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Dan Berggren, John Kirk & Chris Shaw | North River, North Woods

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Folk: Traditional Folk Folk: Fingerstyle Moods: Type: Acoustic
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North River, North Woods

by Dan Berggren, John Kirk & Chris Shaw

Adirondack folk music featuring traditional and original songs, spoken word, fiddle and banjo tunes
Genre: Folk: Traditional Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Irishtown Breakdown/Once More a-Lumbering Go
Dan Berggren, John Kirk & Chris Shaw
3:01 $0.99
2. Log Driver's Waltz (feat. Ann Downey)
John Kirk, Dan Berggren & Chris Shaw
3:06 $0.99
3. French Canadian Medley: Reel St. Joseph/Mason's Apron (feat. Cedar Stanistreet)
John Kirk
3:30 $0.99
4. Ballad of Blue Mountain Lake
Chris Shaw
3:41 $0.99
5. Hezzie Daley's
Dan Berggren & John Kirk
1:50 $0.99
6. River Driving
Dan Berggren
2:14 $0.99
7. Be Thou My Vision (feat. Cedar Stanistreet)
John Kirk
2:17 $0.99
8. Jam on Garrion's Rock
John Kirk
5:26 $0.99
9. Clearing Out the Monkey Thoughts
Dan Berggren & John Kirk
2:32 $0.99
10. Pole Trail
Chris Shaw
2:45 $0.99
11. Swedish Polska
John Kirk
1:42 $0.99
12. Denmark
John Kirk
2:47 $0.99
13. Irish Medley: Kesh Jig/Tobin's Favorite (feat. Cedar Stanistreet)
John Kirk
3:15 $0.99
14. Cremation of the Old Floyd Place/Bucket o' Smudge
Dan Berggren & John Kirk
3:56 $0.99
15. Young Brennan
Dan Berggren
2:50 $0.99
16. Hardscrabble
Dan Berggren
2:36 $0.99
17. Tannery Pond Reel
Dan Berggren, John Kirk & Chris Shaw
4:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
North River, North Woods
As individuals, Dan Berggren, John Kirk and Chris Shaw have helped define the folk music of the Adirondack region. All three have successful performance careers and dozens of albums among them. These friends have teamed up with one of New York State's finest young fiddlers, Cedar Stanistreet and the sweetest voice north of the border, Ann Downey of the Canadian folk group Finest Kind.

The cover photo of a mountain stream in winter sets the tone for the recording within: North River, North Woods, by upstate folkies Dan Berggren, John Kirk and Christopher Shaw, offers a tonic of traditional and contemporary acoustic music, much of it sounding like it originated in the 1800s, a time when large tracts of the Adirondack Mountains that the record celebrates had yet to be seriously explored.

Although the three have been mainstays of the local folk scene for years, this release marks the first time they’ve joined forces on an album. (Of the 17 tracks here, though, they play as a trio on only seven of them, the remainder being duets or solos.) Berggren, the songwriter and banjoist of the group, contributes six original tunes, while fiddler-mandolinist- guitarist-flautist Kirk serves as picker-in-chief. Although they all sing, Chris Shaw is easily the best vocalist here, his sturdy baritone bringing to mind Doc Watson’s resonant pipes. Berggren, Kirk, and Shaw are also joined by guest artists Garth Hudson (of The Band) on accordion, blueswoman Rory Block on harmony vocals, fiddle whiz Cedar Stanistreet and Finest Kind’s Ann Downey, who sings “Log Driver’s Waltz.”

The CD opens with Kirk’s fiddle on “Irishtown Breakdown” a tune named after a small burg near Schroon Lake, and segues into “Once More A-Lumbering Go,” a rousing heigh-ho type of work song with a melody reminiscent of a Civil War anthem. Another highlight is “The Ballad of Blue Mountain Lake,” sung by Shaw, which chronicles the rowdy exploits of long-forgotten local roughnecks. But the gem of the record is the majestic, elegiac fiddle duet, “Be Thou My Vision,” played beautifully by Kirk and Stanistreet. Folk fans will love this disc.
—Glenn Weiser

You don’t have to be a mountain man or woman to enjoy this collection of Adirondack folk music. If you’ve done any camping or hiking in New York State’s great mountains (or even if you’ve just admired the majestic view on postcards), you’re likely to feel connected to this music. Embracing the outdoors and the simple charms of homespun tunes, three of the area’s most beloved songsmiths – Dan Berggren, John Kirk and Christopher Shaw – team up for the first time on this album.

Well, actually, the trio is only playing together on seven of the album’s 17 tracks, but you get the idea because the rest of the selections are duos or solos.

Berggren’s focus is songwriting. While the majority of the tunes are traditional, Berggren contributes a half dozen of his own tunes to the disc, including the captivating spoken word tale of the “Cremation of the Old Floyd Place.”

Kirk’s focus is on the instrumental end of things. The CD showcases the multi-talented player’s considerable skills on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and flute, as well as some fancy clog-dancing percussion on the French Canadian medley of “Reel St. Joseph/Mason’s Apron.”

Shaw, meanwhile, is the strongest vocalist of the bunch, and it’s a shame that he didn’t step up to sing lead more often here. Still, “Ballad of Blue Mountain Lake” is the album’s highlight, and it has more to do with Shaw’s knack for insightful narrative singing than it does with the contributions of such high-profile special guests as Rory Block and the Band’s Garth Hudson.

Put these three veteran musicians together, though, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as evidenced by the deeply heartfelt a cappella offering, “River Driving.”

A few other special guests drop by to add their own seasonings to the mix, including the Finest Kind’s Ann Downey (who steps up to sing “Log Driver’s Waltz”) and fiddle phenom Cedar Stanistreet (who teams up for Kirk for another of the album’s best tracks – the achingly gorgeous twin fiddle lament “Be Thou My Vision”).

The best music is the music that you make yourself – a communion with with friends or strangers. But if you can’t make your music, this might be the next best thing. Come gather ’round the campfire.
------- Greg Haymes

Producer’s Note
Fresh out of the army in 1975 and back home in the Adirondacks, I met 89-year-old fiddler Cecil Butler and heard archival recordings of Yankee John Galusha. That’s when I developed a passion for Adirondack music. Ten years later I included Cecil playing “Irishtown Breakdown” on my first album Adirondack Green. Long time friend John Kirk was also a part of that album, singing and playing fiddle and banjo.

Cedar Stanistreet lived not far from me. We met at a north country square dance and as a nine-year-old fiddler, he learned to play Cecil’s tune. Recently, he graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a music degree and is now making violins in Boston. I got to know singer and storyteller Chris Shaw and found that he too loved to sing the old songs and write new ones. When I met banjo player, bassist and singer Ann Downey, I was surprised to learn that she had once lived only a dozen miles from me in North River when her dad worked for Barton Mines.
-------- Dan Berggren



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