This issue's CD review covers Bernie and Barbara McDonald's CD, Celtic Cross Volume 2. Their CD, which was released in 1999, consists of compositions by Bernie, traditional jigs and airs, and several tunes written by Turlough O'Carolan, a prolific Irish composer.
The album is a very pleasant listening experience, with the soft, soothing sound of Barbara's wooden flute perfectly blended with Bernie's rhythmically flowing guitar - a real feast for the ears! Barbara plays a wooden Boehm system Haynes Flute which has had the head joint replaced with one made by Chris Abell. Bernie plays a Martin D-28 guitar.
This very talented duo has been playing for many years, and this is one of several CDs they have produced together. Bernie and Barbara live and work in the Ozarks, traveling each week to St. Louis to perform Sunday and Monday evenings at John D. McGurk's. Bernie also hosts a radio show, Ireland in America, on FM 88.1, KDHX, Monday mornings, 9 a.m. to noon.
Bernie's talents have many forms. He is also a free-lance artist and a poet in addition to being a musician and radio DJ. He painted the colorful picture on the cover of the CD, and he includes one of his poems inside the album cover as well.
The compositions written by Bernie are as varied as his talents. The Irish Wilderness was written about a wild and beautiful part of the Missouri Ozarks which was settled by Irish immigrants around the time of the Civil War. Another song of Bernie's, Trujillo, was written about life in the desolate regions of southwestern Colorado. The tune, The Star Sister, is best described in his poem "Night Where We Live", which is included in the CD notes.
The traditional tunes on this album are played with joy by these seasoned performers. Their multi-faceted emotive talents are conveyed in the fast and gleeful jigs as well as the slow and solemn airs.
I have to mention a few words about Turlough O'Carolan, whose work is well represented on this album. He appears to be one of Bernie and Barbara's favorite composers. O'Carolan was a blind musician who lived from 1670-1738. He traveled around Ireland playing his wire-strung harp and composing tunes for patrons. Legend has it that his music was inspired by the fairies.
Celtic Cross Volume 2 can be found at Music Folk in Webster Groves, and also at Mystic Valley in Maplewood.
For more information, they can be reached at P.O. Box 545, Salem, Missouri, 65560.