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Ethan Miller & Kate Boverman - If All the Land Would Rise

If All the Land Would Rise

Ethan Miller & Kate Boverman

This CD available from riotfolk.org
(just click on Ethan and Kate's names
and their world will open for you).

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Frank Gutch Jr.
(frank.gutch.jr@gmail.com).

Holy Iraq, Batman! Woody Guthrie and Phil Ochs Channeled Through Miller & Boverman! Or so the headlines would read if the world weren't so caught up in making boatloads of money while gleefully trampling flora and fauna and human rights and the all too many things Ethan Miller and Kate Boverman obviously hold so dear. So what do they do? Release a CD, of course, and with luck chip away at the corporate and conservative mold and mildew making this House of Democracy (that being the United States) a House of Division.

Top to bottom, they drive their point home. Only Eight slams the G8 (that's the eight most industrialized and, therefore, richest nations in the world). Turn Your Guns gives the military-industrial complex solar plexus a good shot (Phil Ochs would be proud). White Lies rocks the establishment with the gawdawful (to them) accusation of white skin privilege (like it or not, and most of us don't, it's there and our passive acceptance keeps it there). Hands On You pokes the conservative Christian movement in the chest and gives its supporters food for thought (the ultimate irony would be no entrance to Heaven for those who use religion as a tool, wouldn't it).

There are songs here about farmers, minorities, injustice, war, bodybags, you name it. Pulling no punches, Miller & Boverman bob and weave with each track, making the message the focal point of the music (which is quite good, actually). Biff! Take that, Bush! Pow! In your face, Enron! Smack! Up yours, Halliburton! Thirteen songs and not a clunker in the bunch. That is, if you're not a compassionate conservative, whatever that is.

The style of the music itself fluctuates, but if you think or know Phil Ochs during his Ain't Marching No More phase or Jim Page (a master of the incisive musical, political dig), you know enough. Call it folk-rock or folk or protest, it really comes down to the music which has a message which is the massage (Massage this, Cheney!). The great thing is, once you get past the message, there are some tasty acoustic licks here. In places, mighty tasty.

To their credit, Miller and Boverman took this project to the end of the line and you have to applaud that. All materials were either made from 100% recycled material or printed from vegetable ink (except the CD, of course--- the world has yet to figure out how to make that totally biodegradable compact disc, though it is possible the knowledge is there and patented by the Powers That Be, er, ahem). Even the songs themselves are not copyrighted, registered directly into the Public Domain through some liberal legerdemain (and that means we can sing them without paying royalties, my friends--- except for the one non-original, Lee Hayes' classic Lonesome Traveler). How cool is that?

The CD is marketed, if that be the proper term, through riotfolk (dot org, not dot com, which is an entirely different animal), who describe themselves as "a mutual aid collective of radical folk musicians, participating in and supporting movements for social, economic and ecological liberation." Payments are made on a sliding scale (they ask for between five and 20 dollars and leave it up to you), which says a lot itself.

Just so you have an idea of who Miller and Boverman are, the chorus of Clearcut reads
I feel like I'm clearcut
I feel like my rivers have run dry
And I'm raw beneath the open sky
And the rain, when it comes
Will carry me away in a landslide

If those are tree-hugging words, show me a tree.

Track List:

  • Only Eight (Miller)
  • Turn Your Guns (Miller)
  • White Lies (Miller)
  • Hands On You (Miller)
  • Simple Dirt (Miller & Boverman)
  • Pennsylvania Miner (Thompson & Miller)
  • Organized Crime (Miller)
  • Come Home (Miller)
  • Lonesome Traveler (Lee Hayes)*
  • Wash Up Over Me (Miller)
  • Declaration of War (Miller)
  • Tree of Life (Miller & Boverman)
  • Clearcut (Miller & Boverman)
All songs Public Domain except * 1979, Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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