Review: Jim and Penny Malmberg, Rosie and the Riveters at Northern Lights Folk Club

I’m constantly amazed by the diversity of musicians in Edmonton and the range of genres that they perform. At the Northern Lights Folk Club last night, locals Jim & Penny Malmberg showed off their quirkiness in song lyrics like Muffin Tops in Love or when they drew comparisons between courtship and fishing in I Took the Bait. Even throwing in a good o’le bluegrass murder ballad with Urban Coyote.

But it wasn’t all hilarious stage banter and eccentric songs, when Penny announced that she was at the Women’s March earlier that day at the Alberta Legislature, she brought the focus to the fight for women’s rights. She excused herself for screaming herself hoarse earlier that day, disregarding texts from Jim to save her voice for the gig, and it was evident her passion for this issue could not be silenced. For the conclusion of their half of the show, the Malmbergs sang a cover of the Rolling Stone’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want echoing their sentiments.

The ethos of the first half of the evening transferred seamlessly to Rosie & The Riveters who added a refreshing dose of colour therapy with their stylized charm from the 1940s. Without a synchronized snap or a foot tap out of place, their dense harmonies wove throughout each of their tunes with a comedic sparkle while singing about their Red Dress or Dancing ‘Cause of My Joy.  With A Million Little Things they reminded us that sometimes we can all benefit from a change in perspective, especially in the dark of January.

Rosie & The Riveters made it was easy for us not to take ourselves too seriously, by teaching us how to dance with moves such as “petting the horse’s head” and “touch the sky” — sidenote: if you feel ridiculous and awkward, you are doing these moves right — and somehow it felt inherently right when the kazoos came out for a song battle or the beat box app played the underlying beat as they rapped Johnny Cash on top of it.

It was a power packed evening full of good humour and quirkiness — if you didn’t show up with a smile on your face, you certainly left with one.

Women of Folkways is up next at the Northern Lights Folk Club on Saturday, February 4, 2017 with Dana Wylie, Linda McRae, and Shawna Caspi.

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