Moving here from Regina some years ago was a pretty easy transition. Like most government towns across the country, people seem to behave similarly. There’s a kind of courtesy you don’t find in other cities that felt like home when I arrived. Plus there was an added bonus: stuff actually happens here. A welcome change to be sure. But don’t get me wrong, I still consider myself a prairie girl at heart. And even after eight years I still miss three things: the sun (it doesn’t quit year-round – no matter how cold it gets), the endless sky (which makes for beautiful sunsets), and being able to enjoy the occasional Little Miss Higgins show.
Born in Alberta, raised in Texas and lived all over western Canada since the age of 13, Little Miss Higgins (AKA Jolene Higgins) looks and sounds like she came from another time. Influences from the old country blues and jazz of the 1900s are evident whether she sings of freight trains, tornadoes or panties. With lips painted red, her big voice and passionate lyrics draw you into her world and keep you there long after the performance has finished.
For her latest album, Bison Ranch Recording Sessions, Higgins teamed up with a group of musicians she penned The Winnipeg Five (AKA the F-Holes: Jimmie James McKee, Eric Lemoine, Blake Thomson, Patrick Alexandre Leclerc and Evan Friesen). Recorded live over three weeks in April at the Renaissance Bison Ranch near La Broquerie, Manitoba, the group produced an authentic sound reminiscent of the way her influences recorded music – in a non-traditional work space where the music feels alive and the sound is infused with the background noise of its environment. In this case, it was the occasional cracking noise of a wood-burning oven or a crow cawing.
The above video of Moonlit Picnic gives you a peek at the recording process and an idea of what to expect at either of their two shows this weekend. If, like me, you are yearning for a dose of that prairie sun, this show is sure to warm your soul.
Little Miss Higgins and The Winnipeg Five are at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield on Friday, November 29. Tickets are $15 in advance. They will be at The Branch Restaurant in Kemptville, with opening act Birdie Whyte on Saturday, November 30. Tickets are $25.