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NORTHWEST LEGENDS, Vol. 1 is a winner. As a native Puget Sounder, I find delight in hearing these familiar legends put to music. Al Hirsch is a talented song writer and performer who took it upon himself to add some new songs to our local folk material. He has that rare talent to make his ballads sound old and fitting, which can only come from a strong respect for traditional folk music.
1. The Denny Party: A rich telling of the first white settlers in Puget Sound.

2. Song of the Salmon: This is a delightful version of this old English classic.

3. Great Seattle Fire: Al combines his skills as a story teller with his fine singing. I predict this upbeat song will catch on with the local singers.

4. Little Log Cabin:  Al’s rendition of this classic song written by Harold Weeks back in the 20’s is a perfect blend of ukulele, accordion, harmonica, fiddle and voice.

5. The Frozen Logger: Finally, somebody GETS IT RIGHT! Jim Stevens told me in 1959 that nobody sings the second line the way he wrote it … thanks Al.

6. Wellington Avalanche: This is ballad telling at its best. As one who tramped the hills in 1955 looking for signs of this disaster, this song rings perfectly true.

7. Old Settler: Al’s singing brings back memories of Ivar Haglund.

8. Ode to Puget Sound: This song, written by Carton Fitchett, joins a long list of state songs that weave many river names together … almost like a geography lesson.

9. Clark and Lewis: A well-told history lesson.

10. Chivalrous Shark: Pure Burl Ives … well done.

11. Wild Man of the Olympics: I first heard of John Turnow in 1953 when I was living in the area. It’s only in recent years that this story has come to better light. Al’s telling rings true to what I remember.

12. When the Ice Worms Nest Again: This is ukulele work at it’s best

13. – 14. – 15: Three well-told stories. Here’s where you want to gather the children around and fill their eyes with wonder.

Al’s singing is reminiscent of Burl Ives, and I imagine that Ivar Haglund would have loved this album.
Bob Nelson  (Bob Nelson is a local folksinger and co-director of The Pacific Northwest Folklore Society)