2011 Western Canadian Music Award winner for Outstanding Blues Recording and Best Album Design
2010 Nominee for Maples Blues Awards: Acoustic Act Of The Year and Songwriter Of The Year!
2009 Nominee for Maple Blues Awards:
Entertainer of the Year
Female Vocalist of the Year
2009 WCMA Industry Award Nominee for the video "In the Middle of Nowhere"
2008 Western Canadian Music Award (WCMA) WINNER for Outstanding Blues Recording for "Junction City"
2008 JUNO Nominee for Blues Album of the Year for "Junction City"
2008 Indies Winner for Best Blues Artist
11th Annual Maple Blues Awards Nominee for New Artist of the Year!
LITTLE MISS HIGGINS SONG "IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE" WINS THE 2007 IMA FOR BEST BLUES SONG!
2006 Western Canadian Music Award Nominee (Outstanding Blues Recording)
From the Great Northern Plains of Western Canada, Little Miss Higgins struts and serenades her way, guitar in hand, lips blazoned red, onto any stage. As if she just drove in off the back-road of another time with gravel dust and a sunset trailing behind her, this pocket-sized powerhouse plays music brewed up in old-time country blues sprinkled with a little jazz and maybe a hint of folk.
Whether it’s songs about passion or songs about panties, she writes about real things in a rooted and poetic way.
This is all too true on her fourth release, “Across The Plains”, winner of 2011 Western Canadian Music Award for Outstanding Blues Recording and Best Album Design. A testament to the roots of the music Higgins plays, much of her singing and guitar playing is accompanied by an old-school horn section, guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, muck-bucket bass, and chunky percussion. As well as writing and performing on all the songs, Higgins coproduced the album alongside fellow musician and producer Jaxon Haldane, and designed the cover art.
Onstage she performs with partner and guitar player Foy Taylor, plus a number of other players including Joey Lorer on Upright Bass and Winnipeg band the F-Holes. She has also shared the stage with and opened for such artists as k.d. lang, Buddy Guy, Corb Lund, Big Dave McLean and Tim Williams.
Little Miss Higgins (aka Jolene Higgins) was born in Brooks, Alberta, and raised in Independence, Kansas.
Music entered her life early.
“When I was about four my dad bought this old piano at a local bar,” she recalls. “It was a mini grand piano. He brought it home and told me it was mine. I carved my name in the side and started taking piano lessons.”
Growing up playing piano, Higgins now uses guitar and voice as her main instruments as well as her theatre background to bring a “refreshing sound and story to the stage.” She spent a number of years after studying theatre at a college in Alberta, roaming Western Canada, acting in plays, frequenting blues clubs and playing her guitar. Higgins finally settled down in Saskatchewan and that’s when music took the driver’s seat.
Her stage name, Little Miss Higgins suits the undeniably inflammatory mix of her blues and country music repertoire but the moniker was largely accidental. “When I moved to Saskatchewan in 2002 I started hanging out with this Greek guy,” she recalls “He started calling me Little Miss Higgins so I used it on poster for a gig I was doing and it just stuck.”
Little Miss Higgins has built a strong national reputation across Canada, appearing in clubs and on festival stages from Vancouver Island to Iqaluit, Nunavut to Canso, Nova Scotia.
As a songwriter and musician, Higgins has been influenced by a range of early blues and jazz musicians such as Memphis Minnie, Billy Holiday, Bessie Smith, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters to country and folk artists like Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton, John Fogerty and Bob Dylan.
With her newest release, “Across The Plains” Little Miss Higgins and partner Foy Taylor toured the UK in the spring of 2011 including opening performances with k.d. lang and The Siss Boom Bang.
"Occasionally diving in to French, Jolene Higgins attacks it all - blues, country, jazz, folk and nostalgic pop - with heartwarming relish and a voice occasionally reminiscent of Calamity Jane-era Doris Day." – MOJO Magazine review of Across The Plains (4 out of five stars!!!)
"Saskatchewan's economy is boomin' and so is the province's music scene. Leading the way is blues/folk/roots singer Little Miss Higgins, who sings with the soul of a flapper."
--Sandra Sperounes, Edmonton Journal
"Unfortunately, I found myself prosecuted by the court of Murphy's Law which decreed that I not be in my seat but at the bar when Little Miss Higgins finally took to the stage. She's got a twenties or thirties sound thing goin' on and a voice that's smooth like a prohibition fog rolling in on a lake of honey surrounded by cotton ball trees... with Mint Juleps scattered around the beach, of course."
--Super Turbo Bunny
For more Info:
Little Miss Higgins Music
Depending upon the event, Little Miss Higgins plays either as a duo, trio or as a four piece. Other larger formats possible as well.
Little Miss Higgins: Guitar and Vocals
Foy Taylor: Guitar, Lap Steel and Vocals
Includes bass Player Joey Lorer
Bassist Joey Lorer
trumpet player James Mckee
or clarinet player Cedric Blary
Across the Plains (2010)
Little Miss Higgins Live: Two Nights in March (2009)
Junction City (2007)
Cobbler Shop Sessions (2005)
Little Miss Higgins (2003)
Beautiful Sun (Across the Plains LMHCD004)
The Tornado Song (Across the Plains LMHCD004)
Bargain! Shop Panties (Across the Plains LMHCD004)
Wash These Blues Away
Snowin’ Today: A Lament for Louis Riel
Hope You Don’t Feel Blue
Gather My Fruit
Glad Your Whiskey Fits Inside My Purse
The theatrical Little Miss Higgins- Canadian rocker is determined to put the show back in show business (November 2012)
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The art of music has evolved from having an emphasis on performance into more of a marketing rat-rac...The art of music has evolved from having an emphasis on performance into more of a marketing rat-race. Artists are hyping music by trying to get views on YouTube, downloads on iTunes, shares on Facebook and hits on Bandcamp. In a music industry where the charts are dominated by “Call Me Maybe” and Justin Bieber lookalikes, social media gives opportunities for aspiring musicians to showcase their music. However, our savvy social networking generation is losing the essence of raw, honest, in-the-moment live music. ?
Saskatchewan-based guitarist ?and vocalist Jolene Higgins, known by her stage name Little Miss Higgins, challenges popular music by offering a refreshing contemporary sound infused with jazz, blues and a little country twang. Her sound can be described as “roots music with a Canadiana feel.” She grew up playing classical piano, which gave her a general appreciation for music. ?
Higgins was inspired by old show tunes, musicals and classic movies, which contributed to her musical development. One of her most influential moments was when she saw Billie Holiday perform. She identified with Holiday and aspired to recapture the structure, progressions and melody of her vocal approach.?
The feeling she got from live performances resonated with Higgins, and she carried this into her involvement with theatre. Higgins, who studied theatre for three years, ended up with a full-time career in music. ?
“I always played music — it was always part of my life,” says Higgins. “The experience I got from doing theatre gives me the confidence I maybe didn’t have before as a musician.”?
Because she is trained in theatre, Higgins appreciates the value of live performances, making them a large part of her life as a musician.?
“The show is a whole component,” she says. “As soon as I walk on stage, something is going to happen between me and the audience. There is going to be an exchange of energy. I’m trying to engage the audience with not only my music, but with my personality as well and by telling stories. It is about reading the audience and reading the room.”?
Interaction with the audience makes for a great live experience, but there’s more to it than just that, says Higgins. ?
“When television and film came, theatre was challenged by that and still is to this day,” Higgins explains. “But there is nothing like live theatre. Sure, there is fantastic film and television out there as well. But going and seeing actors in the moment is a completely different experience. And I think that is the same for music. When you go watch someone perform, it is a completely different experience than listening to it online or on a CD or even watching it on a YouTube clip — you’re only as good as your last show.”?
Even though Higgins’s theatre background equipped her with a strong stage presence, she stresses that charisma is far from all that is needed to be a quality musician. For Higgins, the best advice she can give an aspiring musician is to focus on “keeping it in the moment, being true to oneself, believing in oneself and practice, practice, practice.”?
“And when it comes to writing, write from your own experiences instead of trying to think about what is popular or what is going to sell,” says Higgins. “I think more interesting things come from writing from one’s own experiences.”?
Higgins is determined to bring back the glory days of music, and will do it one city at a time. For her upcoming Calgary show she urges people to “come out, have fun and look good.”
Musings of a Prairie girl Little Miss Higgins’ latest, Across the Plains, is inspired by life in the breadbasket
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Across the Plains, indeed. Released in April, the title of Little Miss Higgins’ third studio album c...Across the Plains, indeed. Released in April, the title of Little Miss Higgins’ third studio album couldn’t be more fitting. Born in Brooks, Alta., raised in Independence, Kan., and based in Nokomis, Sask., Higgins is positively Prairie. In turn, her brand of blues is inspired by life in the breadbasket of North America.
"As an artist I hold a mirror up to nature," says Higgins, 32, whose real name is Jolene. "I just take in what’s going on around me and find inspiration there. Memphis Minnie (American blues singer-songwriter) is one of my big influences and her songwriting is so brilliant. It’s about her experiences and she turns those experiences into brilliant songs. I absolutely love that. It makes it unique as well. I find sometimes, especially with pop music, it gets so general, like ‘What was that song about?’"
Accompanied by her partner/guitarist Foy Taylor, Higgins gets into the specifics of small-town living, and the results are often rurally ridiculous. For instance, The Dirty Ol’ Tractor Song from her 2007 album Junction City, is chock full of double entendre, while Across the Plains features funny numbers such as Glad Your Whiskey Fits Inside My Purse and Bargain! Shop Panties.
"There’s a community not far from here, Watrous, it’s a little bigger than Nokomis and they have The Bargain! Shop and you know, I like a bargain," Higgins says. "I thought it would be such a funny song, but I didn’t think it would go over as well as it has. We first tried it out at a show in Saskatoon and people were just killing themselves laughing, ‘I guess this one’s going to stick.’ It’s such a silly song, but it’s fun, so why not?"
Higgins isn’t confined to ditties about discount delicates, however. Her storytelling often takes a serious side. Hope You Don’t Feel Blue calls for a little self-reflection, with Higgins singing "I watch you spin and dance in your own ignorance." On Snowin’ Today: A Lament for Louis Riel she daydreams herself onto a Red River cart and evokes images of the Métis leader.
"I was reading a book about him and just found the story so intriguing," Higgins says. "Stories of injustice often get swept under the rug, so I wanted to bring it to the forefront, not beat people over the head with it, but just bring awareness to stories like that so people can think about them"
In addition to Memphis Minnie, Higgins, who recorded Across the Plains at Winnipeg’s Bedside Studio with Len Milne and Jaxon Haldane, credits American blues musicians Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters as major influences. Consequently, she gets labelled as ‘old-fashioned’, something she’s OK with.
"Blues was a big player in the modern music we listen to, rock ’n’ roll, hip hop, country — it’s the roots of the big tree of modern music," Higgins says. "I just found it really worked with my voice and I found a way into playing guitar that way, plus there’s a lot of room for exploration with that music, bringing modern elements to it and bringing my own voice to it. It’s a style worthy of being honoured and continued.
"Blues music can be heart wrenching at times, but it can also be fun, hilarious and get people boogying."
Dec. 10, 8 p.m., Park Theatre
w/ Righteous Ike
Across the Plains (MOJO Magazine Review June 2011)
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4 out of 5 stars Good-time music, old-time style, from the Great Northern Plains of Canada Alb...4 out of 5 stars
Good-time music, old-time style, from the Great Northern Plains of Canada
Albums are like people, really. Some scowl at you from behind all the other CDs while others make you instantly warm to them. With its colourful sleeve and ebullien mix of old-time country, pop nostalgia, string-driven things and lively horn outbursts, this is such an album. Occasionally diving into French, Jolene Higgins attacks it all - blues, country, jazz, folk and nostalgic pop - with heartwarming relish and a voice occasionally reminiscent of Calamity Jane-era Doris Day. She belts out the saucy Bargain Shop Panties with an infectious wink, strums ukulele as she recreates the spirit of a Prohibition-era drinking song on Glad Your Whiskey Fits Inside My Purse, but shows she has the stomach for heavier stuff with Snowin' Today, an evocative tribute to resistance leader and Canadian folk hero Louis Riel. - Colin Irwin
Review: Festival goers bask in the blues at Deer Lake Park
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Portion of Article: The lovely Little Miss Higgins performed next. Nelson’s [Lukas Nelson and the...Portion of Article:
The lovely Little Miss Higgins performed next. Nelson’s [Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real] band might promise the authentic but this duo — comprised of Jolene Higgins and her partner Foy Taylor — delivers it. Higgins has been described as a “pocket-sized powerhouse” and that's apt: the Saskatchewan-based singer delivered a big sound as she twanged and sang her way through personal, small-town experiences. Born in Brooks, Alberta, and raised in Independence, Kansas, Higgins brings a down-home vibe to her blend of country and blues. For instance, she makes her own hemp-based soap (which she usually sells at shows), so she wrote a song called Wash These Blues Away. Makes sense, right?
LITTLE MISS HIGGINS Across the Plains
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Reviewing Junction City, an earlier album by Little Miss Higgins – Jolene Higgins off stage – in Sin...Reviewing Junction City, an earlier album by Little Miss Higgins – Jolene Higgins off stage – in Sing Out! Magazine, I said she was my favourite new discovery of 2007. She released a live album in 2009 (which I’ve not heard) and is now back with Across the Plains, a terrific new studio album on which her new songs, and often tongue-in-cheek approach, make rooted blues styles, from Dixieland to Chicago, sound fresher than anything you’ll hear on commercial radio in the 21st century.
As I mentioned in that Sing Out! review, “Higgins grew up in Alberta and Kansas, did theatre training in British Columbia and now makes her home in Nokomis, Saskatchewan, a small prairie town on the old Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railroad lines. Maybe it’s the echo of those trains passing through town that inspires her to create music steeped in the traditions of such blues artists as Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Big Bill Broonzy.”
The album opens with “Beautiful Sun,” a glorious, upbeat song that marries lyrics that pay tribute to the northern prairie sun to an arrangement that’s straight out of Preservation Hall.
Nine songs later, the album ends with “Slaughterhouse,” whose lyrics are set on the outskirts of a small prairie town but whose arrangement could be played in a blues bar on the south side of Chicago.
Many of the other songs are lyrically rooted on the prairies. Among them are “The Tornado Song,” an infectious stomp about the effect of tornadoes on how the little miss’s garden grows; “Bargain Shop Panties,” a hilarious spoof about buying underwear in a Quonset hut shop off Main Street that features some great riffing and solos from her most excellent studio band; and “Snowin’ Today: A Lament for Louis Riel,” a song that moves from weather observation to a remembrance of the Métis leader hanged in 1885.
Other highlights include the swinging “Wash These Blues Away” and “Glad Your Whiskey Fits Inside My Purse,” a humourous tune about some Yukon boys looking to get drunk in Memphis that starts out in lo-fi like an old 78 before jumping back into the modern era (by modern, I mean the sound quality).
Although Across the Plains is not a jug band album, it reminds of the same kind of fun I have listening to the best jug band music.
Little Miss Higgins performs in this part of Canada this coming week:
Thursday, September 23 – The Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield.
Friday, September 24 – Upstairs in Montreal.
Saturday, September 25 – The Dakota Tavern in Toronto.
Sunday, September 26 – The London Music Club in London.
DISC REVIEW Little Miss Higgins by SARAH GREENE
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Raunchy horns blow in on The Tornado Song as Little Miss Higgins’s jazzy voice sashays to the fore, ...Raunchy horns blow in on The Tornado Song as Little Miss Higgins’s jazzy voice sashays to the fore, singing of corn and strange weather. Higgins and partner/guitarist Foy Taylor call tiny Nokomis, Saskatchewan, home; you can picture her pulling songs up out of their garden.
A love of 30s blues permeates her third studio album, recorded to tape using vintage mics. Bargain! Shop Panties and Glad Your Whisky Fits Inside My Purse are good romps with gang vocals from a supportive cast of Prairie musicians, and Higgins’s Memphis Minnie-inspired guitar playing has a playful strut. French lyrics on Snowin’ Today: A Lament For Louis Riel are a sweet touch.
It’d be nice to hear more grit and less polish in Higgins’s voice – a small complaint about an otherwise entertaining package.
Top track: The Tornado Song
Toronto Blues Society: Little Miss Higgins Live: Two Nights In March LMH/Outside Music
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CD Review The purpose of a live recording is to present an audio version of the stage show, as op...CD Review
The purpose of a live recording is to present an audio version of the stage show, as opposed to just the studio recordings. Here Little Miss Higgins succeed in spades. Jolene Higgins’ stage presence is extraordinary, as we’ve discovered on her visits here, and this strikes the listener to the CD immediately.
Her stories about the songs cast new light on already good ones like “In The Middle Of Nowhere”, “The Tractor Song”, “Radville” and “Velvet Barley Bed”. There are new ones as well: “Snowin’ Today: A Lament For Louis Riel” and “How & Why & When”. Her Memphis Minnie roots are here too, with “You Ain’t Done Nothing To Me” and a hilarious version of “I’m Gonna Bake My Biscuits”. The CD is beautifully programmed, climaxing with a superb performance of “Romance In The Dark”.
The two shows were at Amigo’s Cantina in Saskatoon and the Engineered Air Theatre in Calgary. Bass, drums & occasional trumpet were added for the Saskatoon show and a clarinet for the Calgary one, adding new colours to these songs. This is an enhanced CD, with the music video for “In The Middle of Nowhere” added for your enjoyment. As that song title suggests, a good deal of Little Miss Higgins’ charm is the sense of fun at being away from all the action ‘in the middle of nowhere’ but also very much enjoying living there. I hope they don’t lose that.
Exclaim!: Little Miss Higgins Two Nights In March
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By Kerry Doole It may seem premature and a mite presumptuous to serve up a live album as your thi...By Kerry Doole
It may seem premature and a mite presumptuous to serve up a live album as your third but Saskatchewan songstress Higgins validates the choice. She has rapidly become one of the most popular performers in Canadian roots music and her down-home country charm shines through here. This was recorded in front of appreciative crowds in Calgary and Saskatoon, and showcases Higgins' fine quartet. Songs from her acclaimed Junction City album are featured heavily, with LMH fave "The Dirty Ol Tractor Song" kicking things off. Her rapport with the audience is demonstrated when she gets them to sing along on her cover of "I'm Gonna Bake My Biscuits" by Memphis Minnie (clearly a huge influence). The songs fuse blues, folk, jazz and country elements (instrumentation includes clarinet and trumpet), and Higgins' authentically retro vocal style convinces on them all. Her skill as a songwriter is shown on her lament for Louis Riel ("Snowin' Today"), the righteously rockin' "Broadcast Boogie" and the rural poetry of "Velvet Barley Bed." Impressive stuff. (Independent)
Little Miss Higgins: Junction City (Sing-Out! review)
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Author: Mike Regenstreif Junction City may be the second album y Little Miss Higgins--aka Jolene ...Author: Mike Regenstreif
Junction City may be the second album y Little Miss Higgins--aka Jolene Higgins--but it's the first one I've heard and that made the little miss my favorite new discovery of 2007. Higgins grew up in Alberta and Kansas, with theatre training in British Columbia, and now makes her home in Nokomis, Saskatchewan, a small prairie town on the old Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railroad lines. Maybe it's the echo of those trains passing through town that inspires her to create music steeped in the traditions of such blues artists as Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and Big Bill Broonzy. She includes terrific versions of several blues classics including W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues" and Mississippi John Hurt's version of "Frankie and Albert," but most of these songs are her own and she's as fine a songwriter as she is a singer and guitarist.
Small town prairie life inspires several of Higgins's songs. The album opens with "The Train's a'Comin' Down," an infectiously swinging tune in which she sings about having nowhere to be, about having dirty fingernails from working in the garden, about how she's thinking about putting on a play, and about hearing the train coming down the tracks. Sounds like a nice summer day in Nokomis for a songwriting former theatre student. Then, in "The Middle of Nowhere," which has a solo guitar groove reminiscent of Broonzy's playing in the 1940s, she talks about staying off the wintertime roads in the in the middle of nowhere; particularly when you might have had a drink or two too many.
Higgins gets fine support throughout the album from Foy Taylor on rhythm guitar. The album was recorded in Calgary and some of that city's best musicians, including producer Tim Williams, contribute to selected tracks.
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By Kerry Doole Listening to this album is like stepping into an aural time machine, with controls...By Kerry Doole
Listening to this album is like stepping into an aural time machine, with controls set to the late ’30s. This country blues singer-songwriter/guitarist from Nokomis, SK, has mastered the sound and style of this era with astonishing accuracy. She earned praise for her debut CD, Cobbler Shop Sessions, and this follow-up deserves to provide a major career boost. Higgins has a bright and clear vocal style, and is equally at home on original tunes and covers like the classic “St. Louis Blues,” Mississippi John Hurt’s “Frankie” and “You Ain’t Done Nothing To Me” by Memphis Minnie, clearly a major inspiration. She proves herself a fluent guitarist, and the use of ’30s National Resonator guitars by Higgins and rhythm guitarist Foy Taylor adds to the retro vibe. A couple of crisp instrumental tunes add variety to one impressive disc. This is recommended to anyone who has enjoyed Maria Muldaur’s recent blues albums.
By David Barnard
There’s something in the water out in Junction City, known now as Nokomis, Saskatchewan. How else to explain the phenomenon of Jolene Higgins, Little Miss to you? With Junction City, her second CD, she’s become an exciting old-time traditional blues/jazz practitioner. The majority of the songs are from her pen, although you’d be forgiven for assuming the entire set was written more than 60 years ago. Songs like “The Dirty Old Tractor Song,” with its unique double-entendre, or “In the Middle of Nowhere,” a tribute steeped in living tradition about Higgins’ adopted home, which once was an important CN and CP railway line stop. Higgins possesses an expressive vocal style and like one of her inspirations, Memphis Minnie, she plays a mean, swinging guitar too. Ably supported by musical life partner Foy Taylor on guitar and various friends on mandolin, string bass, clarinet and subdues drums, this is a superb recording.
Little Miss Higgins making name in music
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Published: Thursday, May 10, 2007 LITTLE MISS HIGGINS CD release show 8 p.m. Friday (sold out) ...Published: Thursday, May 10, 2007
LITTLE MISS HIGGINS
CD release show
8 p.m. Friday (sold out) and Saturday
at Lydia's Loft
- - -
Back when Little Miss Higgins was really a little miss, her father brought a baby grand piano home and told his daughter it was hers. She proceeded to make it so.
"I remember carving my name in it with a ball-point pen," Higgins said recently. "And then I tried scratching it out, but just made it worse."
To be fair, the piano was already old and battered, having been reclaimed by her father "from some bar he'd been in." But autograph or not, it worked, and Higgins learned to play. She's been making her name in music ever since, though in more constructive ways.
Higgins, whose first name is Jolene, grew up in Alberta and Kansas; her father was in the oil biz and her mom a teacher. She switched to the six-string in her teens when her dad gave her a guitar for Christmas. She learned to play and sing with her best friend. Though she listened to Pearl Jam along with her peers, the music she was studying was by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, to be followed by Billie Holiday, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.
Today, Higgins is known for her old timey bluesy tunes, performed most often with her life and musical partner Foy Taylor. On her brand new album Junction City, Higgins and Taylor play 1930s vintage resonator guitars on several tracks.
Speaking of tracks, the album was inspired by trains. Nokomis, where Higgins and Foy live, was once known as the Junction City because the CN and CP lines met there. The term junction also has a human element. -- "just the idea of bringing people together," she says.
They recorded the album in Calgary, taking the opportunity to be with Higgins' longtime friend Adrienne -- the one she'd learned to play guitar with -- who was about to have her first baby.
The labour -- in both instances -- went smoothly.
Taking the birth metaphor too far, producer Tim Williams served as the midwife. He's worked with Ray Bonneville and Triple Threat.
Higgins couldn't be happier with the result.
"It was a blast to record," she says.
The album combines originals like In the Middle of Nowhere and Nokomis Waltz with classics like W.C. Handy's St. Louis Blues and Memphis Minnie's You Ain't Done Nothing to Me. Higgins patterns her act after Memphis Minnie, who played with Kansas Joe McCoy while they were married. Playing lead with Foy holding down the bass line gives her room to sing or tell stories as the occasion calls for.
"The guitar playing, that's what really attracts me. The guitar playing is different and unique and a lot of people haven't seen it or heard it before. It's kind of a break to the ears because it's not about playing all the time. It's a lot about not playing, and where you put a silence or a rest, and I think audiences appreciate that."
Higgins also relies on her theatre school training, which puts her at ease with the audience.
"If you're telling a story either through monologue or through lyrics, if you know what you're saying and you believe what you're saying and it comes from a true place, then an audience is going to get it way quicker."
It was theatre that brought Higgins to Saskatchewan in the first place as a drama student out of Victoria. She and her classmates did a play in Regina. When the show ended, everybody else went back.
"Myself and my truck and the set just stayed in Regina and didn't leave."
She eventually met Foy and they took over a friend's house in Nokomis which had a huge garden -- hence The Dirty Old Tractor Song -- but needed work.
"The toilet was about to fall into the basement through the floor," she says.
"It works for us because it's cheap to live here and it's great. I totally love it -- lots of space."
The sound of the train is inspiring, but other small-town noises are less so.
"I don't mind it as much as the quads and the diesel trucks and the snowmobiles. But it's fun. It's all part of it."
As it happens, the sounds that inspired the album will be far away as Higgins crosses the country on her CD release tour. Her reputation is growing thanks to allies like Holger Petersen, who will feature her in a live CBC radio show from Yellowknife for Saturday Night Blues.
"He has been very supportive, which is great. He has a great reputation in the music industry."
Another step up is having the album distributed nationally by Festival Distribution so it will be in all the stores. If someone wanted to buy the previous one, they pretty much had to send a cheque to Higgins' house.
Higgins' most extensive tour to date will see her travel from Vancouver -- playing, fittingly, The Railway Club -- to St. John's, Nfld.
She'll be back to Saskatoon, too, for a free afternoon show on June 26 at the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival on The StarPhoenix Stage.
© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2007
Little Miss Higgins Junction City LMH/Festival
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Nokomis SK is a rail junction. The CN & CP lines cross there and its also the home of Little Miss Hi...Nokomis SK is a rail junction. The CN & CP lines cross there and its also the home of Little Miss Higgins and her blues band. Cobbler Shop Sessions, the last CD, consciously tried to re-create the sound of the Thirties. This one keeps the same basic instrumentation but is decidedly contemporary. The song titles are informative: "That Train A' Comin' Down", "In The Middle of Nowhere", "Nokomis Waltz". Foy Taylor is on the other guitar, keeping the Memphis Minnie/Joe McCoy influence intact and a fine performance of their "You Ain't Done Nothing To Me" is a highlight. Producer Tim Williams has brought along some members of his Highwater Jug Band for some of the songs. One of them is another highlight, the catchy "The Dirty Ol' Tractor Song" - it'll have you humming & tapping away well before it ends. Mississippi John Hurt's "Frankie" features a clarinet part from Highwater's Cedric Blary and Williams on washboard. Higgins takes some liberties with the lyrics and the song takes on quite a different sound. I'm not sure Hurt would recognize it if he could hear it but he would probably enjoy it. Two songs are from a theatre production that has little to do with blues. Joel Tremblay wrote the play, Oh George, and the two songs. "If I Could" is a ballad that isn't noticeably out of place but "Liar Liar" is klezmer and with its accordion and clarinet is quite a jarring experience. Miss Higgins sings these very well indeed, however. If you thought she feels trapped in Nokomis, just listen to the concluding "Velvet Barley Bed" and you'll realize she won't be leaving any time soon. A wonderful CD of acoustic blues by a songwriter and singer to watch.
Little Miss Higgins Releases New Album, Junction City
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For Immediate Release: Little Miss Higgins Releases New Album, Junction City Tours Across We...For Immediate Release:
Little Miss Higgins Releases New Album, Junction City
Tours Across Western Canada
On Friday May 11th, Little Miss Higgins releases her second album, Junction City. The release, which follows up the critically acclaimed 2005 album, Cobbler Shop Sessions, highlights the singer, songwriter and accomplished guitar player’s unique musical presence. That Friday will also be the kick-off date in Saskatoon for her 22-date Western Canadian tour.
Currently living in the small town of Nokomis, SK, Little Miss was born in southern Alberta and raised in Independence, Kansas. Her bewitching country blues songs have brought her great acclaim, including a nomination for a 2006 WCMA for Cobbler Shop Sessions and an IMA Vox Populi Award for her song “Ferry Boat Blues.” Though she is comfortable performing as a solo artist, she is mostly accompanied by guitar player Foy Taylor, who will join her on the upcoming tour dates. Together they are creating innovative guitar work rooted in a country blues style and an unforgettably “top hat” stage show.
Over the years, Little Miss has shared the stage with Big Dave McLean, Corb Lund, Suzie Vinnick and Tim Williams, among many others and in the spring of 2006, she and Foy created music for and performed in the Globe Theatre’s production of Joey Tremblay’s Oh, George. With a background in theatre performance, Little Miss has always brought a creative element to her live shows.
Produced by celebrated performer, producer and songwriter Tim Williams (Ray Bonneville, Triple Threat), Junction City, is an extension of the authentic songwriting and performance styles of Little Miss Higgins, as well as, Foy Taylor and the “junction” of talent that helped create the album.
“Little Miss Higgins is a fresh and welcome addition to the Canadian blues scene. I love her selection of material, old school vintage sound and her enthusiasm. She has the respect of and holds her own with veterans twice her age. And I love that she's based out of Nokomis, Saskatchewan.”
-Holger Petersen (CBC Radio)
Little Miss Higgins Tour Dates:
Friday May 11th – Saskatoon, SK at Lydia’s Loft
Saturday May 19th – Yellowknife, NT at Top Knight Pub
Sunday May 20th – Yellowknife, NT at Top Knight Pub
Thursday May 24th in Vancouver, BC at The Railway Club
Friday May 25th in Victoria, BC at The Solstice Club
Saturday May 26th in Chemainus, BC at The Dancing Bean
Sunday May 27th on Hornby Island, BC at Joe King Ball Park
Monday May 28th in Victoria, BC at Logan’s
Thursday May 31st in Silverton, BC at The Silverton Gallery
Friday June 1st in Nelson, BC at The Royal on Baker
Saturday June 2nd Lethbridge, AB at The Tongue ‘n’ Groove
Sunday June 3rd in Pincher Creek, AB – Private Event
Thursday June 7th in Brooks, AB at The Brooks Campus MHC
Friday June 8th in Black Diamond, AB at The Stop
Saturday June 9th in Edmonton at The Blue Chair
Wednesday June 13th in Edmonton at The Roxy Theatre
Thursday June 14th in Nanton, AB at The Auditorium Hotel
Friday June 15th in Calgary at The Ironwood
Saturday June 16th in Calgary at The Auburn Saloon
Sunday June 17th in Twin Butte, AB at The General Store
Thursday June 21st in Regina, SK at The Exchange
Saturday June 23rd in Nokomis, SK at The Nokomis Hotel
For more information or to book an interview:
Anya Wilson Promotion & Publicity
John Valentyne CD Review
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Little Miss Higgins Cobbler Shop Sessions EON In Meacham SK, there's a cobbler shop. It's been ...Little Miss Higgins Cobbler Shop Sessions EON
In Meacham SK, there's a cobbler shop. It's been there since the '30's and it would seem a perfect place to record a CD's worth of songs that reflect that era. Little Miss Higgins and Foy Taylor re-create the team of Memphis Minnie & Joe McCoy, assisted by Melodi "Pistol" Hawkesford on drums and Big Dave McLean on harmonica. Miss Higgins' voice reminds me of another Memphis Minnie disciple, Sue Foley, without (yet) quite her assertiveness. There are songs here by Big Bill Broonzy, Lil Green and her idol but nine are by Miss Higgins or the duo. They aren't all in a `30's style or all acoustic but the package adds up to a very entertaining whole. Songs by Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell ("You Turn Me On I'm A Radio", with guitar, dobro & banjo) plus their own "Rule Breaker" add a contemporary edge. A Miss Higgins solo, "Slaughterhouse" ensures the proceedings don't get too cute. She's based in Nokomis SK and the web site is www.littlemisshiggins.com.
Little Miss Higgins plays original material which captures a new and fresh sound influenced by the long tradition of country-blues. Sets are also supported by excellent interpretations of Memphis Minnie, Big Bill Broonzy and Bessie Smith songs to name a few.
Depending upon the show, Little Miss Higgins can play with a full band or as a duo with Foy Taylor. Both formats are capable of delivering 3 full sets (i.e. 45 to 60 minutes per set).