Dave Fox and Will Branch''s second disc of folk music for families has just been honored with a Parents'' Choice “Recommended” Award. The national award is only given to a small sample of the many entries the organization receives each year. The review on the Parents'' Choice website reads,“Woody Guthrie is represented in this collection of folk songs by his ''Bling Blang'' song, and seems to be the guiding spirit throughout as Dave Fox and Will Branch introduce listeners to the pleasures of traditional and original folk tunes with notable musicianship, homespun warmth and heart."
“Did You Hear That?,” is a musical version of the popular “Where''s Waldo?” books - children can try to find 15 different musical sounds that are scattered throughout the CD.
These sounds – the sounds of 15 musical instruments, some more common than others – are each named and demonstrated individually early on in the track order. The sounds are then used as the components of the remaining songs on the recording. The CD insert includes an illustration of the instruments being played, as well as a listing of which instruments are being played on each song.
The songs on “Did You Hear That?” are predominantly from the body of traditional folk music, with a few exceptions. The title track is a Fox and Branch original, inspired in equal parts by Woody Guthrie and Jimmie Rodgers. The two centerpiece fiddle tunes, “Georgia Camp Meeting” and “Skye Boat Song,” are not well-known as children''s material. Finally, in the spirit of improvisation that Fox and Branch hope to impart to children, liberties have been taken with several songs – new words made up, with the implication to listeners that there''s room for more contributions and alterations to be made.
To help them achieve their goal of providing listeners with a rich and varied landscape of sounds, Fox and Branch recruited some of the best musicians in the Midwest. Jahmes Tony Finlayson contributes a range of percussion instruments – djembe, slit drum, shaker – as well as soloing on the berimbau, a single-stringed African instrument. Guy Fiorentini, a well-respected and accomplished musician and member of the popular bluegrass band Salt Creek, supplies upright bass lines to a handful of songs. Two members of the Madison-based, New Orleans style group, Mama Digdown''s Brass Band, provided the horn section for the CD: Ian Melrose played sousaphone and Jeff Maddern played trumpet. Susan and John Nicholson, better known in the Midwest as the duo Frogwater, contributed fiddle, banjo, and mandolin to the project. Eric Noden, one of the best-known acoustic blues musicians in the region, played all of the harmonica on the CD. Toby Potter, an old friend of Dave Fox''s from their high school jug band days, dusted off an old ceramic jug for the Leadbelly classic, “Rock Island Line.” Vocalist Alison Gima, formerly with the Bach Chamber Choir of Milwaukee, joined the other musicians in a chorus of voices on several tracks, including the closing song, “Farewell, My Friend.” Finally, Jonathon Leubner stepped from behind the recording console to add his voice to the choir and to play bass on “Ain''t No Bugs On Me.”
“Did You Hear That?” was a lot of fun to make for all involved. Fox and Branch hope that listeners - children and parents alike - will feel the same enjoyment and excitement that went into its creation. Fox and Branch will be touring throughout 2007, performing concerts at libraries, festivals and other venues.
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