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CD REVIEW
ON THE BLESSED ROAD
Julie Mainstone

For her second CD Julie Mainstone has put together a stellar group of local musicians from Vashon Island to produce an interesting and varied collection of traditional and contemporary songs.  Mountain dulcimer, fiddle, guitars, flutes, banjo, bass and percussion are some of the instruments backing up Julie’s beautiful voice.

 

Wayfaring Stranger begins the set with Molly Tennenbaum’s sparse banjo lead-in to Julie’s vocal, later joined by John Dally on jaw harp, David Salonen on bass, and backup vocal harmonies by Kat Eggleston and Kate MacLeod.

James and Florence, is one of three songs on this CD from Carrie Grover's “A Heritage of Songs” from Newfoundland and Scotland. It is a ballad about a young woman who follows her sailor love to sea dressed in man’s attire. She never was afraid, and “went aloft when the stormy winds did blow.” Blessed  by the captain they were married, and they “spoke affections soft in the times they went aloft,” and “listened when the stormy winds did blow.” A lovely song, joined by John Dally on Scottish smallpipes and Kat Eggleston on guitar.

Curra Road is a song by Ger Wolfe about a real road in  Ireland – a delightful care-free song about walking together through the countryside.

The Slave’s Lament is a sad melancholy song about a slave from Senegal who is transported to Virginia and yearns for his homeland. It was written by Robert Burns in 1792 during a time of anti-slavery sentiment in Scotland. It has a lovely melody which may well go back to that time.

The Blessing Song, written by Jonell Mosser, uses the words of old Irish blessings. It is enhanced by Kate MacLeod’s fine fiddle playing and Kat Eggleston’s guitar.

Cloghinne Winds by Briege Murphy is a restless song of crazy changing dreams -  “Cloghinne winds were blowing when you called me / First you spoke my name, your voice was still the same / You beckoned me and I arose to follow where you led / Out among the wild Cloghinne hills." Again enhanced by Kate MacLeod’s haunting fiddle.

Another ballad from Carrie Grover’s collection, Fair Maid by the Shore tells of a young woman who cleverly takes out her revenge upon a sea captain who would deflower her – “Your men all are crazy, your men are all mad / Your men are all in sore despair / I've deluded them all and likewise yourself / And I'm again a fair maid by the shore / Again a fair maid by the shore.”

New Wings is a mystical original song by Julie Mainstone (melody by Kimberly A. Williams) – “He's wearing new wings, / Yet he thinks he can't fly.” “Strange how a moment can turn you around / The dirt 'neath your feet is now hallowed ground / And you're standing where the Kingdom has come / He's flying on wings / Flying..... A haunting song with a beautiful melody.

False Knight Upon the Road is one of many variants of the Child Ballad. It tells of a child accosted by a false knight (or devil). The child holds fast to the riddles of the devil and is thus saved. A delightful little song.

Willie and Mary is another song from the collection of Carrie Grover. It is of the genre of the classic British ballad wherein a lad tells his beloved that when he returns from sea he will marry her. After six years not hearing from him, a poor wretched beggar meets her by the shore and tells her that her love was shipwrecked and is now too poor to return. She proclaims that her love is still strong, whereupon he reveals that he is her true love and will now marry her as she has passed his test. A lively song well sung, although one wishes that she might have denounced him for treating her this way.

The CD nicely closes with the traditional St. Patrick’s Prayer, joined by Larry Lawson on flute and Steve Amsden on guitar. Other instrumentalists on this CD are Jimmy Keane on accordion, Wally Bell on Cittern and mountain dulcimer, Mark Graham on harmonica, and Fletcher Andrews on percussion.

This CD, produced by Kat Eggleston, is masterfully done with a cast of some very talented musicians. It includes a nice variety of songs well chosen and sung by Julie Mainstone – a CD well worth owning.

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