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PLAYING SONGS AND SHARING STORIES

Good Lovelies exude good chemistry in the studio and onstage

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Inside the latest Good Lovelies album, Let the Rain Fall, group members Caroline Brooks, Sue Passmore and Kerri Ough are pictured in a rowboat, wearing yellow slickers and matching floppy hats, with huge smiles on their faces.

There’s no collective thought bubble above them, but what’s running through their minds seems pretty clear: That’s right, we’re all in the same boat — ha ha. And more than five years into the good-natured, tight-knit Canadian folk band’s career, there’s no indication that these band mates/good friends have any plans to jump ship.

On the eve of a U.S. tour that starts along the West Coast and hits the Midwest, Brooks talked about her group’s chemistry, some of the songs on Let the Rain Fall — including the cover of a rap tune that’s popular in Canada — and much more.

Medleyville.us: What is your most vivid memory from the first Good Lovelies show back in 2006 at Toronto’s historic Gladstone Hotel?
Caroline Brooks: “For me, the standout moment from our very first show was the reaction to our version of ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’ Throughout that show we had been singing in a round, taking turns independently performing our very sad ballads about longing and love, but we had decided to collaborate on a few Christmas tunes, as the show was in mid-December. The crowd’s reaction to those upbeat, happy tunes — and particularly our klezmer-swing version of ‘God Rest Ye’ — was an indication that we had really tapped into something special.”

There’s a lot of personality and humor in the Good Lovelies’ music and stage show. Were these elements evident right away when the group formed, or did they develop and change over time? And are there any artists who inspired the band to cultivate these characteristics?
Brooks: “Great question! It was evident from the start that our chemistry offstage was easily transferable to the show. As entertainers we are as interested in the spaces between songs as we are the songs themselves. We found early on that it was easy to make a room feel smaller if we shared personal stories and silly anecdotes from the road with our audiences. And because of our great relationships with one another outside of music, this was fairly easy — we are three buddies sharing our lives. And it’s often silly!

“Kerri once saw Flight of the Conchords live and told us about a bit they had that made her chuckle. They said something like, ‘Some of you are here to hear us sing, so you’ll have to wait through the stories. Some of you are here because you like our stories, so you’ll have to wait through the songs.’ We hope people come for both in our case!

“Artists like Jann Arden, Old Man Luedecke, Lynn Miles and Joel Plaskett are all very good at using humor onstage. It’s all about timing, as we have learned, and watching these very experienced performers is inspiring. We’re working on the show, all of its elements, all of the time. It’s a continuous process.”

Talk about the decision to cover “Crabbuckit” by k-os. In what ways did it appeal to the band? And was there any trepidation about how your fans would react to the group covering a rap song?
Brooks: “No trepidation whatsoever! Our audiences have always been very open-minded and appreciate the way we ‘Good Lovelified’ that song. ‘Crabbuckit’ is a very popular song in Canada, and it was an easy choice for us; the original hip-hop version naturally has that swing element that we love, and the lyrics are super interesting and a mouthful, which is a fun challenge to sing in three-part harmony. It’s been received very well — can’t wait to finally meet k-os and find out what he thinks.”

Who inspired “Mrs. T.”? And are the Rita and David mentioned in the same song real people or composite-type characters?
Brooks: ” ‘Mrs. T.’ was written while I was visiting my husband in rural Quebec a couple of years ago. He was there learning French in an immersion program. As a fluent French speaker, surrounded by people learning the language, I got to thinking about communication and how we talk to one another. This made me think of Mrs. T., a wonderful French-Canadian woman I know who has lived most of her life in her second language, English. It was a starting point for the song and became the song title.

“Rita and David are real people, too. Rita was my high school creative writing teacher, and David was one of my university professors. Both of them are extremely talented in communicating. They all got their own verse!”

While the band is on tour, what are the rules with regard to who controls the radio?
Brooks: “Rule No. 1: Driver gets veto power. Truth be told, we rarely listen to the radio on tour, unless we’ve lucked out with a car rental at Christmas time that has satellite radio and we can listen to [the] ’40s on 4 [channel]! Christmas music 24/7 — ha!

“We all take turns DJing off our iPods. Sue and Kerri both have great taste, and I know I can count on them for new, interesting music.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Good Lovelies on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Feb. 3: Chapel on Echo Bay — Fox Island, Wash.
* Feb. 4: Pacific University — Forest Grove, Ore.
* Feb. 7: Panida Theater — Sandpoint, Idaho
* Feb. 8: Salmon Elks Hall — Salmon, Idaho
* Feb. 10: Myrna Loy Center — Helena, Mont.
* Feb. 11: Ellen Theatre — Bozeman, Mont.
* Feb. 14: Nampa Civic Center — Nampa, Idaho
* Feb. 15: Colonial Theater — Idaho Falls, Idaho
* Feb. 17: Paul W. Ogle Cultural and Community Center — New Albany, Idaho
* Feb. 18: Hall-Moser Theater — Portland, Ind.
* Feb. 24, 25: College Du Page — Chicago
* Feb. 26: Jasper Arts Center — Jasper, Ind.