Dollars for Darlings

Artists know that local initiatives are the key to maintaining and developing a vibrant arts community. Just ask Vanessa Kuzina, lead vocalist and guitar player of Winnipeg indie-roots outfit, Oh My Darling. “We’re four locals gals, and, as musicians, you really need the support of your community in so many ways. It is really what helps propel you to keep growing and to keep creating your art,” she said recently in an interview with the Manitoban.

But Oh My Darling really began to understand the importance of community support when they hit the studios in September to begin recording their first full-length CD. In order to reach out to their fans, and generate excitement, the band is hosting the Ho Ho Ho’ My Darling Holiday Spectacular and CD Fundraiser on Dec. 10 at the Park Theatre. It is the first Holiday show that the band has done together, and Kuzina explained, “We decided to do a holiday theme because it’s that time of year, and it’s always a nice way to bring people together.”

The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the band’s in-progress studio release, currently planned for the summer of 2010. “Were looking for support and we thought what better way to do it than to bring some special guests and some friends along with us for the show and to keep it warm and fuzzy!” Kuzina said.

The group’s forthcoming CD has been in the works for a couple of months and is just now starting to take shape. There will be a total of 10 tracks, all originals, except for one traditional French song. Kuzina said the finished product should see the band expand on the sound of their debut EP, which garnered a Best Roots Album nomination at the Western Canadian Music awards earlier this year.

When asked to describe that sound, Kuzina said that Oh My Darling definitely have “their own brand of country music,” which fits into a “country roots vein.” Indeed, they draw a lot of inspiration from “Appalachian old times” and “traditional blue grass,” and Kuzina professes to be a huge Dolly Parton fan. Bass player Marie-Josee (MJ) Dandeneau tempers these rootsy influences by bringing a funk and jazz background to the musical palette. The quintet is rounded out by Rosalyn Dennet on fiddle and Allison de Groot, who is responsible for some mean banjo-pluckin’.

The band came together when Kuzina was working on her solo album and De Groot was providing accompaniment. They met Dandeneau “through the grapevine. [ . . . ] We had seen her play and she was so great. The three of us started to play together,” Kuzina explained. As the group’s sound evolved, they decided they needed a fiddle player. They found Roslyn Dennet and, as Kuzina puts it, “The rest is history.”

Well, it’s not all history just yet. There’s still that fundraiser show coming up on the 10th, and Kuzina said the band needs your help. But, more importantly, she also believes that events like this actually benefit Winnipeg audiences, explaining that “it is really important to keep ‘in the know’ about the arts community. I really think that’s part of what keeps a city thriving and exciting.”

The Ho Ho Ho’ My Darling Holiday Spectacular and CD Fundraiser takes place at 8 p.m. on Dec. 10 at the Park Theatre.