Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lee Murdock at Friday at the Ford

This will be a week for music reviews. In Monday's post, I mentioned my library's concert series Friday at the Ford. Five times each year, we present folk, jazz, or classical music in a small, friendly space on a Friday night. Relaxed musicians and audience members might even talk during a show. The concerts are absolutely free to attend thanks to the support of the Western Springs Library Friends.

In January 2012, we brought back Lee Murdock, an Illinois-based folk singer who has researched and performed many songs about the Great Lakes in his over thirty years on the stage. He began his hour-long concert with "Remember the Night of the Phoenix," a song that tells from three viewpoints about a fire on a steamship outside of Sheboygan in 1847. To lighten the mood, he followed with a humorous piece called "The Lumberman's Alphabet," which is not really a lake song. Murdock explained that he has recently been widening his repertoire, especially to include instrumental pieces, such as his haunting 12-string guitar rendition of "In the Bleak Midwinter."

Throughout the concert, Murdock told stories, some about the places that he had visited and others about the history that he had uncovered. One of my favorites was his account of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of the 1850s, which led to a song called "I Am a Peaceful Democrat." The singer also invited us to sing along on several songs. The audience did well, especially during the encore on "The Erie Canal."

Sales of Murdock's CDs after the concert were brisk. I got two, including his recent A Wordless Christmas, 20 carols and holiday songs on guitar (in 14 tracks), which we will enjoy at our house next December. I also bought The View from the Harbor, which includes an entertaining song by the same title about a retired sailor who holds court in a pub. I'll probably listen to it often while gardening this summer. You can learn more about Murdoch and his music at his website.

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