"Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" - 2003
The most widely known quote about Geoff Muldaur comes from British folkrock master Richard Thompson: "There are only three white blues singers, and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them", the man once remarked with his tongue firmly in cheek. But when taking a closer look at Geoff Muldaur’s career and music, one must indeed conclude that this man ranks among America’s most remarkable roots music personalities. Unfortunately, not too many people seem to be familiar with his name and his music at this point, partly due to the fact that Muldaur went into a self-imposed exile from the business in the early 80s. He did not record or perform publicly for eighteen years and only recently came back with two remarkable albums: "The Secret Handshake" (1998) and "Password" (2000). It was then that Geoff Muldaur finally came to Europe for some solo live performances. Fortunately, this tour also led him to Bremen/Germany, where he delivered an intense and intimate performance at the "Moments" club. Local music critics rejoiced and found this to be "a deeply inspired and moving concert." Luckily, this performance was recorded professionally and TRADITION & MODERNE is happy to be able to release this performance from May 30th, 1999, now. BEAUTIFUL ISLE OF SOMEWHERE was the final encore that night, a Methodist hymn from 1897, rendered a cappella. With this gem, Geoff Muldaur concluded a wonderful evening that will remain in everyone’s memories as an intense and unforgettable concert experience.
Geoff Muldaur counts among the most important voices coming from the folk and blues scene of the US east coast. With Cambridge, Mass. and Woostock, NY as the centers of activity, this scene founded in the late 50s and early 60s was deeply influential for the ascent of American roots music in the years to come. Not only did it provide a creative home for Bob Dylan and Joan Baez — two of the most important musical voices of the US counterculture —, there were many others as well: Eric Von Schmidt, Tom Rush, Eric Andersen, Richard & Mimi Fariña, and many more. From the living rooms and coffeehouses of this scene, both a traditional and a new folk and blues repertoire were carried into the world. It’s a canon of songs that still transports magic and meaning today. Later on, the honesty and vitality of this music were combined with the electric energy of urban blues and rock’n’roll, resulting in a new form of popular music and the most important countercultural force of the 1960s — rock music. In that sense, a roots musician like Geoff Muldaur was an agent for social change early on. His personal interpretations of traditional folk, blues, jazz, ragtime and gospel still belong among the most striking examples of American roots music as interpreted by a contemporary artist.
BEAUTIFUL ISLE OF SOMEWHERE finally presents this contemporary aspect of Geoff Muldaur’s long and winding career on an album recorded live and completely solo — pure and unadorned. The record features a typically eclectic repertoire — a select choice of folk, blues, jazz and gospel, performed and delivered with artful restraint and subtle passion. The diversity of the material ranges from a Tennessee Williams poem set to music ("The Common Cold") and a Vera Hall moan from the pre-blues era ("The Wild Ox Moan") to the gospel of Blind Willie Johnson ("Trouble Soon Be Over") and country blues à la Sleepy John Estes ("Drop Down Mama"). In these performances, Geoff Muldaur manages to combine his deep love and respect for the tradition with an contemporary attitude that puts an emphasis on the timelessness of the songs. They are all brought into the here and now in a gentle kind of way. All the while, Geoff Muldaur’s ways remain understated but soulful, relaxed but effective — truly one of a kind.
The art of Geoff Muldaur lies in creating deep music. It’s a kind of music that goes back to the well in a gentle and graceful kind of way. Considering the traditional nature of most of the repertoire, it’s quite remarkable that Muldaur does not become a copycat when he does these songs, but manages to create something original with just his voice and guitar alone. All of the nuances of these songs are carried by this voice and guitar in a very original kind of way. Hopefully, we will get to see him again on European stages in the future. There aren’t many of his calibre around anymore. BEAUTIFUL ISLE OF SOMEWHERE delivers acoustic roots music at its best. It’s music built to last .