People come and people go, Presidents and Prime Ministers also, but one thing that remains for all times, is the music created by the people who went before, maturing into the category of folk music, folkloric and timeless ballads. Music and words that reach out from the past, to remind everyone that regardless of who you are and where you come from, everything begins somewhere and so very often creates within the music, a patriotism that remains for decades.
In this undeniably patriotic collection of old and new pieces, so many of which have come down through the generations, such as the catchy song Yankee Doodle, a traditional Anglo-American tune that is suggested to date back as far as the Seven Years’ War and American Independence, was once sung by young and old on a relatively regular basis and is still sung today. The catchy little tune was already well known throughout Britain and Europe, long before it was used to go with the very evocative words and sung in America.
The Star Spangled Banner is given a very up market treatment bouncing it along the years, yet remaining true to its origins. Originally created from a poem written by Frances Scott Key, after the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in 1814, and set to a popular British tune written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreon Society, there is once again a blend of country tunes and words that have come together to create a very well known patriotic folk song redolent of America.
A lovely vocal rendition of the nostalgic The Good Old Days, takes us back to a place we all want to go to from time to time –a place remembered through the mists of time, when things did seem to be so much les complex.
The beautiful ballad Shenandoah is believed to date back to the early 19th century and was possibly created by fur traders and voyageurs travelling down the Mississippi. By the mid 1800’s the song had become a sea shanty, sung and heard by sailors thought out the world.
Taps performed with the piano, creates a haunting rendition of this piece originally written for bugle, creating yet another social reminder that even with music, the meaning or inference does change. Traditionally the name derives from the Dutch ‘taptoe’ – to close the (beer) taps (and send the troops back home). Three distinct slow drum beats also signalled Extinguish Lights or Lights out. Modern usage since 1891 has seen Taps played at Military funerals and is used often by Guides and Scouts at Campfires to signal the end of the day.
The Water is Wide is a once again a traditional ballad sung in this instance with female vocals, giving the lament a lovely a husky timbre. When combined with the violin you are immediately taken back to times past, when to cross the waters in a boat was a huge undertaking. The origins of this folk song can be traced back to Scotland dating around the 1600’s.
Finishing with the lovely ragtime piece Sunnyside Rag, leaves a lovely joyful feeling in the air as you hear the infective melody over and over gain in your mind. All good music should have this lasting effect. Ragtime is about as pure Americana as you can get, being created in the late 1800’s by the likes of Scott Joplin and other African-American musicians of the time, with its origins found in St Louis.
Each of the pieces selected by award winning musician Doug Hammer to create this wonderful album have been treated with respect, given a modern treatment with the creative use of the music and vocals, bringing much loved, treasured and well known pieces, back once again into an arena that can be enjoyed by all and re-presented to a younger, far more modern, generation.