by Mark Hunter
There is something reassuring and familiar about the sound of a finely played hammered dulcimer. The airy, precise tones Joyce Fry pulls from the instrument on Lunar Evening, her latest CD of Celtic and traditional tunes, evoke feelings of calm, bittersweet joy, and celebration.
But Lunar Evening, her fourth self-produced CD, features far more than Fry’s skilled dulcimer work. She also plays pennywhistle, flute, walkabout dulcimer and piano, sometimes all at once.
Fry, who lives in Larwill, has long been a contributor to the acoustic and Celtic music scene in northeast Indiana. Her taste in song selection and the confident musicianship on Lunar Evening go a long way toward explaining her popularity in acoustic and traditional music circles.
Recorded at Tempel Recording Studio in Fort Wayne, and at Brush Hill Studios in Nashville, Lunar Evening’s 15 tracks also showcase the work of longtime collaborators and friends Greg Clark, on guitar, low D pennywhistle, fretless bass and bodhran; Randy Fry on guitar; Dave Kartholl on mandolin and upright bass; Dennis Leas on tabla, chimes and bells; Bill Storey on classical guitar; and nationally known fiddler Arvel Bird.
The instrumental pieces offer a variety of styles and combinations of musicians, from the upbeat opener “Blarney Pilgrim,” with Fry on hammered dulcimer, pennywhistle and piano, and Leas playing tabla and bells, to the contemplative “Otter’s Holt,” with pennywhistle, fiddle and guitar.
Fry’s treatment of “Star of the County Down” and the segue into “Lark in the Morning” on the fourth track finds her stretching out on the flute, while Bird’s fiddle dances around the melodies and Clark holds up the bottom on low D pennywhistle, bodhran and fretless bass.
“Whiskey Before Breakfast,” joins Fry’s lively hammered dulcimer to husband Randy’s subtle guitar and Kartholl’s upright bass and playful mandolin workings, giving the tune just the right counterpoint to the earlier “Temperance Reel/Blackberry Blossom” track.
One of my favorites on the CD is the teaming of the appropriately named “Foggy Dew” with the driving “Cooley’s Reel.” The two fall together seamlessly under Fry’s deft pennywhistle and Clark’s strong guitar.
An original composition and the title track to Lunar Evening wraps up the CD with Fry on hammered dulcimer and Leas chiming in with a percussive display of bells, chimes, cymbal, triangle, and Audubon bird calls.
Lunar Evening is available at Border’s Bookstore, the Wooden Nickel Collector’s Store and at the Studio in North Manchester.
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