"Past 3 O'Clock, and a cold frosty morning!" The deep baritone voice of the night watchman rings through the aisles of listeners, and "A New Year's Wassail" begins.
Recorded live in an old New England church on New Year's Day, "Take Joy!" weaves song and stories, instrumentals and singalongs into a changing tapestry of the winter season. A single voice is joined by a drone, by a psaltery, by more voices. . . dropping away into a lively fiddle tune, a haunting cello solo, an orchestral piano medley, into the entire audience rousing into song.
"Take Joy!" is more than a collection of multi-cultural seasonal music. It ebbs and flows through time and space and feeling, from Harvest to Hanukkah, from Christmas to New Year's. The four performers have played together many times before, and an intuitive ensemble captures the thread of the concert and keeps it moving forward.
Gene Faxon and Eve Kodiak began putting on "Wassail's" when they bought an old church in New Mexico more than twenty years ago. They found themselves in New Hampshire at the turn of the millenium, where they were joined by fiddler, singer, and storyteller Andrea Larson. Their son, Damiel, grew up in the Wassail tradition and in this album he plays cello and a wide variety of other instruments. The audience forms a kind of fifth performer, made of friends and community members who look forward to this concert as part of each year's seasonal celebration.
The sounds of Take Joy! are made by: Voices Fiddle Piano Cello Recorder PennyWhistle Accordion Frame Drum Shruti Guitar Banjo Organ
The occasions it celebrates are:
HARVEST, with "John Barleycorn," an ancient allegory of the grain for solo baritone voice.
HANUKKAH, with "Ocho Kandelikas," a modern song in the ancient Ladino tongue of Sephardic Jews for everyone to sing.
CHRISTMAS, with "Past 3 O'Clock," the song of a lone bellman on Christmas morning.
"Navidava Puri Nihua," a celebration of the Nativity from Bolivia with percussion and recorders and voice.
"Dancing in Midwinter," a solo piano piece composed by Eve Kodiak that combines and contrasts the carols In the Bleak Midwinter" and "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day."
"Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" in a haunting modern arrangement for voice, violin, and piano.
"The Holly Bears a Berry (St. Day Carol)," an ancient carol done by the whole "band."
A Charles Dickens' story - a model for his famous "A Christmas Carol -" told by Gene Faxon to the acoompaniment of theatre piano, organ, and an audience full of goblins: "The Story of Gabriel Grub, or, The Goblins Who Stole a Sexton at Christmas."
ST. STEPHEN'S DAY, Sankt Staffan’s Visa, a traditional song sung in Swedish by Andrea Larson.
MOMENTS OF FUN, "Aroque Nostre," a medieval Provencal instrumental, "Greensleeves and Yellow Lace," a British fiddle tune, and "Coleman's March," an American fiddle tune with banjo, piano, and penny whistle as well.
SPIRITUAL MOMENTS, "Dona Nobis Pacem," a round sung with the audience, "Ave Verbum," a prayer in Latin from many centuries ago, "Eyli, Eyli," a prayer from the last century in Hebrew written by a young woman, featuring a passionate cello solo by Damiel Faxon.
MOMENTS WITH SPIRITS (the drinkable kind), "Gower Wassail," a song sung as wassailers knocked upon each new door in their holiday rounds, "Say Will We Yet," and "Auld Lang Syne," two Robert Burns lyrics reflecting upon life over "a cup of kindness."
NEW YEAR'S DAY: "Day Dawis." Andrea Larson tells a magical tale about the transformation of the old year into the new, threaded through with the sounds of her song and her fiddle, supported by the quiet flow of Eve Kodiak's piano. The haunting traditional tune from the Shetland Islands of Scotland is played only on New Year's Day.
Here is the program in order, as listed in the CD booklet! Enjoy.
1. Past 3 O ‘Clock
Gene Faxon, voice. A town crier makes his rounds on Christmas morning. Ancient refrain, verses by George Ratcliff Woodward.
2. Ave Verbum
Andrea Larson, Eve Kodiak and Gene Faxon voice, Damiel Faxon, shruti.
The word incarnate . . . bread of angels . . .
3. Aroque Nostre
Eve Kodiak and Gene Faxon, recorders, Andrea Larson, shruti, Damiel Faxon, cello. Medieval Provencal French.
4. Greensleeves and Yellow Lace
Andrea Larson, fiddle. A traditional English fiddle tune.
5. John Barleycorn
Gene Faxon, voice. “John Barleycorn” is the grain, and his story is the ancient agricultural cycle of death and rebirth. An ancient ballad from Scotland.
6. Sankt Staffan’s Visa
Andrea Larson, voice and fiddle. A Swedish song honoring St. Stephen, whose day – visa - falls on December 26th.
7. Dona Nobis Pacem (All Sing)
A traditional round with text from the Latin Mass. Grant us peace!
8. Navidava Puri Nihua
Eve Kodiak and Gene Faxon voice, Damiel Faxon and Andrea Larson, percussion. A nativity carol from Bolivia in an Aymara dialect.
Damiel Faxon, cello, Eve Kodiak, voice. Hebrew prayer by the young Hannah Senesh, who died in 1944 on a mission to evacuate Jews from Europe. Arranged by Eve Kodiak.
10. Ocho Kandelikas
Eve Kodiak, voice, Gene Faxon, voice and accordion, Andrea Larson, violin, Damiel Faxon, cello. Composer Flory Jagoda wrote this Hanukkah song in her native Ladino, the language of Sephardic Jews. The counting is a lot like Spanish . . . but listen for the surprises!
Una kandelika, dos kandelikas, tres kandelikas, quatro kandelikas, sinju kandelikas,
seish kandelikas . . . ocho kandelas para mi.
11. Dancing in Midwinter
Eve Kodiak, piano. In the Bleak Midwinter, lyrics by Christina Rosetti and melody by Gustav Holst combines with the traditional British carol, Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. This medley interweaves the coldness of winter with the warmth of celebration.
12. STORY Day Dawis (The Day Dawns)
Andrea Larson, story-telling, singing and fiddle, Eve Kodiak, piano. A mystical tale from the Shetland Islands of Scotland, woven through a traditional tune that is played only on New Year’s Day.
13. Lo, How a Rose
Gene Faxon, voice, Andrea Larson, violin, Eve Kodiak, piano. A fifteenth-century German carol, translated by Thomas Baker. Arranged by Richard Walters.
14. The Holly Bears a Berry (St. Day Carol)
Andrea Larson, voice and fiddle, Gene Faxon, voice and recorder, Eve Kodiak, voice and guitar, Damiel Faxon, cello. Transcribed in the 19th century in the village of St. Day (Sen Day) in Cornwall.
15. Gower Wassail (All sing)
Gene Faxon, Andrea Larson, voice, Eve Kodiak voice, guitar, and Damiel Faxon, voice, cello. A traditional wassail sung as revelers go from house to house at Christmastime. British Isles.
Fol-de-dol dol, de dol de dol, dol, de dol de dol dol, de dol de day
Oh sing too -ral- i, too- ral, sing too- ral –i- ay!
16. Say Will We Yet (All sing)
Andrea Larson and Gene Faxon, voice, Damiel Faxon, shruti. Lyrics by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns.
And say will we yet, and say will we yet,
1. For we’ve lippened, ay to Providence, and say will we yet.
2. For we’ve drunk the gither many’s the time, and say will we yet.
3. For we’ve, ay, been provided for, and say will we yet.
17. The STORY of Gabriel Grub (The Goblins Who Stole A Sexton At Christmas)
Gene Faxon, story-teller, Eve Kodiak, piano, Damiel Faxon, organ. You’ll hear the echoes of A Christmas Carol in this earlier Dickens story. Gabriel Grub could be an early sketch for Ebenezer Scrooge!
18. Coleman’s March
Andrea Larson, fiddle, Damiel Faxon, banjo, Gene Faxon, pennywhistle, Eve Kodiak, piano. An American Fiddle Tune.
19. Take Joy
Gene Faxon. Adapted from Fra Giovanni’s letter to a friend, 1513.
20. All sing Auld Lang Syne
Gene Faxon, voice, Andrea Larson, fiddle, Eve Kodiak, piano, Damiel Faxon, cello. Robert Burns’ traditional New Year’s song.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.