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What’s In A Name? 

It’s arguably the catchiest name to grace a folk band since Scruj MacDuhk appeared on the Canadian folk scene. But while The Wailin’ Jennys-Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody, and Cara Luft-admit they’d love to be able to claim credit for their inspired moniker, Mehta confesses that it was bestowed on them by a friend with a penchant for dreaming up evocative band names For The Wailin’ Jennys, hopefully a shortcut to the top of the folk scene It’s arguably the catchiest name to grace a folk band since Scruj MacDuhk appeared on the Canadian folk scene. But while The Wailin’ Jennys-Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody, and Cara Luft-admit they’d love to be able to claim credit for their inspired moniker, Mehta confesses that it was bestowed on them by a friend with a penchant for dreaming up evocative band names.

"We didn’t have a name until after out first show was arranged," she explains. "A mutual friend who booked the show said, ‘I think The Wailin’ Jennys is a great name’, and everyone loved it right off the bat. At the Folk Alliance show in Florida, people came to our showcase based on the name alone." But the large fan base and critical attention they’ve received since forming in January of 2002 has less to do with the trio’s name than it does with its members’ instrumental and songwriting prowess, imaginative arrangements and, particularly, their spine-tingling harmonies. "Three-part harmony is very attractive to people," Mehta says. "It’s very rooted in time historically and it’s just something that people really respond to for some reason."

All three Jennys had gained prior recognition for their own CDs and careers: Mehta and Luft as singer-songwriters and Moody as a member of Scruj MacDuhk. But since its inception, demand for the trio at festivals and other venues is such that the Jennys have been left feeling, as Mehta puts it, "surprised, awed, amazed, and humbled." For this reason, the three musicians have put their individual careers on the backburner for the time being. "The emphasis is on the Jennys right now," says Mehta. "There us almost exclusive interest (from promoters) in the trio. We’re willing to go with that right now, especially because we’re doing our own original material within the band."

Actually, their eponymous debut EP is a mix of originals and covers, including Daniel Lanois’ tune "Deeper Well" and a version of Leadbelly’s "Bring Me A L’il Water, Silvy" that would have sounded right at home on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack. But their next CD will feature mainly originals-despite the fact that, according to Mehta, The Wailin’ Jennys have not had a lot of time to write, largely because of their constant, often hectic touring schedule. But, she adds, touring with the Jennys is a pleasure. "It’s really much nicer than touring alone," she says. "You know, strength in numbers."