The Small Glories deliver an ebullient sound that explodes the stereotype of the staid folk act.
Not so much a super group as a dynamic duo, The Small Glories are comprised of songwriters Cara Luft and JD Edwards. Cara and JD joined forces several years ago for an anniversary celebration for the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg and something just clicked.
Folk music fans might know Cara from her solo career, or as a former member of The Wailin’ Jennys. JD, meanwhile, is a versatile songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has fronted his own JD Edwards Band since 2006.
We emailed with Cara recently to learn about The Small Glories – how they came together, how they compliment each other – and more. Cara was emailing from Canada’s Kootenay region where a “horrid windstorm” was wreaking havoc on her ability to communicate. Fortunately her messages got through.
You can see The Small Glories and FY5 in Daniels Hall on Friday, June 2. Get tickets and complete show details here.
You are both highly regarded and established either as solo artists or in other outfits. When you came together in The Small Glories, did that present any challenges to your other musical identities?
We both seemed ready for a bit of a shift in our respective musical careers around the time the duo started, and I don’t think we worried too much about any potential challenges to our other musical identities. If anything I think we felt that by exploring this new duo it would only strengthen us as players and singers and contribute in myriad ways to the other projects we were/are/will be connected with. We’re also not young anymore, so it was a very deliberate decision to give The Small Glories a solid shot and a chance; we knew it was now or never, we didn’t have the flexibility of time to goof around with. We both saw the potential of the project and were willing to give it the majority of our focus and energy.
You came together at an anniversary celebration for West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg. Based on what I could find online, it looks like the West End Cultural Centre has a similar vibe to Swallow Hill’s. Do you look for venues and communities like these when you are on the road?
Yes, we absolutely love finding and playing at venues that have a great community feel about them. We’ve been pretty lucky to find so many out there! We’re also big believers in creating a special community vibe no matter where we play, whether it’s a theatre or festival or house concert.
Speaking of your native Canada, in your song “Home,” you sing “mountains to the prairies, the places I have gone, all these small glories thinking about my home.” As you tour North America and beyond, what would you like your audiences in the United States to know about your home?We’ve got space!! Lots and lots and lots of space! 🙂 We love Canada, and especially Western Canada (where we’re based), and are always encouraging our friends and neighbours to the South to come check it out. I’ve recently built a tiny house on wheels and it’s currently parked in the Kootenays, probably one of the more isolated and stunning areas of the country (surrounded by mountains and glaciers and lakes and the world’s longest free in-land ferry). Winnipeg (the city where we live) is the complete opposite to the Kootenays geographically speaking, but is one of Canada’s best kept secrets. The city oozes creativity and culture. And then there are some Canadian values and institutions that we feel strongly about: universal health care, great secondary and post-secondary education, being an officially bilingual country, and a multi-cultural society (it’s even written into our Charter of Rights and Freedoms)… So, please come visit us!
As a folk duo, you are walking a tradition-rich path. Have you drawn upon any specific influences to guide you musically, or do you hope to chart a new course for what a folk duo can be? Perhaps it’s a little of both?
Definitely a little of both. I grew up in a folk-singing family and was steeped on Canadiana, Americana and British Isles traditional music and was performing with the family band from a young age. We both grew up attending church and singing there with our families, so there’s also a deep spiritual tradition that has influenced us. JD studied trombone in university and was playing everything from jazz and classical to R&B and soul. We both listened to Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and loads of singer songwriters from Canada, America and beyond. From all of this we each developed our own interpretation and take on writing and creating our own original music, and now as The Small Glories we’re exploring even more ways to chart a new course (as you say) of what a folk duo can be.
If you were initially paired by happenstance, now that you’ve established your sound, how do you see it evolving?
It’s been so interesting to see how our sound has evolved even over the few years we’ve been singing together. We hear about it from fans and friends who have followed our progression, and we also notice it in how we’ve both grown as both players and singers. I think we’ve now finally “locked in” to what we’d define as The Small Glories’ sound, which is an awesome feeling, and I also think we’re both aware that it’s still important to keep growing and changing and trying new things. We often say that one day we’re going to go electric 🙂 For now, though, our focus will be to really soak up this great “locked in” sound.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
We’re over the moon to be coming to Colorado and playing Swallow Hill! Ever since we started showcasing and touring in the States people have been saying “you need to get to Colorado!! They’d love your sound!” 🙂
This Q&A was conducted via email with Swallow Hill Music Content Marketing & Publicity Manager Barry Osborne.