I heard Pamela Morgan last night in hot weather --- her new stuff is mostly mellow but intense, partly due to the deaths in the last few years. Her voice keeps getting better like fine wine, and carries the sound of the wild Atlantic, with seabird highs and the smooth low bass hum and crash of the waves, and rolling rhythm. The arrangements (voice, guitar, keys, violin) of the trio were designed to showcase her voice.
I have a much more extensive review of her Vancouver Folk Music Festival mainstage performance two or three days before, which I was even more impressed with in my files (I hope) but am having trouble locating it. I will weave that in when I find it. (OK I found it, maybe it wasn't archived on google for a while since it was to more than four or five groups but they recently added some such posts to the archive.)
Since then a new solo CD has come out entitled On a Wing and a Prayer and I highly recommend it. It came out in 1996. Another one is in the works, and also she and others have just (late 1997) released a Christmas CD entitled Amber Christmas.
2004 update: She now has a second solo CD, Seven Years, that is quite good, and her web page is Pamela Morgan.
Now here is my original 1994 Vancouver folk festival review with comments on Pamela and others, but with phone number corrections suggested by someone in a followup. I will insert Festival Distribution web site later, must run now.
From: David Dalton (dalton@mantle.Geop.UBC.CA) Subject: Pamela Morgan & VFMF review Newsgroups: alt.music.canada, rec.music.folk, rec.music.celtic, rec.music.country.western, rec.music.misc, alt.rock-n-roll, bc.general Date: 1994-07-24 02:39:46 PST [edit Newsgroups line of followup as appropriate] The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is truly a world music festival, and there was music from many genres, including celtic, singer songwriters, acoustic blues, country, native music, African, bluegrass, Latin American and others. I was particularly moved by certain voices and by the acts from my home province of Newfoundland. Here I will comment on some of the acts that impressed me the most, beginning with Newfoundland singer/songwriter Pamela Morgan and her band. Pamela Morgan [genre: celtic tinged original folk rock] ------------------- Pamela was lead singer and co-founder of the celtic rock band Figgy Duff, and has the best voice ever to come out of Newfoundland, a voice that can calm you with a lullaby of seabirds, or rouse you to passion with the growl of the wild sea. No come hither girlish voice this, but the warm powerful tones of a woman in her prime. Over the course of the weekend and a followup concert on Tuesday July 19 at the W.I.S.E. Hall she performed many original songs and a few traditional Newfoundland songs. Her new stuff is mostly mellow but intense, partly due to the deaths of Noel Dinn and Emile Benoit over the last two years. Her voice keeps getting better like fine wine, and carries the sound of the wild Atlantic, with seabird highs and the smooth low bass hum and crash of the waves, and a rolling rhythm. No sharp, unsupported notes here. On a very hot Tuesday night concert, this voice of the sea dispelled the heat for the duration of the concert. The arrangements (voice, guitar, keys, violin) of the trio were designed to showcase her voice, and succeeded admirably. She is doing almost entirely original songs, with one or two by Noel Dinn but the rest by her, and her songwriting and arranging skills have improved markedly in the last five years. The Pamela Morgan band is currently touring across Canada; if I get a tour schedule I will post it; I think they are in Victoria right now and then Alberta. Don't miss their unique blend of powerful ocean voice, strong songwriting, and some touches of celtic and Russian gypsy fiddle in a unique mature pop sound. And watch for a new album in 1995 or for now check out the Figgy Duff albums. Some of the comments in my Tammy Fassaert review below also apply to Pamela. (and a friend said PM's new stuff reminded him of early Fairport Convention) Tammy Fassaert (excerpt from review I posted last week, when I was more poetic) [genre: country/folk/bluegrass] ---------------- Tammy was one of the many voices who wowed me at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival with their ability to convey emotion and turn an ordinary song into a jewel or a good song into a moving experience. Between the stages, her voice was carried by the wind and grass, singing along --- draw closer, to feel the song opened within you by the singer. The best singers are of and in the song; they expose and project the song to the world. The song and singer dance as one, the golden voice surrounds and upwells within you. Nothing is held back, each phrase a flower of memory, nested in the intrumental bed. Tammy's recording is available at Festival Distribution (604 253 2662) and Black Swan Records (604 734 2828) and other sources. I will find out the label details as soon as I buy a copy, and will review it for the net. Plankerdown Band [celtic/world music band] ------------------- This high powered celtic/world band from Newfoundland shone in the Sunday workshops, when the temperature and humidity seemed to suit the harmonica and accordion better, and were nearly as good in the Saturday workshops and Friday main stage set (which had some sound problems). They blasted out many dance sets of jigs and reels, with rolling button accordion from Frank Maher and blazing fiddle from Kelly Russell. They performed dance sets from recently deceased fiddlers Emile Benoit and Rufus Guinchard, some dance sets from Placentia Bay, beautiful ballads sung by Lori Cooper, and got the crowd dancing in the rain on Sunday. Their debut recording, The Jig is Up, is available from Pigeon Inlet (709) 754 7324. Their recording (and set) includes a Latin American tune and some Swedish tunes as well as Newfoundland and Irish ones. Rawlins Cross [celtic/original pub rock band] ------------------- I was surprised they didn't get a mainstage set. This pan-AtlanticProv celtic band were tighter than I have ever heard them before, and pumped out the celtic pub rock tunes to get the crowd dancing on Sunday and some even on Saturday in the early heat. Bagpipes, accordion, mandolin, bass and drums meshed with new vocalist Joey Kitson's voice. He seemed more comfortable with the songs that just after he joined. They have three recordings, available from Groundswell (800) 563 7935 or (902) 492 0447 Roy Forbes [high speed picking, soulful loon voice, great country songs] ---------------- Roy used his passionate voice and incredible guitar picking to keep the crowd going in the Sunday afternoon rain, ending with his tune "Keep Lighting that Fire". He was also the sparkplug at several workshops. He will release a CD of Bim tunes shortly, and also a new UHF album, and then a followup to his recent solo album, Human Kind, available from Black Swan (604) 734 2828 and other places. He gets the sound of the loon (bird) in his voice, tugging at the strings of your heart. Craobh Rua [celtic trad] -------------- This Irish band didn't impress me much on Friday night, partly because I arrived over halfway through their set, since I though the ad listed performers in reverse order, with headliners listed first. But in later workshops, especially the Sunday celtic workshop with Plankerdown and Rawlins Cross, I was moved by the fiery fiddling and uillean pipes. At the end there was a session on stage with members of all three bands, who had obviously been playing together back at the hotel over a beer or two the night before from the chemistry they exhibited on stage. Quartette [country, some folk, some cajun] ------------- Four superb women country singer/songwriters, four goddess voices who alone could move the coldest crowd, who together could move massive stone. They sounded best in the rained upon country workshop on Sunday, and kept the crowd warm, but also closed the festival with a powerful mainstage set. Danny Dill [country folk] -------------- One of my favourite voices, than conveyed the sound of the wind in his country tunes. No frills, just honest emotion. Penny Lang [folk blues, gospel] ------------- Another great voice. Canadian acoustic blues artist, some gospel, full of passion and emotion, really woke up the crowd on Sunday morning, kept them going in the heat on Saturday afternoon. Some pretty good guitar, too. Uzume Taiko [powerful drums/etc, asian/western fusion] -------------- This Asian-Canadian band fuses traditional taiko drumming (rhythm, form, dance) with the shakuhachi flute of Takeo Yamashiro, cello from Peggy Lee, sometimes saxaphone. Their Friday mainstage piece was a triumph; it called up the rhythm of earth and sun, sea and mountain, heart and soul in the audience. Picture an array of drums on stage, musicians clad in black leotards, leaping about, setting the rhythms, while flute regulates the breath, cello links the rhythms, regulates the blood. Powerful art. They also got the earthbeat going in the workshops. Body and drum are one, fluid rhythm. See/hear them. Robert Minden Ensemble [genre: stories, found instruments, environment] ---------------------- I missed their full group concert, just caught Robert doing some masterful storytelling about how he started playing the saw, then doing the whale story to music with members of the group. They play music on found object such as saws, bottles, vacuum cleaner hoses, hollow logs, lots more. Takeo Yamashiro [classical and modern shakuhachi flute] ------------------ This "bad boy" of the shakuhachi shone in his appearance with Uzume Taiko and in his midday Saturday solo concert evoked images of birds, regulated our (at least my) breathing, and called to the spirits of tree, air, sea... His recording is available from Festival (604 253 2662) as are the Uzume Taiko ones, I think. Les Freres Labri [quebec trad band] ------------------- Toe-tapping/foot-stomping bad from Quebec, did a mix of traditional songs and dance tunes, some vibrant accordion, fiddle, banjo, etc. Radim Zenkl/John Reischmann [genre: bluegrass/jazz/classical/... mandolin] --------------------------- Two amazing mandolin virtuosos, I caught them in a bluegrass workshop. Cascades of notes, make you wonder how they ever got that good. John has a mandolin album with stuff in a variety of styles (bluegrass, jazz, celtic, etc.) probably available from Black Swan. Ani deFranco [New York singer/songwriter/performance-artist] --------------------- Another powerful stage presence, puts everything into her voice, carries the song and self from stage to the back and beyond. Glowing smile, bobbing moves, just pumps the energy out. Wapistan (Lawrence Martin) [singer/songwriter influenced by his native spirituality] --------------------------- Native tunes, guitar and ringing voice, in the setting of the mountains, sea, trees and marsh. He sent out a renewed native pagan spiritual message, brought the audience together to mourn old wrongs. Claudia Schmidt [singer/songwriter, passionate, feminist, humanist] ------------------- Another motivational singer, got the crowd to respond. And of course there were a number of excellent world music bands such as Die Knodel, Narasirato Are' Are Panpipe Ensemble, Black Umfolosi, Boukan Ginen, all of whom impressed me, and more acts that I missed. The Vancouver Folk Festival is in a jewel-like setting, and presents a consistently good mix of old favourites, local acts, acts from a different feature province each year, and relatively unknown acts from a few different countries each year. I would recommend it if you want to expand your musical horizons. The festival office is at (604) 879-2931. -- David Dalton ----geophysics Ph.D student-----
--- Dept. of Geophysics & Astronomy, (604) 822-2267 2219 Main Mall, University of British Columbia fax 822-6047 Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z4 home 733-1303