The Scots Magazine, April 2004
From the State of Maine in the USA - "pine-scented, harbour-dented Maine", gushed the National Geographic in 1935 - comes Ae Fond Kiss, presented by Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee, both Burns and Scottish music enthusiasts, in a collection offering seven songs by our national bard and five pieces from other pens, including "My Bonnie Greenwood Laddie" by Julia herself.
A good selection, finely judged and largely emotive, though prize-winning clarsach player and guitarist and viola player Fred also find time for the ironic, as in "Fordell Ball".
Incidentally if their names seem familiar to some readers, yes, it is the same Julia and Fred whose "Sang O' the Solway" was aired at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in 2002.
The Ballad of Cappy John
Letter from a fan July 6, 1999
Dear Fred & Julia,
I had the good fortune of spending my vacation this year in Boothbay Harbor during Winjammer Days and stumbling upon your concert. I really enjoyed your music, so much so that I was the first to buy your new CD, and the next day I bought two more at Sherman's [Bookstore] . I'm listening to The Ballad of Cappy John right now.
I think that Maine is such a special place and now your music can help me go back there whenever I want (without the ten hour drive). Every now and then you experience a "perfect moment", and sitting listening to you in Boothbay Harbor was one of those. I just wanted to thank you for that.
K. S. , Waterloo, NY
Song of the Sea
FACE MAGAZINE January 20 - February 2, 1999
Though fans of Lane and her ensemble Castlebay likely have heard much of this before -- the songs have been written over the course of almost two decades, and only five of the 13 haven't been previously released -- Song of the Sea is beautiful both because it reflects a true love of the ocean that those who have an affinity for it will recognize immediately and because the songs are sequenced to suck you down like a riptide.
The title cut opens the CD, chock full of waves crashing and seagulls calling (she recorded the seagull sounds herself) as Lane sings her observations about a day's walk on the beach. It's followed by the instrumental "Winds of Change," on which Lane plucks out a haunting harp melody. "Monhegan" is as beautiful a ballad about a place in Maine as any you'll ever hear. "The Fishwidow's Song", one of the newly recorded numbers, could be the story of a Monhegan-ite or any other coastal woman gripped by the uncertainty of life lived at the ocean's pleasure.
And so it continues in the same lyrical and musical vein without ever becoming boring or precious. Pay particular attention to "The House on the Hill", that abandoned place we've all stumbled across which made us wonder about what went on before it came to be empty. Also note the story-songs "The Phantom Ship" (you know what this is about) and "The Isle of Malaga", the terrible tale of a woman uprooted from her Carribean home, then shunned by the inhabitants of the Maine island to which her new husband has brought her.
That Song of the Sea should stand up so well ought to be no surprise, because Lane has so much material to work with. She's also one of the Maine coast's foremost voices and instrumentalists.
Looking Home (This recording has been retired)
Alexander D Mitchell IV, U.S.Scots Magazine Spring 1999
This duo from Maine is two-thirds of the former group Castlebay, and has made an ample transition after the loss of Mark McNeil. Harpist and soprano Lane has mastered the delicate task of song accompaniment with her Celtic Harp and baritone Gosbee joins on 12-string guitar, whistles and 5-string viola. They reach all across folk music for their repertoire, from Scotland ("The Road to Drumleman") to Ireland ("Give Me Your Hand"), Maritime Canada("The Scarborough Settler's Lament" from a displaced Scot), New England ("Simple Gifts" ) and two originals. Though many of the works can be considered standards of the folk music scene, their presentations and arrangements render the pieces fresh and innovative. Special mention should go to the fine intertwining of the Irish Song "She Move Through the Fair" with the American song "Once I had a Sweetheart" in alternating lines. The title song which closes out the album should strike a common chord with many readers: it tells of their looking back to the lands their ancestors left behind as they prepare to visit a homeland they have never been to (and it is applicable to almost any foreign country) The overall result is a fine and exceptionally pleasing album.
FACE MAGAZINE July 29 - August 11, 1998
Some music just washes over you, and other music demands attention. The songs that Gosbee and Lane unearth (they each wrote one of the dozen songs here; the rest are traditional and not well-known) belong to the latter catagory. The songs they've gathered for Looking Home tie into the idea that all people are searching for the place they belong, whether in an ancestral sense or as part of a new enclave they've helped create themselves.
They open with "The Road to Drumleman," a song written with the Celtic countryside in mind but equally appropriate to Maine's many hidden byways. "Home Dearie Home" is a sailing ditty that now makes its fourth incarnation, after its origin in Britain and stays in Appalachia and Vermont. "The Harper's Song" chronicles the lifestyle of the traditional wandering minstrel, whose room and board depended upon him suitably impressing whatever household he might come upon.
The theme is carried forth in "She Moved Through the Fair / Once I Had a Sweetheart," "The Wild 'Prentice Boy" and a couple of lovely instrumentals, "Give Me Your Hand" and "The Lass of Peatie's Mill." There are also a couple of songs whose origins trace back to Canada (a little closer to home for many of us), "I'ze the B'y" and "The Scarborough Settler's Lament." (This Scarborough is now part of the city of Toronto.)
The record ends with Lane's "Something to Come Home To," a cautionary tale to anyone who might fancy wandering, and Gosbee's title song, itself awash in uncertainty. It opens with the line. "Looking home across the water to a land we've never seen" and ends with a question: "But what will we discover when we reach the other side?" Besides creating a thematically complete picture, Lane and Gosbee sing (especially she) and play beautifully. Though a little melancholy on the whole, Looking Home is an artistic triumph.
Run Before the Wind (This recording has been retired)
This recording is no longer available.
Peter Spectre, International Marine & Seven Seas Press Book Catalog
I listen to music while I work and there are times when the Celtic-folk-chantey-mountain continuum sets the proper mood for what I'm doing, and Castlebay knows how to shoot a straight arrow down that road. What's Castlebay all about? Seafaring, the darkness and lightness of the coast of Maine, the rhythm of the tides. Plus Julia lane's voice rips my heart out. If you have heard the female vocalists in Steeleye Span, or Clannad, or Nightnoise, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't you should.
Bennie Green, FACE MAGAZINE August 28 - September 17, 1996
Castlebay - essentially Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee with a few guest musicians - is as reliable source for music as Maine has produced. Run Before the Wind is their sequal to 1991's Down to the Shore. As such it's packed with music that evokes the lore of the sea, be it joyful, tragic or just plain spooky.
Run Before the Wind opens with "Cappy John's Bride," a humorous tale of badly mistaken identity. Later, "The Old Liars" laments the passing of fishermen from a bygone age who would "lie through their teeth, and they'd swear it was true." "A Song for Stan Hugill" elegizes a passing, that of an old salt who made it his business in later life to collect and preserve the songs of the sea.
There is, of course, a healthy dose of history here, though all the songs are originals and recently written. In "The Whale Hunters" Gosbee chronicles thr not-pretty annals of that industry from the 1600s to the present. "Changes" addresses the fouling of waterways by industry. "Stone Sloops" tells of a unique method of transport for heavier loads along the Maine coast in the 19th century. And "The Phantom Ship" is a cautionary tale that ghost ships are as much a part of the lore of the sea as storms and historic ports of call.
There are also several instrumentals with a taste of the ocean ("Capt. Foss's Hornpipe / Sailor's Joy," "Grandmother's Waltz") and a couple of songs that are otherwise sea-inspired, such as the title cut and the sorrowful "Winds of Autumn." If you've grown up around the ocean or are in any other way drawn to it Run Before the Wind will only servr to enhance your appreciation.
Julia Lane Harvest (this recording has been retired)
We are out of these. They can be obtained from Harping for Harmony foundation
DIRTY LINEN MAGAZINE February/March 1993
Julia Lane plays Celtic-style harp and sings with the fine Maine band Castlebay. She describes this solo debut album as "Celtic inspired songs and tunes appreciative of nature." There are nine songs, including a delicate version of Dave Goulder's "Faraway Tom" and two harp instrumentals. Lane is an accomplished musician whose airy harp and clear voice are variously accompanied by violin, pipes, flute, whistle, recorder and cello. The production is crisp, the arrangements often haunting. Listen to this one the next time a solstice comes around.
Nathaniel Jewett, THE SOURCE 1993
Harvest claims to present us with "Celtic inspired songs appreciative of nature." Fear not; this newly released [recording] is no New Age primer. Not exactly.
Julia Lane, a self-taught prize-winning harpist, mixes traditional Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English songs with original compositions written in the Celtic tradition. Such music demands a talented played with a sure hand, lest gentility becomes jelly, and sentimentality, syrup. Luckily for us, Lane brings to the task just the right tools -- dextrous fingers that pluck no unnecessary notes; a quiet but strong voice, and talented back-up musicians who keep their guitars and Uillean pipes well in the background.
Engineers Gary Clancy and Elwood Doran recoed the proceedings as they go down, leaving their knobs and switches to gather dust. No fuss, no muss.
This straight-ahead method of doing things is especially effective on "Faraway Tom." which is poignant without being maudlin, and "Song of the Sea," whose pleasant eerieness owes much to Lane's clever use of the wind harp. Even that old chestnut, "Londonderry Aire," moves the listener with it's careful balance of grief, longing and hope (No, Danny Thomas does not make an appearance). There are one or two puddles of treacle on Harvest, but one need not be Larry Bird to jump over them.
Julia Lane offers us just the right tonic for the coming winter blues. Remember, not all worthy Celtics inhabit Boston Garden.
Tapestry I -- Ladies
Rambles by Jo Morrison
A mystical, echoing voice, singing clear and true, calls the listener into this delightful collection of classic tunes celebrating the importance of the women in our lives. The choice of tunes is excellent, featuring melodies from the 1700's and 1800's, as well as a few modern tunes that fit right into the theme and overall atmosphere of the recording. From Bach's "Minuet for Anna Magdalena" to O'Carolan's "Bridget Cruise," the tunes take the listener on a musical journey, to a time when things were a bit simpler, and yet a bit more elegant as well.
Listening to this CD is like sitting in the front row of a small house concert, listening to the performers play. There is a sense of intimacy that permeates throughout, giving the listener the sense of a private audience with the musicians. Added to this is the clarity of the sound and the strength of the instrumentalists' fingers. The harp sounds distinct and clear, and there is no missing the sound of the bow moving across the fiddle's strings. This close, friendly sound gives the listener a strong connection with the performers, making the recording more inviting and compelling.
Castlebay is a collaboration between harper Julia Lane and multi-instrumentalist Fred Gosbee. Lane's harp takes center-stage throughout much of the recording, but Gosbee's fiddle and flute lines are found on many of the tunes.
Among the highlights of the recording is an original tune by Lane, "Bronwen's Dream," named for her daughter. Lane's tune has a definite courtly quality to it, making it fit perfectly with the surrounding tunes. The lilting, uplifting melody is dreamlike in quality, accented by Lane's superb playing. The addition of the Irish flute, played by Sharon Pyne, gives just the right touch to this charming tune.
There is also a beautifully rendered harp solo, "Annie Laurie," which delivers all of the emotion and passion this elegant and beautiful tune could possibly possess. The arrangement of "My Lagan Love" captures the mysterious elements of the tune, featuring ethereal harp sounds and soaring, lyricless vocals. The effect is like the wind capturing the lady's perfume and playing with it in the air before delivering it to her lover.
Gosbee's fiddle takes center stage on "Neil Gow's Lament on the Death of His 2nd Wife," drawing the bitter-sweet melody from the strings with passion, while the harp delicately backs the melody with a simple and moving accompaniment. Gosbee also plays viola, woodwinds and guitar at various points on the recording. There are also several guest instrumentalists, including Doreen Conboy on cello for "Minuet for Anna Magdalena" and George Haig featured heavily on autoharp on "Mary Queen of Scots."
The recording opens and closes in praise of different Morags. "Morag of Dunvegan" is a delightful traditional air from Scotland that successfully combines happy and sad elements in one simple melody. "Morag Henriksen" is a mournful, introspective tune by Gordon Bok, which ends the recording on a quiet note.
Overall, the choice of tunes is what makes this recording great. The playing is crisp and emotional, and the arrangements are well planned and choreographed as well, adding interest and variety to the recording. My main complaint would be about the sound of the harp itself.There is something a bit hollow and plunky about the sound. It is difficult to determine whether this is the sound of the instrument itself, or whether it is due to a poor choice of microphone or mike placement. Despite this shortcoming, however, these tunes will remain with the listener for many a delightful hour.
Tapestry II - All in a Garden Green
Rambles by Jo Morrison
Welcome to the garden, where all is peaceful and serene. There's a breeze whispering through the flowers and a ripple in the babbling brook. The wandering pathways lead you past the sights and smells of springtime, complete with blooming roses. This is the way spring should feel.
Castlebay, a duo from maritime Maine, brings a real sense of joy to the music they play. It is delightful to hear this duo in any setting, whether live or recorded. The gentle pluck of Julia Lane's harp strings delightfully accompanies Fred Gosbee's many instruments, including whistle and fiddle. The instrumental balance is always superb, and the two clearly think as one, to create such smooth and flowing music.
In a Garden Green is a delightful collection of tunes, beautifully capturing the essence of nature, as kept by mankind. The snapshot of the garden begins at the end of winter, celebrating that "Gloomy Winter's Now Awa'." Gosbee's fiddle has an almost psaltery-like quality to it on this slightly mournful tune, backed by a halting and haunting harp accompaniment.
"Smiling Spring" is performed as a lilting harp solo, full of crisp ornamentation that gives the feeling of a dancing brook. One can hear "The Heather Breeze" sighing, coupled with a dance of "The Butterfly," a delightful Irish slip-jig played with a skip in the whistle's voice.
Other tunes include "The Southwind," "A Rosebud by My Early Walk," "Spring o' Shillelagh," "Corn Rigs," "Country Garden" and "Harvest Home." There's a delightful set of 16th-century Italian lute tunes, "An Italian Bouquet," lending a bit of antiquity to the recording.
The title track, "All in a Garden Green," is also elegantly historical, suggesting English garden parties of the upper class. This one is particularly effective, featuring a guest flutist, Patricia Boyle-Wright, playing in a duet with Gosbee's whistle while Lane provides a contemplative accompaniment. Guest cellist Doreen Conboy takes over the melody most effectively on the second verse and provides a delightful counterpoint throughout.
One of the highlights of the recording is Julia Lane's original composition, "Migration," written in honor of the Monarch butterflies she observed one autumn. The music rises and falls in patterns much like the movement of butterflies.
The sounds of nature surface above the music from time to time, reminding you of the garden setting. Coupled with a lack of overbearing reverberation (heard on many harp recordings), this gives the recording a fresh, live sound. It is much like attending a concert in a park or garden setting.
Turn to this recording when you need a refreshing turn through delightfully kept gardens on a rainy day. You will come away content.
Tapestry IV -- Gentlemen
Rambles by Jo Morrison
The opening antiphonal calls of a French horn alert the listener right away that this CD is going to be something special. The horn blends beautifully into the opening chords of "March of the King of Laois", played at a slow, stately pace by Julia Lane on harp. The French horn blends skillfully into an accompanying role, then takes over the melody. The horn calls evoke the image of a royal herald or the call to a hunt, which is perfect for this royal march. One can easily envision the hunt gathered together, awaiting the King's entrance so that they can embark on their favorite pastime.
Fourth in Castlebay's six-part series of recordings that reflect the music and themes of a time of chivalry, romance, and natural grandeur, Gentlemen works its magic through an excellent collection of tunes, presented in both traditional and innovative arrangements. Castlebay has chosen an array of excellent musicians to accompany them, including Barbara Burt on French horn, Doreen Conboy on cello, Laura Lee Perkins on flutes, and piper Ian MacHarg on Scottish smallpipe.
This recording, featuring such tunes as "Ruari Dall's Jig," "Carolan's Draught", "When the King Came Over the Boyne", "Angus Campbell", "The Iron Man", and "Two Laments for Owen Roe", cannot fail to show the wide array of sounds and styles of music from the British Isles. The excellent arrangements highlight the special character of each tune.
One example is the stunning opening of "King of the Faeries", opening with a very mystical, magical harp solo by Julia Lane. Her interpretation makes this piece flow, with dramatic pauses in just the right places, and the occasional sounds of a triangle or wind chimes to keep the feeling ethereal. "Dainty Davy" shows equal imagination, interweaving harp, guitar, and Scottish smallpipe in a gradual crescendo of sound, then adding and subtracting various instruments to keep things rich and complex on this simple and elegant tune.
My only complaint with this recording is that a few of the instruments and/or tracks seem to be recorded with the microphones too close to the instrument, capturing a slight feeling of distortion or heaviness that would have been pleasanter on the ear with a bit more distance. That said, however, the recording does manage to achieve a very close, intimate sound by the use of such close recording work. Listening to this feels very much like being in attendance at an exciting house concert.
The recording closes with an almost orchestral arrangement of "The Minstrel Boy", featuring brass, winds, and cello. The arrangement interweaves lush and sparse instrumentation to great effect, leaving the listener with a sense of longing at the end of a rich recording.
Deborah Friou & Julia Lane - Celtic Harps (Castlebay Music 2002)
The Celtic Connection [by Catherine Butler]
From Castlebay Music in Round Pond, Maine, comes a real Christmas feast of seasonal harp music entitled Yuletide Treasure. At this hustle, bustle time of the year, Yuletide Treasure puts it all in perspective with soothing, reflective harp music so that we can enjoy the real meaning of Christmas.
Rambles: 21 September 2002 [ by Jo Morrison ]
It is always exciting when two excellent harpers combine forces to play as a duo. The very essence of harp music is the ringing of strings, and the natural harmonics that develop through the vibrations. If done properly, this can be enhanced greatly by the use of harps with distinctive voices. Deborah Friou and Julia Lane (of Castlebay) have accomplished this beautifully with their new collection of winter holiday traditional music from the British Isles.
The sounds of the two nylon-strung harps are distinctively different enough to create a rich and vibrant sound when combined. Friou's Dusty Strings has a lush sound full of finesse, while Lane's harp (built by Fred Gosbee) has a touch of ancient overtones, carrying an almost earthy sound to the strings. In addition to the contrasts and combinations of these two sounds, Friou uses a wire-strung Triplett on a couple of tracks, highlighting the stark contrasts of the two types of harps.
"Yuletide Treasure" is well named, for it showcases some true gems from the British Isles winter holiday tradition. Those looking for old favorites won't have to go far, with delightful versions of "Greensleeves" (including two distinct versions of the tune), "The Holly and the Ivy," "Deck the Halls" and "Auld Lang Syne." However, the true mystique of the recording comes from the lesser-known tunes, including such treasures as "Down in Yon Forest," "The Abbot's Bromley Horn Dance" and "Irish Lullaby for the Christ Child."
The wire-harp adds a nice texture on "Coventry Carol/Down in Yon Forest," although the wire arrangement may be a little heavy and resonant for some tastes. The wire truly sparkles on "Da Day Dawns," however, calling the listener to come out for the rising sun of Christmas.
One of the most impressive things about this recording is the beautifully coordinated playing of the two harpers. It can be extremely difficult to play harmoniously in tandem. If the two harpers' timing is even slightly different, it can quickly destroy the beauty of two harps together. The beat on this recording is almost always clear and precise, even when struck by both harpers simultaneously. It can also be very difficult to match tuning on two harps, but Friou and Lane have done a very nice job with this as well.
The recording is not limited to harp duets. Lane and Friou both also offer exciting solo tracks throughout. The recording actually opens with Friou's solo "The Holly and the Ivy/Sans Day Carol," which is complex enough that you could almost believe it was a duet. Yet her delivery is so crisp and clean that the effect is downright stunning. Lane offers a haunting rendition of two "Lullabies for the Christ Child," complete with ethereal vocables over the opening and closing strains of the piece.
The recording ends with a shimmering duet on the Scottish carols "Rorate Coeli Desuper" and "New Christmas." The harpers sparkle and shine on this powerful conclusion to this winter holiday feast for the ears.
Arthur the Moose
Story & Pictures by Cabot Lyford
(Castlebay, Inc. 2004)
A STRONGER, WISER MOOSE
by Karen Burgess Smith, The Exeter Bulletin, FALL 2004
Cabot Lyford '66(Hon.), who taught art at the Academy from 1963to 1986 and who also served as chairman of the art department and director of the Lamont Gallery, is now a resident of New Harbor, ME. While he continues to create sculptures, with his new children's book Arthur the Moose (Castlebay, 2003), he has added another career to his successful work with stone, wood, and other materials. In this simply and charmingly illustrated book, Lyford has created a moose version of a recalcitrant Mainer, and one who has suffered through a few too many icy, cold winters.
After Arthur the Moose learns that there is a warmer land far to the south, he comes up with a plan to "keep from freezing his horns off." Since he is prone to grumpiness, other animals tend to avoid Arthur, until he invites them to witness his attempt to travel to warmer climes. The story follows his journey and his emergence as a "stronger, wiser moose."
Cabot Lyford first wrote Arthur the Moose in the mid-1950s, and has entertained several generations of family members with the tale. His engaging story and lively and expressive water color images have now been published for the first time, and should delight lovers of moose, Maine and more.
Taking a Leap of Faith
Cabot Lyford's charming "Arthur the Moose" teaches about accepting one's abilities
by CARL LITTLE, Bangor Daily News
Cabot Lyford was born in Sayre, PA, in 1925, served in World War II and attended Cornell University. After viewing the Winged Victory of Samothrace at the Louvre in Paris, he vowed to sculpt. To make ends meet he wrote scripts for television, first for NBC, then for a TV station in Durham, NH. He eventually joined the faculty at Phillips Exeter Academy, where he taught sculpture and art history for 23 years. Since retiring in 1985, he has devoted much of his time to his chosen medium, establishing himself as one of the country's foremost sculptors. In 1980 he received the National Academy of Design's Sculpture Prize.
Animals have always been favorite subjects for Lyford. The artist, who lives in New Harbor, has created a veritable Noah's Ark since he took up hammer and chisle, grinder and sander, back in the 1940's (he studies with Charles Cutler at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1947). His menagerie in stone and wood includes sounding whales and leaping dolphins, winging geese and stoic rams.
Lyford's affinity for creatures also manifests itself in a whimsical story he wrote and illustrated for his children in the mid-1950s. Thanks to Castlebay Music in Round Pond, the charming tale of Arthur the Moose is available to a much wider audience of young readers ans old, for this is a picture book custom-made for a parent or grandparent to share with the little ones.
The story is simple. Arthur, "a moose of medium size and shape," notices the annual migration of birds south every autumn and the return every spring. Faced with another brutal winter - in Maine, we suppose - he gets the notion that he can follow suit, using his broad, winglike rack (which Lyford has painted a bright yellow). Of course, moose don't fly; as the rhyming moral of the story puts it, "To fly is great, but not a moosish trait."Arthur gains an important bit of wisdom from his plunge off a bluff into a northern lake:"Florida is strictly for the birds."
The elementary text contains some sophisticated language. Words such as "pall," succulent," enthused," and "airfoil" are mixed in with such fun fabrications as "morosity" and "blossomness" (not to mention "moosish"). The watercolor illustrations are delightful, full of humor and energy. A favorite detail is the towel that hangs from the moose's neck after his short and wet flight: it reads "Waldorf," as in the hotel.
Lyford once said that an artist's work should reflect "warmth, humor, and a love of life and nature." Arthur the Moose is a perfect combination of all those elements.
comments to WEBMASTER,@ Castlebay, Inc.
Last Update January 8, 2007