Easton-based music group Ampersand delights in sharing early American traditional music with a modern audience, drawing connections between colonial sensibilities and current-day topics and interests. They are celebrating their new CD of “old” music with a concert at the Stoltz Listening Room on Friday, February 23rd at 7pm.
Called the “Swiss army knife of folk music,” this group brings a variety of stringed instruments, including guitar, mandolin, banjo, cello, and hammered dulcimer, as well as penny whistles and percussion to underscore their rich vocal harmonies on parlor music from the 1700s and 1800s.
One of the band’s founders, Beth Lawton, notes that many of the songs reflect a modern sensibility even when they use old-fashioned language. She explains, “for example, “Bonnie Portmore” is an 18th century love song to a piece of property that was similar to a modern-day money pit.” Another member, Dick Hogle, describes an early song, “Rye Whiskey,” as a perfect lullaby for easing his young daughter to sleep – even as the song tells of diving into a river of whiskey and drinking “ten thousands of bottles.” With voice, various percussion instruments, newly-adopted cello, and penny whistles, multi-instrumentalist Topher Lawton focuses on even earlier tunes and songs, such as the lively “Bear Dance” (15th century) and the title song of the new CD, “Love Will Find Out the Way.” They are joined by local favorite, Dave Moore, on banjo and bass.
Although many of the songs deal with the hardships of early colonial life and the ever-present alcohol use, misbehavior, and even death, the concert is deemed “family-friendly” and the whole group serves up a love of history through their music.
Tickets are available through the Avalon Foundation.