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National Public Radio Interview, All Things Considered
- Sing Out! Magazine’s review of Cross the Water, Vol. 52 # 2. Summer 2008 PDF
By Rich Warren
Cross the Water is the first full CD joint effort between Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen who have become life partners as well as musical partners. The caring and affection are readily audible in this recording. The CD alternates between Kallet’s original songs and Larsen’s original/traditional tunes. She sings lead and plays guitar, fiola, and harmonium, while he sings harmonies and plays Irish flutes, tin whistle, Anglo concertina, fiddle, harmonium and guitar. This miniature folk fest of instruments on this self-produced CD keeps the sound varied and interesting. Kallet and Larsen bring nine originals here, and they perform lovely covers of “October Song” by Robin Williamson and “Lull Myself To Sleep” by Dillon Bustin. Larsen sings lead on the latter, which is anything but a lullaby. They add a few traditional instrumentals for balance, including “The Eighth of January / Black Mountain Rag” and “Fisher’s Hornpipe / Old Leather Britches.” Kallet covers considerable distance with her song “If You Say Yes” as it moves from love song to political statement subtly conveying a powerful message. “Your Love” is a delightfully tongue-in-cheek love songs that describes their relationship during time spent apart when they were still touring separately and their time together. The involving closing songs woven together “Cross the Water / Little Girl” fit nicely in Kallet’s mind, but seem an odd pair to the listener. They are the most “vintage” Kallet on the CD. Larsen’s instrumentals contribute just the right texture and spice to the recording. Perhaps the real charm here lies in its gentleness and subtlety. Kallet’s soothing alto voice and Larsen’s impressive versatile musicianship carries you along on a floating musical journey. If the stresses of the world wear you down, relax and recharge by sitting in an easy chair and listening to Kallet and Larsen. No one else in the folk world sounds quite like them.
- Review of Cross the Water by Bob Blackman of WKAR’s “Folk Tradition”
Bob Blackman, host of “The Folk Tradition,” on WKAR-FM, East Lansing, MI, writes:
“I’ve been a fan of both Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet for a very long time, with well-played copies of their various solo and collaborative projects on my shelves (LPs as well as CDs, mind you!). I never anticipated hearing them work together, though, since I associated Grey primarily with Irish instrumental music and Cindy with her original songs. But when they did become a duo, the combination suddenly made great sense, and I was enthralled when I saw them together in concert, merging their individual styles into an impeccable musical partnership. Their first album, “Cross the Water,” captures all of the charm and beauty that I heard at their concert. If you’re already a fan of Cindy or Grey, or both, you’ll love this CD. If you don’t know either one yet, get this album and make a doubly wonderful discovery.”
- The Enterprise, January 7, 2011, Falmouth, Massachusetts PDF
Cindy Kallet, Grey Larsen Offer Beautiful Music and Warmth on a Winter Night By Matthew MurphyCindy Kallet and Grey Larsen were able to stop this modern, maddening, spinning globe for a few hours Sunday night at the Woods Hole Community Hall and reveal a world of beauty, harmony and melody, as they cast their musical spell. This was not so much a concert as two gentle and feeling souls sharing their lives through music with the audience. The two are highly accomplished and respected performers.You might have thought you were sitting by a wood stove listening to some friends play music. The two dressed casually in jeans, boots, and comfortable shirts. They warmly and graciously complimented the venue, the volunteers, and the organizers.The concert seemed their way of giving back in music the welcome they felt in this special place.Ms. Kallet began with one of her original pieces, “Blackberry Downs.” She wrote it in 1976 when she lived on the Vineyard. It resonated with images of ducks on a winter’s day, floating on the brackish water, ebbing and flowing with the tide. The song captured perfectly the still and stark beauty of the Cape and Islands in the winter. Their music did not try to fend off the cold; it embraced it and reflected its splendor.Ms. Kallet and Mr. Larsen performed without amplification, their voices and instruments, their stories and laughter filling the hall. Ms. Kallet’s voice is simply pure, natural, and lovely. Her guitar playing fully supports her voice and Mr. Larsen’s flutes and songs.Mr. Larsen plays his instruments very deliberately. He played the fiddle, two flutes, a tin whistle, a concertina, and a harmonium, a form of traveling church organ. His eyes closed as he played, Mr. Larsen seemed to feel and enjoy each note that he created. He has spent time studying and reviving old Irish flute tunes, carrying on and sharing a multi-ethnic tradition of folk and traditional music, and his professionalism is apparent.Their introductions to their songs were informative and full of good humor. They spoke of their experiences in New England and of their neighbor Joe Dawson, back in Bloomington, Indiana, known for his crooked tunes and preservation of the tunes of Appalachia and southern Indiana.They sang Ms. Kallet’s fun, funny, and splendid original songs, involving the audience in numerous sing-alongs. Topics were wide-ranging, including songs about diapers (“Got to Know Diapers”), losing your only pair of glasses on a homemade sailboat on a man-made lake that “drowned those woods alive” (“Shores of Lake Monroe”), and about changing the world a little bit at a time with the decisions we make (“If You Say Yes”).Especially lovely was their rendition of “Cherry Tree Carol,” a song of pregnant Mary and Joseph traveling through a cherry tree orchard and the family tumult caused by a virgin birth and a woman hungry for cherries.”Back When We Were All Machines,” Ms. Kallet’s and Mr. Larsen’s most recent song, with its three-part sing-along chorus, “Makes me feel my robot roots, back when we were all machines,” was a wonderful commentary on our growing personal isolation through constant and multifaceted digital communication. Look for their video on YouTube.Mr. Larsen explained that in the early 1800s, the wooden flute, much like his older wooden flute, was the standard flute played by all classical musicians. When the metal flute came along, most flutists abandoned their old wooden flutes for new-fangled metal ones. Musicians in Ireland snapped up the old wooden flutes because they went for next to nothing, and that was about what the musicians had to spend. This chain of events led to a blossoming of Irish music.Mr. Larsen had both an early wooden Irish flute, and a newer one, and played plaintive airs and lively jigs and reels on both. Ms. Kallet played a Michael Gurian guitar, handmade in New Hampshire, which she has had since 1971. The exterior is somewhat the worse for wear but the tone is still gorgeous.It was simply a wonderful and moving evening. The 39th season of the Woods Hole Folk Music Society continues on Sunday, January 16, with a performance by Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers, who will sing folk music, jazz, and children’s songs.(Matthew Murphy is an attorney and resident of Falmouth.)
- “Robots Invade Midcoast,” Village Soup, December 22, 2010, Camden, Maine PDF
Music video by Kallet and Larsen
By Dagney C. Ernest | Dec 22, 2010Camden – In October, when the Midcoast was abuzz about country music star Kenny Chesney’s visit to film a music video, folk singer/songwriter Cindy Kallet had to chuckle.The longtime Camden resident has re-located to Indiana but keeps up with Midcoast doings on villagesoup.com. When she read about Chesney’s big-budget film shoot – including a dawn segment on the Rockland Breakwater, where the singer had portable heaters to keep him warm – she thought back to the summer day in Camden when she and partner Grey Larsen shot THEIR music video.”The budget was somewhere in the vicinity of $74, and I think that includes giving our filmmaker, Mehdi Saidi, and production assistant, Eliza Squibb, some money for a nice dinner out,” she said.Kallet and Larsen, who began as musical colleagues and have since merged both their professional and personal lives, had already put together a video of sorts using still photographs. The images, taken in Maine and all around the country during tours, are of people using cell phones and iPods and other personal digital devices. They seemed a good fit for their collaborative song “Back When We Were All Machines,” but when they showed it to Larsen’s son Robin Tala, he was blunt in his reaction.”No one’s going to forward this, he said. You have to do something a little unusual,” Kallet said.The song itself is already unusual for Kallet and Larsen, each of whom have enjoyed respected careers in different folk/traditional music niches and whose joint work is headed into a second album … an album that will not include “Back When We Were All Machines.””It’s so very different from what we play,” said Kallet.Kallet has been playing what she plays for years. She is a respected songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist who has appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion” and recorded many a solo and collaboration album (including one with Gordon Bok). She also is a gifted teacher who has published a popular songbook and teaches both privately and in residency/camp settings.
Larsen is equally a musical force, a proponent of traditional music and one of the country’s leading Irish flute players, although he plays a number of other instruments as well and has devoted a great deal of his musical life to the old-time fiddle music of his native southern Midwest, situated in the northern fringe of the Appalachian cultural region. He has performed and recorded widely and also as appeared on “A Prairie Home Companion.” An articulate teacher, Larsen is the author of two books including “The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle,” considered the most comprehensive book yet written on Irish flute and tin whistle.”Back When We Were All Machines” was inspired by a morning in March when the power couple were slowly waking up to National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.””There was a brief musical interlude, sandwiched between program segments, which basically assaulted our ears. Grey, who is very slow to wake up in the morning, half-opened his eyes and mumbled ‘That makes me feel my robot roots … back when we were all machines,’ ” said Kallet, who was awake enough to know a good line when she heard one and wrote it down.
The song Kallet wrote from Larsen’s sleepy comment strings together a litany of digital-era trade names with subtle social commentary via the refrain “I’ll never be alone again.” It’s a fun tune, and the video ups the amusement ante, but it’s thought-provoking too. Kallet said several teacher friends have used the video in classes to spark discussion about the pros and cons of digital connectivity.”I think we’re losing the ability to pay attention to each other, to interact in a real fundamental way with others and with our environment,” she said.Kallet admits she falls under the digital spell herself. And creating the video involved learning how to use iMovie, so she is not of the Luddite persuasion. When it came to creating a video for the song, however, the approach was decidedly analog. The couple asked Squibb, daughter of a longtime friend and a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, for help in designing their robot costumes. She didn’t have much to work with, mostly materials from a dollar store; wood stove piping from a local hardware store, the shoot’s biggest expense; and a fortuitous find at the Midcoast Solid Waste – a turquoise Lady Schick Consolette Vintage Bubble Top Portable Hair Dryer that provided both their headpieces.Squibb; her boyfriend Saidi, who used the video setting on Kallet’s digital camera; and Kallet and Larsen had a three-hour window of opportunity in late August to get the robot footage. Locations include Main Street, Laite Beach, Harbor Park and the schooner Olad, whose Captain, Aaron Lincoln gave permission for the robots to come aboard. Squibb suggested things for the robots to do and dealt with costume malfunctions.”My badminton birdie mammaries kept falling off,” said Kallet.Back in Bloomington, Kallet got to work with iMovie. Footage of the couple singing the song was filmed in their home by Larsen’s son; and Izzy Maxwell, son of Kallet’s musical colleague Ellen Epstein, manipulated some of the sound to futuristic effect. Also included in the video are some wonderful robot toys from the collection of Daniel Steinberg of Mountain View, Calif.”We had done a house concert at his home, and he has an antique robot collection,” said Kallet.”Back When We Were All Machines” was released as a CD single last month, in part due to the positive response to the video. Five percent of sales for the CD single is going to Partners in Health and the Center for Biological Diversity, both of which have links on the couple’s website, kalletlarsen.com.”We’ve also heard from a number of teachers and professors who have told us that they’re showing the movie to their classes to spark discussion about issues of cyberbullying and connection/disconnection to each other and the natural world, use and misuse of technology,” said Kallet.In addition to raising consciousness about these concerns, Kallet said they hope “Back When We Were All Machines” also introduces a new generation to their “regular” music. The video is part of their YouTube channel and it seems many who go to see it also watch one titled “Meet Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen.” Whether that leads to a 20-something fan club remains to be seen, but their afternoon tooling around Camden in sheet metal and duct tape was well spent.”We had a delightfully funny couple of hours on the afternoon of Aug. 28th, turning ourselves into robots and amusing the visiting and native throngs,” she said. VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Cindy’s song If You Say Yes appeared in Sing Out! Magazine, Vol. 52 #1, Spring 2008. PDF only
- Matthew Murphy, The Enterprise (Falmouth, MA)
This was not so much a concert as two gentle and feeling souls sharing their lives through music with the audience … It was simply a wonderful and moving evening.
- Grady Poe
Grey Larsen and Cindy Kallet, two masterful musicians and music creators have come together in a truly magical live concert collaboration where unbelievably, the whole is actually greater than the sum of the two parts. I witnessed this first hand at a house (barn) concert in Prince Edward Island. The musicians’ obvious warmth and respect for one another overflowed and touched us all. The music, old and new, was full of nuance and grace. It deeply touched the essential humaness in all who were present as evidenced by all the great beaming smiles and buckets of enthusiastic applause. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a special experience.
- Nan Collie
Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen are exquisite musicians and gentle souls, both of which make for a wonderful evening of music. The gifts of their writing, arranging, and exceptional instrumental talents combine with a genuine warmth and charm that leaves an audience walking away smiling, uplifted, and humming a tune.
- Wayne Beach
We were delighted to host a house concert featuring Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen in Maine this past spring. It was a splendid afternoon and the music that was made that day is fondly remembered by the sixty people that filled our living room … Cindy and Grey make a wonderfully versatile and harmonious combination … Cindy joined Grey in some duets on the fiddle – and these numbers were unexpected delights. If you do not know their music, please get to know it. And do yourself – and your friends – a favor by bringing them to your area for a concert. Their music is very special.