An Evening of Music With The Small Glories in Central PA

Small Glories

Every year, it seems that our local Susquehanna Folk Music Society find a way to bring a popular Canadian act to the PA mid-state.  A little over twelve months ago, the society enticed The East Pointers to perform at the historic Fort Hunter Barn here in Harrisburg, and this past weekend, the same venue would host the Winnipeg Americana duo, The Small Glories.  Having finally caught up with this duo of Cara Luft (formerly of The Wailin’ Jenny’s) and JD Edwards last summer in Philadelphia, we were incredibly excited when this show was announced.  Knowing that The Small Glories plan to release their second full-length album, “Assiniboine & The Red,” on June 28th, we did not want to miss the opportunity to hear some of their new material in a live setting.

With their stunning two-part vocal harmonies, Cara (guitar/banjo) and JD (guitar/harmonica), the duo would share tracks new and old (from their 2016 “Wondrous Traveler” album), along with a few select cover versions of Canadian tunes.  Launching immediately into “Had I Paid” from their 2016 album, the duo would follow with the first new track, titled “No Friend.”  “This is a song about people who we don’t like anymore, and JD and I are actually quite friendly and nice people,” Cara explained.  “We’re noticing as we’re getting older, time is finite and we don’t have the time and interest or energy to spend with people who we don’t actually like, and ended up writing a song about them, but forgot to tell the people we don’t want to be friends with them….it’s a little passive aggressive.”  The duo would later share their brand new single, “Secondhand,” released just a few days ago, and co-written with Canadian folk singer James Keelaghan.  They would also acknowledge PEI singer-songwriter Catharine MacLellan, with whom they co-wrote a pair of new tracks, “Sing” and “You Can’t Be High All The Time.”

Both Cara and JD were more than happy to converse with the audience all evening, often telling in great detail the inspirations behind some of the tracks from the upcoming album.  Prior to performing “Moon,” JD would share the tale of a fisherman’s wife in the Maritimes, who walks to the shore every day, eternally hopeful that her presumed deceased husband will return home.  And with a cover of the Stan Rogers classic “The Witch Of The Westmoreland” (written by Archie Fisher), Cara would explain why they had selected this particular track.  “JD and I love to play good songs, and we love to write songs, as we’re primarily singer-songwriters, but every once in a while you come across a song that needs to be sung, and be shared, and I think it’s part of the folk tradition; you just have to carry on the tradition of some older songs and some newer songs.”  “It’s an interesting tune, as it doesn’t have a chorus,” JD continued.  “It’s like thirty verses, so just buckle in for this one, it goes on for a while … if you need to go get a cookie and come back, the song will still be going on.”

One highlight of the evening was a performance of their first new single, “Oh My Love,” which Cara described as the happiest broken hearted love song they’d ever written, before asking JD to share a unique story about one time they performed this song at a Utah music festival.  “We got up on stage and I was feeling super giddy and silly and having fun … and I don’t know what came over me, but I said, ‘this song is called Oh My Love, and it’s about Cara, and she’s yearning for love’,” JD explained, before letting loose with a rapid fire recollection.  “She just built a tiny house, and she wants to spend her days with someone in her tiny house, and wake up on her tiny little queen sized bed, and walk down her tiny hallway to her tiny kitchenette and eat tiny little plates of bacon and eggs, and drink tiny little cups of chai tea, and put her tiny clothes in her tiny closet, and take tiny baths in her tiny bathtub and sit on her tiny toilet, and all this stuff, and there’s this guy in the front row who yells BABY I’M RIGHT OVER HERE!”  Both Cara and the entire room were experiencing fits of laughter at this point, prompting JD to add an extra punchline.  “He’s got a friend with him, with a big beard and a man-bun, and he’s like, MY WIFE IS WITH ME, IS THIS GOING TO BE AWKWARD?”

Last year in Philadelphia, we witnessed their amazing cover of Woody Guthrie’s, “Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key,” complete with some amazing traditional Calgary cowboy dancing from Cara.  We were delighted to experience this once again as the finale to their Harrisburg show.  The appreciative audience loved this one too, as Cara broke into her dance routine not once, but twice, whilst simultaneously plucking away on her clawhammer banjo.  Receiving a well-deserved standing ovation at the close of the show, JD and Cara would offer up one final number, unplugging their instruments and performing sans the microphones to deliver a cover of the Dirk Powell penned tune, “Waterbound.”  The Small Glories left a lasting impression on the Susquehanna Folk music society, and an open invitation to return anytime soon.  While most folks in central PA may have a wait a while for such an opportunity, but Team GDW know that we’ll be catching up with this amazing pair of musicians again very soon in Ontario.

Set List

  1. Had I Paid
  2. No Friend
  3. Long, Long Moon
  4. Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Neil Young cover)
  5. Alberta
  6. Johnson Slide
  7. The Witch Of The Westmoreland (Stan Rogers cover)
  8. Sing
  9. Secondhand
  10. Oh My Love
  11. Wondrous Traveler
  12. Black Waterside
  13. You Can’t Be High All The Time
  14. Winnipeg
  15. Time Wanders On
  16. Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key (Woodie Guthrie cover)

Encore:

  1. Waterbound (Dirk Powell cover – unplugged)

 

Martin Noakes

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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