One spring day in 1996, I drove over to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in Detroit, and decided that I would join the Great Lakes Maritime Institute. Since then, I've been getting notices from them about their activities, but I never seemed to be able to participate, until this November, when an announcement of a concert arrived. The performer was to be Lee Murdock. I'd never heard him (or heard of him), but the timing was right, the concert was on a Saturday afternoon, and the price was modest. It had been years since I had gone to hear a live performer, and it seemed like a good way to spend the afternoon.
So on November 9th, I took a seat in the DeRoy Hall at the museum, and settled in for Lee's concert of maritime songs. Lee stepped up to the microphone, and the fun began! With just a guitar and his voice, Lee entertained us for an hour and a half with great tunes, all with a special maritime flavor and many with a Great Lakes heritage.
Never having heard Lee before this, I soon discovered that I had been missing something! When the concert was over, I had to have more of his music to take home with me. Lee has four CD's released, all in the folk/maritime/sailing song genre, so there was plenty of recorded material to choose from. I let the cover art, a painting by Ron Ceszynski, convince me to buy Freshwater Highway, Lee's latest Compact Disc recording release.
When my wife and I got home that evening, we popped the CD in the stereo. Immediately we knew we had made a great choice! Freshwater Highway has been spinning around almost daily ever since. It has some great songs on it.
My favorite is Fire on the Water, which tells the story of the 1979 fire aboard the Cartiercliffe Hall. Lee's performance of this Charlie Maguire ballad has been echoing in my head since the first time I heard it. My wife says she's been humming the song in her head, too. It is a great one.
Listen to this excerpt from the chorus of Fire on the Water, performed by Lee Murdock, song copyright Charlie Maguire. [ Technical details: AIFF Format, Mono, 22kHz, 8-bit. File size 300K.]
On No Nets Will Be Found, Lee's own song writing talents come to the fore. There's very strong guitar playing on this cut, as well as good vocals. It's another Great Lakes' story, and very well done.
On Monday morning, I took the CD with me to work, to listen to it there. I've just put the finishing touches on a new Audio Control Room, with some first-class loudspeakers and monitor amplifiers. I wanted to see how the CD sounded in that environment, which is probably closer to "state-of-the-art" than my home system. Again, I was very pleased with what I heard. On the Hafler-powered Tannoy nearfield monitors, I was able to hear a layer of vocal overdubs that I hadn't noticed before. The complexity of the instrumentation was also revealed, with violins, mandolins, and banjos adding to Lee's six- and twelve-string guitars.
To make these songs even more interesting, Lee provides you with wonderful liner notes. You not only get the complete lyrics, but very nicely written background information about each song, its origin, and its history.
Let me recommend Freshwater Highway to you. You'll like everything about it: good songs, well sung, good guitar playing, nice cover art, liner notes, great recording!
Copyright © 1996 - 1999 by James W. Hebert.
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Author: James W. Hebert