J.D. Edwards and Cara Luft

The Small Glories

February 5, 2023 | Polsky Theatre

Past Event

Thrown together purely by accident for an anniversary show at Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre, The Small Glories could almost make you believe in fate.

Roots powerhouse duo The Small Glories – Cara Luft and J.D. Edwards – are a musical tour-de-force partnership planted on the Canadian prairies. With a stage banter striking a unique balance between slapstick and sermon, these veteran singer-songwriters have a way of making time disappear, rooms shrink and audiences feel as if they are onstage with the band writing, living and performing the songs.

Folk singers by nature, the duo write what people can relate to. Luft, an original member of harmony sweethearts The Wailin' Jennys and whose parents were folk singers influenced by the great activist Pete Seeger, knows sometimes a song is all you need to bring people together.

The Small Glories duplicate and reinforce each other's many strengths and yet allow their distinct personalities to shine through, resulting in a live show that’s as heartwarming as it is hilarious, as finger-picking proficient as it is relatable and as Canadian as, well … it’s very Canadian. But that hasn’t stopped them from winning over audiences from Nashville to the Australian outback. Their highly anticipated sophomore album, Assiniboine & the Red, was released the summer of 2019 on Compass/Red House Records.

A Small Glories concert is welcoming in its subject, folk-pop melody and instrumentation. Songs of love, loss and environment are delivered with soaring, interwoven vocals on various combinations of stomping clawhammer banjo, guitar and harmonica. However, the performance is really about what happens in-between the songs. “The feedback we get is that it’s not just about the music, it’s the whole package,” Luft says.

The Small Glories take the musical synergy honed from hundreds of shows together and expand it into a new soundscape amplified by pounding drums and other textural embellishments. These only reinforce the magic of Luft and Edwards’ innate chemistry, labeled the “Lennon-McCartney syndrome” by Americana UK.

The band’s debut album, 2016’s Wondrous Traveler, was also praised in Pitchfork by legendary American rock critic Greil Marcus: “…in moments (The Small Glories) find the darkening chord change the best bluegrass — from the Stanley Brothers to Be Good Tanyas — has always hidden in the sweet slide of the rhythm, the tiny shift where the person telling the story suddenly understands it.”