Kate Weekes, Building on Northern Tradition

Home Sweet Home is a new band with an old sound. The group is made up of three very talented Yukon musicians, Boyd Benjamin, Keitha Clark and Kate Weekes.

Benjamin, a fiddle player since he was 14, played with Kevin Barr at the Yukon showcase at the Vancouver Cultural Olympics in 2010. Clark played with an all-female Cajun band and as a member of Annie Lou. Weekes is a folk/western swing singer-songer who has toured Ontario, the prairies and Japan.

Together they are taking on an old musical genre – Old Crow fiddle music.

Many of the songs on this self-titled CD come from Old Crow fiddle masters such Charlie Peter Charlie and Allan Benjamin, Boyd’s uncle.

Two others, Down River Blues and Eagle Island Blues were learned from Alaskan Athabaskan players.

Played for dances, Old Crow fiddle music is traditionally played solo. Home Sweet Home’s variation is to use two fiddles, playing largely in unison. These two fiddles, played by Benjamin and Clark, sound very different – one is has a scratchy, reedy sound while the other is smooth and airy.

Weekes adds an acoustic guitar, and co-producer Bob Hamilton an upright bass.

Rhythms are provided by Benjamin’s feet. You can imagine him dancing Charlie Peter Charlie’s Rabbit Dance or Peter Tizya’s Square Dance as he plays.

Clark adds fiddlesticks, an Appalachian tradition, to hammer the fiddle’s strings like a dulcimer as Benjamin plays. There’s even some chin-music, throat singing, “hups,” and other vocalizations that serve as additional rhythm and melody.

The album is not a mere field recording done by folklorists and anthropologists to capture Old Crow’s music.

In much the same way that Figgy Duff combined rock with Newfoundland folk music, and the Rankin Family added country to Cape Breton songs, Home Sweet Home adds Texas swing to these tunes.

It’s a good fit; both musical genres are designed for dancing and western swing songs like Crazy Arms are popular among northern fiddlers.

In this way, they’re building on Old Crow’s traditional music, keeping it vibrant and using it to create new music.

Weekes sings two of her own compositions, Travellin’ Light and Sense of Distance, songs inspired by the Yukon landscape and life.

“Let’s go to the mountain and climb up to the sky,” she sings jauntily to the accompaniment of Boyd and Clark’s fiddles. “You and me and the dog now baby, mile after mile, I’m going to make you smile.”

The album mixes traditional fast dance tunes such as Archie Linklater’s Handkerchief Dance and waltzes such as Home Sweet Home, with Weekes originals to make a good mix in style and speed for casual listening or your very own kitchen party.

Outstanding Tracks: Charlie Peter Charlie’s Rabbit Dance and Travellin’ Light

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