Advertisement

Album Review: Keith Reins and Tara McGovern — Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School


Keith Reins and Tara McGovern

Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School
folksongsyouneversang.com

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.

Reins is the guitarist at the session who slips jazzy passing chords into traditional Irish and Scottish tunes — verging on folk heresy — but always in ways that deepen and add texture. Reins approaches the depth of virtuosity and artistry of performers as revered as Bert Jansch and Nic Jones. There’s a nonchalance and ease to his playing that comes from countless hours sitting in a circle, playing with others just for the joy of it.

Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School is accompanied by a website of essays written by Reins that comment on folk music in general and the songs on the album in particular.

He collaborates here with Coralville violinist Tara McGovern, a fellow member in Reins’ band the Beggarmen. McGovern is every bit his equal as a folk musician, and she plays with the refined technique of someone with classical training but without any of the stiffness of a classical musician “slumming it” as a folk musician. Her singing — and Reins’ — are in the folk tradition, but delivered with impeccable intonation and phrasing. Jon Cooper adds uilleann pipes to three tracks.

The album opener “Oh, The Wind And Rain” shows off Reins’ well-worn baritone. The middle part of the performance interpolates “The Quail it is a Pretty Bird,” a well-known fiddle tune, led by McGovern’s violin and Cooper’s pipes.

McGovern sings another standout “George Collins.” This song and “Oh, The Wind and Rain” are remarkable for the particular melodies chosen, which are different from any of the other recordings of the songs I could find. Asked where he found the melody for “George Collins,” Reins said, “I think I heard someone play it in the 1970s.”

There are also instrumental sets that stitch together traditional Scottish and Irish fiddle tunes, and songs like “The Twa Sisters” that segue without break into instrumental tunes. Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School gives the listener the sense of being at a traditional folk session, where each song is part of an ongoing conversation, changed and polished by the singing and playing.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 226.


Comments:

  1. A STEAM training can help construct a solid want in college
    students to take a look at the exciting world of engineering and
    pc science without making these college students really
    feel like ‘nerds’ or social outcasts https://math-problem-solver.com/ .

    The house edge will fluctuate in the course of the season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

40 Years Forward:

A Celebration of Empowerment & Hope

Deb Talan of "The Weepies" will begin our night of celebration with a story of survival, empowerment, and hope told through words and song. Join us in remembering our past and envisioning the future at the Coralville Mariott.

GET TICKETS

Friday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m.

For 18 years...

Little Village has been telling the truth and changing our little corner of the world.

If you can, help us head into the next 18 years even stronger with a one-time or monthly contribution of $18, or any amount you choose.

Advertisement

A collaboration between The Englert Theatre and FilmScene

STRENGTHEN
GROW•EVOLVE

Help us build the greatest small city for the arts in America—right here in Iowa City. Learn more »

Donate Today

Strengthen • Grow • Evolve is a collaborative campaign led by two Iowa City-based arts nonprofits, The Englert Theatre and FilmScene that seeks a major reinvestment to strengthen the arts through modern and historic venues, innovative programming, and new models of collaboration.

Little Village's
BEST OF THE CRANDIC

From Aug. 1-Sept. 30, cast your vote for your favorite places, people, eats and entertainment around the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area.

Don't forget to explain your picks! The best answers will be published in LV's Best of the CRANDIC issue, out Dec. 3, 2019.