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BellaOnline's Folk Music Editor


The Bee Eaters

Guest Author - Chris Curtis

This younger generation of virtuoso musicians are breaking new ground and creating innovative sounds using uncommon configurations of instruments and arrangements. The Bee Eaters are made up of Wes Corbett (Banjo), Simon Chrisman (Hammered Dulcimer), Tristan Clarridge (Chelo) and Tashina Clarridge (Fiddler). Each of them, are masterful musicians having won a myriad of awards with their chosen stringed instruments.

The combination of banjo, hammered dulcimer, chelo and fiddle melds together with an inspired sound. Reminiscent of Alison Brown's softer melodic banjo sound, Wes Corbett's banjo blends perfectly with the soft, harp-like percussion of Simon Chrisman's Hammered Dulcimer; while, Tashina and Tristan's classical traditions on fiddle and chelo hold court with the melodic harmony. On The Bee Eaters freshman project, eight of the eleven compositions were written by one or more of the members and all were arranged by them. Classical and Celtic structures underpin the ordered sound yet it masterfully veers off the classical track with freestyle jazz and bluegrass influences.

Behind the scenes of this band, Darol Anger put his recording and mixing talents to work to create this project. But Darol has played a far larger role as a mentor through his tutelage in a many music camps, workshops and his "Republic of Strings" project through which each of these musicians have passed as members. The "Republic of Strings" seeks to provide these young virtuosos with a platform in which to play out their inspirations. I understand Darol's pride in launching them in this new configuration.

The Bee Eaters introductory project is a soothing, yet exciting listen; soft but with power. As exciting as this release is, hearing a live performance is captivating as the intricate arrangements filled the room with a sprinkle of magic in the air.

Notable pieces on the project include "The Tree Climber" which, like the title, conjures up feelings of carefree freedom. "B Minor", called so because of its namelessness, doesn't give the dark feel that a Minor key would normally convey but rather is lilting with Celtic influences. "Crying in the Rain" is a classic tune played in a truly innovative arrangement and features the vocals of Aoife O'Donovan (Crooked Still). It's not quite Bluegrass but you can hear the bluegrass influence clearly. In the liner notes, Tristan Clarridge describes "30 Minutes" as both melancholy and happy. The tune successfully pulls at these emotions. "D Over Everything" conveys a strong feeling of success and triumph. My favorite is the totally unconventional rendition of the Beatles "Eleanor Rigby." It's one of those pieces that you recognize it immediately but you can't quite place it until it nears its finish.

I appreciate the liner notes in the project because it gives you a sense of what the musicians were thinking when they composed or arranged the tune. In my opinion, this brings me deeper into the music. The liner notes also provide the time length of each tune and its composer. The photography featured in the small booklet containing the liner notes provides a nice peaceful feel through its imaging. Overall the project runs nearly an hour. This project would not be suited to people who need vocals and lyrics to engage them as it is essentially an instrumental project. If ground breaking, inspired innovation excites you, this is a project you clearly want to have in your collection. It's complexity and intricacy is like a fine wine.

Project Title:The Bee Eaters
Artist:The Bee Eaters
Produced by:Darol Anger
Recorded and Mixed:Darol Anger - Fiddlestics Studio and Terracoustic
Mastered:Dave Sinko at Sound Stage Studios, Nashville, TN
Record Label:Self-Released

Song List/Credits
All Music arranged by The Bee Eaters
Stoneground(Wes Corbett and Simon Chrisman, Cognative Cuttlefish/Effusive Egret ASCAP)
The Tree Climber(Simon Chrisman, Effusive Egret - ASCAP)
B Minor (Nameless)(Simon Chrisman, Effusive Egret - ASCAP)
Tunnels(Wes Corbett, Cognative Cuttlefish ASCAP)
Crying in the Rain(King/Greenfield - BMG)
30 Minutes(Tristan Clarridge, Sleepless Bee - ASCAP)
Polska(Mikael Marin)
Daniel(Wes Corbett, Cognative Cuttlefish ASCAP)
D Over Everything(Tristan Clarridge, Sleepless Bee - ASCAP)
Eleanor Rigby(Lennon/McCartney, Blackwood Music EMI)
The Flight of Miss Partridge(Wes Corbett, Cognative Cuttlefish ASCAP)

Guest Artists
Darol Anger, Octave Fiddle D Over Everything
Aoife O'Donovan, vocals Crying in the Rain
Paul Kowert, Bass Crying in the Rain, 30 Minutes and B Monor

CD under review was purchased directly from the performers at a live performance at the Blackstone River Theater.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Chris Curtis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Chris Curtis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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