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133 f BARBARA DANE


Hot Jazz, Cool Blues & Hard Hitting Songs Smithsonian Folkways SFW CD40227


There is not enough space here to do justice to the career and achievements of Barbara Dane, musician, activist, pioneer. You really have to read the beautifully collated and illustrated 40-page booklet to start to get an understanding of this woman’s extraordinary life, the places she’s been, the breadth of her music, and the people she’s encountered along the way. This double CD retrospective has 38 tracks running some 150 minutes, fea- turing collaborations ranging from those with bluesmen Lightnin’ Hopkins, Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon, through a number of jazz associates, onto such folk musicians as Doc Watson and Pete Seeger, as well as recordings with members of her family.


Born in Detroit in 1927 (and still with us at age 91), in the late 1940s, while still in her teens, Pete Seeger drafted her to head up a local People’s Songs chapter, helping Barbara along her path to activism and a particular interest in labour, anti-war and civil rights songs. She had opportunities to join with the music establishment but always resisted, pre- ferring to be her own captain. Along the way she, and her third husband Irwin Silber (founder of Sing Out! magazine) started Paredon Records to document worldwide resistance movements and the musicians who were part of them, producing almost 50 albums for the label. The label was donated to the Smithsonian collections in 1991 and the albums are available to purchase online via the website.


In 1949 Barbara moved to San Francisco with her first husband, folk blues musician Rolf Cahn, and participated in the nascent local folk scene. She also gravitated towards blues and jazz at an early stage and her volu- minous husky voice can be heard to good effect on the many blues and jazz tracks included here.Performing blues with the likes of Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon in the late ’50s, she laid the groundwork for artists like Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt. And she sang jazz with everybody from local San Francisco bands, to Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong.


Most of the tracks on this collection are compiled from Arhoolie, Folkways or Pare- don releases, plus a selection of live tapes. With so much good and varied music it’s hard to highlight any particular ones, but two that caught the ear are the a cappella version of Come By Here with Barbara vocalising with The Chambers Brothers in 1966, and the easy vocal and instrumental interplay between Barbara and Doc Watson on the blues You Didn’t Know Me/You Don’t Know My Mind, caught on tape in 1964.


On the occasion of her 85th birthday,


Boston Globe music critic James Reed called her “one of the true unsung heroes of Ameri- can music”. Now, with the release of this ret- rospective, we can all sing this amazing woman’s praises.


folkways.si.edu Dave Peabody


SAMURAI Te Visage Music VM3016


Five top button accordeonists, two Italians and three from other European countries combine their talents here. It is nearly all accordeons apart from some minimal percus- sion from the Basque, Kepa Junkera and one of the Italians, Simone Bottasso who adds a few electronic effects. Outside the five there is a Basque choir on a track composed by


Barbara Dane with The Chambers Brothers


Kepa singing lyrics that seem to refer back to one horrific event in the Spanish Civil War. Apart from that there is a Japanese voice in the opening track providing a tenuous link to the project’s title. Each player contributes two compositions and the first track, Sushi Time, is written by Riccardo Tesi whose fine melodic pieces have graced many of his earli- er releases His other offering is a fine taran- tella. Others look for a wide range of inspira- tion; one brought by the Finn Markku Lep- istö, January Sun, has the feeling of a sound- scape while Simone looks to an illustrated diary of the dreams and nightmares of the film maker, Fellini.


As you might expect there is some won- derfully sparkling virtuoso playing, but the frequent change of tempo, timbre and mood help to maintain interest.


In a previous button squeezer project,


Tesi and Junkera collaborated with John Kirk- patrick. Oh dear! Five EU button boxers but John K is squeezed out. Is this yet another aspect of Brexit that had we had not been prepared for?


visagemusic.it Vic Smith


SKERRYVORE Evo Tyree TYREE09CD


The sixth studio album from the two-time winners of the Scots Trad Live Act of the Year award (2016 and 2011) contains warm, joyous, life-affirming Highland Scottish folk-rock in the grand tradition of Run Rig. Formed in 2005, Skerryvore’s journey has taken them from the Hebridean island of Tiree to big gigs in international venues such as New York’s Central Park, The Ryder Cup Louisville and the Shanghai Expo, China. Skerryvore’s fusion of Scottish folk, rock, pop and Americana combines the talents of the eight band mem- bers who hail from different regions of Scot- land. They are Alec Dalglish (vocals, guitars), Daniel Gillespie (accordeon), Martin Gillespie (accordeon, pipes, whistles), Scott Wood (pipes, whistles), Craig Espie (fiddle), Jodie Bremaneson (bass), Fraser West drums), and Alan Scobie (keys).


Rather unusually, Skerryvore combine elements of Scottish stadium pop-rock (think Simple Minds or Big Country) with a ceilidh- band sound-palette of accordeon, whistles and pipes. And echoes of the Run Rig sound


can be heard in Skerryvore’s use of catchy electric-guitar riffs that sound like bagpipes.


This album includes the previously-


released single Live Forever that hit number one in the iTunes World Music chart last year.


skerryvore.com Paul Matheson


KEN PERLMAN Frails & Frolics Redbud #103


Ken’s outstanding book on the fiddle music of Prince Edward Island, Can’t Have A Wed- ding Without A Fiddler, deservedly won ful- some praise in these pages and the majority of the music on this album come from the PEI repertoire that he knows and under- stands intimately.


The only problem might have been that Ken is not a fiddler. This Bostonian is a banjo player and an entertaining and very talented one at that as anyone has seen him one his British tours would surely agree.


Ken plays the island’s fiddle repertoire which is only a short remove from that brought over by settlers from Scotland. One of his main accompanists here, the pianist Janine Randall writes, “I never miss having a fiddler around when I have Ken around… (His playing) on the banjo includes all the rhythms and graces of a seasoned master fiddler.” Not many of us will be used to hearing strath- speys and waltzes played on the banjo but Ken manages it with great conviction. His choice of material and the way the album is programmed shows that a great deal of thought has gone into it. Some very fine tunes are included and even after quite a few playings, it hasn’t been possible to listen to the mesmerising four-part pipe march, The Marchioness Of Tullibardine without hitting the repeat button at least once.


Janine is his accompanist on just over half the tracks and on the rest he is backed by the guitar of Jim Prendergast. Both man- age to considerably enhance his playing without encroaching on the way he wants to interpret the tune.


This is a straight, no-frills album of tradi- tional dance music and it is from the top drawer of this type of album.


kenperlman.com Vic Smith


Photo: Mark Roth


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