Evans & Doherty,
Sailing Ships
& Sailing Men

(Tall Ships, 2000)

It only takes the first track, "Paddy Lay Back," and there's no doubt that Evans & Doherty have a love for the music of the sea. Sailing Ships & Sailing Men is a collection of 20 shanties joyfully, artfully presented for everyone to enjoy.

The men on this CD manage to sound like an entire crew with their performance. Leading the way are Kevin B. Evans (vocals, acoustic guitar, 5-string banjo, mandolin, tiple, tin whistle, harmonica, autoharp and bodhran), Brian Doherty (vocals and bass guitar) and Jimmy Sweeny (vocals, acoustic guitar, tenor and longneck 5-string banjo).

Joining them are Tom Roach on percussion, Anthony Rissesco on fiddle, and Donnie Webb on vocals and concertina, plus Dan MacKinnon, Donnie Moore, Dave Hickey and John Ferguson on vocals.

There are a lot of common themes in these songs, including hard work ("Paddy Lay Back," "Haul Away Joe" and "Old Moke Pickin' on the Banjo"), the hope of wealth in California ("Oh! California" and "The Leaving of Liverpool") and ladies of ill-repute ("Pay Me My Money Down," "Tiger Bay" and "Maggie May"). There are call-and-response songs ("John Kanaka," "Santianna," "Clear the Track" and "Blood Red Roses") and seafaring standards ("All for Me Grog," "The Drunken Sailor" and "Leave Her Johnny").

Some songs will sound familiar by other names -- "Oh! California" is better known to most as Stephen Foster's "Oh! Suzanna," and many will know "Bonnie Hieland Laddie" as "Donkey Riding."

Put this CD on the stereo just once. By the end, you'll feel salt wind in your face and the deck rocking under your feet.

[ by Tom Knapp ]



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