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American Folk Music

Kate MacKenzie -> Geoff Muldaur


KATE MACKENZIE Red House 91 Age Of Innocence ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 34 minutes, recommended. For years Kate MacKenzie sang with Stoney Lonesome, a group which enjoyed wide exposure on the "Prairie Home Companion" radio show. MacKenzie's 1995 solo effort Let 'Em Talk was widely praised and with this second release on Red House records, she provides more convincing evidence that she is a strong performer in her own right. MacKenzie's beautiful voice, equally sassy and vulnerable, has much to do with this. The high quality of the instrumental backing also deserves mention. Musicians include John Reischman on mandolin, fiddler Stuart Duncan, banjo players Tony Furtado and Alan O'Bryant, Rob Ickes on dobro, and producer Nick Forester on guitar. Of course strong material doesn't hurt either and you will find it here! I particularly enjoyed the title tune, a tribute to the simple life, and the fine version of the traditional song Single Girl paired with a fine instrumental workout on Sally Ann. As she did on her first album, MacKenzie includes a song by Greg Brown; this time it is Driftless. Other selections include Carolina which MacKenzie co wrote with Forester, Blue Lonesome Wind, and a spirited romp through the traditional number, What's the Matter with the Mill. (DP)

MAGICAL STRINGS Flying Fish 282 Spring Tide ● CD $15.98

MAGICAL STRINGS Flying Fish 360 Above The Tower ● CD $15.98

MAGICAL STRINGS Flying Fish 416 On The Burren ● CD $15.98
Philip and Pam Boulding play 13 instrumentals, including 4 by O'Carolan.

MAGICAL STRINGS Flying Fish 531 Crossing To Skellig ● CD $15.98

MAGICAL STRINGS Flying Fish 604 Good People All ● CD $15.98

MAGICAL STRINGS Flying Fish 631 Bell Off The Ledge ● CD $15.98

TAJ MAHAL Columbia CGK 18 Giant Step/De Ole Folks At Home ● CD $12.98
CD reissue of classic early Taj album, with Candy Man, Stagger Lee, Fishin' Blues, Take A Giant Step, You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond and many more. Great stuff! (MB)

DAVE MALLETT Flying Fish 110 Inches & Miles: 1977-1980 ● CD $15.98

DAVE MALLETT Flying Fish 291 Open Doors And Windows ● CD $15.98
CD reissue of singer/songwriter's (Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris) first recording on Flying Fish

DAVE MALLETT Flying Fish 497 For A Lifetime ● CD $15.98

MARCY MARXER Rounder 8012 Jump Children ● CD $15.98

DAVID MASSENGILL Flying Fish 590 Coming Up For Air ● CD $15.98

WALL MATTHEWS Clean Cuts 712 Gathering The World ● CD $16.98
Guitarist Wall Matthews is a "new acoustic" scenester. He isn't really a dawg-eared technopicker; nor is he a new age snooze inducer. Creativity sets him apart from the pack here, as does his bold choice of African-based material. Earthy female vocals are the backbone of many songs - Woody Guthrie's Pastures Of Plenty/ Go Down Old Hannah, the call and response Ada and the title track. And Matthews' percussion seasons most tracks without being too "ethnic". It all inspires good listening. (MB)

MARY MCCASLIN & JIM RINGER Philo 1055 The Bramble & The Rose ● CD $15.98
Reissue of excellent 1978 album by distinctive duo. A fine mix of traditional songs (Oh Death/ Canaan's Land), old country favorites (I Don't Believe Youve Met My Baby/ Rank Stranger) and more contemporary compositions (Geronimo's Cadillac/ Stages Of My Life/ Strawberry Roan, etc) and even a very effective folk-country version of Ray Charles' Hit The Road Jack.

MARY MCCASLIN Bear Family BCD 16232 Rain - The Early Recordings ● CD $21.98
The earliest recordings of this fine folk performer recorded for Capitol between 1967 and 1968 and mostly previously unissued. She does songs by Leonard Cohen, Lennon & McCartney, Hoyt Axton, Bert Jansch and others.

MARY MCCASLIN Philo 1149 Things We Said Today - Best Of Mary McCaslin ● CD $15.98
18 tracks, 62 min., essential. This is absolutely mesmerizing. Culled from four past Philo albums, these songs reveal McCaslin as an incomparable writer and interpreter of the pure American folk song. No tricks, no glitter here. Just exquisitely recorded songs that can stop you dead in your tracks to simply listen and remember. In her gentle hands, the Lennon-McCartney title track becomes utterly American, spun slightly to reveal emotional depth even the Beatles missed. Her high, crystal-clear voice is never hurried here. The 18 songs flow one into the next with the power and assurance of a river. Ten of the songs are originals and many, like Old Friends, are classics. She even shares the spotlight once with Jim Ringer on The Bramble and the Rose. The whole is poignant and moving. (DC)

MARY MCCASLIN Philo 1160 Broken Promises ● CD $15.98
13 tracks, 40 min., recommended This set of mostly self-penned numbers dealing with disappointments in life and love is McCaslin's first new issue in several years and should be welcomed by those who value an experienced lyrical perspective. The whole program is evocative and effective, but I particularly like the title tune, Once Again/ The Old Days, her plaintive reading of the Beatles' Help/ If I Don't Miss You, and the country fiddle-backed Too Late to Pray. A weary and wise program on the whole, good listening for those of us who, like the artist here, have reached our middle years. (DH)

ED MCCURDY Tradition TCD 1025 Cowboy Songs ● CD $11.98
13 tracks, 40 min., recommended What makes this collection so interesting and satisfying, at least to me, is that McGurdy sings these cowboy songs with none of the trappings of commercial country music. Instead it's just his voice and guitar, accompanied intermittently by Erik Darling's banjo. Featured numbers include When the Work's All Done This Fall, Jack O'Diamonds, Utah Carroll, Red River Valley, Along Side of the Santa Fe Trail, Poor Lonesome Cowboy, and The Texas Song. The digital reissue of the identically titled LP from the early 60's, featuring a folklorist's approach to early 20th Century music. (DH)

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0192 Winter Solstice ● CD $15.98
Hammer dulcimer music for Christmas, Chanukah, and the New Year's season featuring Trapezoid & members of the Washington Bach Consort.

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0216 Step By Step ● CD $15.98
This album is a multifaceted crystal. The dulcimer sparkles in this as a mid-summer's sun on a mountain stream. The backup, alone, in this album is a who's who of creative contemporary folk music. There is Paul Van Arsdale on hammer dulcimer, Grey Larsen and Malcolm Dalgish, Trapezoid, Metamora, Ralph Gordon, Walt Michael, and many others. Each selection is a gem of a different hue and texture, each placed expertly in its own setting. O'Carolan has never lived as well as in two selections on this album. The old United Mine Workers' Step By Step sounds as if it had just been born. And on and on. Phrases like "tour de force" come to mind while trying to describe this album. But it is meant to be heard and not just discussed. Get it! (DB)

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0222 Gonna Rise Again ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0271 What It's Like ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0283 Live At Wolf Trap ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0336 Between The Eclipse ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 0358 Nothing To Lose ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON & SI KAHN Rounder 4017 Signs Of The Times ● CD $15.98
This is a topical album borne of love. John & Si clearly love what they are doing, they do it well and mean what they say. Their clear and strong voices melt and dovetail as they sing of the `signs of the times'. It is in an ancient tradition of minstrelsy that these two perform. There is a line from Joe Hill to Woody Guthrie to Pete Seeger (who John sometimes resembles) to Si Kahn and John McCutcheon. They are sincere but not preachy. There is no "line". They are bitingly funny as in Government On Horseback and One Thin Swimsuit and are fine as in No Mas, No More . The music and the lyrics (most of which they have written) blend beautifully. They can sing, they can play and they are true poets and folk artists (DB)

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 8009 Howjadoo ● CD $15.98
Songs for children.

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 8016 Mail Myself To You ● CD $15.98
John's second album of children's songs for Rounder - with assorted musicians and singers.

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 8026 Family Garden ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 8036 John McCutcheon's Four Seasons : Summersongs ● CD $15.98

JOHN MCCUTCHEON Rounder 11555 Water From Another Time ● CD $15.98

KATE & ANNA MCGARRIGLE Hannibal HNCD 1394 Matapedia ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 44 mins., recommended Enter the world of the McGarrigles... a singular dreamscape of personal revelation and multi-layered memory. Kate and Anna can be disconcerting with the unguarded quality of their writing, cutting so close to the heart, and this CD features some of their best writing in years. If you've already heard Emmylou Harris' take on Goin' Back to Harlan, Anna's personal reading will reveal a different kind of melancholy. But there's plenty of the sparkle of hope and love here, too. Talk About It is a crackling paean to foreplay. And my favorite track, Hang Out Your Heart, pulses with an incredible underlying groove, structured like one of Richard Thompson's best. The rich arrangements suit the moods well. The whole CD can take you to wondrous, distant places. My advice is: go. (DC)

KATE & ANNA MCGARRIGLE Hannibal 1405 Love Over & Over ● CD $15.98
CD issue of their 1982 LP with two bonus tracks.

KATE & ANNA MCGARRIGLE Private Music 2070 Heartbeats Accelerating ● CD $12.98
At their best - as on their early Warner Bros. LP's - the McGarrigles have always been capable of breaking hearts with just their high, quavering voices. Few others are as adept at turning a simple rhyme into a thing of beauty, a casual observation into profundity. And while not every song here is as brilliant as Heart Like A Wheel, their songwriting skill still shines on the somber I Eat Dinner/ I'm Losing You and especially Love Is. As usual the topic of choice is love of one kind or another. The two songs by Philippe Tatartcheff are pleasant but overwritten asides on an otherwise exceptional effort. Recommended. (JC)

RAYMOND MCLAIN Flying Fish 597 A Place Of My Own ● CD $15.98

METAMORA Sugar Hill 1134 The Great Road ● CD $15.98
Metamora are Malcolm Daglish, Grey Larsen & Pete Sutherland.

WALT MICHAEL & COMPANY Flying Fish 70480 Step Stone ● CD $15.98
Eclectic group of songs and tunes from sources as diverse as Bill Monroe, Utah Phillips and traditional (Step Stone, Final March, Chinqui Pin Hunting, Joe, Dubuque, Pretty Little Indian, a.o.) Michael plays guitar, mandolin, and a lot of hammered dulcimer. He's accompanied by Mark Murphy on bass, Frank Orsini on fiddle, and John Kirk on several instruments. This is a spirited old time album by this young upstate New York band. I particularly enjoyed Utah Phillips' cowboy song, The Goodnight-Loving Trail, and Monroe's Ashland Breakdown. (RP)

DALE MILLER Kicking Mule 3904 Fingerpicking Rags & Other Delights ● CD $15.98
DALE MILLER: Air On A G String/ Amtrak Shuffle/ Bicycle Built For Two/sidewalks Of New York/ Birth Of The Blues/ Blue Prelude/ Boys From Blue Hill/ Chattanooga Choo Choo/ Cheap Wine/ Fleabites/ God Bless The Child/ Hey Jude/ Inflation Blues/ Little Fugue/ Nice Work (if You Can Get It)/ Shelley's Swing/ Son Of Diddie/ Stagger Lee/ Sweet Georgia Brown/ Take It On The Run/ The Pitschel Players Theme/ Too Tite Rag

JULIE MILLER Hightone 8103 Broken Things ● CD $13.98
12 tracks, 48 mins, highly recommended I wasn't too impressed with Julie's debut album "Blue Pony" but this new one is a knockout. She's an eccentric but very effective vocalist and is joined by husband Buddy who harmonizes on a number of tracks as well as guest vocalists like Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Victoria Williams and others. The songs, all but one Julie Miller originals, are powerful evocations of emotional and topical landscapes that are enhanced by the beautiful melodies Julie has created. The arrangements range from acoustic to country rock at the forefront of which is Buddy's superb acoustic and electric guitar work and solid accompaniments from a variety of backing musicians. The one non-original is a American traditional song Two Soldiers given a spell binding arrangement that echoes what Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span did with English traditional songs - I'd love to hear Julie & Buddy do a whole album of traditional songs. Several of Julie's originals like Orphan Train and All My Tears have a strong traditional feel to them. At times this album brings to mind the heyday of Richard & Linda Thompon - dig Buddy's intro to Out In The Rain! (FS)

BARRY MITTERHOFF Flying Fish 70472 Silk City ● CD $15.98

KATY MOFFATT Philo 1128 Walkin' On The Moon ● CD $15.98

KATY MOFFATT Philo 1133 Child Bride ● CD $15.98

BILL MORRISSEY Philo 1145 Inside ● CD $15.98
Bill Morrissey's gravelly/ twangy New Englandy voice is an instrument all its own. But he has a hard time fitting into this "produced" mix. His best songs are ballads of the road, trains, or rivers, and that holds true here on Man From Out Of Town/ Rite Of Spring/ Casey, Illinois and the trad Hang Me, Oh Hang Me in duet with Greg Brown. Bill's strange voice is so well-suited to tales of dislocation and loneliness - these other love song/ folk songs aren't quite his niche. 12 cuts with Suzanne Vega, Ron Levy and many more. (KP)

GEOFF MULDAUR Hightone 8097 The Secret Handshake ● CD $15.98
The reissue of the Harry Smith Anthology of Folk Music has brought a few of the 60s folkies out of hiding. Geoff, probably best known as ex-member of the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Paul Butterfield's Better Days, & Maria's ex-husband, has re-emerged with this fine CD of mostly old blues & folk numbers, with the history of each song told by L.A.blues expert Mary Katherine Aldin. Subtitled "American Music: Blues & Gospel", Geoff's joined by a bunch of old friends including Dave Grisman, Amos Garrett, fiddler Richard Greene, tuba master Howard Johnson, ex-Tower Of Power saxist Lenny Pickett. My fave is the combining of the old blues standard (Gonna Buy You A) Chevrolet (earlier done by Geoff with Kweskin) done as a fife & drum based tune, combined with Don Pullen's post-Mingus classic Big Alice (which had previously been recorded by both Greene & Johnson!) Also includes beautiful versions of Alberta/ Wild Ox Moan/ This World Is Not My Home. (GM)

GEOFF MULDAUR Hightone 8125 Password ● CD $15.98
Geoff's newest includes a couple of originals along with songs from the repertoire of Sleepy John Estes, The Two Gospel Keys, Blind Willie Johnson, Eric Von Schmidt and others. Includes various guest musicians and vocalists including Dave Alvin, Richard Greene, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Van Dyke Parks and others.


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