the essence of folk music

Yesterday morning I woke up to an National Public Radio (NPR)  story about the sounds of Haiti one week after the devastating earthquake.  My ears were filled with the voices of children singing joyously in French about Joshua tumbling down the walls of Jericho.  Ironic choice of song, but I was deeply moved by the music and I began to think how music sometimes  breaks down walls between people.   And then Kate McGarrigle passed away on January 18th, 2010.  What a loss.  So much music and joy came from Kate and her sister Anna and their collaborations over the years with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and The Chieftans to name but a few.  Last weekend I was in New England and I  got the chance to make music with a couple of wonderful people – Keith and Mickey.  Keith is one of my oldest and dearest friends and music has always been a part of our bond.  Sometimes I sang, sometimes I listened, and sometimes I tried to paint them playing, happy to be a part of the music.

Mickey. Copyright 2010 Robin L. Chandler

Mike Rigenstrief wrote in the Montreal Gazette this week “but perhaps Kate and Anna’s most enduring musical legacy is communal music-making: the way they’d gather friends and family together in concerts….and make thousands of people, most of whom they’d never met, all feel like they were sitting around the kitchen table or in a living room, making music together. That is the essence of folk music. “ I think about all of the people I’ve shared  or made music with over the years in all the living rooms, kitchens, stairwells and cars on road trips. Music is the tie that binds and can help to heal sadness, loss and despair.

Keith. Copyright 2010 Robin L. Chandler

Musicians are reaching out to Haiti with “Download to Donate – Songs for Haiti” with 100% of the funds going to Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund.  If she was with us, I’m sure Kate would be a part of this music for relief.  Kate you raced the Matapedia, you could not slow down, and you were not afraid.

Jammin’. Copyright 2010 Robin L. Chandler

One thought on “the essence of folk music”

  1. Sixteen years ago I quit working full time to pursue a dream — to play music — something I had always done a little of and poorly. Now I’m a decent amateur musician and enjoy it very much. But there has been an unanticipated benefit also. I play music with people of all ages and points of view, and it has been wonderful. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in small towns where you have to play with whomever you can find, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The undergrads I play with remind me of how fresh and happy a young mind generally is, before years of dealing with life. My own mind is a lot better off as a result! And I love the stories the old folks tell, and their perspectives on life.

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