A Crowd of Bold Sharemen,
A Crowd of Bold Sharemen
(Singsong, 2002)

The band's name is awkwardly long. But this quintet of proud Newfoundlanders can surely serve up a set of songs and tunes that put listeners smack in the middle of Canada's mighty Atlantic island nation.

The Bold Sharemen are Jim Payne (guitar, accordion, mandolin, vocals), Fergus O'Byrne (bodhran, banjo, concertina, vocals), Colin Carrigan (fiddle, vocals), Gerry Strong (whistles, flute, vocals) and Graham Wells (accordion, bodhran, vocals). The bulk of the music on their self-titled CD is traditional, although a few tracks are originals penned in Newfoundland's traditional style. (For more detail on how Newfoundland's somewhat Celtic roots evolved into a unique style, read an interview with Shareman Fergus O'Byrne.)

The liner notes are brief but give ample insight into the band's pride in Newfoundland's music. The sound is deliciously authentic -- instrumentally, the Sharemen sound like the sort of band you'd find huddled over a beer-stained corner table in a seaside pub, and their voices are clear and enthusiastic but vaguely hoarse, as if coarsened by years of whiskey and cold salt breezes.

One exceptional track is "When We Was Boys," a Payne original inspired by a conversation with a timeworn octogenarian in Bonavista Harbour. The picture Payne paints of changing times is stirring. "Where Do the Capelin Go," also by Payne, weeps over the depletion of life in the ocean. Also evocative of another time is the traditional "Captains and Ships." For sheer entertainment there's "Feller from Fortune/Auntie Mary," a pair of dance tunes that gained lyrics over years of spontaneous diddling.

Thoroughly enjoyable. Check out A Crowd of Bold Sharemen for a taste of Newfoundland known to too few people beyond that island's rocky shores.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 28 December 2002