Renowned folk musicians Tony Barrand and Keith Murphy will kick off the 39th season of coffeehouse concerts at the Branford Folk Music Society on Saturday, Sept. 8 with a special program highlighted by music from an archive of songs collected in Vermont that have a Connecticut connection.
Much of the music Barrand and Murphy will offer during the concert will be from their first album collaboration together, On the Banks of the Coldbrook: Atwood Family Songs. Barrand first learned of the collection of songs written by Dover, Vermont resident James K. Atwood when Barrand was a professor at Marlboro College in Vermont in the 1960s. The legendary folk musician and archivist Margaret MacArthur shared with him a volume of the songs originally published in 1919 titled "Songs From The Hills Of Vermont" and field recordings she made of Atwood's son, Fred, singing them.
In 1964, MacArthur had found Atwood's son Fred living in Connecticut and he came to her Vermont house and sang for three days into a tape recorder. Atwood knew most of his father's songs and MacArthur later recorded five of the pieces he sang for her on her own albums. In 1980 and 1981, in a journal of the Country Dance and Song Society, Barrand reprinted the combined set of songs from both Atwoods, and a few from Atwoods' second wife, Mary, and a good friend, "Aunt Jenny" Knapp.
An accomplished vocalist, Tony Barrand has recorded a host of albums of traditional folk music with long-time singing partner John Roberts, including Twiddlum Twaddlum, Spencer The Rover Is Alive and Well, and Live At Holstein's. He and Roberts are also part of the four-person group, Nowell Sing We Clear, which performs an annual yuletide, midwinter concert series. Barrand retired a few years ago as a professor of anthropology at Boston University.
Newfoundland-born Keith Murphy began absorbing his native musical languages – folksongs, ballads and dance music – from an early age. A proficient multi-instrumentalist, he has long applied much of his considerable energy to the rhythmic side, becoming a valued band member and sought-after sideman on guitar, mandolin and foot percussion. At the same time, Murphy's natural and lyrical singing and piano playing add a complementary dimension to his music, a thoughtful, well-crafted and ever-respectful take on tradition. He is well known as a member of the former Vermont musical ensemble Nightingale.
The Barrand and Murphy concert highlights a 2012-13 season of nine concerts the society will present, ranging from old-time string and jug bands to world music to cutting edge fusion music that melds old and new world sounds.