Various Artists | The Gathering

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Holiday: Folk Folk: String Band Moods: Mood: Seasonal
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The Gathering

by Various Artists

The Gathering started as a groups of songs about a journey home on a winter's night; it became a collaboration between a symphony, a songwriter and a string band. The string band gathered in a cabin in the August woods to make a December record.
Genre: Holiday: Folk
Release Date: 

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  song title
artist name
1. Gathering Night (Feat. Mike Compton & Jason Sypher) Laurelyn Dossett & Rhiannon Giddens
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2:17 $0.99
2. Lights in the Lowlands (Feat. Rhiannon Giddens, Joe Newberry, Mike Compton & Jason Sypher) Laurelyn Dossett
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4:07 $0.99
3. Redbird (Feat. Laurelyn Dossett, Joe Newberry, Mike Compton & Jason Sypher) Rhiannon Giddens
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5:31 $0.99
4. Redbird Lullaby (Feat. Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Jason Sypher & Rhiannon Giddens) Laurelyn Dossett
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1:52 $0.99
5. String of Pearls (Feat. Laurelyn Dossett, Mike Compton, Joe Newberry & Jason Sypher) Rhiannon Giddens
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4:10 $0.99
6. Diamonds in the Pines (Feat. Rhiannon Giddens, Joe Newberry, Mike Compton & Jason Sypher) Laurelyn Dossett
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3:26 $0.99
7. Old Ebenezer Scrooge Mike Compton
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3:52 $0.99
8. On This Christmas Day (Feat. Mike Compton, Laurelyn Dossett, Rhiannon Giddens & Jason Sypher) Joe Newberry
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3:35 $0.99
9. O Holy Night Rhiannon Giddens & Jason Sypher
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4:03 $0.99
10. On Christmas Eve (Feat. Joe Newberry & Jason Sypher) Mike Compton
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3:36 $0.99
11. First Day of the Year (Feat. Mike Compton, Jason Sypher & Laurelyn Dossett) Joe Newberry
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3:55 $0.99
12. I Wonder As I Wander (Feat. Rhiannon Giddens) Laurelyn Dossett
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2:48 $0.99
13. Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn (Feat. Mike Compton, Joe Newberry, Laurelyn Dossett & Jason Sypher) Rhiannon Giddens
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3:59 $0.99
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Album Notes
Christmas music with roots this deep is rare. Appalachian- and Piedmont-style music talents Laurelyn Dossett (of Polecat Creek), Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), Mike Compton (John Hartford Band, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Elvis Costello & The Sugarcanes), Joe Newberry (Big Medicine, Jump Steady Boys) and Jason Sypher(Susan McKeown, Nikitov) have joined forces to create 'The Gathering,' a Christmas album recorded in a Greensboro, NC house in the woods during a hot August week.

The North Carolina Symphony commissioned Laurelyn Dossett to write a song cycle and those six songs form the core of the album, focusing on a cold, dark, North Carolina winter night and a prodigal daughter's return. Other songs on the album include Compton singing his former boss John Hartford's "On Christmas Eve" and Giddens and Sypher doing "O Holy Night" as a bass and voice duet.

The pedigree of the musicians brought together for 'The Gathering' is first-rate. Dossett's song "Anna Lee" was recorded by Levon Helm for his GRAMMY-winning album 'Dirt Farmer' as well as on the recent live album 'Ramble At The Ryman.' Her "Leaving Eden" was recorded by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. She has performed at Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble and her original roots music band Polecat Creek has appeared on NPR's Prairie Home Companion.

Rhiannon Giddens is a member of the GRAMMY-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose 2010 album 'Genuine Negro Jig' debuted at number one on the Billboard Bluegrass chart and at number 150 on the Billboard 200. The Carolina Chocolate Drops have also appeared at the Newport Folk Festival, The Grand Ole Opry and in the film "The Great Debators" starring Denzel Washington. Rolling Stone Magazine described the Carolina Chocolate Drops’ style as "dirt-floor-dance electricity."

Mike Compton is a longtime member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band, has recorded with Elvis Costello, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, Dolly Parton, Gregg Allman, Willie Nelson, John Hartford, and T-Bone Burnett.

Multi-instrumentalist and North Carolina old time player Joe Newberry won first-place at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival and appeared on a Prairie Home Compaion with Big Medicine. He is currently touring with Mike Compton and with the Jump Steady Boys

Double bassist Jason Sypher has performed with Irma Thomas, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, and Susan McKeown, among many others.


to write a review

Joe Ross

Plenty of beautifully melancholic and nostalgic moments
Commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony to write a group of songs about a prodigal daughter’s journey home on a cold, dark, winter’s night, songwriter and guitarist Laurelyn Dossett put together a stunning group of traditional musicians to help tell the story. They include Rhiannon Giddens (fiddle), Joe Newberry (banjo, guitar), Mike Compton (mandolin, mandola), and Jason Sypher (bass). The album’s first half is “The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs.” Dossett’s compositions are not your typical string band music. We hear thoughtful, inspired music with unique melodies and creative structures. The stage is set as the opening sentiment is expressed: to light a candle for the night is gathering there. The second song in the series asks “Should I follow the lowland light home?” The album’s cover art (a watercolor by Kenneth Frazelle) is nothing fancy, but it splendidly paints the Carolina hills with their winter aura and cold sensation. As all the family is on the way, “Redbird” tells us that it’s time to get ready for the gathering day with its unique cast of characters. “Redbird Lullaby” is a short, intimate message. “String of Pearls” assumes a devout tone to create a sweetly reverent remembrance of home. The story ends with the moon and sycamore shining with a heart-connecting light like “Diamonds in the Pines.” Spare settings provide accessibility to these six songs, but one is also left wondering if the CD shouldn’t have also incorporated the orchestra that commissioned the work and will debut it in November 2011 in Raleigh, N.C.

The second half of the album begins with Compton showcasing his arrangement of Bill Monroe’s “Old Ebenezer Scrooge.” Two Joe Newberry originals (On This Christmas Day, First Day of the Year) are first pew and capture the meaning of the holiday season, as does the classic “I Wonder as I Wander.” The unique arrangement of “O Holy Night” features Giddens and Sypher with a voice and bass duet. Mike Compton sings John Hartford’s “On Christmas Eve,” a song he no doubt learned and performed while playing with Hartford’s touring string band from 1996 until John’s untimely death in 2001. The CD closes with “Christ Was Born on Christmas Morn,” a traditional song with arrangement attributed to a 1929 version by the Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers. All in all, “The Gathering” is certainly not your typical or common Christmas album, and it’s a welcome addition as an alluring project that’s a little different than most. It doesn’t send cold shivers and chills up my spine, but it’s got plenty of beautifully melancholic and nostalgic moments. (Joe Ross)