"Kindling the Fire"
The new collaboration
by HARVEY REID & JOYCE
DIRTY LINEN MAGAZINE (December 2004)
Singer/multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid & singer/fiddler
Joyce Andersen live along the often chilly coast of Maine, but their musical
souls are warmed by the traditional sounds of the American South. Both have
recorded solo in the past, in Reid's case 17 albums over nearly 30 tears. Now
their recent marriage has led to this splendidly synchronous duo project in
which Reid's gritty, weathered voice and Andersen's sweet alto complement each
other in a classic brambles-and-roses pairing, on a set of smartly chosen and
creatively arranged traditional and traditional-sounding songs.
Reid is a master of many stringed instruments, so the duo's sound is diversified
through his use of six and 12-string guitars, slide guitar, Dobro, mandolin
and octave mandolin, autoharp and the rare 6-string banjo, all complementing
Andersen's smooth, mellow fiddle and guitar in arrangements that sound both
precise and spontaneous. The material ranges from an acoustic blues version
of the spiritual "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" with two interlocking
voices, slide guitar & fiddle, to the lighthearted tight-harmony country
duet "Good Years". The old gambler's lament "Jack of Diamonds"
gets a stark mandolin-and-fiddle setting from Appalachian mountain music, while
Norman Blake's classic Western ballad "Billy Gray" shines in Andersen's
poignant, honey-coated lead vocals backed by mandolin and guitar.
From the repertoire of Mississippi John Hurt the duo borrows his sad farewell
to "Louis Collins" and adds resonator guitar, fiddle and melliflouos
harmonies, creating a memorable new interpretation, and for a smile there's
a barroom-style cover of the 1960's Bobby Gentry chestnut "Ode to Billie
Joe" that features some smoking acoustic slide guitar and sly vocals. The
disc also includes two instrumental tracks, including an appropriately uplifitng
version of the familiar spiritual "I'll Fly Away" that features Reid's
lusciously resonating autoharp.
The best musical partnerships always involve people whose talents are intuitley
compatible. With Kindlign the Fire, Reid and Andersen demonstrate that they
certainly belong in that category.
BOSTON GLOBE (June 2004)
"Downeast musicians Harvey Reid & Joyce Andersen... have brought each
other's music to new heights. The duo's new Woodpecker CD "Kindling the
Fire," is a rootsy, warmhearted delight, rambling amiably from traditional
gems to their own eloquent, timeless songs. Andersen's fiddling is fresh, fun
and spacious, Reid's guitar playing fluid and graceful., and their harmonies--
well, you'd think they were in love..
BOSTON HERALD (June 2004)
The best marriages are based on the principle of equality. But what about musical
duos who happen to be married? New Hampshire's Joyce Andersen met New England
guitar ace Harvey Reid in 1990. At the time, she was a recent college graduate,
a violinist since childhood and newly ``into all things nonclassical on fiddle.''
Andersen counts Reid as her first major folk music inspiration. Yet it took
the fiddler-singer a dozen years and thousands of miles to achieve musical equality
with the man who eventually would become her husband.
Reid and Andersen, who also pursue active solo careers, have just released their
second duo album, ``Kindling the Fire,'' on Reid's Woodpecker label. It is their
first CD since getting married. One of the old-time folk music gems of the year,
"Kindling the Fire'' is a stylistic advance over their previous CD, 2001's
"Great Sad River.'' On "Kindling,'' Andersen's fiddling is as soulful as it
is inventive, and her own songs dovetail gracefully with traditional material.
The duo plays Club Passim in Cambridge tomorrow. When Andersen met Reid, the
troubadour was already known as a veteran master of guitar and autoharp, and
as the owner of his own label and recording studio. `He sent me some CDs of
work he had done with a fiddle player, and that started me off. I learned a
difficult piece and blew him away the next time I saw him,'' said Andersen,
35. The fiddler then began a journey that took her to Berklee School of Music
for a year, then into bluegrass and rock groups and the country band of John
Lincoln Wright. A residence in Nashville resulted in a year of bus tours with
country singer Greg Holland. Then came five years in New York as a freelance
fiddler, including stints with the McKrells and Marshall Crenshaw. `Though
there was a special connection between us when we met, Harvey was so much more
musically developed than I was,'' said Andersen. `I went off and worked on
my music for 10 years, never knowing I'd come back to New Hampshire or hook
up with Harvey. I've come a long way. On stage and on record, we're interweaving
more and more now.'' Reid, 49, concurs. `Joyce is an amazing musician. The
only thing I have over her is more experience,'' said Reid, who has been making
a full-time living in music for 30 years. `We waited to do a second duo album
because I really wanted her to get (professionally) established,'' he said.
`I don't want her living in my shadow. It'd be uncomfortable not being equals.
The teacher-student relationship was uncomfortable for her, too.'' Reid and
Andersen had no doubts about their rapport once they started working. `We're
making better decisions together than I make on my own,'' Reid said. `On the
road we're with each other 24/7 and we have a blast,'' Andersen said.
Yet there were two fears that occurred to Reid when he first introduced Andersen
to his audiences back in 2001. First, he was afraid his fans would think he
was egotistically thrusting his girlfriend onstage. And then, after Andersen
was accepted wholeheartedly, Reid worried if his fans would ever want to hear
his solo act again. Both fears proved unfounded. At this point in her career,
though, Andersen has more chance for commercial success than does Reid. She
is about to record her third solo album, with, among others, drummer Dave Mattacks
and guitarist John Troy. It will be considerably more modern than the subtle,
stripped-down work she does with Reid. `I've really accepted the corner of
the music world I'm in. I'm not chasing rainbows anymore. But Joyce might actually
achieve some popular success,'' said Reid. `For myself, I can't wait to record
with her again. We're catching our stride.''
Jack of Diamonds (Trad.)(5:39)
Church Bells (J. Andersen)(3:52)
Good Years (R. Goldman)(2:29)
Keep Your Lamp (Trimmed & Burning)(Trad.)(4:20)
Cant Let Go (R. Weeks)(2:55)
Losers in Love (H. Reid)(3:03)
The Spring Hill Reel (H. Reid)(2:47)
Revelations Roll (K. Long)(3:20)
Billy Gray (N. Blake)(4:42)
Primitives (T. Burnett)(3:59)
Bound for the Promised Land (Trad.)(3:45)
Ill Fly Away (Trad.)(3:04)
Louis Collins (Trad.)(3:18)
More Precious than Gold (J. Andersen)(4:21)
Ode to Bille Joe (B. Gentry)(6:45)
the Fire " now
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