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Blackflies be damned: The Good Lovelies touring Northern Ontario

(Mostly) Toronto-based trio performing at Copper Cliff Italian Club May 25
The Good Lovelies perform at the Copper Cliff Italian Club May 25. The concert is being organized by Northern Lights Festival Boréal. (Supplied)

The Good Lovelies — a.k.a. Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore — are touring Northern Ontario next week. In prime blackfly season, no less. With two toddlers in tow.

“It is a bit of a funny time to be going north, isn't it?” said Brooks. “We're game for anything. We've toured Alaska in February. May in Northern Ontario is not so scary to us.”

The (mostly) Toronto-based folk/country harmony trio (Ough lives in Newfoundland) perform at the Copper Cliff Italian Club May 25. The concert is being organized by Northern Lights Festival Boréal.

They're also performing in Innisfil (near Barrie) May 23, North Bay May 24, Sault Ste. Marie May 26 and Thunder Bay May 27.

Northern Ontario is a place that means a lot to the band, said Brooks.

“When we first quit our jobs to do this full time, which was almost 10 years ago now, we headed north on the Trans Canada,” she said. “On that first tour, we booked a show. We played in Sudbury, in Sault Ste. Marie. We did all these great shows where no one knew where we were. 

“There was something so special about playing in Northern Ontario. People were so receptive and open to it.”

The Good Lovelies are no stranger to Sudbury, although it's been years since they've been through town.

In 2012, they performed at Northern Lights Festival Boréal. The Good Lovelies were also the guest performers with the CBC Vinyl Cafe tour in 2010 and 2013, and the 2010 show came through Sudbury.

Brooks said her group owes a lot to the late Vinyl Cafe host Stuart McLean, who passed away in February. “Stuart will always be a big part of our band's history,” she said. “He and the entire Vinyl Cafe tour opened some very big doors for us.”

The band was formed in 2006 after Brooks, Ough and Passmore — then solo artists — came together to to perform a Christmas concert.

They've known each other for years. Ough and Passmore met in grade school, and Brooks met the other two in university.

The women have stuck by each other's side through major life changes, including marriage and kids, and Ough's move to Newfoundland a few years ago. 

They still make the band work, despite one member living in a different province. “We don't want the band to be a reason for somebody not to live the life they want to live,” Brooks said.

Passmore and Brooks both have one-year-old sons that will be accompanying them on their upcoming tour, and Brooks also has a four-year-old daughter.

“We've owned the business together now for a decade, and our lives our inextricably linked together,” Brooks said. “We're basically standing with our hands in each other's pockets. I have two kids. Carrie and Sue are like my kids' aunts.”

The Good Lovelies have released five albums and two EPs, and is working on a new album they plan to release in early 2018. They're working with award-winning Halifax-based producer Daniel Ledwell on the album.

Tickets to the local show cost $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. Food will be sold at the event by the Italian Club.


Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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