The Little Red Wagon Winery was hopping on Friday April 21, with the foot-stomping joy brought to bear by out-of-town duo The Small Glories.
This was an evening of multifaceted “notes”.
On one hand, the winery has established itself as a go-to venue such that they now field calls from managers hoping to book their clients, like The Small Glories. This popularity has led to diversity in the acts frequenting the area and, without a doubt, to the aura that is The Winery. For while there are several wineries in the area, The Little Red Wagon Winery stands apart, largely in part thanks to evenings such as this.
Following close on the note above, this event was sold out and not just for the musical portion. The winery offered a pre-concert set menu of roast beef or chicken cacciatore, both delightfully aligned to pair well with the in-house wines and there wasn’t a vacant seat in the house before or after the meal.
The Small Glories is a folk duo from Winnipeg and their success has them gracing stages from coast to coast. Indeed, they were in Paris, Ontario the night before performing in Shawville and were off to Halliburton and Toronto for the ensuing weekend playdates. If favour can be measured by engagement, they have arrived.
Not that they’re new, by any means. Cara Luft and J.D. Edwards first played together way back in 2012 and have been recording as a duo since 2016. They have three albums, a JUNO Award nomination and are firmly ensconced in the folk music scene nationwide.
Their show at the winery was a successful pairing of on-stage banter combined with undeniable musicality.
For the banter, Luft played the eternal debutante, excited by the moment and elevated to seemingly giddy awkwardness made manifest via stream-of-consciousness-style chatter. How much of this was routine was vague enough to keep the audience engaged, smiling and laughing right along with Luft.
For his part, Edwards played the bratty cousin/uncle who had personal anecdotes of his own and who gleefully goaded Luft into her snort-laugh at every opportunity. The talking stick was passed between them effectively and it was entertaining.
Musically, they were pure joy and it was clear that they love what they do.
Luft played banjo and guitar while Edwards the harmonica, guitar and winery-floorboard-made-into-base-drum. This last was effective in the extreme with host Scott Judd marvelling at whether the floorboards could withstand the onslaught.
Their two sets were generous and, while unique to the two on stage, one couldn’t help but draw comparisons with the joyful uptempo of The Rankin Family, the harmonies of Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris on Trio or the social-anthem-passion of The Chicks. Luft and Edwards brought it all, left it all on stage and firmly planted themselves in the memories of everyone present.
Folk musicians are a family and they are heavily influenced by each other, one to the next. Luft and Edwards presented a wide variety of their own fare while at the same time drawing upon a repertoire consisting of numbers representing appreciation of their peers. They were not shy about sharing the names of the artists who inspire them ranging from Canadian superstar Bruce Cockburn to Scotsman Archie Fisher and from the late Stan Rogers to the prolific Catherine MacLellan.
Attendance was broadly sourced with most license plates bearing Ontarian colours. One attendee, Angela, drove from Ottawa completely on the word-of-mouth advice of her best friend who had just seen Luft & Edwards at a concert in Nova Scotia and flagged them as “Oh my God, you must see!”
While many events struggle with diversity in demographic appeal, such was not the case here. From toddler to pensioner, The Small Glories brought them all out and in.
You are well-advised to book early when next they’re at the winery and leave room for dessert.
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