Melding country, folk, bluegrass, roots and gospel, the Toronto-based Dirty Dishes have a slate of shows planned for Red Deer Aug. 25th-27th.
On Aug. 25th, the ‘feisty trio’ will play Earls Patio from 7 to 9 p.m. On Aug. 26th, they will perform on the Ross Street Patio from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and on Aug. 27th they play The Olive at 8 p.m.
“Part of it is a trip for me home, to visit the family,” explains Lisa Olafson, the group’s founder who also plays ukulele and once called Red Deer home. Rounding out the group are Alison Porter on fiddle and Suzy Wilde on guitar and washboard.
All three provide vocals, and that magical three-part harmony is one of the most engaging elements to the charming Dirty Dishes sound. Often also backed by a rhythm section, ‘The Plate Rails’, featuring Henry Heilig on bass and Jay Boemer on drums, the Dishes have been, “Breaking hearts and soothing souls at clubs, fairs, theatres and festivals across Canada for nearly a decade,” according to a release.
Their latest disc, And Stay Out! is set for release in September. And Stay Out! features 11 new tracks including After the Goldrush (Neil Young), Rockytop (Osbourne Brothers) and Evangeline (Robbie Robertson) along with a handful of new originals.
The group came to be originally about eight years ago. “I was actually doing my one-person Fringe show, and in the process of doing that, I thought I needed a fundraiser for doing the show,” said Olafson. So she decided to put a little band together for a one-night cabaret.
“I loved doing the Fringe show, but the band that came out of it has been my project – it’s been my baby. The three of us are all so invested in it – it’s been fantastic.”
Meanwhile, as mentioned, Olafson spent part of her growing up years in Red Deer, part of which included attending Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School. She also took theatre studies at Red Deer College, which bolstered her comfort level when it came to sharing her music with a broader audience. And a love for music is something that was sparked early on.
“We always gathered around the piano to sing with the extended family. My dad always had the guitar out – he’d come home from work and play his guitar,” she recalls. A taste for comparatively traditional country fare was also discovered early on as well.
“I love the old country songs – I don’t really know any of the new country,” he adds with a laugh. Folks like Dolly Parton and Hank Williams have been influential in her musical journey, and much of the material the Dirty Dishes performs hearkens to those classic early years.
These days, Olafson said the band would describe their music essentially as ‘rootsy’. “That way, we can go to these folk festivals and be part of them by playing more of the bluegrass sounds too with the fiddle, washboard and ukulele.” Ultimately, the more traditional sound is what resonates so compellingly across their musical sensibilities.
And Stay Out! was recorded at Canterbury Studios in Toronto and mixed by Danny Greenspoon this past spring. “We have six originals which is awesome – we are very pleased with that,” she says. Olafson is also quick to credit the acclaimed Greenspoon with helping to fashion a project the women are so very proud of.
“He was wonderful! I was nervous to go with such a big name, thinking he was going to be all arrogant,” she laughs. “But he was wonderful.
“He’s really nice – I didn’t feel like I was amongst royalty at all – he’s so down to earth.”
Meanwhile, the challenges of being an indie group may always be there, but the joys of making music, collaborating and performing remain constant.
“Creating three-part harmony with two other women’s voices, sailing through chords –telling the story in three-part harmony – that’s what gives me the shivers, always,” she says. “I couldn’t be happier being in a trio.”