Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Suites And Medleys: The Homestead Suite

Michael Johnathon: The Homestead Suite: Sunrise (Jenny's Theme)/ Homestead/ Suppertime


Michael Johnathon is a consummate singer and songwriter with something profound to say. On his 2003 album called Homestead, the poetic theme revolves around home, with songs composed in the glow of the musician’s Kentucky farmhouse fireplace. After the album’s reflective opener called "Winter's Eve," the album launches into "The Homestead Suite" with three tunes: Sunrise (Jenny's Theme), Homestead and Suppertime.

The album's title cut, "Homestead," tells a story of a peaceful autumn evening at home in woods, complete with music, family, homemade bread and a glass of wine. The song even makes mention of a couple of the assisting musicians, Sam Bush (mandolin, fiddle) and J.D. Crowe (banjo). Some others appearing on this album include Rob Ickes (dobro), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Mike Cleveland (fiddle), Barbara Lamb (fiddle), John Cowan (bass), and Don Rigsby (mandolin).

Johnathon's seventh album also features cello, flutes, percussion, French horns, fluglehorns, trumpets, sitar, electric guitar and jaw harp on various cuts. The nicely-arranged, multi-instrumental patchwork of tones and rhythms resemble a cozy quilt that warms you while you relax in your old rocking chair. Johnathon’s vision for "folkestral" music incorporates elements from folk, blues, bluegrass and classical genres. Besides his own rootsy vocal styling, Michael plays guitar, banjo and mandolin. With his fine accompanists, the band always successfully dispenses "song conversation" to the music.

On the same album, Johnathon offer another suite called "The Crimson Rose Trilogy." That begins with Conception, a one-minute prelude of three mandolins. It segues into The Garden, the story of a maiden with a secret that only a garden knows, a child who was lost and buried there near a crimson rose. The third piece in the trilogy, Redemption, provides a joyous instrumental "musical expression of the maiden's freedom from pain after she dies."

Michael Johnathon is a busy touring folksinger. He's also written a book (with accompanying CD) called WoodSongs which combines songs, poetry and social commentary. That project helped Michael launch the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, a live weekly internationally syndicated program broadcast on hundreds of stations (and internet) which provides exposure for up-and-coming artists. Johnathon is a hardworking musician who’s dedicated to his art. Homestead is a soothing, touching and caring album that also emphasizes his devotion to home and family.

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