Stan Rogers,
Home in Halifax
(Fogerty's Cove, 1992)

Just a year before his tragic death at age 34, Stan Rogers recorded a performance in his beloved adoptive home of Nova Scotia. Home in Halifax is a poignant reminder of the greatness lost on June 2, 1983, when he died in an airplane fire en route home from the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas.

Rogers exhibits an easy manner and casual rapport with his audience from a March 12, 1982 concert at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax. The audience members, for their part, clearly adore Rogers as well as his music.

He sings timeless songs about land and sea, and the people who worked them both. For years, I've listened to other musicians perform Rogers' music, but all too rarely have I heard his own renditions; this album helps to correct that omission.

The CD includes the majestic "Bluenose" and the more contemplative "Make & Break Harbour," "Field Behind the Plow" and "Lies." Rogers sings the stirring song "Free in the Harbour," which rejoices in the freedom of whales while acknowledging the whalers and the coastal towns who've lost their livelihood as a result, as well as the laidback, bluesy "Workin' Joe," the hard-luck cowboy in "Night Guard" and the strangely proud "The Idiot." There's the powerful "Giant," based on Scottish folklore, the sweet love song "45 Years," the oft-played seaman's favorite "Barrett's Privateers," the uplifting crowd-pleaser, "The Mary Ellen Carter" and more.

Rogers plays 6- and 12-string guitars and, of course, his vocals are phenomenally strong and passionate. Joining Rogers on stage are his brother, Garnet Rogers, on fiddle and electric guitar, Jim Morrison on bass and Paul Mills on 6-string guitar.

Stan Rogers' contributions to folk music will never be forgotten. While it's too late to see him perform these numbers as he intended, Home in Halifax is a perfect recording to let us know what we missed.

[ by Tom Knapp ]



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