Whitehorse’s Annie Avery and Dawson City’s George McConkey joined forces for an evening at the pub

Bombay Peggy’s was crowded with a revolving group of about 50 people on the evening of May 11, when Whitehorse’s Annie Avery and Dawson City’s George McConkey joined forces for an evening at the pub.

Avery and McConkey get together for an evening whenever she has a gig at Dawson’s Robert Service School, and they find Peggy’s a congenial place to perform for a small crowd.

For this particular evening, however, they had something special to offer: the launch of their new CD, Honouring the Blues, a collection of four original tunes and four standards they began working on last summer in Whitehorse.

“We played a live concert at the Old Firehall and we recorded that,” Avery said. “We were able to use a little bit of it on the CD. Then we went into the studio in September and finished it up.”

They’ve been toying with the idea of making a CD for a while.

“It’s been about three years,” Avery said. “Every time we played in Peggy’s it was like magic, then when we played at Frostbite last year it really sort of sealed the deal that this is working. We had a really exciting performance and a standing ovation and people were yelling and screaming, so it wasn’t just Dawson City.”

The theme for the CD came from their mutual love for the blues.

“We’re both die-hard blues players and if I had to pick anything to play I think I’d do that,” she says. “We try to honour the way it’s been done by the greats. It’s a fairly easily understood genre, but it’s how you play it, the intensity with which you play it, that separates the men from the boys.”

McConkey, who has been known as Harmonica George since sometime in the late 1970s, was rocking the harmonicas at the show. The new CD also features his prowess with the harmonica – he actually has a suitcase full of them in different keys.

“George is one of those guys that just when you think you can’t do any more he will go on and play another three choruses,” Avery says. “We tend to egg each other on.”

Sometimes she’s not quite sure where he’s going to go, but she knows she can follow and that they will both get there.

“I’ve played with a lot of different people and I really appreciate playing with somebody you can connect with – have an intuitive connection with.”

The pair played two 45-minute sets that night at Peggy’s, with time for CD sales and signings during the breaks, and then another half set — just because they were having a good time.

“We played to almost twelve,” says Avery, “And then we had an encore after that.”

I’ll just bet they did.

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