More spit than polish
"Trish and I met a long time ago, at this big house where I used to live. There were always these big party musical jam type of things happening and it was easy to meet people. Trish and I were part of that group."
Allison Russell is telling me this over the phone from Vancouver, where she and her two bandmates are workshopping grant proposals for their upcoming tour. The band, Po’ Girl, is a new project but the members are anything but wet behind the ears: Trish Klein is a founding member of the much vaunted alt-folk group The Be Good Tanyas; Diona Davies was a core member of Derby and the Red Eyed Rounders and has played with the likes of Carolyn Mark, Geoff Berner, Billy Bragg, Fred Eaglesmith and Corb Lund; the Montreal-born Russell was herself a key voice in the Celtic folk band Fear Of Drinking. Each one boasts a dizzying list of musical talents and proficiencies (banjo, clarinet, violin, piano, trombone, mandolin, tuba, guitar, etc.).
So Po’ Girl is just the synthesis of these seasoned musicians. "It all just came together," says Russell. "Trish and I met on the street and she suggested we write some stuff together. When The Be Good Tanyas went on hiatus, it was the perfect time to record an album. Diona came along around that time and meshed perfectly."
The result is a jazz-folk swinger alternating standards and originally penned musings with a sound that fuses old-timey grassroots flavours with the rounder swagger of N’Orleans jazz and blues. It may seem to come from the same place as Nora Jones, but carries a bite and authenticity that leans away from such polished fare.
Po’ Girl opens for Dan Bern and Luther Wright and the Wrongs at Café Campus, Oct. 23, 8:30 p.m.