I was talking to Cara Luft earlier this week as she was on Vancouver Island headed to Duncan to pick up her '70s era Martin acoustic being serviced before her show in Courtenay.
Luft is in the midst of a tour in these parts promoting her The Light Fantastic CD, her second solo release and the first since she exited the Wailin' Jennys three years ago, the harmony trio she co-founded in 2002.
Servicing her acoustic guitar is a regular part of Luft's road routine as she plays in alternate tunings, eight or more different ones per show, and tightening and slackening those strings every few songs can be hard on the neck.
Besides being an outstanding singer and songwriter, Luft is an excellent guitarist, head and shoulders above most you hear in the young acoustic singer/ writer world these days. She comes by it honestly.
Growing up in Calgary, her parents were local stalwarts in the '60s and '70s local folk scene, playing as a duo. Before that her mother had toured in the States with her sister. "You know in that movie O Brother Where Art Thou and they have those little girls on stage singing?" says Luft. "That's kinda what my mom and my aunt did. And then her father, my grandfather, before he got married, he toured in a jazz band as a guitarist. He was phenomenal. And then his father, my great grandfather, he toured in a vaudeville show as a tenor singer. It's really interesting that there's this really strong, not just musical background, but performing background."
Between lineage and growing up in a household of folk records and musicians it seems her direction in life was sealed early on. Indeed, she's been playing guitar and singing since adolescence and really got excited when she discovered Led Zeppelin. The juxtaposition of folk, especially '60s Brits like Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch, with rock is fairly evident in her acoustic music. Not for nothing did she select Neil Osborne of alternative rockers 54/40 to produce The Light Fantastic. "I wanted to work with someone outside the folk genre," says Luft. "I didn't want to make a record that sounded like everybody else's record. It was really cool to have a totally new perspective on folk recording. It was one of those cool experiences that kinda brings together the melding of the world."
-John P. Mclaughlin