October 14, 2010 @
The Waverley Hotel, Cumberland
Canadian urban roots music
Where does the name Po’ Girl come from?
The name Po’ Girl is a nod to the women of New Orleans who at the time of the railroad strikes gathered scraps of food from the restaurants and delivered the notorious Po’ Boy sandwiches to the men while they were striking. It is a nod to the solidarity of the workers, as well as to all the musical influences that came out of New Orleans that have shaped Po’ Girl’s sound.
The interplay between Allison Russell, Awna Teixeira, Benny Sidelinger, and Mikey “Lightning” August is truly something to behold. They are distinct voices with incredible harmonies; multiple instrumentalists who bring the perfect sound to each song and songwriters who pen poetic tunes you’ll find yourself humming. Po’ Girl showcases a wide array of instruments-from gutbucket bass, accordion, clarinet, banjo, dobro, guitar, to electric bass, glockenspiel, piano, harmonica, bicycle bells, drums– and they all frequently trade off instruments with each song. Their fluid and joyous musicality is one of the group’s most endearing and irresistible features.
Impossible to put this band in a tidy little box—they’re equally at home in Douala, Cameroon playing the Massao World Music Festival, as they are at the International Jazz Festival in Montreal, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Woodford Music Festival in Australia or just playing for fun for the people in Vondel Park, Amsterdam.
Suffice to say Po’ Girl makes 21st Century roots music, urban roots – never derivative, not faithfully aping a beloved tradition. Russell, Teixeira, Sidelinger, and August don’t re-hash the old forms, they reshape and reinvigorate them for new ears. Like genuine gypsies, they wander and play – out on the international road bringing their unique brand of pan North Americana to a widespread audience 250 to 300 days of the year… Always restless, more often than not bone-tired, they write their flashes of sadness, their loss, their good love, their faint dreams of home into songs that matter deeply to them. Like any good art, they are little acts of self-rescue. So you should listen. You aren’t much different from them, and who couldn’t use a little rescuing these days?