Sept. 06--DECATUR -- Kerri Ough can proudly call herself a Juno Award winner, but at the same time she admits that she and her bandmates don't always think of themselves in the category they were filed.
The trio of Ough, Sue Passmore and Caroline Brooks took home the 2010 award for "Roots & Traditional Album of the Year" for their self-titled album "The Good Lovelies," winning the Canadian equivalent of the American Grammy Award. Ough assumes the association began with the instruments they play.
"I think the reason that 'roots' sort of stuck as a descriptor was because of our old Canadian and American folk music instrumentation," she said in advance of The Good Lovelies' Monday evening concert at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. "We just brought together whatever we were writing when we got together and that became what we were known for, an old-timey swing thing. I wish there was more of a plan, but most of it happened by accident. We struggle with defining it pretty often."
Regardless, the tight-knit harmonies of the three women eventually carried The Good Lovelies to a signature sound that combines elements of pop, country and folk music. Each member brought fairly different backgrounds to play in their earliest performances in 2006, but they have since rubbed off musically on one another as they coalesce further into a single group.
"Without meaning to, we've influ-enced each other and grown into a sort of three-headed monster," Ough said. "In the past when we write, each of us would bring a handful of new songs to test out, but I think our next record will be the first album where we write it all together. I think if we start with just a few basic ideas for songs, we'll end up with an album that is more of a consistent, top-to-bottom idea."
The band's true signature, though, may be the upbeat tone of almost all their works. Preferring to write positive or at least positive-sounding music, Ough joked that she could count the number of minor-key Good Lovelies songs on one hand. The positive outlook is something that all the band members share, and, indeed, one of the factors that first brought them together.
"We've been termed a 'happy band' by some people," the singer said. "Personally, I identify with pop themes and hooky choruses. I don't really write Gordon Lightfoot song epics about riding the Canadian rails. Life on the road can get a bit heavy, but we have such a good time watch-ing people cheer up during the shows. We'll always try to keep some of that joy in the show."
That positivity is one of the factors setting The Good Lovelies apart from some of their spiritual sister bands, such as The Wailin' Jennys, also from Canada. Both being female folk trios with traditional instrumentation, prominent harmonies and Juno wins, the comparisons are inevitable. But in reality, the members of both groups are close friends and see a clear division in the music they perform.
"The instrumentation they have is a bit more folky, and we've got more percussion and an electric guitar now and then," she said. "All we really want to do is confound the notion that there's competition between us, because we're all good friends."
In the end, there are plenty of audiences for everyone, especially as The Good Lovelies tour the Midwest. The three women compare most Midwestern audiences to those they see in Canadian cities in terms of their welcoming attitudes and polite manners.
"Most of the crowds let us talk to them and interact a lot," Ough said. "It feels just like the home shows, except we don't have our parents in the audience."
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