Two Alberta musicians have teamed up to launch their respective new CDs on ‘Allen and Alexander’s Dirty Laundry Dual CD Release Tour 2011’.
Leslie Alexander and Jenny Allen perform their ‘roots-based original tunes’ at The Hideout Oct. 6. The tour features harmony vocals, guitars, washboard, harmonica and other assorted instruments with the women playing everything from flat-out folk-rock to more intimate fare.
They actually launched the tour this past April and plan on performing straight through to next spring.
“We’ve already been to Montreal and back, and plan on some dates on the east coast next spring,” explains Alexander during a recent interview.
Alexander’s latest project, Nobody’s Baby, features the homegrown artist at her earthy best. She grew up on a sheep farm south of Calgary and although she didn’t come from an overly musical family it wasn’t long before she had a yearning to hit the road as a performer. Allen’s latest offering is called Blanket.
“I always loved music,” she recalls, adding her Grade 1 teacher told her she had a nice singing voice and maybe one day would be a professional singer. She chuckles at the memory, but remains grateful for the encouragement.
Through her youth, her parents encouraged Alexander and her siblings to plan on attending university – although they were a tad wary of their daughter exploring a career in music.
Looking back now, Alexander understands their early concerns as she spent time busking on Vancouver streets as she honed her musical talents. It wasn’t really until her first CD was released back in 1996 that the folks realized music could provide Alexander a living. She also credits accomplished producer John Ellis with helping her define her sound that much further.
Meanwhile, although the monetary rewards, such as they are, certainly aren’t what keep her in the business, she adds with a laugh.
“It’s really about the feeling I get when I write a song – it’s kind of like self-therapy. And then when you share that song with an audience and they clap, and you realize you weren’t the only one that felt that way, it’s great.”
What’s also making her path a delight is sharing the stage with her good pal Jenny Allen, who hails originally from Calgary and is also something of a folk festival favourite. The two had each been in the music biz for several years before their paths began crossing at various gigs and festivals.
At one engagement, Alexander recalls standing next to Allen on stage as part of a bigger performance, and it was clear their voices blended naturally.
A friendship soon formed, and the pair embarked on a tour together last year promoting their respective releases. It proved not just a creatively-rich time, but an absolute blast as well. Performing is indeed a rewarding experience, but when you get to hit the stage with a buddy, its all the more enjoyable, she says.
“We found that we have a similar feel for melody and composition.”
For the current tour, they’re both pretty much onstage the entire show backing each other up, with the first half being kind of ‘Jenny-heavy’ and the second half more ‘Leslie-heavy’, she adds with a chuckle.
With fans stretching across Canada and far into the States, Allen has opened for a range of artists from Taj Mahal to Shawn Colvin. Besides her latest CD Blanket, she has also released two roots-folk indie projects Something to Say and If I Fall to wide critical acclaim.