A&E » Arts

Music that is just Waiful



Who: The Waifs

Where: Garibaldi Lift Co.

When: Wednesday, March 19

Anybody who loves folky, rootsy acoustic rhythms will no doubt have a Waifs story. Tales abound about gigs in the rain at small hippie gatherings to massive crowds at outdoor festivals or playing smoky bars from Nowheresville to New York. In the last 11 years, the Waifs have done it all and managed to stay independent and true to their fans.

So you think you haven’t heard of the Waifs yet? Well chances are you actually have but just don’t know it. If you’ve done the backpacking thing, had a barbie at an Aussie’s house, been on a roadtrip with a Canadian or sat around a hostel balcony making new friends, it’s highly likely you’ve heard their stuff. Even the band admit Waif tales from the audience are endless.

"I don’t think we ever played a gig on the last tour where someone didn’t come up to us with a Waifs story," said one third of the Waifs, Donna Simpson.

"It amazes us. We’ve had people come up to us who’ve been in cafes in Nepal and they’ve burnt a CD from the tape playing behind the counter. They’ve then travelled the world with it, ending up at our gig in Utah or somewhere and they say ‘you’ll never know where I got this’."

For a band that’s been sitting at the top of the Australian independent charts for 34 weeks and toured with Bob Dylan and Ani De Franco, it’s refreshing to find the Waifs still enjoy the little things in life. The small stories are the ones that matter. Their attitude could also explain part of their popularity. It feels like a reunion of family and friends at a Waifs gig. The trio’s comfortable stage presence and interaction with each other, their songs about silly things like apple flowers, haircuts and love give off a vibe that makes you feel good, plain and simple. That all that really matters is right here, right now and being happy with what you’ve got.

"We just do what we do," said Donna. "I mean, we don’t rock out all night or anything, we’re just cruisin’ and dancin’ music that’s a little bluesy, a little rootsy, a little countryish, a little bit of everything I guess."

The Waifs are sisters Donna and Vicki Simpson and good friend Josh Cunningham. While they all sing and write songs, they each share an assortment of instruments on stage creating a magical musical atmosphere. Josh plays lead guitar, Donna plays acoustic guitar, tambourine and mandolin and Vikki plays acoustic guitar and a wicked harmonica that belies the breath you think she’d have in that petite frame.