Britt Festivals will host Under the Radar Festival

Britt Festivals will turn 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 are 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.

Soprano Ruth Moody (guitar, banjo, accordion, bodhran), mezzo-soprano Nicky Mehta (guitar, harmonica, ukulele, percussion) and alto Heather Masse (stand-up bass) combine their gifts to fill out the chordal range of their three-part harmonies.

Since the release of its second album, "Firecracker" on Red House Records in 2006, The Jennys have been riding a whirlwind of activity, according to the group's Web site. There have been head-turning reviews of the new album &

produced by David Travers-Smith (Jane Siberry, Harry Manx) and featuring a crew of musicians led by guitarist Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, k.d. lang) &

and successful tours through the U.S., the UK, Scotland, Northern Ireland and The Netherlands.

But foremost for the three women, they say, has been a second Juno nomination for "Firecracker," along with their longtime relationship with "A Prairie Home Companion" and a date alongside Rosanne Cash at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.

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 The Jennys' Web site. "She's got a smoky, enveloping kind of style."

Moody says she understands the power of three. It's what she calls "the sense of completeness and wholeness that can come only with three female voices."

"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 heavily guitar driven to more driven by the songs, he states on his Web site.

"Tunesmith Retrofit," on Rounder Records, offers compositions that include story songs and soul-baring ballads. Although Phelps' musical foundation remains country-blues and folk music, there's nothing traditional or predictable about his lyrical approach, which features distinctive images and refreshing turns of phrase, he says.

Phelps launched his recording career in his early 30s, after immersing himself in Miles Davis, John Coltrane and free improvisation and then discovering the blues of Skip James, Robert Pete Williams and Mississippi Fred McDowell. His first three albums, "Lead Me On," "Roll Away the Stone" and "Shine Eyed Mister Zen," featured guitar and vocal solos by Phelps.

With "Sky Like a Broken Clock," Phelps moved to strictly original compositions and added bassist Larry Taylor (Canned Heat, Tom Waits) and drummer Billy Conway (Morphine). On "Slingshot Professionals," Phelps added guitarist Bill Frisell and three Canadian musicians: slide guitarist Steve Dawson, fiddler-mandolinist Jesse Zubot and keyboardist Chris Gestrin, whose talents show up again on "Tunesmith Retrofit."

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

Since the release of "Mudshow," Detor's music has been featured on NPR, the BBC and countless other U.S. and European radio shows. She's one to watch in the musical world.

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

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