Annie Lou: strings and storytelling

Group hits the road with Juno nominated album, heads for Harrison Hot Springs

Fresh on the heels of two Canadian Folk Music nominations and chart topping radio play with her new album Grandma’s Rules for Drinking, Annie Lou will be bringing original string band music on her CD release tour to the Harrison Memorial Hall, Saturday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m.

Annie Lou is built around the original songwriting of Anne Louise Genest, who spent twenty years living in the Yukon woods. Now relocated to the balmier shores of Vancouver Island, Genest carries the spirit of an old storyteller inside her, and this voice, mixed with the string band sounds of fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin and upright bass, traces a journey through days gone by to the here and now.

Genest founded Annie Lou after finding herself drawn to old time mountain and traditional country music.   It was in these older musical traditions that she found her muse and set out to explore her original music in the context of old time string band sounds.

“This music has a profound edge to it – there in the voices and in the playing is the lament we all carry as people trying to get by in this beautiful, terrible world”, says Genest. “Joy and grief are two sides of the same coin. The older music expresses that tension so perfectly.”

Genest’s first outing as Annie Lou brought  2010 Juno and WCMA nominations, and this latest release,  “Grandma’s Rules for Drinking”, brought nominations for English Songwriter of the Year and Solo Artist of the Year at the 2012 Canadian Folk Music Awards.  The album was at the top of the International Folk DJ charts for November, taking the #1 and #2 spots for top songs, as well as the top Canadian album spot, coming in at #2 on the international list in a tie with Iris Dement.

“Grandma’s Rules for Drinking” features beautifully crafted songs that range from rousing and boisterous to gentle and poignant.  They map a homescape of hard drinking grandmas, rural dancehalls, blue collar fashions, and the deep snows and silences of a Canadian winter.

Touring with Annie Lou are some of Canada’s finest acoustic musicians, including Genest (guitar, banjo, vocals), with Kim Barlow (banjo, guitar, vocals), Andrew Collins on mandolin, fiddle, and vocals and Max Heineman on double bass and vocals.  Collins, a multiple Juno nominee and founding member of some of Canada’s most celebrated string bands (including The Creaking Tree String Quartet) is an accomplished composer and multi-instrumentalist.  Heineman is a vocalist and bass player known for his work with The Foggy Hogtown Boys, and Barlow is a well known Juno nominated singer-songwriter.

With such a powerhouse of a lineup, Annie Lou’s CD release tour promises to deliver great songwriting, great playing, and a really good old time!  Saturday, January 26 at the Harrison Memorial Hall.  Tickets are $22 and can be purchased by phone at 604-796-3664,  online at www.harrisonfestival.com or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison, or Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart.

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