For musician Annie Louise Genest, inspiration is easy to pin point. The artist, who is professionally known as Annie Lou, says bluegrass and mountain music played a huge factor in her musical tastes growing up.
“I started out as a singer-songwriter when I first started playing guitar and writing songs based on what I could do on guitar, which wasn’t very much – you know, play a few chords,” said Lou. “Then as I got more proficient and really started to enjoy more acoustic music, I started listening to more blue grass music. It was a pretty natural progression and I think my songwriting had a certain leaning towards that.”
There was one band in particular that played a huge roll in the influence, not just for her, but also for her entire family.
“I grew up listening to a lot of Grateful Dead. I’m the youngest of five and the whole family was Dead Heads and I found it interesting to discover the Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead was a bluegrass banjo player – that was his first instrument,” she said.
Lou says that Garcia’s bluegrass roots are evident in some of the Grateful Dead’s later albums.
“They played old country tunes and old folk. I kind of think that it was the initial influence that maybe influenced my song writing. As my song writing evolved, it sort of led to more of that style.”
Lou cites other influences as Bill Monroe, Hazel Dickens and more recently Lilian Welch.
Lou and her band are stopping in Fernie as part of a three week tour across B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. Having never stopped in Fernie before, she is excited to see the town especially as she has a personal connection to Michael and Ani Hepher of Clawhammer Press.
“Ani used to play music and they didn’t for awhile and then she saw our set and it inspired her to get back into playing,” said Lou. “They have started this music, contributing to the music scene in Fernie, which is pretty cool and I’m quite excited because of that to be coming there.”
The majority of her repertoire will be off of her most recent album Tried and True, which was released in the fall of 2014, but says people can expect a few things from her show.
“They can expect some original song writing that will make them smile and maybe make them ponder and they can expect their toes to be tapping for sure. We have some nice upbeat numbers,” she said. “It’s mostly original music, but we also play some favourite traditional music as well. A nice acoustic variety, but music that I believe has some real depth to it as well.”
Annie Lou will be touring with three musicians she is comfortable with: mandolin player Andrew Hamilton, Sarah Hamilton on fiddle and Max Heineman on upright bass. The band will be playing at the Clawhammer Press on Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and will be available at the door.