Indigo Girls bring enduring chemistry to Arden
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 06:00 am
The Indigo Girls’ chemistry is undeniable and their progressive politics are a permanent pillar of their success.
The openly lesbian singers have never made a secret of their activist bent and they’re known for championing causes from sustaining the environment to abolishing the death penalty to same sex marriage.
But on their Two North: Indigo Girls Canadian Tour 2013, with a stop at the Arden Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 1, the sloganeering will be minimized – or at least subtly buried within the lyrics.
Canada’s fans have regularly put down the welcome mat over the last 25 years that the duo has been touring. Emily Saliers and Amy Ray have played the big cities – Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.
The Grammy Award-winning folk rock duo are strongly supported at the Edmonton Folk Festival and were part of the 1997 Lilith Fair Music Festival organized by Sarah McLachlan.
This time around, their 15-city coast-to-coast tour is geared towards smaller cities.
“We love Canada and we wanted to do a comprehensive tour. My partner is from Canada and I wanted to get to know it better. It’s going to be town-to-town. We’ll be on ferries and roads connecting the dots. And we’re going to see if the old ladies still have it in them,” chuckles Saliers.
Deeply committed to the south, Ray is a fourth generation Georgian and Saliers has lived in Atlanta since she was nine. They met in elementary school, became fast friends and performed under the name Indigo Girls as students at Emory University.
“Our lives have been aligned for a long time and our careers sprang out of that friendship. With small goals, we made a career. It was always ‘let’s get the coolest gig.’ It was very organic,” says Saliers.
She notes that their differences contribute as much as the similarities to their dynamic chemistry. Ray lives on an acreage, is a dedicated vegetarian and loves rock music. Saliers prefers the urban vibe, is into Joni Mitchell and enjoys her steak.
“We’re polar opposites, but we have the same set of values. We play music for the same reason and we’re committed to activism. We have a deep respect for each other and appreciate the differences instead of feeling threatened,” Saliers said.
Many songwriters use tunes as a way to tell stories of human heroism and folly. For Indigo Girls, activism is an integral expression of who they are.
“We were both raised to be citizens of a community and it’s important to be part of a community. Even though our parents differed politically, we share the same values. It fuels our activism and we are on the same page.”
Many duos that launched professional careers in the ’80s have long faded into the sunset.
“Whenever I’m asked to reflect on our career, I find it marvelous. Having a friend like Amy makes me feel blessed. At our age when you’re touring sometimes you get tired physically. But the energy burns bright and I don’t get tired playing shows week after week with Amy.”
Opening for Indigo Girls is Ottawa-based musical storyteller Jeremy Fisher. The two-time Juno nominee released his fifth album Mint Juleps in 2012 and last performed at the Arden in February.
Tickets for the concert are sold out.