Wailin’ Jennys draw on natural world for songs

Beck and Finn Johnson set the play list at Nicky Mehta’s place. The twin boys are only 5 years old,
The Wailin' Jennys are, from left, Heather Masse, Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta.
The Wailin' Jennys are, from left, Heather Masse, Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta.

Categories: Entertainment

Beck and Finn Johnson set the play list at Nicky Mehta’s place.

The twin boys are only 5 years old, but they’ve already banned mom Nicky and dad Grant Johnson from dancing or singing in the house.

“They’re serious about it,” Mehta said. “They just can’t handle the sounds of our voices and I guess they’re already embarrassed by our dance moves.”

The kids have zero input when Nicky is out of the house, and she’ll be out of the house tonight when Canadian folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys perform at The Egg in Albany’s Empire State Plaza.

Opening act

The Stray Birds find inspiration as they travel

The vocal Jennys — soprano Ruth Moody and alto Heather Masse will join mezzo Mehta on stage — are headlining a show that also features roots music trio The Stray Birds.

“We’ve been touring monthly, we’re not out as much as we used to be,” said Mehta, in a telephone interview from her song- and dance-free home in Winnipeg, Canada. “We have kids now, but we usually go out for a few dates a month.”

The Wailin’ Jennys with The Stray Birds

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. tonight

WHERE: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany

HOW MUCH: $46.25-$36.25

MORE INFO: 473-1845, www.theegg.org

The Jennys have been together since 2002, when Mehta, Moody and Cara Luft got together for a performance at a Winnipeg guitar shop. Other performances followed, and the name Wailin’ Jennys was suggested — a pun on the name of country singer Waylon Jennings. Luft resumed her solo career in 2005; Masse joined in 2007.

While the Jennys might not be around as much as they used to be, they’re still singing the same kinds of songs, and playing the same kinds of instruments. Moody plays guitar, accordion, banjo and bodhrán (an Irish drum) while Mehta plays guitar, harmonica, drums and ukulele. Masse is on upright bass.

Richard Moody, Ruth’s brother, is on stage with violin, viola and mandolin.

“There are a lot of philosophical songs about our place in the world and sort of looking to the natural world as a way of guiding us,” Mehta said.

“Just big life things, I think. We have a few love songs thrown in there, but I think we all just kind of have that curiosity about how the cosmos works and how we fit into it.”

Mehta believes fans find hope and comfort in the Jennys’ songs. “Which is why we’re all in it,” she said. “It’s a really gratifying thing to be able to do that and get that kind of feedback. Performance is where you get so much payback for the work you’ve put in.”

For the show at The Egg, the Jennys will play a mix of old and new songs from the group’s collection of four studio albums. The most recent album was 2011’s “Bright Morning Stars.”

“We’re due for an album,” Mehta said. “We’re actually overdue for a new album. So with everybody juggling so many different things, we’re just trying to figure out a time when everybody can come together and record an album. We’re in talks right now, we’re trying to figure that out.”

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

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