It's great fun to research your family tree. Here's a guy who not only discovered his roots he wrote and sang about them, too. McFarlane is a mainstay of the folk scene in Brampton, ON, but his family roots are in New Brunswick where he grew up. And, so did 200 years of his old relations. Here McFarlane traces those immigrants back six generations, living in Bayside, N.B. Since the history is a little fuzzy and undocumented, McFarlane lets his imagination cover the first half of the album, creating a fictional history for the original batch of his folks. The latter songs cover the stuff he knows, remembers, and even documents his own musical beginnings.
McFarlane takes the scant information he has about the first family settlers, that two Irish immigrants married in New Brunswick in 1821, and builds his own mythology from there. Letters are sent to a sweetheart back home, convincing her to move to this tiny, ocean-side village. We get a view of what life was like back then, with "The Charlotte County Fall Fair" and "The Maxwell Crossing Bridge," about one of the province's famous covered bridges, or "kissing bridges." You always kiss in the covered bridge, where gossips can't see you.
The source of McFarlane's family knowledge is a duotang filled with the history, given to him by his grandfather, which he writes directly about in "Bringing It All Back Home." As well as telling about the family farm in that song, he tells the listener that he's bringing all those stories back with him, returning his grandfather's gift. To do that, McFarlane is returning to N.B. for a summer tour, playing these songs at a series of shows. You can hear about his dad's accordion, and how that inspired his music career, about "The 'A' That Got Away" in the family surname, and more, at the following:
Saturday, July 27, hosting Open Mic, Town Square Pavilion, Hampton
Thursday, Aug. 1: Campobello Fogfest
Sunday, Aug. 4: Area 506 Festival, Saint John
Monday, Aug. 5: New Brunswick Day Breakfast, Miramichi Folksong Festival
Oh, and all you McFarlane/MacFarlane who are from, or who have lived in New Brunswick, say hi, and get a free CD!