Gilkyson, Gorka and Kaplansky—it sounds like a music lover's dream team, and it is. All three record for Red House Records, tour as independent artists and are among the best singer/songwriters performing today. The solo acoustic musician is exactly that—a solo artist. So, it's a rare treat when two or more get together to tour or record.
These three artists have a long history of collaboration. Both Gorka and Kaplansky have been part of the "On a Winter's Night" and "On a Summer's Night" concert tour of the past fifteen years. Gilkyson toured with Gorka and Cliff Eberhardt on the "Longing for Eliza" tour of 2009. All have appeared on each other's recordings over the years and are long-time friends.
The Red Horse project was inspired by a series of concerts these three artists participated in as part of the celebration of Red House Records' twenty-fifth anniversary. The result is the folk supergroup Red Horse, a tour through 2010 and into 2011, and a recording of the same name.
The Red Horse recording is a joy to listen to, from beginning to end. The listener is treated to these wonderful artists not only singing their own songs, but covering each other's tunes as well.
The recording opens with the Neil Young classic, I am a Child, with Eliza Gilkyson on lead vocal and guitar. This is the perfect song for her sweet, knowing voice. Mike Hardwick on electric guitar and Cisco Ryder on percussion provide understated backup letting the vocals and lyrics take center stage. Lucy Kaplansky is superb on backing vocals.
Other highlights include Lucy Kaplansky on her classic, Scorpion, with guitar god Duke Levine backing her on electric and acoustic guitars. John Gorka sings backup on this one. It's a bit of heaven on earth. Kaplansky's Don't Mind Me is brilliantly performed by John Gorka, giving the song new meaning from the male perspective. Singers simply don't get any better than Gorka. Lucy Kaplansky shines on Gorka's gorgeous Blue Chalk with Eliza Gilkyson on backing vocals and Duke Levine on electric guitar. John Gorka's unforgettable Forget to Breathe receives a moving rendition by Eliza Gilkyson with Gorka on guitar.
The recording closes with the traditional classic, Wayfaring Stranger. Kaplansky has the lead vocals on this one, but you can hear the heavenly chorus of John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson on backing vocals. Duke Levine is superb on mandola and lap steel guitar, with Ben Wittman on bass drum.
Listening to Red Horse reminds us that this trio of artists—Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka and Eliza Gilkyson—are among the best singer/songwriters writing and singing their own compositions as well as those of others, anywhere in the world today. The material they are working with is head and shoulders above the music coming out of most of the popular musical genres of today. Red Horse moves to the top of my list of best recordings of the year.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society and Roberta B. Schwartz.
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