Po’ Girls off on folk

By Garth Paulson

Trish Klein isn’t much of a Bryan Adams fan. At least, that’s the impression I get when talking to her on a scorching Saturday afternoon in Calgary. I was sequestered in a ventilation-void Gauntlet office talking to Klein and band-mate Allison Russell, collectively known as the jazzy-country-blues-folk band Po’ Girl, who were in the considerably more enviable position of getting ready for an appearance at the Vancouver Folk Festival. Before letting them go, though, I just had to get this idea I’ve had spinning around in my head for some time out into the open. I proposed the creation of a Canadian super band, of sorts: take everyone from Po’ Girl and get them together with the Be Good Tanyas (who Klein is also a part of), bring Carolyn Mark and Neko Case along for the ride and, to really make things interesting, throw in Bryan Adams.

“That’s a long ways away,” laughs Klein, referring to Mr. Adams. “We know Neko and Carolyn, we’ve played shows with them so I guess we could get together form some sort of über-band, but not with Bryan Adams. Maybe Ryan Adams… I could do that.”

Damn, looks like my ill-conceived dreams of rock and roll blasphemy will never come to fruition. I’ll have to stick with what I’ve got, and in the form of Po’ Girl, that’s pretty fine by me. Whether writing compositions of their own or updating traditional songs, Po’ Girl puts a fresh spin on roots like few others can. Their songs are full of powerful arrangements using a wide array of instruments highlighting the most gorgeous harmonies heard in music today.

The band has been busy touring in support of their 2003 self-titled debut, as well as gearing up for their next album to be released in September. Russell explains this album will feature a pleasant mix of the things that made their debut so strong, while adding important new elements.

“The album will be a departure in the sense that the band is now three,” she says (Diona Davies joined the band shortly after the release of Po’ Girl). “Diona is an important voice on the album, things have changed but it is still recognizably Po’ Girl.”

Fans will get the chance to preview the band’s new material during their appearances at the Calgary Folk Music Festival from July 22-25.

“Folk Fests are great. They’re my favourite type of show. I’d play them for the rest of my life if I could,” explains Russell in her bouncy, up-beat voice.

This enthusiasm seems at odds with Po’ Girls often dark lyrics. A quick listen to their first album reveals a fascination with society’s down and out. Klein gives a simple explanation of the bands’ intrigue with the vagabond lifestyle.

“We all ran away from home when we were young, we know about life on the streets, about being marginalized. Our own experiences are told in our songs.”

The opportunity to witness those experiences first-hand will be available this weekend in what promises to be one this year’s Folk Festival highlights. Just don’t expect Bryan Adams to be making any surprise appearances.

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