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Martha Wainwright on the Perks of Touring with her Kids

The Montreal singer/songerwriter on her musical birthright and Australia's night sky.

Martha Wainwright

Hometown and Home Base Montreal and New York

Claim to Fame Canadian-American folk musician and member of the musical dynasty that includes mother Kate McGarrigle, father Loudon Wainwright III and brother Rufus Wainwright

Current Project Touring her fifth album, Goodnight City, and completing her memoir, Stories I Might Regret Telling You, due out next year

Dream Vacation Vietnam or India. “It would be fun to take the kids on some real cultural journeys.”


You have homes in both Montreal and Brooklyn. Any favourite spots to eat?
In Montreal, I like Larry’s – you can go in for something small, or a full meal. In New York, there’s a great Japanese restaurant in SoHo where my father first took me, called Omen Azen. They make their own udon noodles, which are incredibly delicious. It’s a quiet spot, so it’s a great place to escape the city.

What’s it like to be part of such a formidable family?
For years I pushed it away, but now I’m embracing it. It could be because my mother’s gone – when there’s a void, maybe you get pulled back in. Although perhaps pushing it away helped me to find my own sound.

What do you remember about your early days as an artist?
I used to tour with my cousin and my piano player and, at one point, we had a small piano that we would pull out on the street in New York, in front of this bar we played called Nightingale, and have impromptu shows.

How has touring changed now that you have kids?
The experience is more through their lens. I don’t want them hanging out in a grungy back stage, so I’ll take them to a park, a museum or a library. On the road you can get into a funk, so it’s nice to be forced out of the hotel, off the bus.

Where’s your favourite place to tour?
Australia has always stood out because it’s a good combination of the familiar and the completely strange. The audience is very music- and lyric-oriented, but the backdrop is so foreign – the peculiar animals, the different stars.

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