Barley Moon (2016)

Traditional, Dowland, Byrd

Ayreheart

What is folk music, what is art music; is there some difference? 
This is an idea that has been debated (fruitlessly, it could be argued) over the centuries. 
Some see the so-called rise of interest in folk music to be a product of the nationalism of the Romantic era. In this narrative, as European nation-building evolved in the age of revolutions, organized collecting of oral traditions becomes another way of forging a national identity. In a vast arc that includes Robert Burns and his hugely popular celebration of Scottish song, through Zoltán Kodály 120 years later taking a cylinder phonograph to rural villages, “songs of the people” became somehow separated from music composed by people who were (to put it crassly) paid for their efforts. 

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Ayreheart

In the late '60s, many things were born. The British Folk Rock movement, as it was called, was one. Trying to decide "how it started" is actually a little silly; victory has a thousand fathers, after all. But there is no doubt that Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, the Incredible String Band, and their many fellows introduced generations to music of the tradition. And, they did it well. Not incidentally, they and their individual members often performed and recorded "early music" as well. 

Ayreheart blends the "art" and "folk" traditions so organically, we are reminded how artificial such a separation actually is. "John Barleycorn," the witty view of brewing as an act of torture and abuse, is so perfect that Vaughan Williams himself wondered if it may have been created by "an antiquarian revivalist," who then saw it pass "into popular currency and become 'folklorised'." Many in the folk-rock movement recorded the song, most prominently the group Traffic in their album named for the song itself. Ronn McFarlane was true to his ancestry then, and has kept that flame alive in creative and newly-evolving ways with Ayreheart. Is it art music? Is it folk? Could it possibly matter less? 

Brian Kay (vocals, lute, komuz) is a modern-day troubadour. A critically acclaimed singer and instrumentalist, Brian performs throughout the US as a solo artist, and with a number of esteemed ensembles. His concerts have been hailed as “Far-ranging” and “Exciting” (cleveland.com). He has been featured at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Shriver Hall, and The Boston Early Music Festival. Radio appearances include NPR, Baltimore’s WYPR and 98ROCK, Boston’s WGBH, and Cleveland’s WCLV. 

GRAMMY®-nominated lutenist and composer, Ronn McFarlane strives to bring the lute - the most popular instrument of the Renaissance - into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience. Ronn has been engaged in composing new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo CD, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY® Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album. 

Willard Morris (colascione) was bitten by the classical music bug at 10 years of age. The violin became the first in a long line of instruments taken up by Willard and still remains ever close to his heart. In 2009 Willard took up the bass again to develop original music with Ronn McFarlane which combined the ancient lute with the modern electric bass, percussion and vocals eventually becoming Ayreheart. 

Mattias Rucht percussion Mattias has been active in the Washington, DC music scene for over 25 years as a drummer/percussionist, playing in various rock, jazz, folk and world ensembles. He has also performed in theatrical productions and accompanied dancers and storytellers.

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Barley Moon (2016)

Traditional, Dowland, Byrd

Ayreheart

    Audiophile Audition

The origins of folk music are vast and wildly diverse. There are connections to classical music, (Corelli, Haydn, Beethoven), traditional English poets (John Dowling), Finnish, Celtic, American roots and many countries from both hemispheres. At different times in the culture, there have been resurrections of these genres (the Seegers, Woody Guthrie in America and bands like Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steeleye Span and The Chieftans in Europe). The musicians distill the essence of the songs in a modern socio-political context. There is also a profound desire to capture the aesthetic purity as traditional instrumentation graces the arrangements. Like American blues, listeners are re-introduced to folk music, and the festival circuit continues to thrive. A group by the name of Ayreheart has released a compelling audiophile recording of this material, Barley Moon. In keeping with authenticity, the album is framed by a pair of lutes with Irish tenor vocals. The opening track is one of the most “popularized” folk songs of any era, “John Barleycorn”. Many listeners will be familiar with the version by the rock band Traffic off the album of the same name. Brian Kay brings the weird tale of brewery to focus with his winsome voice. He is joined on lute by Ronn McFarlane, Willard Morris (on a sort of bass lute called colascione) and percussionist Mattias Rucht. This version is lively and emotional. With an awareness of traditional structure, the romantic ode “In A Garden So Green” (which dates back to Scotland in 1682) has the lyrical, droning resonance. The lute play is prominent. The instrumental prowess of the band is showcased on “Mr. Dowland’s Midnight” The influences and darker narrative of Dowland are a significant part of this folk music. “Fortune My Foe” captures the sorrowful tone. But it’s not all darkness. On “My Lady’s Hunsdon Puffe” there is a playful dance arrangement. There is a sense of historical context on “Henry Martyn”. The tale of Scottish “privateer” Sir Andrew Barton is evocative and demonstrates great storytelling. (The liner notes indicate that Burl Ives and Donovan have recorded this). The lute play is rhythmic and executed with forceful strokes. Historical connections are everywhere, from the mournful “Lully Lulle” to the finale “Nottamun Town” (which has been recorded by Fairport Convention and modernized by Bob Dylan on “Masters Of War”). The back-to-back instrumental pieces “Solus Cum Sola”, M George Whitehead, His Almande) : are thoughtful and feature the acoustic verve of the band. But Ayreheart inevitably return to the doleful themes on “Twa Corbies” (which was also recorded by Steeleye Span). Barleycorn is a masterful achievement. The mix is vibrant and expansive, without losing any of the instrumental precision. The lutes have a rich, natural reverberation. Traditional folk music with a hi-res boost. This is a worthy sonic upgrade to traditional music!

Robbie Gerson of Audiophile Audition[read full review]

    Millennium Music on WRTI

"Here is music that is born of what has come but leads us into where we can go: old forms born anew and ever fresh".

Robert Aubry Davis of WRTI's Millennium Music[read full review]

Barley Moon (2016)

Traditional, Dowland, Byrd

Ayreheart

Digital Converters: Horus
Mastering Room: Legacy Audio spekars
Producer: Dan Merceruio
Recording Engineer: Daniel Shores, David Angell
Recording location: Sono Luminus Studios, boyce, Virginia
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DXD

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DSL92203: Barley Moon
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Tracks.
1.
John Barleycorn
Traditional
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2.
In a garden so green
Traditional
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3.
Mr. Dowland's Midnight, P. 99
Dowland
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4.
Fortune my foe, P. 62
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5.
Lady Hunsdon's Puffe, P. 54
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6.
Book of Songs, Book 1 - Come again, sweet love doth now invite
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7.
Henry Martin
Traditional
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8.
Corpus Christi Carol
Traditional
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9.
Solus cum sola, P. 10
Dowland
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10.
Mr. George Whitehead his Almand, H. 21
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11.
Twa Corbies
Traditional
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12.
The Woods so Wild
Byrd
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13.
Ddoi Di Dai
Traditional
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14.
Nottamun Town
Traditional
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