SEE GREAT REVIEWS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE....
Al & Amy are an award-winning performing arts ensemble. They create new music for a new generation with a brilliant convergence of Celtic and American stylings. *see review at bottom)
The music in this collection was inspired by the beauty of
the Southern Appalachian mountains. We both grew up near the foothills and escaped here whenever time allowed. We are so thankful now to be living amid these mountains year-round. What a gift it is to experience this magic ogether, to be amazed anew each day in this land of lush enchantment.
Al: Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Irish Bouzouki, Fretless Bass, Vocals & Percussion
Amy: Acoustic Guitar, Celtic Harp, Mandolin, Vocals & Percussion
Joe Ebel: Violin
1. Land of the Sky (Al Petteway)
In the early 1900's, Asheville, North Carolina began to be known as "The Land of the Sky." This popular moniker was used to entice tourists to the region and is in use to this day.
2. Black Bear's Picnic (Amy White)
A playful & funky jig dedicated to the fine black bears who visit us on occasion. We wish we could offer these amazing bears and their fine woodland friends a safer home. It is always a thrill to see big wildlife. But their sightings are also a reminder that we are surely encroaching on their habitat - and are doing so at an alarming rate. We are grateful to the many land owners in this region who are doing their best to protect the environment by converting their acreage into conservation easements and sanctuaries.
3. Shady Grove (Trad. Arr. - Al Petteway)
There are at least four similar melodies that go by the name Shady Grove and all are popular in the southern Appalachians. The melody used here is from an old tune called "Mattie Groves" which first appeared in print in the early 1600's. The ballad appears as a traditional tune in southern Scotland, England and America. We tried to give it a little flavor from each of these places in our rendition, starting in Scotland and ending in the southern Blue Ridge..
4. Across the Blue Mountains (Trad. Arr. - Al Petteway & Amy White)
We first heard this performed by The Muses, an Asheville a capella group that includes Gail Forsyth, a Scottish singer and Judy Rhodes a seventh generation native to the western mountains of North Carolina. Judy told me about a book on Buncombe County NC called "The Heart of the Alleghanies", published in 1883. It is possible that this ballad cam from this region and is referring to the local mountains and valleys. The name Alleghany is from an Indian word meaning 'fine stream. Many folks throughout history have referred to the Appalachians as the Alleghany Mountains but most scholars use the name given to the chain by Spanish explorer Hernando Desoto who was lost in the southern Blue Ridge in 1540 and had some run-ins with the Apalachee Indians.
5. Bobcat in the Brambles (Amy White)
I suppose a bobcat wouldn't be quite as pleased to be in the brambles as this melody would suggest, but I couldn't resist the alliteration. This here is a happy happy tune.
6. Sunny Day (Amy White)
Sunshine is good for the soul. This tune feels like a sunny day to us - joyous and likely to inspire an impromptu dance.
7. Pretty Polly (Trad Arr. - Al Petteway & Amy White)
Ballads are a great musical tradition in the Appalachians and some of the more popular ballads have dozens of variations in both melody and lyrics. Pretty Polly is one of the oldest English "Broadside" ballads. It was first published in the early 1700's and has since become an American standard. We have always loved the haunting quality of this ballad and couldn't resist putting our own spin on it.
8. A Walk in the Woods (Amy White)
First performed at a song circle on our wedding day, we revisited this tune to honor the forest of our new home. Nothing refreshes the spirit like a walk in the woods. I love how the interplay of our guitars sounds like a conversation among friends as they walk through the forest... 'look at this amazing wildflower'...'did you hear that beautiful bird call?'
9. Western Highlands (Al Petteway)
With a landscape so like the highlands of Scotland, it is easy to see why so many Scots migrated to this region. Their influence is evident everywhere, from the names of the towns along the range, to the music that took root and flourished here.
10. Wayfaring Stranger (Trad. Arr. Al Petteway)
This popular Appalachian spiritual is said to have origins in an old Irish folk song. It is one of the most famous southern spirituals and appears in 'The Sacred Harp,' a compilation of 'shaped note' songs first compiled in 1844 by Benjamin Franklin White. Many of the songs in this collection can be traced to earlier Ballads, Jigs, Marches, and love songs with Celtic origins.
11. The Cuckoo (Trad. Arr. - Al Petteway & Amy White)
The Cuckoo has its roots in early Scotland. As with most of these tunes, a number of variations of the melody and lyrics have appeared throughout history. This version was inspired by the banjo playing of Appalachian native Hobart Smith on a 1942 field recording made by Alan Lomax on behalf of the Library of Congress.
12. Swannanoa (Al Petteway)
A popular interpretation of the name, "Swannanoa" is "beautiful." We live in the Swannanoa Mountain range which overlooks the Swannanoa Valley where our favorite folk music camp takes place every summer. This camp, "The Swannanoa Gathering," is what first brought us to Western North Carolina. The setting of the Gathering is so beautiful. We cherish the music and the friendships it has inspired.
13. Ryan's Rambles (Amy White)In honor of many things - especially our fine guitars and our fine luthier friends, for which many of our cats are named. One of our cats is named Ryan and she is quite the character. We like to imagine what one of her adventures would sound like. Perhaps a bit like this...
14. Trillium Waltz (Amy White)A gentle melody inspired by the guitarist Andrew York and the wealth of spring wildflowers that bloom on our mountain. The Trillium is three-petaled wildflower native to our region. -Bold yet delicate and fitting for a waltz.
These two musicians are as well known separately as in a duo setup.Both multi instrumentalists play a wide range of instruments and their music on Land of The Sky creates a Celtic ambiance with as well own compositions as traditional works. This album is an inspiration they
found in their own surroundings at the Southern Appalachians in the USA where they live together and got the inspiration from to make this album to a spiritual and enticing journey. The instruments used vary from guitar, Celtic harp , mandolin, banjo, fiddle, bouzouki, fretless
bass, vocals and percussion. Both musicians interact beautiful in the different and touching atmospheres they create in each piece. At times you feel you are going back ages in time to a restful and peaceful place to take you on a journey with beautiful landscapes and moving sound
escapades. Al Petteway opens with Land of the Sky in a duet with Amy which really thrills and absorbs one. Amy impresses on Black Bear's Picnic with percussion added who touches one and A Walk in the Woods with the rich overtones and Western Highlands are other engaging compositions. Swannanoa brings back that ancient native sound. It is surely not surprising that Land of the Sky [Al Petteway & Amy White] are Grammy & Indie Award winning.--Henk te Veldhuis, Bridge Guitar Reviews
ANOTHER FINE REVIEW- RAMBLES.NET
The review can be seen at:
Put in Al Petteway and Amy White's Land of the Sky, and you might find yourself wondering how they managed to pack so much fresh mountain air in with their CD. It really is that evocative.
A collection of Celtic, traditional folk and original compositions inspired by and invoking the Southern Appalachians, Land of the Sky sings of forests, wood smoke and wide open skies. A primarily instrumental CD, it features a wide range of skillfully played acoustic instruments, ranging from the twangy banjo to the crystalline harp and soulful acoustic guitar. The resulting sound retains its Celtic roots, but is infused with a vigor, rhythm and folksiness that are unmistakably American. It is an engaging blend indeed: both folk and Celtic music lovers should be pleased at the seamlessness and melody with which the two are fused.
Over the course of the CD's 14 tracks, no one mood is prevalent. The wistfulness of the opening track, "Land of the Sky," gives way to a sunny, unconventional jig in "Black Bear's Picnic." The nimble banjo picking of "Bobcat in the Brambles" is especially fun to listen to because the musicians are obviously having a great time. "A Walk in the Woods" is a mellow guitar duet that, as the liner notes suggest, sounds remarkably like the musical form of a conversation. Serene or lively, the instrumentals are, without exception, well arranged and executed.
The two vocals, arrangements of the traditional "Across the Blue Mountains" and "Wayfaring Stranger," feature White's low, clear voice with Petteway on harmony. They are pleasant, though not extraordinary or particularly necessary -- any more than two vocals might have proved disruptive. As it is, however, the CD makes for beautifully easy listening, yet rewards closer attention to meter, instrumentation and mood.
The diversity of the tracks can be subtle and requires a few listens to appreciate, but it is immediately clear that the songs fit well together; they might each describe a slightly different aspect of the Southern Appalachians, but together they form a cohesive, intimate and highly evocative soundtrack of the place, even to someone who has never been there. In addition to the music, the liner notes, with Petteway and White's comments on each track, invite listeners into the artists' personal music and lives in the Appalachians. Everything about Land of the Sky speaks of care, skill and genuine warmth.
Maggie's Music puts out consistently listenable, pleasantly off-the-beaten-track CDs, and Land of the Sky is no exception. Its remarkable ability to transport its listeners makes it the perfect rush hour commute CD: turn it up and leave brake lights and smog behind for an hour.