Annie Lou brings old time tunes
It took moving from the city of Toronto to a remote cabin in Yukon for Anne Louise Genest to discover her musical side—and fans around Canada are glad she did.
Genest, who moved to this area last year, is one quarter of her group called The Annie Lou Band, a stringband with two members in Toronto and one in Yukon.
They will be performing at the Errington Hall Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8 p.m.
Genest’s first album as The Annie Lou Band (with a couple different members than the current group) received nominations for a Juno and a Canadian Folk Music Award (CFMA). Her latest album, Grandma’s Rules for Drinking, snagged her nominations for two CFMA’s last year, as English Songwriter of the Year and Solo Artist of the Year.
It was the sense of freedom and adventure she felt upon moving to Yukon in 1989 that made Genest explore her musical side, she said. Previously she had been living in Toronto with all the regular amenities most Canadians have come to expect, when a friend moved to Yukon and insisted she come see the place. It was love at first sight.
Genest said she began to “get more to the essence of [herself]” in Yukon, living without running water or electricity.
“I think it tapped into an exploratory part of myself that was willing to take some more risks than I’d really been willing to take before,” she said.
After a couple of “kitchen jams” with friends, Genest said it dawned on her that she could learn to play the music herself, so she got a guitar and got to work. She released a couple of solo albums with electric instruments and then started to “find her voice” as she steered more towards acoustic sounds, traditional country, old time music and bluegrass.
“I was drawn to the idea of darkness but with a happier sound,” she said, explaining that old time mountain music comes from people who played songs at the end of a tough working week, as a bit of an escape. She said her songs aren’t any one tradition of music, and she likes the freedom to focus on them and then create her own style.
The Annie Lou Band plays stringband-style-music, mostly original, using a combination of the banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, fiddle and upright bass complete with beautiful harmonies. Genest said she loves how bluegrass and old time music is so community-based, and really appreciates the parking lot pickin’ that happens after festivals.
“There’s something really lovely about that, how it brings us all together, and there’s less of a separation between performer and audience.”
The group will be stopping off in Errington on the 19th during a tour through B.C. Get tickets for $20 at Cranky Dog Music in Parksville, Heaven on Earth in Qualicum Beach and the Errington Store. Under 12’s are $5, and under 5’s are free at the door.
Genest also plays brunch every Sunday at the Waverly Hotel in Cumberland. For more information on Genest visit www.annielou.ca.