Little Miss Higgins
Any regular reader will know I am a blues fan, and have been for a fair while now. Given that I thought I was pretty well aware of the top blues players in Saskatchewan, the likes of BC Read, Jordan Cook, and Jack Semple. Then the CD Junction City comes across the desk, and I learned pretty quickly there are always gems out there still to be found.
Hey! If the lead-in to this review is the same as the one for Whiteboy Slim above, it's only because this too is a Saskatchewan gem.
Higgins resides in Nokomis, SK., not exactly the locale you'd expect to find a hot blues singer, but then that's the beauty of music it can come from anywhere. Then again she was born in Alberta and grew up in Independence, Kansas, so she's been around to experience music.
Higgins voice isn't the usual low rumbling one most expect from the blues. It carries off into the stratosphere, with a much higher pitch. On first listen that threw me a little, but it quickly grew on me, as I recognized Higgins' voice as distinctive, and that is rarely bad in music.
It doesn't hurt either that this CD and Higgins herself have something of a Canadian blues pedigree going. 'Big' Dave McLean, who local blues fans will recall from appearances at the Painted Hand Casino has called Higgins “a true jewel of the Canadian Prairies.” That's a pretty rock solid endorsement considering McLean is arguably the top blues act on the Prairies.
Junction City, named after a nickname Nokomis once boasted, is also produced by Tim Williams. Williams might be the best roots bluesman in the country, coming out of B.C., so Higgins has obviously caught his ear too.
As you might have gathered by now, Higgins is a roots blues performer, with much of her music having a turn-of-the-century feel. She even pulls some of the material from the past including Memphis Minnie (McCoy's) You Ain't Done Nothing to Me, and finds a way to make it her own.
Higgins also pens the majority of the songs here, including The Broadcast Boogie, The Mama Lion Song, The Train's a 'Comin' Down, The Dirty Old Tractor Song and Nokomis Waltz.
Through it all, Higgins distinctive voice grows on the listener, and the material begins to resonate with that sort of roots Prairie feel, that connects us to this place.
Higgins is another Saskatchewan performer we have somehow missed out on seeing locally. Again we can only hope that changes, since hearing her live would no doubt be a treat.
Until a local venue catches on to this fine performer, check her out at http://www.littlemisshiggins.com/ and don't forget to grab a copy of Junction City.
-- CALVIN DANIELS
- Review first appeared Yorkton This Week newspaper May 23, 2007 - Yorkton, SK. Canada