Some of the World’s Greatest Folk CDs at Sale Prices

By today’s reckoning, Timberhead Music CD’s are unbelievably bargain priced at their regular catalog price of $16. But now slashed $3-only $12.99 a disc-during their Annual Christmas Holiday Sale, Nov. 22 to Dec. 22, they’re an incredible bargain. That’s considering that this Camden, Maine mail order service stocks some of the most excitingly beautiful folk music anywhere and Canadian and U.S. currencies now at par.

Moncton folk singer and traditional music garu Bernie Houlahan three decades ago expressed the feeling of many devotees of real folk music, when he said he’d ‘almost entirely given up interest in anything new called folk music.’ So many inept young songwriters releasing navel-gazing two month wonders and calling them them folk. Songs that would never be sung by anyone else of their own generation let alone survive decades of others singing them to meet the folksong designation. “ Then I discovered Folk Legacy Records,” he said, “ and realized there were still singers writing songs he could envision standing the test of time. The recordings Folk-Legacy were releasing restored my faith.”

And Gordon Bok, their most popular artist, had a lot to do with that. A folk song by original definition is one still sung after who wrote it is forgotten by the masses. It’s a song that has been enhanced by many singers and polished over time .

Gordon Bok’s first album, self-titled, on Verve Folkways album featured a song Fundy that became a favourite of mine. Another debut album The Magic of Mayo Muirby a goldenvoiced singer Anne Mayo Muir on 20th Century Fox Records soon filled a like niche. They’re still among our most played 40 years later. So when I read about an album Bay of Fundy by Gordon Bok with Anne Mayo Muir on Folk-Legacy I lost no time in acquiring it. That album opened the door to a whole new world of folk music and communication with the label for me.

Started by two great traditional singers Sandy and Caroline Paton with a friend Lee B. Haggerty, their studio was in Sharon, Connecticut. Their recordings were only available in Canada by mail-order or at import specialty stores. Gordon Bok after his first solo recording in 1971 Peter Kaggan And The Wind become their most recorded artist.

When Folk Legacy, due to the failing health of its founders, cut back recording operations, Gordon purchased his masters along with others from them and established his own distributing retailing company Timberhead Music. That label’s catalog now includes over 50 of his CDs. Those include solo albums, those of the trio of Bok, Ann Mayo Muir and Ed Trickett, with whom he toured and recorded for three decades and various other duo and chorus alliances.

And over those years Gordon Bok has been a frequent visitor to the Port City and Hampton. Because of a Saint John Folk Club concert here he forged a chain between the club and the New England folk community which still exists 30 years later. And for travelling expenses he came up from Camden in the late 80’s to do a Bi-Capitol concert to raise funds used in purchasing the building that became Saint John’s Imperial Theatre.

And he took part in the original Marco Polo Folk Opera written by Rothesay’s Jim Stewart in that theatre, a presentation of towering stage sets and audio visual effects that which took $100,000 to mount in the fall of 2002. As well, many of his recordings feature songs of enduring beauty written by Stewart and other local songwriting musicians.

Gordon Bok in Concert

His recent Gordon Bok In Concert is Bok’s only live album except for the Bok, Trickett, Muir trio’s, Minneapolis Concert recorded in 1987. This solo In Concert CD will open your ears to the warmer, more humourous side of Bok, and the repore he shares with audiences. I was amazed by the reaction of a couple of friends we took to a trio concert at Harvard University years ago . Not aware of traditional balladry even as it turned out, they were amazed at the capacity audience singing along with the trio on songs those two had never heard of, much less heard. Sadly such songs are not on commercial radio or even CBC now.

In Concert begins with an introduction and the comedic ballad Queer Bungo Rye for instance; a salute to Nova Scotia’s Canso Strait; The Angelius; a nostalgic While The Cane Fires Burn, an inspired rendering of Let The Lower Lights Be Burning, the rare Oysterbed Road and boisterousScottish Hie Awa with it’s introduction make this a ‘live’ music experience you’ll want to relive often, 16 songs interspersed with humour and stories.

With Jim Stewart of Saint John NB of Marco Polo Suite Fame

With Jim Stewart of Saint John NB of Marco Polo Suite Fame

There is also the Bok Trio’s 1994 Languages of The Heart CD, it’s incredibly beautiful title song written by Rothesay’s Jim Stewart and Moncton’s Bernie Houlahan. Jim’s Marco Polo song is included as well and such rarities as Blue Mountain, Stephen Foster, Merlin’s Waltz and Ballinderry: 15 exquisite songs all beautifully sung.

And, also, 15 rare, lovely songs on Harbours Of Home by Gordon, Ed and Ann, such gems as: Australian Henry Lawson’s The Outside Track; Scotsman Dave Goulder’s Pigs Can See The Wind; a lyrical treasure The Great Valley’s Harvest; Jim Stewart and Gordon’s We Built This Old Ship; John Austin Martin’s entrancing Dancing At Whitsum; J.B. Goodenough’s Turning Of The Year and the title song by a favourite songwriter of mine, Joan Sprung.

Also in the Timberland catalog is the trio’s Turning Toward The Morning which includes two masterpieces of Gordon’s own, Isle Au Haut Lullaby and the title song plus the emotional Three Score And Ten, I Drew My Ship, Gentle Annie, How Can I Keep from Singing and six others.

These and many others including Jim Stewart’s Narco Polo Suite, are available for only $12.99 U.S.-some cassettes $5, by phoning (207) 236-2707, or visiting www.timberheadmusic.com