Canada's Kathleen Edwards, one of the featured performers scheduled to appear at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado next week, was recently profiled here. During our interview, she answered a few questions related to the festival and performing live, while also revealing one of her hidden talents.
Last visit to the Rocky Mountain Folk Festival? 2006. I can't believe it's been that long.
What do you remember about it? Any highlights? Well, (Planet Bluegrass founder and director) Craig Ferguson, who books the festival, couldn't be more kind and welcoming and he's really made it easy to say yes every time I get asked to go down there. For some reason, that or Telluride, those two festivals just are super-welcoming and the catering is always awesome and I'm always loved and taken care of. The first time I went down and played there, some really good friends of mine who play in a band called Blue Rodeo were playing the same night, and so it felt a little bit like I was bringing my boys down to play the festival. Just really a good vibe. I like festivals that aren't too big, and they seem to be just the right size.
Are you playing solo or with a band at the festival? I'm a three-piece. Gord Tough, who's my guitar player, and Jim Bryson, who plays guitar. They both sing with me and Jim plays a bit of keyboards, too. We kind of do a bit of a different show. I couldn't bring the full band down for it.
Go-to instrument in concert? Well, you can't go wrong with a 1957 Les Paul Jr. playing through a Vox AC-10. That's pretty much a winner.
Go-to cover in concert? Lately, it's been "September Gurls" by Big Star. 'Cause there's nothing hotter than singing a chorus that says "December boys got it bad." ... We might actually learn a different cover song for the show. I've been trying to learn "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard. But, you know, you can't buy digitally any Def Leppard. The only downside to that is you have to watch the video on YouTube over and over to get the track. So I realized that part of the reason I probably want to play that song is because my hair really looks like I should be in that band. Man, out of hand. ... There's no taming this thing I got going on. All the world's conditioner will not help me.
If you had to choose: Plugged, unplugged or a cappella? Oh, definitely plugged. It's just satisfying to be loud. ... I have a lot of people coming up to me at the end of the show going, "God, you really rock."
What was your worst festival experience, either as a performer or spectator? Well, I wouldn't say it was the worst festival experience because the catering was absolutely extraordinary, but a few summers ago (2008) I played Pemberton, which is this area north of Whistler. And they had a huge music festival up there with Coldplay and the Flaming Lips and the Tragically Hip, and I was one of the performers. And they really fucked up in the transportation part of the festival. And we were sitting in a van for about 3 1/2 hours, 4 hours with our gear to go about 5 miles. And half the people who actually flew out to see me play turned around and missed my set, like my manager and all sorts of people 'cause you couldn't even get to the festival. Most people just pulled off to the side of the road and started walking by the time they realized they weren't going to make it.
Just like Woodstock? Yeah, I guess so. Except without the cool parts. ... The festival was awesome, though. ... We got there just in the nick of time.
Dream collaborator in concert? Ummm. Well, I am very partial to Jim James from My Morning Jacket's voice. I love singing with him. But I think the dream collaboration for me would be to sing on "I'm Afraid of Everyone" with the National. If I could get up and sing backup vocals on that song, I would be pretty happy.
Who are you looking forward to seeing perform at the festival? I love Neko Case (performing August 19). She's probably the best female singer in North America. And she writes really interesting music and I think she's probably gonna play some new songs from her new record. So that's pretty cool. But I do love Kasey Chambers a lot. And she and I have been missing each other for about five years and we've never met. So I'm pretty excited to meet her. (To commemorate their first meeting, Edwards was planning to bring some rye whiskey to share with Chambers, who plays August 18, the day after Edwards, but might miss her again because of their travel schedules.)
Best late-night TV atmosphere for a musician -- Leno, Letterman, Fallon or someone else? If I answer that, I'll never get invited to back to the ones I didn't pick. You know, I can't help it, I'm a Letterman girl. And they are so good to me. There's nothing cooler than finding out that Dave Letterman's a fan of your music. Like wow. That puts things in perspective sometimes. You're like, "Things are going pretty good."
What's something most people don't know about yourself? I'm an expert whitewater canoeist. ... I did a lot until I was about 22. I used to guide trips. I spent a lot of my summers canoeing and did some pretty incredible wilderness trips when I was younger. I still get in the boat once in awhile (in Canada) and can handle myself. ... I'm a portage maniac.
Publicity photo by Todd V. Wolfson.