Atwater-Donnelly

Newsletter

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 1993
TRAVELS

Hi Folks! We're really excited about our fourth recording which should be out in a few months, but we've learned from experience not to make any promises concerning date of completion! Some of the songs on it, by popular request, will be "Kilkelly," "My Love," "Angel Gabriel," "Willow Tree," "Johnny I Hardly Knew You," and two of Elwood's originals: "Beginning with You" and "Problem With Words."

Someone recently remarked that Atwater-Donnelly has been shifting its musical focus. Well, it's true. For the past year or so, we have been learning mostly traditional American folk songs and working on the dulcimer and banjo (American folk instruments). So now we have all of that to add to our Irish, Scottish, and English repertoire.

Of course, the connections between those countries and American folk music traditions are indisputable. We have become passionate about listening to and researching different versions and variants of songs. Old songs, like the travels and migrations of people, take on many changes and variations depending on where, when, and by whom they were/are sung, and thus we explore human history through song.

Years ago, I learned an Irish version, for example, of "Loving Hannah" and in June, I learned an Appalachian version. It has a slightly different tune and some different words, including an extra verse not found in the Irish version. And lately, we have been listening to "A Soldier and a Lady," yet another variant of "One Morning in May" or "The Nightingale."

Since last March, I/we have taken some great trips. In March, I went to Ireland with my mother and we drove the length of the country from West Cork to the northernmost point of Ireland: the Inishowen Peninsula where we attended a 3-day seminar on traditional unaccompanied singing. I met some great people, collected lots of songs, bought cassettes and books, and had some fascinating conversations in which I was able to solve some of the "mysteries" of our songs ... Elwood and I talk about these experiences and origins during our concerts.

Then Elwood and I went to Maine in April for a 2-concert "tour." That was fun. We visited a great folk music and instrument shop in Bar Harbor called "Song of the Sea." They also run a dulcimer and harp festival every July. In June, I returned to Kentucky for my second "Appalachian folk week" experience in Hindman.

Last year I was a participant and this year I was a partial staff member and taught Jean Ritchie's week-long dulcimer class. What a thrill that was! And of course, it was a thrill to spend time with Jean, her sister Edna, and the many other traditional musicians on staff. I hung out with the great friends I've made, played lots of music, took Jean's ballad class, asked millions of questions ... and learned how to play old-time banjo from my friend Cari Norris, an excellent young banjo player and singer, and granddaughter of legendary banjo player Lily May Ledford.

Old-time banjo is my new obsession and you will now hear banjo tunes in our concerts and see Elwood play the limberjack, an Appalachian percussive dancing doll on a stick!

Well, we also traveled to perform many concerts this summer in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, and now we are off Colorado to have a real vacation! Who knows, maybe we'll bring back some cowboy songs!

Have a great rest-of-the-summer and thanks, everyone, for everything: the letters, invitations to have supper, tape and CD purchases, attendance and participation and enthusiasm at our shows, instruments, song books, records, tapes, and CD's, photos, videos, drawings, cookies, comments and suggestions, requests, compliments, recommendations ... we get so much from you.

Peace,
Aubrey and Elwood


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