A Production of The Folk Life ( Inc. 1976)
John McLaughlin and Jamie Downs, Editors


CD Reviews: “Roots & Wings,”
(dba The Digital Folk Life. Org)

El McMeen, "Dancing the Strings" (Piney Ridge)

This is a really pretty recording of solo guitar music, dancing from Celtic jigs to American pop tunes and back again, skipping lightly back and forth across the Atlantic, from the opening “ Humors of Ballyloughlin” all the way to the closing “America the Beautiful,” and in between “The Kid on the Mountain” and “There is a Rose in Spanish Harlem,” with “The Tennessee Waltz” flanked by “Working My Way Back to You” and “Turf Lodge,” the last a 4-part Scottish jig with an unusual minor chord surfacing and almost taking over the fourth part. That’s the kind of detail you might not notice if it weren’t for El’s precise, if brief notes, as always a pleasure to scan quickly as you settle back to enjoy how he’s playing with your ears, one more time.

It’s El’s ninth outing, including two recordings for Shanachie Entertainment in the early Nineties featuring the Irish side of his repertoire, but slowly moving to include his obvious love for American music – Motown, Springsteen, Dylan – in the successive releases on his own Piney Ridge label. The alternating balance, between (mostly) upbeat Irish and Scottish jigs and the quite beautiful slow melodies for the American tunes on this release, make this one even more of a success than the most recent outings, themselves playful games for the ears of his expanding audience. His website will introduce you to these and other treasures, including a lengthy Mel Bay interview, concert reviews, and full information on his prior releases. Best of all, if you’d like to talk to El about any of this, his e-mail address is: