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Crowe's train tour makes local pit stop

B.C. songstress brings jazz, folk, rock mix to town

Kim Mannix Vermette, Metro Ottawa, May 26 - 28, 2006 (Canada)

In the past 13 days Allison Crowe has seen the tranquil Pacific ocean, the majestic mountains, the open prairie, and the big cities of Ontario. And she still has a lot of country to explore.

The purveyor of jazz, folk, rock, blues and any other genre you want to add to the musical mix is no stranger to touring, but it is the first time she's seen the expansive beauty of Canada by train.

"Trains go places you can't see on the highway. It's beautiful," Crowe says of her current Rock'n'Rail Revue tour on VIA Rail Canada.

The multi-city train trip makes a stop in Ottawa this weekend, and even though it's been a hectic few days, Crowe raves about the wonders of the rails. "It's so much fun to sleep overnight on the train," she says, with the same enthusiasm she's noted for in her live shows.

In fact, the singer-songwriter's intimate and spirited performances are one of the many reasons she's become a darling of Canadian music critics, even if the rest of the country is just catching on to her music.

The Nanaimo, B.C. native has been writing and performing for years, as one of those multi-talented performers who play many instruments, in many different styles. But Crowe's main instruments remain her soulful voice and her piano. The girl-behind-the-piano draws the obvious comparisons to Norah Jones and famed Canadian songstress Diana Krall, while her knack for comedy is reminiscent of Jann Arden's live shows.

"I'm kind of a big ham on stage," laughs Crowe. "I kind of like to do some rockier stuff and sometimes even throw in some show tunes, and basically just have a lot of fun."

Live performance is also the best way for Crowe to give life to her personal and often poetic lyrics.

"I always say it's like therapy. It's therapeutic for me to write it all down and then sing it or scream it at people. I always feel a lot better at the end of the night."

This weekend Crowe will be aiming to make others feel better too. Her concert is a fundraiser for Ottawa's Vision Theatre and the charity Canines With a Cause. She's happy to be part of a long tradition of Canadian musicians who put their talents behind a cause.

"If you are given a platform, you might as well use it, right?"

Crowe performs Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Ave. A pre-show reception at 7 p.m. will be hosted by Bob FM's Sandy Sharkey. Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door. For information, call the box office at (613) 564-7240.