Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I first ran into this duo at the small but wonderful music event on Grand Manan Island, NB, Summer's End Folk Festival.  It takes quite a trip to get there, including a two-hour ferry ride, but when you do, you're entertained by the likes of Catherine MacLellan, Old Man Luedecke and Daniel Romano.  This past August, I had no idea who Kacy & Clayton were, but I was immediately surprised, pleased and a bit shocked.  The pair are young cousins from rural Saskatchewan, Kacy Anderson still a teen, but close your eyes and they immediately transport you back a century or more.  This is the real stuff, folk songs performed with a bare minimum of accompaniment, from sad sea tales to brokenhearted lovers.  Some are well-known, ancient numbers (Pretty Saro), but others are in fact their own compositions, yet placed side-by-side you'd never know they weren't straight from the Child Ballads folk book.

Lots of younger artists are trying to play old folk music, and doing pretty well.  But I'll put K & C on top of that group.  Kacy has an amazing voice, truly haunting, always stirring.  She sings to your soul, immediately making the emotion rise in your heart.  Clayton Linthicum is a fabulous guitar player, his notes ringing out, whether it's gentle picking or country gospel with a happy skip (Let It Shine On Me).  There's not much else here, just occasional fiddle, organ, or autoharp added for emphasis.  Clayton can throw in a harmony part on the odd chorus too.  But mostly the two tell the rich stories with vocal and guitar, and a touch of echo. 

The song selections are surprising, too.  I've heard a lot of young interpreters playing the same old standards, not realizing they are well-known if you're over forty.  But some of these I've never heard in my decades of listening, and I've heard a lot of folk, friends.  They obviously know their stuff, and want to push past the normal.  And their own trio of originals, well, let's just say I was stunned to find out they weren't written by the poets of the past.  Wood View, with its Carter Family autoharp and close harmonies, is about a family plot that has seen too many young people join its ranks: "My sister she died as a baby, I guess it's all part of His plan."  Feels old, is new, and cuts through all the clatter of current pop music to deliver a most gorgeous and glorious sound.

No comments:

Post a Comment