For The Morning Star
At the age of four, Cara Luft began playing the autoharp and the dulcimer. She took up the violin when she was nine and started playing guitar when she was 11.
Nowadays, she mostly plays the banjo, which locals will hear when she joins her new duo, The Small Glories, with JD Edwards at Paddlewheel Hall Saturday, April 2.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Luft, who called Vernon home from 1995 to 1999.
“I was going to be an elementary school teacher,” she recalled. “I ended up being an English major. Along the way, I really got to love some of the people I met in Vernon. There were some pretty amazing community-type folks and I’m still quite close with a lot of those people.”
In 1999, Luft moved from Vernon to Winnipeg.
“I was pursuing a music career and it’s just very hard to do that in a smaller community”, she said “I knew I had to get back to the city for more opportunities and at the time, it was really between Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Then I met some students from Manitoba who said, ‘You know, you should really consider Winnipeg.’”
After doing some research, she began to see a pattern.
“The more that I started putting feelers out, the oddest thing happened. Literally everyone I talked to would give me a contact name in Winnipeg or I would meet someone from Winnipeg and they would say, ‘Oh please, move to our city. We’d love to have you.’”
“It was almost like the stars were saying, ‘Cara, move to Winnipeg. That is where you belong.’
“It was a huge gamble because I’d never even been to Winnipeg but I packed my car, drove to Winnipeg and never left.”
Since leaving Vernon, Luft’s musical career has blossomed. She spent four years with the Wailin’ Jennys from 2001 to 2004, with whom she won a Juno award in 2005 for Roots-Traditional Album of the Year.
She has toured almost non-stop for 13 years.
Most recently, Luft has been collaborating and touring with JD Edwards as the Small Glories.
“We were randomly paired up to do some songs together for the 25th anniversary show of the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg,” said Luft. “We started working on some songs and it was an amazing experience where we both thought, ‘Wow, this sounds really phenomenal.’”
Luft says she is looking forward to performing in Vernon with Edwards.
“JD and I are quite hilarious together on stage”, she said. “People have said we should do standup comedy. But really, the music is quite beautiful. We do really tight two-part harmony with great songs and great instrumentation. I play a lot of claw-hammer banjo these days. JD is a great guitar and harmonica player.
“We’re both writers, so we’ll be doing an even mix of each other’s songs and a few covers. It should be a fun evening and I hope to see lots of folks there.”
Hosted by the Vernon Folk-Roots Music Society, The Small Glories takes the stage at Paddlewheel Hall, 7801 Okanagan Landing Rd. Saturday, April 2. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for VFRMS members, and are available through www.ticketseller.ca, www.vernonfolkroots.com, the Bean Scene in Vernon or at the door, if available.