The Wailin’ Jennys bring original acoustic music to Britt. - Photo by Art Turner

Britt's Under the Radar Festival

Britt Festivals turns its spotlight on emerging artists this weekend when The Wailin' Jennys, Kelly Joe Phelps and Krista Detor take the stage to present original takes on folk, country and jazz.

"This is going to be one of those nights that is reminiscent of what Britt once was," says Kelly Gonzales, Britt's director of marketing. "The three acts will introduce people to great, new music — and at a low ticket price. Each act is a little bit different, but they're rising stars. It'll be the sleeper show of the season."

The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 27, at the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville.

The headliner, The Wailin' Jennys, comprises three voices that have evolved into the melodious sum of their individual talents after blowing in on a fresh, acoustic breeze with their Juno Award-winning debut album "40 Days" in 2004. They are soprano Ruth Moody (guitar, banjo, accordion, bodhran), mezzo-soprano Nicky Mehta (guitar, harmonica, ukulele, percussion) and alto Heather Masse (stand-up bass).

Since the release of its second album, "Firecracker" on Red House Records in 2006, the Jennys has been riding a whirlwind of activity, according to the group's Web site, including tours through the U.S., England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Netherlands. The album was produced by David Travers-Smith (Jane Siberry, Harry Manx) and features a crew of musicians led by guitarist Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, k.d. lang).

The Canada-based Moody and Mehta are the charter members of the Jennys, while New Yorker Masse is a new recruit for this, the third, version of the group. Masse hit it off immediately with Moody and Mehta during an impromptu audition held in a backstage bathroom in Philadelphia.

"Heather fits in astonishingly well with us," Moody says on the Jennys' Web site. "Now we've opened a new chapter in the Jennys' story," Moody says. "That we can find the magic while laughing and singing together in a dimly lit bathroom says it all, really."

For Phelps, his palette of original material was established with his albums "Sky Like a Broken Clock" and "Slingshot Professionals" in 2001 and 2003, respectively. But on his sixth album, the Portland-based songwriter introduced new elements into his music that shift its focus from guitar-driven to song-driven, he states on his Web site.

The musical foundation of "Tunesmith Retrofit," on Rounder Records, remains country-blues and folk music, but there's nothing traditional or predictable about his lyrical approach, which features distinctive images and refreshing turns of phrase, his Web site says.

Phelps launched his recording career in his early 30s. His first three albums featured his guitar and vocal solos. With "Sky Like a Broken Clock," Phelps moved to strictly original compositions

Detor's 2005 album "Mudshow" made her a player on the world stage. Now, with her 2007 follow-up album, "Cover Their Eyes," she has created a collection of songs that run through the genres of folk and jazz and show strong songwriting sensibilities.

Tickets to Britt's Under the Radar Festival are $27 for reserved seating, $16 for lawn seating and $12 for children. See brittfest.org or call 773-6077.

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