Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Lisa & Heather Malyuk Roundup.

A Lisa & Heather Malyuk Roundup.
Summer’s End.  Self-produced, 2004.
Stella.  Self-produced, 2005.
13 Tunes.  Self-produced, 2007
Lisa & Heather Malyuk:

I decided that since we received all three of these CDs at the same time, I would just write up a collective review.  These albums represent three quarters of the Malyuk Sisters’ recorded output; the other CD is a Christmas album (2009).  These are not new, but Lisa and Heather Malyuk are a regular and important presence in the Northeast Ohio folk music landscape, and so they deserve some writeup.  They play art and music festivals, farmers’ markets, contra dances, weddings, and all sorts of relatively small venues where an acoustic folk duo can do some good.  Their repertoire includes Appalachian, Celtic, and world music, and they have written some of the tunes themselves.  The focus of this instrumental music is Lisa’s hammered dulcimer, with Heather accompanying on either guitar or fiddle.  Both are excellent musicians and a delight to hear either in person or on these recordings.  

Summer’s End was their first release, and is probably the most conservative of the three musically, since it includes only hammered dulcimer and guitar.  It’s a lovely group of 13 tunes (20 if you count the set tunes separately), including traditional favorites such as “Doctor Doctor,” as well a few with named composers, such as “O Mistress Mine,” by Thomas Morley (16th century).  Jigs, reels, and waltzes predominate.  

Stella is dedicated to their grandmother, Stella Yutzy, and has a wider array of instrumentation as well as several original tunes.  Lisa plays the doumbek on occasion, and Heather picks up the fiddle.  Bob Wood, a guitarist, guests on “Hangman’s Reel.”  The tunes display a greater diversity of styles than the earlier album, including a musette and a rag, and the notes explain their influences.  Right in the middle is “All Right at Home,” a poem read by Stella herself and recorded back in 1943.  “Cattle in the Cane/Henning’s Farewell” features Heather on fiddle with Lisa on doumbek (a goblet-shaped drum).

The Malyuks continue to display greater diversity on their third album, 13 Tunes, with several original tunes offered up as well as a mix of traditional music and songs by other composers.  This includes some slightly darker tunes, such as “-5-,” with an Eastern European flavor, and the melancholy “Lonesome Oak,” along with sprightly fare such as “Salt River/Robinson County,” which really moves.  “Waynesboro/Big Scioty” features Heather on fiddle and Lisa on the banjo uke, for a very different flavor.  

All three albums are a joy to hear, and can be used as music for listening, dancing, or background, as one prefers.  I’m not sure I have a favorite; 13 Tunes shows the greatest versatility, but Summer’s End has some old favorites of mine.  You can’t go wrong with any of them.  I’m glad that Lisa and Heather Malyuk continue to perform in the area, and urge you to turn out when they do.

Performers:  Lisa Malyuk (hammered dulcimer, doumbek, banjo uke), Heather Malyuk (guitar, fiddle).
Tracks:  Summer’s End:  Ships are Sailing/Poplar Bluff; Combination Rag/Control of Earth; Waltz of the Little Girls; Tug River/Meg Grey; La Partida; Temperance Reel/Shenandoah Falls/ Big John McNeil; O Mistress Mine; Return to Tchernobyl; Dusty Miller/Sadie at the Backdoor; Breakfast Waltz; Doctor, Doctor; New Waltz; Swallowtail Jig/Bellman’s Jig & Reel.
Stella:  Moran’s; Caliope House/The Bent Pin; Spotted Pony/Boatin’ up Sandy; Style Musette; Hangman’s Reel; All Right at Home (poem); Stella; Modal; Nail that Catfish to the Tree/Meg Grey; Cattle in the Cane/Henning’s Farewell; Beaumont Rag; La Llorona; Mis Grace Haye’s Delight/Swinging on a Gate; Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
13 Tunes:  No Caboose Anymore/Jump in the Well My Pretty Little Miss; MacArthur Road/ Cascade Road; At Work on the Land/Let’s Motor/La Maison de Glaise; Valse de la Pluie/Les Enchantés; -5-; Salt River/Robinson County; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus; Touzle Your Kerchie/ Bus Stop Reel; Reuben’s Train/Cherokee Trail; Lonesome Oak; Waynesboro/Big Scioty; Swingin’ in a Leisure Suit/Flying Home to Shelley; Be Thou My Vision.

The Grand Wazoo

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