By Nick Krewen

LINDA McRAE is flying solo with Flying Jenny.

The Vancouver-based singer and songwriter is finally branching out on her own again after spending the past eight years performing accordion and guitar with national faves SPIRIT OF THE WEST.

Her final gig with SOTW was in Niagara Falls, but her split with the rest of the boys came because of the FACTOR (Foundation To Assist Canadian Talent On Record) factor.

"I got a FACTOR album loan to make the record," says McRae, who plays Kitchener for the first time as a solo act when she appears at Mrs. Robinson's Saturday night.

"I applied, and when I found that I'd been given the top amount that you can get from them, I decided I really wanted to make a go of it as a songwriter and as a performer in my own right."

Flying Jenny, named after a homemade merry-go-round pulled by mules, was the result, and McRae has no regrets.

"We were so busy with Spirit, I just decided it was time. I had my own band before, fronted it, wrote all the stuff, and I really miss it. I really wasn't involved in the writing part of Spirit Of The West, so it was time to take the plunge."

More country roots oriented than the music she performed with Spirit Of The West, McRae's material is best described as a kindred spirit of THE LOUVIN BROTHERS spiced with a dash of LUCINDA WILLIAMS. McRae reports her crowd has certainly been curious.

"I think a lot of people who come to see us don't really know what to expect," she admits. " Some expect to hear something that sounds similar to Spirit's music, and it's not at all. It's way more rooted in the country folk pop vein. For the most part, everybody seems to be open-minded and liking it."

McRae also had plenty of help recording Flying Jenny  in Toronto with some high profile musician friends. Members of BLUE RODEO; GORD DOWNIE and GORD SINCLAIR of THE TRAGICALLY HIP; BAND and former JANIS JOPLIN keyboardist RICHARD BELL,JUNKHOUSE's TOM WILSON and COLIN CRIPPS as well as producer COLIN LINDEN and WILLIE P. BENNETT each lent a hand.

"It was wonderful," recalls McRae, who is touring with four additional players. "I got so much support. At the time, I didn't have a band together. Since I recorded in Toronto, the timing worked in our favor , because a lot of bands aren't touring in January or February. Everyone we asked was available."

The most curious connection though is with Chicago singer and songwriter SYD STRAW -- who sang on a half-dozen songs on the album -- and Austin-based producer and guitarist GURF MORLIX.

"Syd's a friend of mine," McRae explains. "We met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival around 1990, and then she came out to Vancouver. The same with Gurf Morlix, who also played on the record. I met him at the Edmonton Folk Festival. We were doing three or four nights at the Commodore, and she opened for us. We got to know each other better, and then she invited me to come stay with her in New York for a week, and we just hung out.

"It's one of those road connections. Those kind of friendships you make on the road are so intense, because you know each other for such a short period of time. Those friendships are a lot different than the ones you have at home that you see all the time, but every much as wonderful."

McRae says she flew Straw up from Chicago on free air miles and flew Morlix up from Texas, once again throwing FACTOR some additional credit.

"I wouldn't have been able to make that record without their help," she says. "They've helped me with one of my videos, and with tour support, too. They're very supportive."

McRae says the funding available to Canadian artists is envied by those in other countries.

"Some friends of mine in the States are really blown away by it," she admits. "They have nothing like we have set up with FACTOR, so we're lucky that way. Canada Council, too. Just having those things available for artists is a tremendous advantage."






1990 -- Save This House

1991 -- Go Figure

1993 -- Faithlift

1995 -- Two Headed

1996 -- Open Heart Symphony (With The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra)


1991 -- Various Artists, Collected Works (with Spirit Of The West)

1992 -- The Wonder Stuff, Welcome To The Cheap Seats

1994 -- Various Artists, Upfront! Canadians Live On Stage (with Spirit Of The West)

1997 -- Various Artists, The Hanging Garden (with Spirit Of The West)


1998 -- Flying Jenny -- Stony Plain


THANKS: Richard Flohil, Philip Bast



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