Joe Cormier,
The Dances Down Home
(Rounder, 2001)

The Dances Down Home is not simply a reissue of the LP by the same name that was recorded in 1976. Instead it adds tracks from several other sessions, covering almost 25 years of Joe Cormier's career. All but one of the medleys on the CD are either out of print or were not previously released. (I just wish they would re-release Cormier's first LP in full. It was called Scottish Violin Music from Cape Breton Island.)

Cormier weaves his magic on the violin. Other musicians were Eddie Irwin (piano), Edmond Boudreau (bass or guitar) and Johnny Muise (clappers).

The music has a rawness to it that fits more in a dance hall than on the concert stage. Then again, the medleys are made to dance to, consisting of reels, jigs, strathspeys and hornpipes. This is music that is meant to be danced to, and when the music keeps insisting on that point it is hard for me not to repeat it over and over again. The tempo may change from time to time, the type of dance will change, but the passion in the music remains the same.

The first six tracks are all from the original record by the same name, as are the last six tracks. They bookend the rest of the music wonderfully. If one were to skip the middle section (which one should not), one would miss a medley consisting of "The Marquis of Tullybardine/Romp Among the Whins/The Way to Mull River/Put me in the Big Chest." In doing so one would miss Joe Cormier performing music by John Morris Rankin, one of the masters of the genre. One would also miss seven other medleys that all neatly fit together.

The Dances Down Home is many things. It is a tribute to Joe Cormier's career. It is also part of the Rounder Heritage Essential Folk collection. It is passionate music crafted for dancing and a pleasure to listen to.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 29 May 2004