Ot­tawa’s favourite quit­ter, Kath­leen Ed­wards, re­tunes

Ottawa Magazine - - THIS CITY -

Her words and actions are of­ten head­line news. When she said she wanted to take a break from mu­sic, peo­ple sobbed. Later, she opened a café in Stittsville with the name Quit­ters. But be­ing part of the news cy­cle worked in her favour when her two stolen gui­tars were found this past sum­mer. They’re back in hand, and, with that char­ac­ter­is­tic mix of quick wit and wrench­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity, Ot­tawa’s favourite daugh­ter is writ­ing again. She’s also per­form­ing at the NAC on Nov. 24 as the first of Petr Can­cura’s Cross­roads Jazz Se­ries. This col­lab­o­ra­tion, a re­union of sorts given that Can­cura played on Ed­wards’ first al­bum, fea­tures jazz in­ter­pre­ta­tions of var­i­ous song­writ­ers’ works. She likens the up­com­ing per­for­mance to an op­por­tu­nity to have a “clean slate,” the abil­ity to rein­vent her songs. It’s an aus­pi­cious re­boot for a mu­si­cian who quit her first love only to find it again.

You’re per­form­ing at the NAC — does this mean the break from mu­sic has ended?

This is a trial run to get my sea legs again. The things that hap­pen at Quit­ters day to day re­quire my full at­ten­tion, so it will be a nice break.

How is it to have a day-to-day rou­tine? For years you were ev­ery­where from dive bars to the


Let­ter­man This is def­i­nitely the most at home I’ve felt in my adult life. I started this place [Quit­ters], and I learned who lives in this com­mu­nity very quickly. It’s like after the show where there are one or two peo­ple that stand out be­cause they get you and you get them. It’s the same thing here. It’s like ev­ery­one is look­ing out for you.

It’s also a com­mu­nity that loves its pets. I hear you have sev­eral …

I have two adopted dogs: a labradoo­dle and a golden. I have two res­cue cats — both Si­amese. My golden is named Redd after the fa­ther in That ’70s Show. Penny is my labradoo­dle, and my cats are Mister T and Lit­tle T. I’m the weirdo you’ll see if you look out the win­dow in the evening: it’s me, my two dogs walk­ing off-leash, with the two cats fol­low­ing right be­hind. I trained my cats to walk with me. You just go down a house or two and call them and they’re like, “Oh, we get to do this?”

What songs will be rein­ter­preted dur­ing the Cross­roads Jazz se­ries?

I’d like to cover songs from some of my favourite Cana­dian song­writ­ers: Han­nah Ge­or­gas, Old Man Luedecke, and some­thing a lit­tle off the beaten path from Blue Rodeo.

Is there a new al­bum in the works?

In my dream sce­nario, I would spend the fall and win­ter record­ing. This time away from the mu­sic in­dus­try has put so many things in a new light that I knew in my heart but wasn’t liv­ing. For ex­am­ple, I went to Toronto a while ago for a launch. I was at this party with a lot of peo­ple who are amaz­ing and a lot of peo­ple for whom it’s just a big air bal­loon of bull­shit. Be­fore, I would en­dure it, nav­i­gate By Fa­teema Sayani it, smile through it. Now I just think, I don’t have the time of day for your look-me-up-and-dow­nand-com­ment-on-my-weight dis­gust­ing­ness.

Your last al­bum, was crit­i­cally ac­claimed, and the crush­ing break-up theme was so ten­der. It must have been painful to churn it up night after night.

Voyageur, I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­pres­sion, and there were times I dreaded go­ing on stage and felt so raw, so on edge, or just re­ally low. I re­mem­ber one night in Cal­gary, I looked out and there was this cou­ple who were su­per in love and it took ev­ery­thing in my power not to feel dev­as­tated. Then you’ve got to sing “A Soft Place to Land,” and you’re think­ing, I don’t want to be the per­son singing right now.

It was head­line news when your gui­tars were stolen last year and then again when they were found this past June.

Talk about slow news weeks! At the same time, I have a close friend and he said, “Kath­leen, I don’t think you re­al­ize that peo­ple are watch­ing and lis­ten­ing to what you do and say. Some­one stole your gui­tars and it was a vi­ral story. Peo­ple care!”

How did the gui­tars come back?

Some­one left them in a garbage bag in a park in a very cal­cu­lated and in­ten­tional move so that they would not be seen dump­ing them but they would be dis­cov­ered. This guy was walk­ing his dogs, saw them, took them home, and left his name at the shop. I got to his house, and I just had this huge sero­tonin rush. I hugged him about eight times. Both gui­tars were gifts from Colin, my ex-hus­band and for­mer band­mate. We’re still close, and he was the first per­son I told.

You’ve al­ways been frank about your ex­pe­ri­ences and feel­ings. Do peo­ple take ad­van­tage of that?

I had a bunch of guys do­ing land­scape work at my place. One of the guys came up to me and said, “Is it true that you used to date Justin Ver­non? He’s my favourite.” I was like, oh, re­ally, right now, here? Who in the real world hires a land­scaper and then gets asked about a painful old re­la­tion­ship?

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