Edwards brings Canadian country to Buffalo
Unless Emmylou Harris is singing the national anthem before a Sabres game, the odds that "country music," "ice hockey" and 'The feminist ideal" are making their rounds in the same circles are pretty poor.
Yet defying those odds are part of the allure of Kathleen Edwards, the Ontario songstress who hits the local stage Sunday at the Ninth Ward at Babeville.
Touring in support of her third proper offering, this year's "Asking For Flowers," Edwards has been on the road since the album debuted in March, taking time away from a big tour with The Indigo Girls to play an intimate show in the basement at Asbury Hall.
Despite her touring mates and country/folk/rock style, it would be an error to classify Edwards as either Carrie Underwood or hippie-blather. Edwards has guts, as identified on her first two offerings, "Failer" and "Back To Me," and often eschews pining for her man in favor of confident pleas for something better.
"I'm just generally not interested in being a sweet, saccharine, chick-y singer/songwriter," Edwards said. "I'm more interested in telling stories, and I'm drawn to the darker elements in stories and characters because I think it's the most complex part of ourselves."
Sounding more like Neil Young or Bob Dylan, Edwards has battled the female songwriter stereotype for several years, something her amiable looks haven't helped combat. While others have crossed the pop line for dollars and a dream, Edwards keeps plying her trade in earnest.
'There's a double standard for women in music," she said. 'There's a little bit of sexism, and I didn't notice it until recently. Someone would describe my music just as 'a woman.' When I play a festival and see artist bios, there's a strange description that exists for guys who do the same thing. Like, 'If you missed Lilith Fair, go see Kathleen Edwards,' as if for a guy they'd ever say, 'If you missed 'Edgefest,' go see Ryan Adams."
The lady who cites AC/DC and rock 'n' roll as two of her biggest influences has moved even closer to her rock roots on "Asking For Flowers."
"In some ways, (the album) represents a more thought-out record in terms of songwriting," Edwards said. "In other ways, it's a more produced record in terms of string parts. I spent quite a bit of time making it just so I could hear it. It's inclusive of records like Whiskeytown and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers."
Hitting the scene just inside hockey season is a gutsy proposition for the singer, who is unabashed in her passion for a team for whom the Western New Yorkers don't have an awful lot of love.
"I'm a Sens girl," Edwards said laughing during a phone interview, "But I'm not at all into the Leafs."
Admitting that she's been known to share a jab or three with concert-goers in hockey towns, Edwards wears Ottawa red and white on her sleeve and met up with some hockey heroes for the music video for "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory."
"It stars Marty McSorley, Dave Hodge, Paul Coffey ... all these Canadian hockey-related guys," she said. "It's a really funny, funny thing. Hockey is part of people getting together in Canada. It's part of community."
Edwards is married to Canadian music veteran Colin Cripps, who played in her band until recently, and she said working and touring with her spouse didn't turn out to be all that great.
"It's not easy," she said. "A lot of people go to work and come home, and there's a sort of separation. When you play music for a living, it's kind of all-encompassing. There's the best and worst of everything you can imagine."