Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Eliza Carthy and Tim Erikson – Rhosygilwen – 29/10/2013

The incredible Eliza Carthy was destined to make music. Her incredible natural ability and many years of experience have made her one of the best British fiddle players and singers of all time. Constantly on the road with new ideas and material, Eliza is certainly someone to admire. Tim Eriksen is a supreme multi-instrumentalist and singer from Massachusetts; he also leads the band Cordelia’s Dad.  Tim’s music focuses on new interpretations of traditional American tunes and songs. He is also an excellent composer of unique and interesting songs.

In a sense, this creates the perfect duo as they both have a similar approach to traditional music. Furthermore the sound they make together is beautiful. Rhosygilwen has to be one of the most fitting venues for this type of music. The acoustics are wonderful and the building is beautiful as well.

Unfortunately we arrived a little late, after getting reasonably lost on the way, and therefore missed most of the performance from a local concertina and melodeon player (actually a busker the organiser found in Cardigan Town Centre). I am afraid to say I am unsure of his name; however, from what I saw, he was very good and played some lovely tunes. He played some more during the interval as well, and I thought his performances were a lovely edition to the evening.

First of all, Tim took to the stage and sang accapella. He did not reveal the title of the track. This was followed by Eliza singing ‘the Trees they do Grow High’ again with no accompaniment. Both these songs were sung beautifully and emotionally and were a wonderful start to the gig.

Eliza Carthy and Tim Eriksen 
One of my favourite aspects of the duo was the harmonies they created. They sang a version of ‘Banks of Sweet Primroses’ and ‘The May Song’ in harmony with no instrumentation. This was brilliant and their voices work wonderfully together. For me, this was a particular highlight, even if ‘May Song’ was not very seasonal.

Tim and Eliza played the song ‘Castle by the Sea’. For this, Tim skilfully played acoustic guitar and Eliza played fiddle. This American song combines a lovely tune and very narrative lyrics. The listener is drawn to the lyrics and the instrumentation worked fantastically.  

I very much enjoyed the song ‘Friendship’. This demonstrated the musical talented of the duo, with both Eliza and Tim playing fiddle. The two violins created a really beautiful sound. The lyrics to the song were written by Tim but the tune is apparently a famous old American one. It is catchy toe-tapper and the singing fitted really well; it is a very pleasant song to listen to, and one of the only happy songs of the set. 

Eliza Carthy 
The most touching song of the set was ‘Logan’s Lament’. Logan the Orator was a Native American war leader whose family and village were all murdered in a massacre in 1774 by white settlers. It is supposed that he wrote the song. Therefore, as you would expect, the song is poignant, yet beautiful. I do not think this song could be made more perfect then Eliza and Tim’s version.

In perhaps a more modern style, Tim Eriksen played electric guitar a lot during the set. Furthermore, this more contemporary style was added to by Eliza’s bass drum which made the duo sound much bigger and more like a small band. One song in which both these were incredibly effective, but not a usual combination was during the song ‘The traveller’. This song is a sacred harp hymnal, but this modern treatment really suited it. Who said folk music can not be cool?

One thing that is brilliant about the two performers is the way that when they are on stage they look like they are enjoying themselves, especially Eliza. It is a visual performance and this captures the audience’s attention. They played the song ‘Sailor’s Wedding’ in which they invited the audience to sing along. It is a very catchy with a memorable chorus and a lively tune which Tim wrote. Tim demonstrated his amazing banjo playing during this piece, with Eliza playing fiddle wonderfully.

 The encore song was another hymnal from ‘Pumpkintown’. ‘Pumkintown’ is a fictional place which Tim claims certain songs come from when he does not have a full back story for them. This may sound slightly odd, and maybe it is, but it amusing and it is nice when songs have a story, regardless of whether the story is true or not. Again, this was a catchy song with a lovely chorus in which lots of the audience joined in. It was the perfect way to end the wonderful evening.

YouTube video of Eliza Carthy and Tim Eriksen singing together:

The set list with a beautiful illustration of Eliza, drawn by Tim 

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