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Wail the night away with Wailin’ Jennys
Ruth Moody can’t wait to get on the road again with The Wailin’ Jennys. Ruth Moody can’t wait to get on the road again with The Wailin’ Jennys. The all-female folk trio of Moody, Heather Masse and Nicky Mehta took about a one-year break from touring because Mehta gave birth to twins about eight months ago.
"The break has been really good and now we are recharged," Moody said in a phone interview Tuesday from her home in Toronto. "We are rejuvenated and have a new and exciting energy to what we are doing."
The Wailin’ Jennys perform at 7:30 p.m. April 9 at the Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center, 10020 S.E. 256th St. They open a nationwide tour April 8 in Portland. They play in Mount Vernon and Friday Harbor after Kent and then head to North Carolina.
The trio has had several Bluegrass hits. The group often is featured on "A Prairie Home Companion," a popular National Public Radio show hosted by Garrison Keillor.
In fact, The Wailin’ Jennys were in Seattle March 27 at the Paramount Theater for a live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion."
"We had a great time," Moody said. "We’ve done a bunch of shows with them over the years, probably over a dozen."
Concertgoers soon discover what makes The Wailin’ Jennys so entertaining.
"We are known for our three-part harmony," Moody said. "That’s our thread throughout the show."
The trio mixes a little bit of pop, Celtic, country and jazz to give audiences a variety of songs. Many of the songs are original, since all three women are songwriters. They also perform cover songs.
"We do a lot of acapella and a little humor," Moody said. "But people really like the harmony and we do a very healthy dose of that."
In addition to singing, Moody plays guitar, accordion, banjo and bodhran (a Celtic drum). Mehta plays guitar, harmonica and a drum kit. Masse plays the upright bass. Jeremy Penner, a fiddler and mandolinist, also tours with the group.
"We call him our boy Jenny," Moody said.
The variety of instruments played by the women and Penner gives the group plenty of options.
"We’re pretty diverse," Moody said. "We cover a lot of different sounds. It keeps things interesting for our fans when we can change it up."
The name of the band itself draws a lot of interest. It’s a pun on the name of country singer Waylon Jennings, and one of many names suggested by a friend of Moody and Mehta when they formed the group in 2002.
"We just wanted to use our names," Moody said. "But a friend was convinced we would go beyond that one show and said we should have a name. A lot of the names we rejected."
But Moody, Mehta and Cara Luft, who later left the trio, didn’t really think they were forming a group when they got together to sing for what they thought would be one show at a Winnipeg, Manitoba guitar shop. The solo artists were such a hit as a trio that one show sold out as well as a second show and all of a sudden the group got bookings and started to tour.
"We’ve had a couple of lineup changes over the years but it’s been an amazing journey," Moody said.
The group’s most recent album is "Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House," recorded in 2008 at a concert in Pennsylvania and released in 2009. They plan to release a new album this fall.
"We all love performing and connecting with the audience," Moody said. "It’s a powerful experience. We’re all writers and it’s rewarding when people respond to a song you wrote. And we all love singing in harmony. That’s what keeps us going."