The Wind And The Crickets..... And The South Texas Moon, And The Tune From An Old Country Waltz - Mustard's Retreat

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The Wind And The Crickets..... And The South Texas Moon, And The Tune From An Old Country Waltz

Mustard's Retreat
(Michael Hough & David Tamulevich)

PM 2029

Palmetto Records
71 Washington Place, #1A
New York, NY 10011

A review written for the Folk &Acoustic Music Exchange
by Guntram Gudowius
(GuntramG@pride.de)

There are not too many musicians who have instantly left such strong impression that I can recall the circumstances when I first heard their music, but these guys are among them! (I won't bore you with the details!) So I was delighted to kick back and give their 1997 effort, with what must be one of the longest titles in folk history, the first listen.

It's another fine collection of 14 songs and one instrumental tastefully produced by Garnet Rogers who adds his instrumental and singing talents to a number of pieces that range from slow to mid-tempo. Beautiful melodies frame the stories from various angles and are held together by a common thread: the love of life and for our fellow humans, but that doesn't mean that everything is happy go lucky...

The a-cappella Gather The Family sets the mood with David Tamulevich doing the lead and four voices on the chorus, "...like a forest our roots hold the past as our branches reach into the sky..." (it's poetry like this that makes me love the singer/songwriter genre.)

Following this is the instrumental That Kind Of Morning featuring David's dulcimer, a sweet dreamy tune. Remembering My Incarnations gives us a glimpse of the unlikely chance of two people being in the same space and time making it easier for them to get together. Lost Beyond All Reason is just that; it's about a love who has left and should take pity on the emotional wreck left behind. "...I'm not hoping for forgiveness just that you will understand that I'm lost beyond all reason..." But there's a silver lining "...I know that somewhere is tomorrow with its hope and morning sky but for now..."

Well Here We Are takes a look at a relationship that's turned to routine and bogged down by work and chores yet can be revived. "...seeing you now makes me remember how it all started out and you know that I love you still and I always will." Welcome Back and Let's Hear It For The Volunteers are a musician's odes to the faithful (and listening) audiences and folks behind the scenes who make coffeehouses, festivals, halls, houses, and other venues available for this kind of music.

Soft Falls the Snow is a slow road song filled with memories and anticipation at the time of separation by miles. "...for some words come easy but it's not true for me. They're more like small birds that sing secretly. From my open hand I toss them into the wind to fill up the hours till I see you again..." Guitar, bass and violin create a haunting atmosphere of a winter drive at dusk.

City Beat is a livelier tune about the somewhat sad existence of outcasts in a city before Christmas, still "...dreams are the wings on which we fly..."

In Gone Again we hear about a friend from the past who every once in a while pops up from nowhere and demands attention though his life has gone in such a different direction that it becomes difficult to find common ground.

Hopelessly Midwestern (written by Joel Mabus) is a tongue-in-cheek list of habits and attitudes common to mid-westerners.

In The Cool of the Summer's Evening two seasoned lovers are content and happy with where they are, "...when we're younger we love for the passion and hold moments as if they won't change. When we're older we love for the depth of the feeling and don't find the changes so strange..." This track features Garnet on electric guitar which gives the song an eerie feeling.

Festival Night describes a festival love that most folks who have been to those type of gatherings can probably relate to in some way. What can I say...it happens at Kerrville! The title of this CD is taken from this song that could well be "...the tune from an old country waltz..."

Talking Midlife (without the crisis) is kind of a cheery statement with a look both back and ahead, "...so I don't really mind this growing old as long as my feet don't get too cold. Let's let this life be a dance of passion and not just some old chain reaction..." Amen!

The last song leaves me with a somewhat melancholy yet warm feeling as John Gorka's observations of life often do, he wrote Faded Blue And Gold about a class reunion, "...the hairlines and the frames of men were not as I remember them..." Other memories and chances not taken still let him conclude "...and here's to you my friends, we're alright now, we were alright then, we'll be alright again..." A great chorus sung in wonderful (goose bump) harmonies and provides a fitting closure!

The production is sparse yet varied enough to give each song the feeling the lyrics call for and still let the stories shine. David Tamulevich and Michael Hough have voices that naturally lend themselves well to musical storytelling and blend in nicely with the other vocal harmonies.

It's been a long wait for this one, but what can I say? Just like their previous recordings, it's a gem!

Here are all the folks who were involved in this collection:

  • David Tamulevich - lead and harmony vocals, guitar, dulcimer, harmonica, mark tree
  • Michael Hough - lead and harmony vocals, guitar, bass
  • Garnet Rogers - harmony vocals, violin, fiddle, guitar synth, electric guitars
  • Corey Thompson - drums and percussion
  • Randall Hill - mandolin
  • David Woodhead - upright -, 8 string -, basic bass, mandolin
  • Kitty Donohoe - harmony vocals
  • Lucy Kaplansky - harmony vocals
  • Jennifer Kimball - harmony vocals
  • Dan Brodbeck - harmony vocals

Edited by Virginia Wagner

Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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