The Waifs are a folk rock band from Western Australia. The original members of The Waifs are Josh Cunningham (guitar, vocals), and sisters Vikki Thorn (harmonica, guitar, vocals) and Donna Simpson (guitar, vocals). Their current tour band also incudes Ben Franz (bass) and David Ross MacDonald (drums).
Their 2003 album Up All Night reached double platinum in Australia and reached the top 5 of the Australian album charts, and the band won four ARIA Awards in October 2003. The Waifs have enjoyed two top fifty singles in Australia, the London Still EP in 2002 and Bridal Train EP in 2004. The band so impressed Bob Dylan when they supported him on his 2003 Australian tour that he asked them to join him in his 2003 North American tour, including a gig at the Newport Folk Festival
The band released its third album Sink or Swim in 2000 and started to play at folk festivals in Canada and the US. In 2001, the band made its first appearance at the Newport Folk Festival; the Newport Daily News acclaiming them as "the darlings of [that] year's festival". The growing international reputation of the band led to the release of Sink or Swim in the United States in 2002.
Vikki Simpson told the Sydney Morning Herald on October 1, 2003 that the success of the album had taken the band by surprise. "We were nonchalant about releasing albums. We'd released three already and had learned not to put too much hope behind an album because you're usually disappointed. So it was a surprise, but we took it in our stride. It was all very exciting but it didn't seem real to us because it was such a new experience."
The band supported Bob Dylan on his Australian tour in March 2003. Dylan was so impressed by the band that he offered them the support slot on his tour of North America in 2003. This was a great thrill for the group as the band started off playing Bob Dylan tunes before they started writing their own songs. In 2003, the band also participated in Big Day Out, an Australian traveling music festival.
The Waifs won ARIA Awards for Best Roots and Blues Album and Best Independent Album in the 2003 awards. In addition, they won the awards for Best Produced Album and Best Engineered Album. Chris Thompson was the Producer and Engineer for "Up All Night", as well as singles "London Still", "Bridal Train" and the live double album "A Brief History...".
The Bridal Train EP was released in March 2004 and made the Australian Top 50 singles charts in April 2004. The title track tells the story of Vikki and Donna Simpson's grandmother, a war-bride of a sailor in the US Navy. She boarded the so-called "Bridal Train" between Perth, Western Australia, and Sydney to travel to San Francisco to meet up again with her husband. The Waifs finally released a highly awaited double live album in November 2004 which debuted in the top 30 of the Australia album charts. Vikki Simpson gave birth to a baby boy, Noah, on Saturday June 19, 2004.
In 2005 The Waifs continued with their well earned rest and commenting on a new album said "We won't be going into the studio any time soon. Our collective focus is too outside of music and career right now to put out an album."
The Waifs also announced via their MySpace that "there are some things in the
pipeline. First of all a new record to be recorded sometime in the new year." On February 8, 2007, the Waifs issued a press release on their website with information about the new album:
"The Waifs are currently in Nashville, USA laying down tracks to the highly anticipated follow up to their last studio recording, the double platinum, multiple award winning Up All Night (2003). Donna and Vikki Simpson and Josh Cunningham, will each be bringing a plethora of new songs written over the past two years into these studio sessions. Due for completion mid 2007, the yet to be named album will be released on Jarrah Records, the fully independent label they share with the John Butler Trio, and MGM Distribution.
In May 2007, Donna Simpson announced that the title of the band's newest album would be Sun Dirt Water. The album was released on September 1, 2007 in Australia. The album debuted and peaked at #2 on the ARIA Album Chart in September 2007.
The Waifs performed across Australia in the spring of 2007 on the SunDirtWater tour to many sold out venues. The tour started on September 19 in Broome, and ended on October 26 at Legs 11, a concert for breast cancer research. In November, 2007, The Waifs announced that they would be collaborating with the John Butler Trio in the "Union of Soul Tour" of January, 2008. The short tour had five concerts, with shows taking place in various cities across Western Australia including Denmark, Margaret River, Swan Valley, and two gigs at the Fremantle Arts Centre.