Singer-songwriter Cara Luft has performed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival many times, including with her former band The Wailin' Jennys, but not since 2008.
Now she's making up for lost time with a 'tweener set on the Main Stage on July 10, a full concert at the Little Stage on July 11 and a prime spot on closing night. For the Sunday night wind-up, she's been asked to lead the big finale sing-a-long, "Mary Ellen Carter."
"There are so many words! It's one of those classic Canadiana folksongs, and they're not easy words," she exclaimed.
"It's a great way to celebrate the festival. All the volunteers and whichever musicians are left get up on stage and it's a really nice finale to the festival."
Cara Luft is currently involved in a new project with JD Edwards and has invited him to join her in all of her performances. The two came together on the stage for the first time in 2012 at the West End Cultural Centre's 25th anniversary concert. The idea for that concert was to pair up musicians who would have never performed together before.
"We knew each other but we'd never sung together and we didn't even really know each other's music. So we got together to start singing and it was just instant. It was like, wow, we sound really good together," she said.
After that initial concert the two didn't have the chance to follow up for some time because of other projects on the go, but then in January, Luft decided to invite Edwards to join her for a concert. It went so well, she invited him on a western tour.
"The audience reaction was incredible. It was like the first time the Jennys started playing, that kind of magical spark. The voices work so well together," she said.
Luft had been looking to work with someone, but needed to find the right person who could sing strong melody and really strong harmony and also be open to a woman who sometimes wants to play lead guitar.
Then just this past June a last-minute chance came up to record in a new analogue studio in Kelowna with producer Neil Osborne of 54-40.
"It was the case of the sum being bigger than the parts, so we decided to jump in and do a duo project, so it's really exciting," she said.
They are currently shopping around for a record label and Luft has again asked Edwards to tour with her in the UK in August.
Catch Cara Luft, joined by JD Edwards, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival Thursday on the Main Stage at 7:00, Friday on the Little Stage for a full concert at 3:30, workshops Saturday at the Shady Grove at 4:00 and Sunday at Spruce Hollow at 11:45, and finally, at the closing concert on the Main Stage on Sunday at 10:00 p.m.