Just Something My Grandma Used to Sing

Mark Dvorak

Depot CD 018

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Jim Dubinsky


Mark Dvorak's warm, friendly delivery charmed me, and the range of songs in his repertoire is impressive. While listening to his versions of "Oh Susannah," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," I didn't hear my grandma, but I did hear my mother's voice as she baked cookies and cakes and my grandfather's voice as he sat in his rocking chair just before suppertime.

There was a nice touch of nostalgia to these tunes, but this isn't just a collection full of sentimental songs designed to recall poignant moments from the past. There is quite a bit of life here, and songs for nearly every occasion. For example, "Get Up and Go," with Mark on banjo, accompanied by Marianne Mohrhusen on vocals, is the kind of upbeat tune with lively lyrics that would go well with a stein of beer and a bowl of pretzels. "On My Grandma's Patchwork Quilt" is a song to sing at elementary school songfests. And "I'm My Own Grandpa," one of the few songs on the CD I'd never heard before, would be great at any party. The clever lyrics got me so involved trying to untangle the twisted family tree that I had to listen to it several times.

My favorite on this CD was "It's a Sin to Tell a Lie." The lead vocals on this fun little "he said, she said" tune about courting are shared by Mark and Marianne. The first verse is sung by Marianne who lays down the rules: "It's a sin to tell a lie." The second verse, sung by Mark, is the response of the guy who has broken the rules. Hoping for the best, he vows to "never ever ever tell a little white lie." The song concludes with a blending of the two voices showing the kind of confusion all too familiar to the ritual of young love.

The other songs on this collection include "Sippin'Cider Through a Straw," "A Porter's Love Song to a Chambermaid," "Dream a Little Dream of Me," "Irene Goodnight," "Blue Skies", "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," and "Side by Side." All were quite accessible with straightforward arrangements, usually relying on Mark's voice accompanied with guitar (5 or 12 string) or banjo. The other musicians (Jim DeWan on guitar, Dave Humphreys on bass, and Anne Jones on guitar and vocals) were quite good.

The CD is a bit short on liner notes (I, for one, wanted to know why he chose these songs), but the packaging is attractive. There are a couple of old photos, apparently from Mark's past, and cover art showing a combination of family photos and a good photo of Mark enjoying himself playing the guitar and singing. If the CD were marketed in stores, the packaging might draw in prospective buyers.

Mark's music harkens back to our folk roots, both rural and urban. I liked the mix of songs from this talented young performer who deserves a wider audience. His CD might not be for everyone, but anyone who listens to it will find much to enjoy.

Anyone interested in Mark's music or in purchasing one of his four other collections should write to him at P.O. Box 181, Bookfield, IL 60513

Edited by: Paula Gregorowicz

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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