Thursday, March 15, 2012

Concert Review: Waterbound – Woodland Park Presbyterian Church, Seattle, 3/11/2012

Readers of the blog will note a shift here: this is completely different from the music that I often review. That said, it had the other attributes of the music that I often write about: it was both interesting to listen to, and beautiful. It held my attention for the entire hour and a half…

Waterbound is a Celtic duet of Steve Akerman (mandolin) and Mimi Geibel (autoharp); both play occasional other instruments and sing when they decide to. The music? Celtic, obviously; but without fiddles or pipes; an ethereal kaleidoscope of shimmering plectra – it sounded like something I would expect to hear at a dinner and recital in Lothlórien or Cair Paravel. Each individual song was a beautifully-cut gem. Mr. Akerman stated that his musical roots include other types of music (including bluegrass, blues, and jazz) and that his improvisations within the Celtic framework would often stray into these idioms. At one point he announced that his octave-mandolin part had been derived from “Can’t Get No Satisfaction” (I hadn’t noticed, but then again, I seldom listen to the Stones because I’ve never liked what I’ve heard by them); at another point, they played a “vertical medley” (two songs at once) where the mandolin part was from a Vivaldi concerto. None of these “excursions” destroyed the continuity of the music; in fact were barely noticeable. They just contributed a little seasoning to the concert.

Another point that both performers often made (before playing a tune) was that “traditional” tunes of course had a composer – they’ve done some research and they often know who that composer was. …And some of the “old” traditional tunes were apparently written within the last twenty years. Some of the most affecting melodies were actually themes from NPR shows.

The gossamer quality of the music worked well in Woodland Park Presbyterian Church. This is a cavernous, reverberant space; I’ve often attended the open mic there (second Friday evening every month) and the acoustics are marvelous for both folk and experimental music, as well as classical. I might mention that Waterbound has played there (at the open mic), and that last week’s open mic had an interesting guest – an old friend of mine who has since moved to Chicago and plays the kaen (Thai mouth organ) – that full-bodied reedy instrument sounds like the grandfather of all accordions there.

So I have nothing bad to say about the concert? No, not really; there were a couple of obvious wrong notes (but no more than that!), but this is to be expected in an hour and a half of live music. All in all it was a satisfying concert.

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