A concert of Irish songs from the North American Northwoods
Sara Grey and Brian Miller
In the mid-1800s, a distinct tradition of singing and playing dance tunes developed in the pine woods of New England and Atlantic Canada. Newly-arrived Irish immigrants supplemented summer work on farms and sailing ships with winters in logging camps where men sang and played fiddles to pass the evening hours in the bunkhouses. The rich repertoires of songs and tunes carried by these Irishmen had a defining influence on this new evolving musical style. Later, musical lumberjacks born into tight-knit communities in New Brunswick, Maine, New York State, Quebec and Ontario followed their jobs to the rivers and snowy forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota as the industry cut its way westward.
Brian Miller, a native of Bemidji, Minnesota, has spent years researching and singing the songs of the Irish lumberjacks who immigrated to his state in the late 1800s, many learned from original field recordings made by song collectors in the 1920s. He brings the old Irish songs to life with his fine singing voice, accompanied by guitar and bouzouki.
Sara Grey, who lived in the U.K. for many years and now resides in Rockland, combines traditional songs from all over the English speaking world with tunes played on the banjo. She’s extremely knowledgeable about the sources of her songs, and her research into the way folksongs have migrated across the Atlantic and westward across North America offers a fascinating glimpse into our collective musical heritage.
Together, these two fine performers offer an entertaining and informative glimpse into the shared musical history of the North American Northwoods. Several pieces by Bethel songstress Carrie Grover will be included in this performance. Don’t miss it!
A Bethel250 Program Series event