Sunday, December 03, 2023

Advent and music: first week in Advent

Advent: a time os ideas, a time of change....

Whether this season is part of your faith calendar or not, this time at turning of season and turning of year is a good time to reflect.

It may be challenging to pause, perhaps even more so to find interior silence in which to do that reflection.

Music makes a good gateway into reflection.

Though there’s plenty of great seasonal music about, if that’s not what engages you, there are other possibilities too.

Several ideas to consider

Lauren MacColl is a fiddle player and composer based in the north of Scotland. Her album Haar is not seasonal music. It is. however, a collection of thoughtful pieces which make good companions for quiet thinking.

MacColl is joined by musical friends including Rachel Newton on harp and spoken word, Anna Massie on guitar, James Lindsay on double bass, Mairearad Green on accordion, Jennifer Austin on pianos, and Alice Allen on cello. Their collaboration gives added interest and depth, which along with MacColl’s stellar playing, invites repeated listening.

The Lonesome Chronicles from The Kathy Kallick Band takes things in a bit of a different direction. Kallick is an award winning singer, songwriter and guitarist based in northern California; her band memebrs are based all across the US west.

When they get together, it is powerful music they make. For The Lonesome Chronicles, as the title suggests there are songs that consider being lonely and ways of living through that and learning from it.

The album takes listeners on a journey, really, from those considerations of coping with being lonely to celebrating coming out of it ). There are both songs and tunes, a well rounded collection with original music from Kallick and her band members along side well chosen covers of music from William Golden, Earl Scruggs, and John Prine.

For seasonal music, as Advent begins take time to explore three winter seasonal albums from the top Irish American band Cherish the Ladies.

On Christmas Night, Star in the East, and Christmas in Ireland find the group offering varying modds in song and tune, from traditional to original pieces. Heidi Talbot is lead singer for On Christmas Night, Michelle Lee Burke has that role for Star in the East, and Hannah Rarity is lead singer for Christmas in Ireland.

Flute and whistles from band leader and founding member Joanie Madden and guitar from founding member Mary Coogan are creative presences on all the albums, with keys from Kathleen Boyle, accordion from Mirella Murray, and fiddle from Nollaig Casey making part of the mix too.

Each of these albums is well worth taking time with at the winter holidays.

Also to explore: Cherish have put together a digital holiday album with tracks from these albums and other sources featuring Cherish the Ladies with guest singers Heidi Talbot, Hannah Rarity, Don Stiffe, Kate Purcell, Michelle Burke, Bruce Foley, and Seámus Ó'Flatharta. It is called Ultimate Christmas Mix and you can find it on Bandcamp.

...and look for the album Christmas, from Cherish the Ladies founding member and guitarist Mary Coogan.

More to come on music to listen to during Advent as the season unfolds...

You may also wish to see
More ideas for music for the first week in Advent, from a few eyars back
Music for Starry Winter NIghts at Wandering Educators, with a track from On Christmas Nigh form Cherish the Ladies along with music from Andrew Finn Magill, Matt and Shannon Heaton and more
One More Christmas from Austin based musicians Christine Albert and Chris Gage
Learn about Through Wind and Rain, a recording from Cathie Ryan, who was lead singer with Cherish the Ladies for many years

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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