The Next Big Thing: Bound For Glory
All aspiring musicians like attention. But hype is a double-edged sword. Getting called The Next Big Thing can turn an obscure artist into a household name-or it can crush young bands under the weight of unreasonable expectations All aspiring musicians like attention. But hype is a double-edged sword. Getting called The Next Big Thing can turn an obscure artist into a household name-or it can crush young bands under the weight of unreasonable expectations.
With this caveat in mind, I’ve selected four aspiring acts from the hundreds that make music in Winnipeg for the Free Press’ second semi-annual shortlist of artists on the brink. The criteria for selection were simple: They needed to be relatively new, they had to be doing something innovative, unusual or popular and make some kind of impact in their respective genres.
What didn’t matter was whether they’re going to be the Next BigThing.
The Wailin’ Jennys
Formation: January 2002
The Sound: Three female singer/songwriters merged into a single voice.
The Goods: Sometimes, new musical projects take on a life of their own. That’s what happened to former singer/songwriters Ruth Moody, Cara Luft, and Nicky Mehta after they collaborated for what was supposed to be a one-off gig at tiny Sled Dog Music in January.
Within days, the roots trio was besieged with gig offers that dwarfed the work being offered each individual solo artist. They now have summer gigs lined up at folk festivals in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto, Brandon, and Vancouver Island, without even so much as a recording to their name.
"We were just amazed by the response," says Mehta, who put out a contemporary folk solo album last year.
"This thing has an energy of its own and we decided to just go with it," adds Moody, who left Scruj MacDuhk in October after five years with the folk troupe. "It’s an example of hard work in each of our own (careers) paying off."
The Wailin’ Jennys, which takes its name from deceased country artist Waylon Jennings ("We chose it before he died," says Mehta.) has two big things going for it. First, there’s the way the component voices interact-Moody is a natural soprano, Mehta sings mezzo, and Luft is an alto. Secondly, they package themselves as four acts in one to folk festivals, who are able to program three separate singer/songwriters on to workshop stages as well as the trio.
"This allows us to all have fun again," Mehta says. "I’m excited to go on tour."