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Three-Part Perfection 

The Wailin' Jennys come to the Tower

The Wailin' Jennys sound like peace. Heather Masse, Nicky Mehta, and Ruth Moody's distinctly different voices blend together so flawlessly that they create a seamless whole. The common ground between makes each of their records a delicate balance between alt-country, folk, and something altogether more ephemeral.

The Canadian group started in 2002 when a guitar shop in Winnipeg brought Moody, Mehta, and Cara Luft together for a one-off performance. The three were already established singer/songwriters in Canada and the show was supposed to be one-night-only, but the night was so well-received they became a super group overnight.

The group released its American debut LP, "40 Days," in 2004, featuring songs written by each member of the trio, some traditional tunes, and covers of Neil Young and John Hiatt.

Cara Luft left the band before their sophomore release, "Firecracker," in 2006. Annabelle Chvostek joined the group, bringing an edgy alto tone to Moody's elegant soprano and Mehta's exquisite mezzo and beautiful guitar.

In 2009 the group released its first live album, "Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House," which was recorded over one performance instead of an entire tour. Chvostek left the group, and the band's current lineup was solidified with the addition of Masse as their third alto (plus killer bassist) and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Penner as a sideman.

"Bright Morning Stars" from 2011 is The Jennys' latest album, and it is good enough to make the wait for their next one even more difficult. The sound is fuller, the harmonies more layered, and it is arguably the best record of their career so far.

We interviewed Ruth Moody recently about life and music:

Source Weekly: Is there an aspect of musicianship you find the most rewarding?

Ruth Moody: I like it all. There are definite challenges to being on the road all the time, but there is nothing like connecting with an audience. It's a really special thing to be able to sing your songs for people who are open and listening and know that it's making some kind of a positive impact.

SW: What can someone expect from a Wailin' Jennys show if they've never seen you live before?

RM: Three-part harmony is the signature theme. We play acoustic folk music with influences from all sorts of genres and traditions: bluegrass, old-time, Celtic, country. There are a lot of instruments, too—guitars, banjo, ukulele, accordion, bodhrán, harmonica, bass, drums. My brother plays viola, fiddle and mandolin, and Adam plays electric guitar. The songs are generally serious and we write and sing from the heart, but we have a lot of fun up there, and tell stories.

SW: What do you hope your music brings to people's consciousness?

RM: I think all three of us would like to think we are making some kind of difference in this crazy world. Singing and songs can be a powerful and healing thing. And I think there is something profound, even spiritual, about three-part harmony that can be uplifting for people, and help them feel connected.

The Wailin' Jennys

Sunday, July 24, 7pm

Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St., Bend


About The Author

Jared Rasic

Film critic and author of food, arts and culture stories for the Source Weekly since 2010.
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