Allison Brown, WITHOUT Glasses

Spectacles At The Cameron House: Girls With Glasses

When you think of a music scene in Toronto, Folk may not be the first genre that pops into your noggin. But believe me, it's got a sizable following. Tonight, you'll have a chance to see for yourself. The Cameron House welcomes the Girls With Glasses, namely Eve Goldberg, Evalyn Parry, Karyn Ellis and Allison Brown (pictured above, without her glasses). I had a chance to catch up with Allison (since she's my cousin, and currently crashing on my couch... ah, the life of a singer-songwriter!), and asked her a few questions about her tour with the goggled girls and her outlook on the folk scene.

KG: How did you originally meet the other "girls with glasses"?

AB: Well I met Eve first, way back at one of the first Home County Folk Festivals I volunteered at; then I met Evalyn and Karyn at OCFF (Ontario Council of Folk Festivals) somewhere along the way; I know for sure I met Karyn at the OCFF jam in Sudbury years ago. I'm pretty sure I met Evalyn officially when she came to London for a gig... festivals, OCFF, my radio show.. that's how I meet up with everyone.

KG: You do a lot of collaborative shows... how do the other girls on this tour complement your style?

AB: For me, it's really a stage energy thing, and the harmony parts that the other gals add to what I do and in turn what I can add to what they do.. a lot of it is about the vocal parts.

KG: You classify yourself as a folk singer... do you find there's a growing market for the type of music you perform? Do you care about how large your audience is (whether it's at a venue, or those buying your albums)? Or do you do it for the sake of the music?

AB: Ahh yes, the great debate. What is folk, is there a market for "it"...?? A lot of people playing "acoustic" or "singer-songwriter" type music are really turning away from the word folk to describe what they do these days.. even "folk" festivals are changing their names to "music festivals" as they feel by taking out the word "folk" they broaden the spectrum of what acts they can include in the lineup... so I guess I'd have to say that the "market" is certainly changing, more like words used to describe acoustic based music are changing.

But, for me, the style of songs I choose to include in my performances belong within the "folk" genre. So I do embrace the word folk- as I believe it takes root in the idea of "passing along" songs, interpreting songs, making it a shared experience with the audience and songs that can resonate with others in a really personal way... it's about the "folk"! I like to think my original tunes can achieve that as well.

So I guess I'm not really all about huge attendance and selling a lot of records, but when that happens it does make you feel like you've connected with people.

KG: If you could "steal" one particular talent from each of the girls with glasses for yourself, which would they be?

AB: Wow - that's a great question, I could go on about a million pages there.

From Eve, I'd steal a huge wealth of musical knowledge (Eve knows probably every great song out there), her Mississippi John Hurt style guitar playing, and her ability to write songs that are as timeless as all the other songs she knows.

From Karyn, I'd steal the way she can lay her heart right out on the table with a song and sing it in the most effective way possible. Karyn can really draw you into her world with her songs... and she's one of the most versatile vocalists I've ever heard.

From Evalyn, I'd steal her wit, her drive, her performance savvy and her true ability to change
people's minds with music and with words. And her yoga moves - she's so flexible!

KG: What's next for the Girls With Glasses?

AB: Well, in the short term we head to Kingston on Friday, Montreal at the legendary Yellow Door on Saturday, and Sunday looks like we might be doing two house concerts in Ottawa. We round off the tour in London on February 8th and Ridgetown on the 9th.

Individually we have a lot cookin' after this year's tour. Evalyn has a busy summer of festivals, including Hillside (music festival), on the horizon. Eve is touring with Connie Kaldor and also her song "Streets Of Burma" is being used in an Amnesty International campaign to free imprisoned monks in Burma/Myanmar. And Karyn will have a new album out sometime very soon. As for me, I have a couple more shows with The Goin' Concern, my bluegrass outfit back home in London, and I'm planning on taking a break from gigs to go back to school at Western beginning in the spring!

The Girls With Glasses show tonight starts at 9pm.
Admission is $10.00 at the door ($8 for artists and underwaged).
Show up early and catch Corin Raymond and the Sundowners- another stellar folk band.

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