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Sharyn has worked a long time on this CD, through physical difficulties and personal tragedy, and the result has been well worth the effort and dedication. The CD balances old with new songs (“Barbara Allen” with “No more Fish”), well-known with lesser-known (“Big Yellow Taxi” with “We Sing Hallelujah”) and the sacred with the secular (“Bringing in the Sheaves” with “Little Sadie”).
Although my personal inclination is usually towards the traditional, the real standouts here for me are Sharyn’s originals: “Morning Shanty”, “Wallflower Waltz” and “Paris”. Though the first two are fairly well-known in the San Francisco Bay area, listening to them on this CD revives once more the sadness and nostalgia built into these lovely songs. And I can’t say enough about the title track, “Paris,” which should cross over as a hit in the world of popular song. Sadness, loss, melancholy and bitterness all are packed into its seven-minute length, and the song epitomizes the whole CD for me. For despite the triumphant ending with the “Hallelujah Trilogy” and “Bringing in the Sheaves,” it is the aura of sadness and loss that stays with one from this lovely album.
The accompaniments too—sparse, understated, and seemingly fitted effortlessly to the individual songs—are a tribute to Sharyn and the people who brought her vision to life. Everything fits together exactly as it should to bring this truly atmospheric CD to fruition, and overall presents a welcome move away from the overproduction apparent in many folk CDs of late.
—Malcolm RigbyEuphonia, The Old Jawbone.
“Euphonia” is defined as the quality of having a pleasing sound, and the talented Bay Area quartet of the same name succeeds quite admirably at this on a number of levels. Euphonia is Sylvia Herold on guitar and vocals, Charlie Hancock on accordion, Chuck Ervin on double bass and vocals, and Paul Kotapish on mandolin, vocals, and jaw harp. On this, their second recording, they are joined by Ed Johnson on harmony vocals and Brian Rice on percussion.
While their first recording had a definite Anglo-Celtic flavor, this one represents many styles found on this side of the big pond, drawing on sources from 19th-century composers Dan Emmett and Stephen Foster to more recent musical icons such as John Hartford, the Everly Brothers, the Sons of the Pioneers, English folk singer John Roberts, Elizabeth (Libba) Cotton, Gillian Welch, and the Red Clay Ramblers.
Personal favorites include: “F tunes,” an instrumental medley of tunes from Quebec via Scotland and Sweden; the dark and hard-edged “Tear My Stillhouse Down”; “Boatman's Dance”, with its rich imagery of Ohio River rascals and their way of life; the clever verbally twisted “Chant of the Wanderer” with its picture of the positive aspects of prairie life; “I Crept into the Crypt and I Cried”, a sad tale of lost love amidst the dusty tombs of ancient Egypt, and the traditional sea shanty, “Let the Bullgine Run” done Sylvia Herold vocal style.
From blues to cowboy, novelty to old-time, and lots in between, what you get with Euphonia is just what you want to hear: tight vocal harmonies and excellent instrumental work by folks who know just what to do with great material taken from all over the musical map of creation. Whether one is listening to “Cotton-Eyed Joe”, “Old Man at the Mill”, or “Angeline the Baker's Gone”, this is great music by a truly wonderful group.
—Robert RodriquezVarious Artists, Singing Through the Hard Times: A Tribute to Utah Phillips. .
Conceived by Dan Schatz and produced with Kendall and Jacqui Morse; a portion of the proceeds goes to Utah’s wife Joanna.
The 39 songs on these two CDs were selected by the individual performers as among their favorites of songs relating to Phillips. Ten are not by Utah, but are ones he sang and cherished. Another seven or eight have Utah’s words but tunes by others, a method of producing songs he increasingly practiced in recent years.
A sampling of artists includes Gordon Bok, “Goodnight Loving Trail”; John McCutcheon, “All Used Up”; Pete Seeger, “Or Else”; Rosalie Sorrels, “The Soldier’s Return”; Tom Paxton, “I Remember Loving You”; Ed Trickett, “The Telling Takes Me Home”; Ani diFranco, “The International (Instrumental)”; and an additional host of fine folk performers, Utah’s friends. This is a collection of songs and singers you will treasure. Some cuts were taken from previous recordings, some recorded for this tribute. Together they give a broad sampling of the ideas and events which shaped Phillips’ life and which he passed on to us in his songs and stories; ideas and acts to illuminate, inspire and shape our own lives.
In the words of Bruce “U. Utah” Phillips: “A song that I make up becomes a folk song when people decide that they want to learn it, that they want to put it to work in their lives, and then gradually as they pass it around and it changes, it loses my name and it becomes completely in the hands of the folk.”