Join SoundXchange this week for a solo concert from Deep Dark Woods Ryan Boldt and a sequence from an exceptional first book of deep dark Saskatchewan Book Awards nominated poetry by Barbara Langhorst, Restless White Fields called Spring Romance.
Ryan Boldt has traditional folk music running in his veins. Despite its modern stylings, the music he makes with his band the Deep Dark Woods has genuinely old-fashioned foundations.
The Saskatoon-based band have a fourth album ... out called The Place I Left Behind, filled with more of their sombre balladry and gritty folk rock. But modern folk isn't quite enough to satisfy Boldt, the band's vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter. So he has recorded an upcoming solo album filled with traditional folk music.
Asked about the decision to go it alone, Boldt says the project didn't seem suitable as a Deep Dark Woods efforts.
"I've always wanted to make a record of traditional folk songs because that's what I started out playing -- traditional ballads, traditional music, American and British stuff," Boldt tells Exclaim! "I knew we would never do that as a band because we've all got so many songs that we don't want to just put out a covers album. But it's not really a covers album, that's the thing. It's a traditional album. You take those songs and you make your own out of them."
Recorded primarily in Jody Weger's Beresford Church Studio in Manitoba, Boldt says the solo album contains guest appearances by several friends.
"My good pal Clayton Linthicum is on it," he says. "He's only 16 years old. And this kid, he's the greatest guitar player I've ever played with in my life. The guy is like Richard Thompson or something."
Linthicum plays in a band with his 14-year-old cousin performing mainly traditional folk songs.
"I'm not one for kids playing blues and stuff like that but this is insane," says Boldt. "I saw the guy playing in Chaplain [Saskatchewan]. I went up and talked to him and he started talking about Mississippi John Hurt and Doc Watson and Gene Richie. I couldn't believe it. Sixteen years old and he likes Mississippi John Hurt. So I had him come down and we did some recording and it sounds incredible."
Author of one of the best books of poetry of 2012 (Dusie), Barbara Langhorst was born and educated in Edmonton, Alberta. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alberta and teaches atSt. Peter's College, SK. She and her husband are empty nesters who share their acreage with several pets and the local wildlife. Restless White Fields is her first book of poetry.
Restless White Fields "moves from the risk-it-all of the personal to a plenitude of wisdom. Barbara Langhorst takes us on a journey, first into darkness and silence, then back to the reassurances of language itself, or love itself. She makes poetry new." (-Robert Kroetsch) Says this reviewer: "
In 1991, Barbara Langhorst's father shot and killed her mother, then committed suicide. Langhorst, who grew up in Edmonton but now teaches at St. Peter's College in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, approached her debut collection, Restless White Fields, as an aesthetic experiment in dealing with a devastating loss. "You need to weave something to contain it, something daring, so then it becomes art and you don't have to think of the pain every moment," she said in a recent interview.
Langhorst conveys the enduring nature of that pain in the poignant image of a spring snowfall (the murder/suicide occurred in May) in which "may or april flakes pause suspended above the black ground/poised for grief to green with entanglements."
For the poet, grief is always being resurrected: by painful memories; by lines from other writers that resonate with some aspect of the tragedy; by other deaths and mishaps. Even signs of spring are haunting reminders that her mother died when the natural world was coming back to life.
It's difficult emotional territory, and the poems themselves, fragmentary and densely allusive, are difficult to follow at times. But threaded throughout Langhorst's reflections are lines that bluntly address the tragedy: "There are no kind words for this:/my father put a bullet in her brain and a shotgun to his chest."
These direct references are both jolting and necessary. But what impresses most about Restless White Fields is Langhorst's intricate skein of grief's "entanglements," and her struggle to make "contemplation a countermeasure to violence." (Barbara Cary, The Star.Com)
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