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Eileen Ivers & Immigrant Soul: not just fiddlin’ around

May 19, 2011

Clearly, the folks at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts ( www.Bethelwoods.org ) had their thinking caps on when dubbing the “Event Gallery.” My dictionary describes “event” with words like “momentous,” “important” and “exciting.”

Grammy-winning fiddler Eileen Ivers and her band, Immigrant Soul, who performed to a sold-out crowd at the venue this past Saturday, were (IMHO) above and beyond any musical “event” that I have ever personally attended.

Prior to the concert, I had done some internet research, including at the official web site ( www.EileenIvers.com ), but the quotes and superlatives attributed to Ivers’ performances were so extraordinary I had a difficult time accepting them at face value.

After the concert, I stopped reading what others have already said in the fear of blotting out original thought—and keeping in mind that I had jotted down over 20 pages of notes, in between leaping to my feet, screaming, crying and clamoring for more.

The opening act, talented duo Nathan and Rebecca Bliss, known as Barnaby Bright, were introduced by Tia Schaeffer as the “Grand Prize Winner of the fifth annual song-writing contest” sponsored by Song Circle Music ( www.songcirclemusic.com ). Barnaby Bright (“This day the sunne is in his chiefest hight/With Barnaby the bright,” in the words of the 1595 Spenser Epithalamion l. 266) was a perfect choice to warm up the crowd and ready us for Ivers and company as it expressed its own brand of indie/folk/Celtic feel-good tunes that warmed the cockles of my heart.

Nathan Bliss summed up the emotion the two of them felt appearing at Bethel Woods by sharing that when he was 10, “My mom took me to see the Woodstock movie, and I was bitten by the bug, determined to make music my life... so it’s amazing to be standing on this very spot, where the ‘Woodstock Experience’ forever changed and influenced the music world.”

Checking my notes, I see that words like “beautiful,” “melodic,” “mellow,” “haunting” and “original” were scribbled down as I conjured up images of the Scottish moors during their performances of “Don’t Look Down” and “Wake the Hero,” from their new CD of the same name.