One Band Between Us

Note: for the purposes of this post, Kirsten's comments will be in pink and Tavie's will be in yellow

So Tavie and I agree on next to nothing musically. We grew up with the same ignorance of anything resembling rock and watched many a sparkly musical. Nonetheless our tastes stray down very different paths.

Now as twins we have awesome mythical psychic powers and with these awesome mythical psychic powers we share visions. One of these in particular is triggered by folk music. Back in the day our geek father used to throw geek parties where he and his jolly band of SCA fellows would whip out the acoustic guitars and....well, filk*. But when they were not mucking around in Elvish, they played beautifully.

One of the things Tavie and I listened to constantly as kids was a cassette tape called "Dinosaurs, Dolphins and Dreams" by obscure-as-shite musician Tony Soll.

He had one children's song on it called "Revel" to which we STILL remember the tune and lyrics after 20 years.

Revel my friends by the warmth of the fire
revel together as one
we'll dance out the chill
and sing out the cold
and together we'll bring out the sun

If ANYone out there besides Tavie knows these lyrics, I will be astounded.
I'll interject to note, the entire record was folksy, silly, sweet children's songs that no one else seems to have heard of but me and Kirsten, thereby strengthening my theory that we lived in our own private world as children.

Anyway, whenever we heard it, we always saw the same thing. Dad's friends sitting in a circle around a proverbial campfire swaying under the stars. It's a fuzzy, intimate scene and as children we were voyeurs to it.

Only one band has brought back this feeling. HEM.
Intimacy is why we love HEM. And yes, I said we. I got her into it firrrsssst!

Anecdote. Night train from Edinburgh. I'm sleeping in an unheated car across two seats when I'm awakened by an agonizing Charley Horse. No amount of massage or flexing stops it. It's painnnn! Using my quick wit, I dug out a pair of woolen arm warmers and stuck them on my foot. Then I popped in Hem's Rabbit Songs.

Like Demerol, m'friends. Sweet, sweet, Demerol.

As you can imagine, I was terribly reluctant to listen to Hem at first. I was sure the songs would all be in Japanese, as is almost everything Kirsten gives me to listen to.

I was wrong. They're literally as American as apple pie; they conjure images of both Tennessee mountain shacks and midwestern plains as seen through a train window by moonlight, and of Virginia's forests in the autumn and California's redwoods in the summertime; and, sometimes, of wandering through an indeterminately-located ghost town, getting your sandaled toes dusty. (I'm not crazy; I know Kirsten sees these things too.)

I'm guessing Hem would be filed under "Americana" by the labelers. They're filed under "Soothing Purveyors of Sweet-Voiced Lullabyes" by me, and I keep a playlist on my iPod as a last resort for sleepless nights; most of the songs on their debut album, Rabbit Songs, take me to those rural, moonlit venues and get me drifting. It's the combination of gorgeous fiddlin' (oh, how I have a thing for fiddlin') and Sally Ellyson's exquisite voice. I can't describe it as anything but achingly beautiful.

I haven't had a chance to dive into their sophomore Eveningland, but every song on Rabbit Songs is a favourite. Half Acre is probably the best for falling asleep, and Cuckoo to gently but insistently wake my toes into tapping on the subway rides to work.

*Kirsten has failed to define this: definition of filk.


Blogger Tony Soll said...

Hi - I'm not totally obscure - I'm in Brooklyn - still singing. Revel My Friends " has a life of its own and will be sung tomorrow at the Fort TRyon Park Medieval Festival in Manhattan.
My website is:

3:06 PM, October 01, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Revel my friends has been living in my head ever since my parents played it for me on our old car's tape deck when I was... I have no idea how young I was. That song has been, for me, the definition of powerful defiance in the face of death and winter.

7:36 PM, October 11, 2009  

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