Erwilian | Midwinter's Night

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Folk: Modern Folk Folk: Contemporary Celtic Moods: Type: Live Recordings
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Midwinter's Night

by Erwilian

An exciting live performance of acoustic Winter music featuring recorders, guitar, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, bouzouki, and many other unique instruments.
Genre: Folk: Modern Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. In Convivio
3:09 $0.99
2. Midwinter's Night
3:48 $0.99
3. South Prairie Rain
4:42 $0.99
4. Villancicos
4:42 $0.99
5. Wandering
6:45 $0.99
6. Billy in the Lowground/Swinging on a Gate
3:51 $0.99
7. Calling Birds
5:00 $0.99
8. Memories
4:50 $0.99
9. A-Wassailing
3:42 $0.99
10. This Little Babe
4:40 $0.99
11. Gigues
3:38 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Midwinter's Night is Erwilian's third full-length album, recorded live and released in December 2009. As the band set out on album #3, it became clear after numerous sessions in the studio that there was something about their "live" sound that was simply unattainable away from the live audience and the energy of a live concert. With this new inspiration, the band began compiling a list of the songs that best captured the visceral, organic sound of a live show.

Here's what music reviewer Nick DeRiso had to say...

Midwinter's Night, Erwilian (2009)
Rating: 5 stars (out of five)

At once neo-renaissance, new age, and something akin to blissed-out bluegrass, Erwilian’s holiday-themed concert recording Midwinter’s Night neatly sidesteps the pre-conceived notion of sickly sweet Yuletide fare. Midwinter’s Night, instead, is a concert souvenir from a warm night of remembrance, affection and camaraderie, sparked by these friendly-as-family band members, who frequently interact. This cozy framework, coupled with an adroit musical inventiveness, unbinds the album from convention. Erwilian is free to reference rock star Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame, the spiraling joys of Celtic fusion, and Burl Ives, who was the voice of reason as Sam the Snowman on the long-running “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” television special. They then blend conventional instrumentation like guitars, recorders and guitars with the exotic sounds of bouzouki and hammered dulcimer. This imbues the inviting Midwinter’s Night, Erwilian’s third full-length offering, with a timeless quality.

Scott Melton, who cofounded the band in 2000 with producer Jordan Buetow, quickly sets the tone on the dulcimer with the festive album-opener “In Convivio.” That traditional tune, among several arranged by Melton and Buetow, is from Erwilian’s 2002 release, Troubadours, and one of several highlights from their catalog. The Kent, WA -based group also includes newer compositions like the winkingly inventive “Wandering” and “This Little Babe,” which sounds at times like a dense, propulsive remake of “We Three Kings.”

Erwilian isn’t afraid to begin crafting new traditions, something the group stopped to encourage everyone toward during these shows from the winter of 2008-09: “These are times when you make traditions. Those traditions define what family is. Family is what people carry with them.” In keeping, “A-Wassailing” builds out from “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” with Buetow taking up both the tiny garklein and soprano recorders. “Wandering” is a highlight, as Erwilian deftly combines the old-time Christmas composition “I Wonder as I Wander” with “The Wayfaring Stranger,” a theme long associated with Ives. Having handily avoided Yuletide banality, Erwilian next escapes the trap of becoming a same-sounding Celtic curio. “South Prairie Rain,” from a 2005 Erwilian release, Renovata, gains an astral, otherworldly feel through Bill Bowser’s guitar. They follow with “Villancicos,” meaning “Christmas carol” in Spanish, which couldn’t be any different: A lively jig that revs up almost to the point of vibrating this band right off the stage. Who can say if they’d miss a beat? Accomplished musicians, the members of Erwilian move thrillingly from instrument to instrument, adding layer upon layer of collaborative artistry.

On the traditional “Billy in the Lowground/Swinging on a Gate,” the group skips along like children through new snow, powered by Robert Schuweiler’s mandolin and another ringing dulcimer run, this time by Melton’s wife Bethel. The diaphanous “Calling Birds” follows, and it also features an additional dulcimer, played by Buetow, who adds a twilight texture of complexity.
Back on alto recorder, Buetow makes sure “Memories” doesn’t sound anywhere near as serious as it might have, rumbling along like a dear friend telling expansive old tales. Melton’s return to the dulcimer adds a cascading counterpoint, seeming to finish sentences and then to add a funny aside.

“Gigues,” with a randy bit of percussion by Jeff Reed, provides this vigorous finale to a moment as welcome as it is unusual. Erwilian has produced a Christmas album with nary a bough of holly or jolly old elf to be found. In so doing, they invigorate the heart and mind. Midwinter’s Night, a soul-lifting album free of gimmicks from the season or the genre, is a literate, glistening amalgam and the perfect antidote to jingle-bell schlock.



to write a review

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Midwinter’s Night" is a live performance recording by the Seattle-based instrumental folk group, Erwilian. This all-acoustic ensemble wanted to capture the energy of a live performance for this album, and what better way to do that than to record a series of concerts and compile the best of the best? A few of the eleven songs (some of which are medleys) came from previous recordings, but most are new arrangements and compositions. With the mid-winter theme, some of the songs are Christmas carols, but only a few are very familiar, making this an album suitable for year-round listening. Some of the introductory comments are a little hard to hear clearly, but the music is stellar! I did most of my listening for this review while driving back to Oregon from the SF Bay Area, and I enjoyed the album so much that the miles just flew by.

"Midwinter’s Night" opens with “In Convivio,” a medley of “Boar’s Head Carol” and “Ding! Dong! Merrily On High.” Joyful and spirited, this lively piece will have you up and dancing in no time! Guitars, recorders, and hammered dulcimers send the music skyward in a big, happy way. “Midwinter’s Night” is a beautiful arrangement of a soulful tune from Blackmore’s Night. “South Prairie Rain” first appeared on Erwilian’s 2005 release, Renovata and is an original composition with a contemporary American folk flavor. “Wandering” is a wonderful medley of “I Wonder As I Wander” and “Wayfaring Stranger.” I absolutely love this track! Jordan Buetow’s haunting soprano recorder goes right to the heart - a stunning arrangement! “Billy In the Lowground/Swinging On a Gate” returns to the light-hearted merriment of the opening track - upbeat and carefree. “Calling Birds” is a lovely arrangement of a John Nilsen tune performed on dulcimers, guitars, and gentle percussion - elegant and stately with a lot of heart. “A-Wassailing” is another favorite. A medley of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and Paul Stookey’s “A-Soalin’,” it conjures up images of colorful Renaissance pageantry as well as carolers in the streets. Spirited with just a touch of bittersweet, this is another truly great track. “This Little Babe” is a medley of the title song by Benjamin Britten, “What Child Is This,” and “Come, You Shepherds” - wonderfully stirring! The encore track, “Gigues,” is a lively medley of “Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella,” “I Saw Three Ships,” Sussex Carol,” “The Snow Lay On the Ground,” and “In Dulci Jubilo,” bringing this excellent album to a joyful close.

I discovered Erwilian a few months ago, although they have been around for awhile, and finding their music has been one of my favorite discoveries of the year! "Midwinter’s Night" is very highly recommended!!!

Michael Diamond (

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus
It’s not that often in the new age music genre that I get a live concert album to review. However in the words of a founding member Jordan Buetow: “Erwilian originally began in 2000 as a performance group with a passion for bringing audiences seasonal music that was not always given the attention it deserved." Erwilian is an all-acoustic group (and proudly so). In general, their instrumentation includes guitars, drums, recorders, hammered dulcimers, mandolin, marimba, and a vintage celesta, as well as some exotic ones like mandola and bouzouki. All of the group members are multi-instrumental musicians and it is not unusual to see them playing a variety of instruments over the course of a performance.

Erwilian wastes no time getting into the holiday spirit with a lively, festive, Celtic-tinged opening track called “In Convivio.” The title track, “Midwinter’s Night,” is a version of a song by Blackmore’s Night that also projects a bit of Celtic flair with a lovely loping rhythm and a sweet pastoral ambience. A decidedly different ethnic influence is heard on a track called “Villancicos,” which as the title clues us into, has more of a south of the border feel. Parts of this tune are quite sprightly and it drew my attention to how incredibly tight Erwilian is as an ensemble to hang together like they do through those up-tempo changes – very impressive. A number of the songs, such as “Wandering” are actually medleys and segue into excerpts of other tunes – in this case: “I Wonder As I Wander” and “Wayfaring Stranger.”

Judging by the enthusiastic applause on the recording, there is no doubt that Erwilian has the power to thoroughly engage an audience. Their musicianship is absolutely first-rate. Each member is a virtuoso, but more than their individual talents is the level of interplay between them that is absolutely magical. They are like a well-oiled machine that moves with “apparent” ease through complex changes and seamless transitions. Also, being a live album, I was amazed and appreciative of the outstanding sound quality of the recording. It is beautifully mixed and I was aware of how different instruments appeared out of each speaker, enhancing a feeling of being there for the listener. According to Jordan Buetow: “an album – a live album for that matter – of this material truly was like a distilled manifestation of the very soul of the band.”

To read a full-length review of this CD, as well as others, please visit: