A sold-out crowd waits in semi-darkness. Outside, a van pulls up and five beautiful rag-tag misfits carrying all manner of instruments saunter through the back door. They head unapologetically, past the frantic promoter, and onto the stage.
Po'Girl starts the show. In typical Po'Girl fashion. On time…and at the last minute.
Po'Girl is made up of Allie, Awna, Trish, John and Diona. Their strength is in the power of gentle. This is very compelling.
Po'Girl started innocently enough back in 2002 when Allie and Trish, then flophouse room-mates in East Vancouver, formed a duo. Their sole intent: singing 'creaky old jazz songs'.
Two years later, the duo found they had become, among other things, a five piece band of multi-instrumentalists. Signed to Nettwerk Records (their first album Vagabond Lullabies came out in 2004), these folk festival darlings soon were headlining venues of enviable size and sharing stages with the likes of David Byrne, Richie Havens, Ani DiFranco, Michael Franti, Utah Philips and Penny Lang.
As well, Po’ Girl began to notice how they were constantly on tour: Canada, the States, Europe even. What does their tour itinerary for spring 2007 look like? Australia, New York, Ireland, Spain, Africa. No problem. They'll be there.
Home to You, Po’Girl’s new record has captured the breezy, summer night feeling that their live show evokes. And thematically, it seems that the last two years of solid touring have had an effect. Most of the new material is about travel, longing and the notion of 'home'. All self-confessed former 'teen-age runaways', it appears that Po’ Girl has found their new 'home'- together, driving down a winding road in Shaggy the Love Van. The songs have become gorgeous documentations of this feeling.
Truly a collective effort, Home to You features songs written and delivered by each band member. Po’ Girl boasts no official 'front man'. Everyone gets a turn. And as the band expands in size, (Diona joined in '03, Awna in '05 and studio engineer John became the official tour drummer in '04) it does the same in proficiency. The result is that many more musical styles weave their way into this fellowship known as Po’ Girl.
For example, Alli's 'To the Angry Evangelist' sounds like a furious Billie Holiday fronting a killer klezmer combo. Awna's song, 'Drive All Night' has such an infectiously catchy pop feel to it that there ought to be a vaccine. Trish, who, need we mention is also in the Be Good Tanyas, lends her voice to the album's opener 'Skies of Grey'.
Home to You will no doubt be placed in the Roots section at record stores, especially since the song arrangements feature accordion, washtub bass, clarinet, banjo and violin. But with the addition of masterful human beat box freestyler C.R. Avery on 'Nine Hours to Go', and Chris Brown (of Chris and Kate) sitting in on organ, the Pop or Soul sections could certainly serve as a good home as well.
Po' Girl finds devout fans wherever they go. And the word is spreading. Anyone who is attracted to the age-old universal story of a ‘rag-tag down-on-their-luck group of misfits who bands together to take over the world’ will surely find a home here. And who doesn't like that story?