New life for old works: Castlebay draws SRO crowd in Wiscasset
Castlebay performed to a packed house Sunday, Feb. 11 as part of the Lincoln County Historical Association’s 2018 Winter Lecture Series.
With standing room only, musicians Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee performed an assortment of folk music including seafaring songs and even works passed down to Gosbee from his father in the oral tradition.
The great variety of songs performed included the haunting melody of “Mary’s Dream,” written in 1826. The song has ties to a young lady who lived in Dresden and married a sailor. Another song, “Billy Broke Locks,” written in 1735, was a catchy tune about a jailbreak. The program began with a tune called “New England’s Annoyances,” circa 1640 and written to differentiate the New World from England. This song was performed without instruments.
“We’ve uncovered over 900 works in our research,” Lane said in an interview before the performance. “Often the lyrics are printed in a book that say ‘to the tune of such-and-such,’ and it’s a song everyone knew at the time, so it can take some detective work to discover the melody that goes with the words.
“People think folk music is Uncle Joe with a banjo singing about his cows,” Lane said. “But that’s just one minute part of it. Music has a way into the head and the heart. It stays with people in the way mere words do not.”
When asked what started her passion, Lane said she “loved music stories since I was 5 years old. It’s a whole life described in a song, with lots of history behind it. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Lane has spent countless hours “digging in old libraries,” including in Oxford, England. She and Gosbee have given new life to works, and together have published a total of 24 albums.
The next event in the lecture series is at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, when professor Matthew Edney will present “Mapping the Coast of Colonial Maine: Local Colonists vs. Imperial Agents,” focusing on George Sproule’s 1772 map from Kennebec River to Round Pond. The program will held in the Wiscasset 911 Communications Building on Route 1.