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Po' Girl on the Road with Peter Mulvey

Venue: One Longfellow Square, Portland ME ~ April 1, 2011 ~

Apr 13, 2011
Kimmy Sophia Brown

TheCanadian band, Po’ Girl is one of my favorite bands in all the world so needless to say I was not happy when the weather man said that we were getting an April Fool’s snowstorm the day of their show. But fortunately, the weather succumbed to the old adage that the show must go on and my God – it certainly did!!

Allison Russell and Awna Texiera are like enchanted panpipes -- the musicflows through them like fiber optic cables. Their faces are beautiful and luminous when they sing almost so I can hardly dare look at them. It almost seems too intimate to witness. There’s no posturing or attitude, just humble and honest vulnerability. Benny Sidelinger on dobro and Mikey ‘Lightning’ August on drums are wonderful as well, catching us up in their sound like a chariot to heaven.

Po' GirlFor anyone who hasn’t heard Po’ Girl they classify themselves asUrban Roots Music. Influences from folk, jazz, and ethnic gene pools are evident too but they are hard to classify. They are like a lot of artists who are so talented and diverse in ability that they serve as cross pollinating musical bees.

Po’ Girl performed songs from theirnew album, “Follow Your Bliss”, as well as some of their older tunes. They are proficient on a wide array of instruments; Benny plays dobro/slide guitar and banjo, Allison plays banjo, guitar, ukulele, glockenspiel(!) and clarinet, Awna dazzles on the gut-bucket bass, electric bass, guitar, and accordion, and Mikey, on loan from JT and the Clouds, plays drums. A word about Mikey. My husband and I were in the front row and couldn’t see what Mikey was doing, but our two sons were up in the balcony and looked down at him. On at least one song he played the drums and keyboard simultaneously with impeccable rhythm. Peter Mulvey, who joined them for a few tunes, was marveling at him, making appropriately amazed facial expressions at the audience. Drummers are often in the background and just don’t get enough of the spotlight! Hey Mikey, we likes it!

Benny is a luthier as well asmusician, and built some of the instruments they were playing -- among them, two new girls introduced by Allie -- a ukulele named Dinah, and a small guitar named #39, Henrietta Fenderico. Oh, and a word about building musical instruments! Inspired by Awna and her gut-bucket bass, my 17 year old son attended a songwriting workshop at the 317 Main Street Music Center, in Yarmouth Maine this week, for a high school songwriting intensive. He got to build and learn to play a gut-bucket bass! Po’ Girl intercedes with public education. Huzzah!

Po’ Girl then played two of my favorites;“Gandy Dancer”, which is a rousing, klezmer-esque kind of tune, wild with accordion and clarinet. “Mauditte Guerre”, followed on its heels, a 16th century French song about war. Allie’s impassioned, boot stomping performance, replete with red dress, was awe-inspiring.

The harmonies and musicianship thewhole evening were marvelous. After each song I found myself letting out a sigh of pleasure. They mentioned a comment from BB King who tours approximately three hundred days of the year (even now at the age of 86!) about the joy of performing and the suffering of touring. They would play for free and be willing to be paid to travel, probably a conundrum many musicians share.

One of the last songs theycollaborated on with Peter Mulvey was written by JT Nero, of JT and the Clouds, entitled “Double Helix (Rainbow)”, which is about Babar, King of the Elephants. That was followed by two foot-stomping, hand-clapping standing ovations: Peter mentioned that there was a request for a song by Townes Van Zandt, so they settled on Steve Earle’s tune, “Goodbye”. They explained that Steve was one of Towne’s greatest advocates and even named his son after him, Justin Townes Earl. Awna whispered as they began, “this song makes me cry.”

I only miss you here every now andthen
like the soft breeze blowin; up from the Caribbean
Most Novembers I break down and cry
But I can't remember if we said goodbye

And finally, they ended with a bigsplash with the song, "Rubber Duckie" written by Jeff Moss (1942-1998), one of the original creators of "Sesame Street''. A fantastic concert on what should have been a spring, but turned out to be a wintry night, whimsically sweet and gloriously satisfying! Come back to Maine soon! 

You can find out more about Po’ Girl at

For music lovers visiting Portland, Maine, I highly recommend
One Longfellow Square ~ "Portland's Premier Arts Venue"
Check them out at

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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