Lisa Hewitt has been performing her own original songs for over 18 years, winning Canadian Country Music Awards and touring across North America. But for her latest project, The Little Ole Opry, Hewitt pays homage to her childhood influences by playing a setlist of country music’s greatest hits.
“I grew up on classic country,” Hewitt says. “Those were the days of the records strewn around the living room on a Friday and Saturday night … When it was time for me to choose the material [for this show] it was so easy, because it was just all the songs that I grew up loving. It was Johnny Cash. It was Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton and George Jones.”
With such an extensive songbook to choose from, Hewitt has been able to continually update and adapt the show over the past three years.
“I get to work with so many different players and so many different talents, and call upon the ones that feel good and fit right,” she says.
The Little Ole Opry has evolved to reflect some major events in Hewitt’s life, including the birth of her daughter and the death of her friend and bassist Fred Larose. In each performance, Hewitt tries to evoke the casual mood of the Grand Ole Opry, where highly polished theatricality is replaced by the raw emotion of country music and the randomness of live performance.
“It’s almost like you’re in somebody’s kitchen, you know? [It’s] the atmosphere of musicians coming and going off the stage—kind of a loosey-goosey yet awesome production,” she says. “I’m not big on overly produced shows. I like the feel of ‘Welcome to our kitchen. Welcome to our show, where anything could happen.'”
The most recent twist in the show is a perfect example of the Opry’s joyful chaos—Hewitt just broke her foot. The singer shares the news with humour, promising a good performance no matter what.
“Am I going to be doing the Don Williams from the big old leather couch at the front of the stage? Or am I actually going to be able to put on a cowboy boot? We’ll see!”
Fri, Sep 25 & Sat, Sep 26 (8 pm)
Capitol Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park, $22