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Holly Tannen wears many diverse hats: folklorist, ballad maven, song writer, gadfly, and critic of the contemporary socioeconomic and political scene as manifested through her skillfully crafted songs.
In the best folk tradition, she has taken a trio of old tunes—“A Miner’s Hymn” from County Durham in Northern England, “Brisbane Ladies,” a Queensland variant of “Spanish Ladies,” and “Flowers of the Forest,” a Scottish lament for young men caught up in the insanity of war, and reworked them with powerful, up-to-date lyrics drawn from today’s headlines. What results is a musical message that is loud, unmistakable, and devastatingly clear. “Julian’s (In Prison),” “The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth,” and “The Flower of Australia” will strike the listener with the kick of a musical laser.
Members of the power elite and ruling class, beware: your criminal behavior and corrupt practices will no longer go unchallenged and your days are numbered.
Tannen, on vocals and piano, is assisted by some of the finest musicians on the West Coast: guitar wizard Steve Baughman, Amelia Hogan and Danny Carnahan on vocals, Myra Joy on cello, and Michael Hubbert on clarinet.
All money raised from this recording will go to prevent the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States and support his hopeful return to his native Australian homeland. Thanks to Holly Tannen and her musical amigos for showing that the power of music and song can indeed be more powerful than guns, bombs, and related weaponry. Highly recommended.
—Robert RodriquezADAM MILLER, When the River Ran Backwards: Adventures in Folksong.
Adam Miller is a master storyteller in song. He travels the country presenting programs for schools, libraries, and senior groups and teaching autoharp workshops. Adam’s latest recording is a collection richly inspired by historical events. Each selection was researched to uncover its origins and the facts behind the legend being commemorated. When the River Ran Backwards offers 26 songs and tunes of great variety, with stories that range from tragic to comic. The liner notes provide interesting facts about each track and describe the instruments used in the recording.
Complementing Adam’s skillful autoharp playing and guitar fingerpicking are Sharon Allen, Ray Bierl, Lee Davis, and Given Harrison on harmony vocals, Richard Burkett on mandolin, Lisa Burns, Given Harrison, and Hugo Wainzinger on bass, and Joe Eding on viola and musical saw. Among several purely instrumental tunes, a duet with autoharp and musical saw is surprisingly lovely.
The few songs that might be familiar to listeners are presented in fresh ways, but most were new to my ear. They originated in our early history on through to contemporary times.
Adam pays tribute to many musicians in the folk music community who have inspired him. He explains, “As the singers who influenced my musicality retired, some of the folksongs that they were keeping alive in their repertoires retired with them. I do my best to keep some of those less well known folksongs from becoming extinct in my lifetime.” A very worthwhile goal.