From the Great Northern Plains of Western Canada, Little Miss Higgins struts and serenades her way, guitar in hand, lips blazoned red, onto the stage in Harrison Hot Springs. As if she just drove in off the back-road of another time, this pocket-sized powerhouse plays music brewed up in old-time country blues sprinkled with a little jazz and maybe a hint of folk.
The Harrison Festival Society opens its 2013-14 season of shows with Little Miss Higgins, Saturday, Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Hall. She will be accompanied by a five-piece band which includes an old-school horn section, guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, and chunky percussion.
Described by bluesman Tim Williams as “Mae West meets Memphis Mini,” Jolene “Little Miss” Higgins delivers an authentic, earthy style of country-blues in a way that brings the listener back to a time when live performance was about gutsy lyrics and raw sound.
Higgins was born in Brooks, Alberta, and raised in Independence, Kansas. Music entered her life early.
“When I was about four my dad bought this old piano at a local bar,” she recalls. “It was a mini grand piano. He brought it home and told me it was mine. I carved my name in the side and started taking piano lessons.”
Higgins now uses guitar and voice as her main instruments as well as her theatre background to bring a “refreshing sound and story to the stage.” Little Miss Higgins has built a strong national reputation across Canada, appearing in clubs and on festival stages from Vancouver Island to Iqaluit, Nunavut to Canso, Nova Scotia.
As a songwriter and musician, Higgins has been influenced by a range of early blues and jazz musicians such as Memphis Minnie, Billy Holiday, Bessie Smith, Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters to country and folk artists like Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton, John Fogerty and Bob Dylan.
Higgins has released four records which have garnered numerous awards including JUNO and Maple Blues nominations, Outstanding Blues Recording at Western Canadian Music Awards and Favourite Blues Artist/Group or Duo of the Year at the 8th Annual Indies Awards.
This season’s kickoff promises to be a stompin’ good time. Tickets are $22, by phone at 604-796-3664, online at www.harrisonfestival.com, at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison, or the Agassiz Shoppers Drug Mart.