Windborne was an unexpected delight! I knew nothing about them, but I decided to go to the show after they reached out to me. On a frigid Monday night, this show was sold-out or nearly so, an impressive feat for a band at its first appearance at Club Passim during college vacation!
Immediately obvious was the lack of cords and amplifiers on the stage. That is always a good sign to me; I love the sound of acoustic instruments amplified as naturally as possible.
My first thought as the quartet took the stage was ‘They’re all wearing black and red – how awesome for my photos!’ As soon as they started singing, that thought left my head as quickly as it had entered; I was completely enthralled with them from the first notes that wafted from their mouths.
Described on their website as a “group of vocal chameleons who specialize in close harmony singing”, they are four talented young people who bring a wide variety of folk music from around the world to their audiences. Composed of Jeremy Carter-Gordon, Lauren Breunig, Will Thomas Rowan, and Lynn Mahoney Rowan, they sang songs from America, England, Corsica, Republic of Georgia, and the Basque region.
I am always impressed when someone sings in a language with which they are not fluent and is able to convey the emotion of the song to an audience who does not know the language. Windborne does this repeatedly, with fantastic results.
They prefaced many of the songs with an explanation of the song or where they were when they heard it the first time. They told about hearing the Dirk Powell song ‘Waterbound’ when a couple of them were stuck in Vermont by Hurricane Irene and how perfectly it suited their circumstances.
Their sets consisted of mostly traditional songs although some were original tunes. I am frequently struck by the different ways bands can interpret traditional music. One of those songs, ‘Come and I Will Sing You’, sounded completely different in their voices than the way the Canadian band Great Big Sea sang it. I have several versions of another, ‘Darlin’ Corey’, and again, all sound completely different (including the one by Gangstagrass).
This was mostly a vocal show, but Jeremy played banjo (as well as a beautiful, handmade gourd banjo) and Will played banjo and os komuz (Jew’s harp/jaw harp). Lynn did some percussive dance on a board during the first song of the second set. Jeremy sings bass, Will sings tenor, and Lauren and Lynn switch between soprano and alto. Their harmonies are gorgeous!
Their knowledge of the material and their earnest (and extremely talented) presentation of it added up to a terrific show on this cold night.