earth and of our common humanity depends on all of us doing something.  And we feel singing is one of the ways we can support our greater community and help bring people together.

Canada seems very utopian these days – is that true and what brings hardships and anxiety to the people up north?

In some ways, we feel it is “utopian” when compared to many other places. But just like every country, we face a lot of the same hardships and anxieties; the difference is that there is a Canadian mindset and a collective consciousness which we feel affects how we go about tackling issues. We battle racism, global warming and environmental issues (ie Canada is warming at twice the global rate), human rights, the economy, job security…  the list goes on.  As a nation we are facing the pain and violence perpetrated against our Indigenous communities due to effects of colonialism.  One very recent example: the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls recently defined the level of violence against these women as a “Canadian genocide.”  That is something weighing very heavy on our nation.  We have our fair share of harsh realities to face as a country.

Your sound most clearly is described as Americana but you both are from Canada. Do you think that’s a fair comparison being that a certain roots sound is tagged that way? Do you find that distracting or inviting?

It’s a fair comparison for sure; we have similar instrumentation, progressions and melodies as many Americana artists.  However, we have a Canadian filter that separates us from Americans; our experience is surely different than those of our neighbours to the South due to history, geography and influences.  There is a “Canadiana” sound up here, though it’s not a term that is used all that frequently.  In the grand scheme of things, we don’t really preoccupy ourselves with what genre or label we get slotted into, whether it’s Americana or bluegrass or folk.  We don’t really want to be distracted by that.  We simply care about creating good music, because that’s what it’s all about, that’s what moves people.

Assiniboine & The Red is a very regional name for your new album, can you talk about the Winnipeg sound perhaps and what your city does creatively for you?

The Winnipeg sound is strong, gritty, full of heart, soul, and honesty. Winnipeg is a slow and steady city, not a boom or bust town.  It’s known for being a labor oriented city; this year we’re commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike, which became the platform for future labor reforms in Canada. It’s the gateway to the West; it’s often the first stopping place for those migrating West.  It’s an eclectic community full of people from all nations and walks of life, and this multicultural mosaic inspires and nurtures artistic thought and action.  We feel geography, location & and climate all foster and contribute to a need to create.  It’s flat and cold, we don’t have mountains to distract us.  We are quite isolated, with Toronto being a 24-hour drive to the East and Calgary a 16 hour drive to theWest.  So we’re on our own in many ways; we need to create art and build community in order to survive.

Folk/roots duos are very common these days on the musical landscape, what do you feel the success of artists like Mandolin Orange and Gillian Welch/David Rawlings has on your sound and do you get a lot of crossover fans from other genres?

Acoustic music is alive and well, and to see the success of duos (in particular) is inspiring for so many reasons, the first being that they are creating incredible original music.  People dig voices, banjos and guitars and they always will!  We feel there’s a unique tension between female and male voices that creates a sound that most everyone can relate to.  We’re also finding that people are loving what we’re doing as the duo, regardless of what “genre” of music they like.  As we keep reminding ourselves, good music is good music!

What music are you primarily listening to these days and what are some of the more inspirational concerts you’ve seen of late?

Oh gosh, we’re listening to all sorts of music, and we’re still both drawn to the music that influenced us when we were teens and young adults.  Nowadays we’ll meet someone at a festival and swap discs or downloads and then we get hooked on listening to them.  We often have Tim O’Brien on in the car, our pals Jonathan Byrd and Eliza Gilkyson, then our Irish buddies Socks in the Frying Pan.  Throw in some Led Zeppelin, Blitzen Trapper, CSNY and the Tedeschi Trucks Band and it gets very eclectic!  We’re pretty fortunate to catch so many other artists’ performances at various festivals.  A few recent standouts: Loudon Wainwright’s set at the Tonder Festival in Denmark, and k.d. lang’s concert at the Ryman Auditorium during the AMA’s.

Preorder for ASSINIBOINE & THE RED

TOUR DATES:

7/06                  Long Island Museum – Stony Brook, NY

7/07                  Joe’s Pub – NYC, NY

7/09                  Middlebury Festival on the Green – Middlebury, VT

7/10                  Music on the Green – Saranac Lake, NY

7/11                  The Music Hall Loft – Portsmouth, NH

7/12                  Riverbend Park – Winston, OR

7/13                  McCabe’s Guitar Shop – Santa Monica, CA

7/14                  Hound Dog House Concerts – Santa Barbara, CA

7/19                  Stewart Park Music Festival – Perth, ON, Canada

7/20 -7/21          Home County Music & Art Festival , London, ON, Canada

7/26 -7/28          Stan Rogers Folk Fest – Canso, NS, Canada

7/31                  Summer Concert Series in Caseley Park – Riverview, NB, Canada

8/02                  Indian River Festival – Kensington, PEI, Canada

8/03                  Blue Skies Music Festival – Clarendon, ON, Canada

8/08 – 8/11         Edmonton Folk Festival – Edmonton, AB, Canada

8/12-8/16           The Song School – Lyons, CO

8/16- 8/17          The Folks Festival – Lyons, CO

8/18/                 Bear Creek Folk Festival – Grand Prairie, AB

8/24                  Thrasher Opera House – Green Lake, WI

8/25                  Porcupine Mountains Music Festival – Ontonagon, MI

8/30                   Oak Harbor Music Festival – Whidbey Island, WA

9/4 -9/7             Arts Midwest Conference- Minneapolis, MN

9/11 -14             Americana Conference / AmericanaFest- Nashville, TN

9/27                  New Moon Folk Club- Edmonton, AB, Canada

9/28                Bow Valley Folk Club- Calgary, AB, Canada

10/03                Empress Theatre- Fort MacLeod, AB, Canada

10/04                Festival Hall – Calgary, AB, Canada

10/05                Key City Theatre – Cranbrook, BC, Canada

10/11                Rogue Folk Club – Vancouver, BC, Canada

10/12                Jo Beattie Presents – Victoria, BC, Canada

10/14 -10/17       Arts Northwest Conference- Boise, ID

10/18                Acoustic Alchemy Studio at Augustana Chapel – Boise, ID

10/19                Tuft Theatre – Denver, CO

10/20                Vilar Performing Arts Center – Beaver Creek, CO

10/23                 Miner’s Foundry Cultural Center – Nevada City, CA

10/24                Ballard Homestead – Seattle, WA

10/25                 The Old Church – Portland, OR

110/4 -11/06       Arts Market Showcase- Durham, NC

11/07                Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art Aetna Theater – Hartford, CT

11/08                Shalin Liu Performance Center- Rockport, MA

11/09                The Park Theater – Glens Falls, NY

11/10                Daryl’s House – Pawling, NY

11/12                The Cutting Room – New York, NY

11/14               Tin Pan – Richmond, VA

11/15                The Landing Pad Stage – Rocky Mount, VA

11/16                Club Cafe – Pittsburgh, PA

12/01                The Hive – Shrewsbury, UK

12/03                 Kitchen Garden Cafe – King’s Heath, Birmingham, UK

12/04                Green Note Cafe – Camden, London, UK

12/06                Live from Torr Vale Mill – New Mills, Peak District, UK

12/08                Whitstable Sessions Music Club – Whitstable, Kent, UK

1/10 -01/14/2020  APAP Conference- NYC, NY

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