various artists,
Six Strings North of the Border, Vol. 3
(Borealis, 2005)

Borealis Records is back with another CD showcasing some of the guitar talent in Canada with Six Strings North of the Border, Vol. 3. There are 17 guitarists on the CD, including several of the founders of Borealis, and combined they put on a wonderful display.

October Browne makes the guitar sing with such crisp clean notes that the music "Waterford Girls" just wraps itself around you. The melody of Andy Sheppard's "Dragonfly Helicopter" seems to trace the graceful flight of a winged jewel. There is such a carefree attitude in "Mr. Skippy Pants" by David Gillis, this piece should bring a smile to most people's faces.

Kevin Breit and Harry Manx's guitars gently weep "Curly Ray & his Brother" so that even without lyrics you sense the loss and the memories. We are reminded there is yet joy, there is still life in Alpha YaYa Diallo's "Cette Vie."

Mose Scarlett and Margaret Stowe work well together and move across the transition seamlessly in "Blue Skies/Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The silences and drawn out notes of Rick Taylor's "Ocean Avenue" help shade the feel of surf, salt air and sand. There is the edge of mystery in "Voodoo Hoodoo," and Joel Fafard leaves you wanting more. Oliver Demers' "Du Haut du Balloon" eases the intensity out and fades out gently. Paul Mills (Curly Boy Stubbs) spins you round for a short dance in "Stubbs Stomp."

Amos Garrett serves up the first song (the first piece with lyrics) with "Always Got Your Hands on That Guitar," a fun song about the love of music and guitars. Having only recently returned from the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Bill Garrett's "Birds Hill" brings back the feel of being there all over again. You are stepped through a triad of traditional pieces ("Paddy Fahey's/The Road to Lisdoonvarna/Comb Your Hair & Curl It") by Grit Laskin. The piece that follows, "Kootnay Jig" feels newer, and Rick Bockner has created a lovely number.

Ken Whitely's "Summer Sunday Night " is a gentle, quiet piece that is relaxing and drifts like a cool breeze on a lovely summer night.

There are 15 wonderful examples of what great musicians can do with the guitar on this disc. It is a great showcase of talent and serves as a fitting reminder that there is a lot of excellent music out there for the taking.

by Paul de Bruijn
23 December 2006

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