Castlebay presents ‘Bygone Ballads’ in Bremen

Posted:  Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 12:30pm
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On Sunday, Aug. 26, at  3 p.m., Castlebay will present “Bygone Ballads,” a program of traditional songs from Maine, including some from Bremen and Bristol history. The concert, sponsored by the Bremen Historical Society, will be at the historic Bremen Town House, 560 Waldoboro Rd./Rt. 32, and is open to the public free of charge.

Music has always been an important part of daily life for all people at work and in leisure. Before the advent of radio and recording technology, people made their own music. Music, particularly singing, has been not only an avenue for self-expression and shared experience, but a kind of social glue. A convivial gathering at home or in a woods camp or ship's fo'c'sle would include not only the popular music of the day, but also vernacular favorites that were passed down through generations and topical songs about news of the day. These songs reveal much about social priorities, morality and lifestyles. Having withstood the rigors of time, they are a testament to the strength of their story or the enduring beauty of the music.

Although the traditional music of southern Appalachia has received much attention, there is a wealth of this same music in the archives of New England’s history, particularly in Maine. Collectors ranged across the state from the coastal seafaring communities to the woodland logging camps, collecting the songs of the people in those places. They made journals as well as recordings on wax cylinders or wire, preserving hundreds of songs. 

Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee, of the folk duo Castlebay, have been exploring the archives of the Maine Folklife Center, the Library of Congress, Harvard's Houghton Library, the Helen Hartness Flanders collection in Vermont, and others which house the fruits of the collectors' labors. Their resulting transcriptions provide a wonderful spectrum of songs reflecting the sense and sensibilities of ordinary people. Castlebay interprets these songs with their own artistic skill making them accessible to a modern audience while remaining true to the spirit of the music.

Castlebay treats an audience to a musical journey through time and across the Atlantic. Both exuberant and haunting vocals are supported with Julia Lane's award-winning Celtic harp style, and Fred Gosbee's expertise on 12-string guitar, fiddle and woodwinds. Frequently touring down the US east coast and to Ireland, Scotland and England, Castlebay performs at arts centers, museums, festivals and schools.

The Bremen Historical Society was founded in 1991 to collect and preserve memorabilia and records relating to the town of Bremen, and to encourage and promote interest in the town’s history. For more information please call 207-529-5330.