Waterson:Carthy | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Waterson:Carthy 

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WATERSON:CARTHY

Pedigrees don't come much more impressive than that of Waterson:Carthy, perhaps the leading proponents of traditional British folk music today. Martin Carthy shocked the loyal back in 1971 when as a founding member of the influential Steeleye Span he plugged in his guitar, but unlike Dylan in 1965, it didn't hurt him with the movement: subsequently he performed with a who's who of British folk, Albion Country Band, Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick, and Three City Four among them. Not long after joining the Watersons, another of the most important revival outfits, in 1972, he married the family group's Norma Waterson. If he's the finest guitar accompanist in British folk, she's certainly one of the best singers. The Watersons were renowned for their harmony vocals, but particularly on last year's eponymously titled, expansive folk-rock masterpiece, Waterson's demonstrated a remarkable beauty, range, and expressiveness all her own. The couple's daughter, Eliza Carthy, now a fiddler and singer, got the music gene from both sides; her recent solo outing, Eliza Carthy & the Kings of Calicutt (Topic), unabashedly fuses past and present, spiking traditional material with borrowings from sources as diverse as Mighty Sparrow, Kay Starr, Joseph Spence, and Tortoise. When the three play together as Waterson:Carthy, they carry on the work of the Watersons, as not only preservationists but archaeologists, uncovering unheard gems of the past. Their latest album, Common Tongue (Topic), focuses on the lesser-known English repertoire (as opposed to the more typical Scottish and Irish material), which they treat with a blend of reverence, humor, and passion. Melodeon player Saul Rose is touring with the group. Friday, 7 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 773-525-7793. Peter margasak

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Tom Howard.

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