For the first time, Moxy Früvous is feeling a little pressure.
That's just what happens when a quartet comes out of Toronto, as Früvous did just a couple of years ago, and sells more than 50,000 copies of an independantly produced tape.
Such stunning success is a tough act to follow. It means they must at least match that gold-selling plateau with their first major-label release, or risk being considered a flop. (Called Bargainville, it's to be released July 20.)
"It's almost daunting coming to Winnipeg," Jean Ghomeshi said from Sarnia before heading to tonight's mainstage appearance. This means Sunday July 11 at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. "A lot of it may be self-imposed, but there's a strange kind of pressure that never existed before."
CBC-FM radio is broadcasting tonight's mainstage show live, combined with othertaped festival highlights. It's to start at 7 p.m. and will run for at least five hours, says CBC producer Lloyd Peterson. "We want to stay spontaneous," adds Peterson, a singer/guitarist who has performed at past festivals. "That's the best thing about the festival."
Ghomeshi readily admits that Moxy Früvous was unknown at last year's festival. "We had a great few days, sold about 1,000 tapes and the world was our oyster. But I almost sense we're not the underdogs any more."
The quartet - singer/drummer Ghomeshi, singer/guitarist Michael Ford, singer/bassist Murray Foster, and singer guitarist David Metheson - combined with fellow Torontonians the Barenaked Ladies in a Hogtown Hour workshop that was the hit of last year's Festival.
In fact, Früvous couldn't boldly go where no band has gone before if it wanted to. It's following a trail carefully blazed by the Ladies, from racking up huge independant sales to injecting political satire into its material.
"Barenaked Ladies have obviously, in terms of Canada, charted a successful path," Ghomeshi, 26, says. In fact, he says, several of the Ladies' tours were planned by Jack Ross, now Moxy's manager, but previously an agent.
"We'd be crazy not to want to follow that," Ghomeshi says.
"They're friends, and we think they're wonderful. But I feel confident this album will put to rest any percieved musical similarities. We're very comfortable and happy with that."
In past Winnipeg shows, Moxy Früvous cut a wide swath that included several a cappella tunes delivered with self-depricating humor. One of their best known, for instance, was a hilarious high-speed send-up of Dr. Suess's children's rhyme Green Eggs and Ham.
The four singer/musicians frequently took razor sharp stabs at the political world as well. One tune delviered from an American perspective referred to Canadians as "a frigid, spineless pawn of Wall Street and the Pentagon."
"It's complyex, and something we're struggling with right now," Ghomeshi says of the groups focus. "We haven't lost the desire to marry those things, but one of the decisions we made was to make an album that will live on. We didn't want people to get tired of the joke."
"Unequivocally, the new album is darker, and a little more sophisticated musically. Of 15 tracks, only three are a cappella."